Red Hat joined the One Laptop Per Child effort last week. OLPC is a non-profit effort formed by 'Net pioneer Nicholas Negroponte to provide $100 laptops to poor children around the world to improve education and access to information.After Negroponte went to Microsoft and Apple for help in his cause, and was shot down by both firms, it was decided that open source Linux software would be used to power the inexpensive machines. Negroponte said he wanted an operating system that was accessible and that could be modified by organizations such as local school districts or independent distributors of the machines. (Gates and Jobs were not keen on the idea of giving out source code.)In early demonstrations of the device - which includes a hand crank for power, cellular capabilities and mesh-networking for P2P LAN and sharing of broadband links - Red Hat's Fedora software was the initial operating system running. But this does not guarantee Red Hat will be the de-facto operating system on these devices, OLPC officials said. For now, the Linux company is just one of a few IT vendors sponsoring the project - Advanced Micro Devices, Google and Nortel among them.If Linux is to be the core platform of the OLPC project, it makes sense to have the leading Linux vendor on board. However, keeping the device as vendor-neutral as possible, and as open (intellectual property-wise) as it can be should be a top priority for the MIT Media Lab technologists who are cobbling this thing together.