The low-cost Linux PCs designed for the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, are set to be offered to customers in North America.

The laptops, designed for kids in the developing world, are to go on sale to US and Canadian residents provided that they agree to pay for another machine to donate.

"The idea is to help feed programs in the least developed countries and broaden the community of engagement," said Walter Bender, president of software and content for OLPC. By putting the laptops in the hands of people in North America, the group hopes to persuade more people to contribute content or other developments to the project, he said.

The offer will start on 12 November and run through to 26 November. "We don't want to divert too much away from the developing world, so we'll do a short window," Bender said.

Mass production of the laptops is scheduled for October, with the first units landing in the hands of kids around the world in early November, he said. The initial run will generate 40,000 units and production will quickly double and triple that capacity to meet demand, he said.

Recent price rises, however, have meant that the cost is now $200 as customers are being asked to pay $400 for the two machines. When the project originally started, it was hoped that machines would be available for $100 each. The $400 price includes some padding for the cost of sending one of the laptops to a remote location, Bender said.