Wouldn't it be great for education if all school kids had their own laptops? Well, in Peru this is happening. And in Uruguay, Mongolia, Libya and Ethiopia. The laptops are designed and developed by a non-profit foundation called One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) started by Nicolas Negroponte, formerly of the MIT Medialab.
The OLPC is a technical miracle. It was in fact considered impossible by all the major commercial manufacturers and software builders like Intel, Dell, IBM and Microsoft. That did not hold back the OLPC team though and they build something not only affordable ($150-$180) but also rugged, maintainable and very, very eco-friendly. My Mac laptop eats 30-80 watts, the OLPC does 1-2 watt. That matters when your primary source of electricity is a $10 solar panel. If the world switched to OLPC's from their current systems the savings on power cost (even excluding the environmental cost!) would be sufficient to buy 50 million OLPC's per year for the third world.
On the software side the OLPC foundation chose to use open source software wherever possible, both to keep the cost to their clients as close to zero as possible but also to allow local communities to adapt the software to their needs, wishes, languages and cultural conventions. All the specifications of the laptop (both hard- and software are available for public scrutiny and improvement from the OLPC wiki. This guarantees the independence of nations basing their education on OLPC devices, they will remain in control over the content and methods of education because they have full control over the technology.