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OLPC operating system free on a stick

Sugar Labs, which builds the XO-1 OS for One Laptop Per Child machines, is offering it for free downloading onto any USB stick greater than 1GB.

The One Laptop Per Child operating system is now available for free downloading for "any" PC or Netbook, according to its maker.

The XO-1 user interface Sugar Labs

Sugar Labs, responsible for building the low-cost device's XO-1 operating system, released it online last week for loading onto any USB flash drive greater than 1GB.

Called "Sugar on a Stick v1," Sugar Labs hopes it will help spread the use of the OS in classrooms, without the need for the OLPC machine.

An IDC analyst said earlier this year that the OS would be one of the OLPC's more attractive aspects that vendors would be interested in copying for the Netbook market.

It is based on the Fedora Linux kernel and can be booted from the USB stick without needing to be installed over the hard drive's existing OS.

According to Sugar Labs, its OS is used by almost a million students ages 5 to 12 in some 40 countries. Its social-oriented interface recognizes other Sugar-based PCs around it and interacts with them without the need for Internet connection.

Sugar Labs was spun off a year ago after Walter Bender, now its executive director, left the OLPC initiative to start the nonprofit spinoff.

Victoria Ho of ZDNet Asia reported from London.