@manic: Perhaps I'm missing your point. Are you suggesting that we as a community should intentionally leave out sensible functionality so that children of unknown technical ability can experiment with them, break the installed distro, and then have no method of recovery? So that it'll help them learn? That we not only drop them into the deep end, we do so with a "sink or swim" attitude that leaves them stuffed if they need assistance but don't have another computer?
I appreciate you seem to be making a more general point than solely addressing the opening post and it's subsequent responses, perhaps a more philosophical point, but you did it in a thread looking to make downloading and updating the installed software easier for people with very little money. I'm struggling to get why you think that making things easier is inherently bad or your assuming that everyone who buys a Raspberry Pi will benefit from being forced to figure it out on their own, which is what I've (possibly incorrectly) taken from your posts.
I don't speak for the foundation but on their About Us page:
The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a UK registered charity (Registration Number 1129409) which exists to promote the study of computer science and related topics, especially at school level, and to put the fun back into learning computing.
We plan to develop, manufacture and distribute an ultra-low-cost computer, for use in teaching computer programming to children. We expect this computer to have many other applications both in the developed and the developing world.
Expecting kids to either spend money they don't have on non-essential hardware or figure out the finer points of dependencies and package management systems just so they can learn to use SQL databases seems counter-productive to me. Providing a powerful and easy-to-use set of tools for learning that can grow with the user seems a better plan to me. Making them resilient and easy to fix seems common sense to me.
Obviously I'm not Liz or Eben, I am but a geeky hobbiest drawn in by a post on Reddit who will probably end up using my RasPi to address very minor first world problems. That doesn't mean I don't appreciate the stated goals of the project or don't have anything to offer in assistance. (Which is not to say I will be any help, but I certainly will try to be.)
And I don't really grasp the point you are making in the post directly above this one either. Neither the Dockstar or the iomega iconnect include composite (or HDMI, VGA or component) out. Sure, you could plug in a USB VGA adapter but good luck getting it working without it or without already knowing what you're doing and having another computer on hand. If someone didn't already have a computer to use to look up the basics, even with some OpenWRT or whatever preloaded on the Dockstar, they're screwed. They are useful devices to be sure, but they're at the opposite end of things. Also if you brick them, you're possibly going to be trying to fix them over JTAG. Talk about tough love, sheesh.
Don't get me wrong, I'd love one of each and I'd play with them and hack them into the odd blend of hardware I already have, but having one of those and nothing else would not have helped me learn IT skills as a kid. They might improve the skills I have now but there's stuff I needed to know before then. I needed a fair amount of hand holding initially to teach me the basics before I developed the skills to teach myself the more specialised bits and pieces.
And for the record, I got into computers from playing games, then basic programming (literally), then applying those skills to problems I had. While not particularly glamorous and certainly far less impressive than some of the other posters here, I made a couple of programs to control a dialup router that I used to connect to the internet. I did this not because there wasn't another interface to control the router but because I thought I could make one that better suited my needs and offered improvements. Without the groundwork having already been laid by the people who made the router, I'd have had no ability to do anything at all. While we all seem to have ideas about what the RasPi should have and should be able to do, to presume that limits others' incentives to improve things seems wrong to me. The drive to improve things is fundamental to us all and however easy we make things, others are still going to want to improve that. Most kids will happily try to fix stuff that isn't broke, I know I did and I'm probably all the better for it.
I've learnt from breaking stuff and having to fix it, I've learnt more from wanting to make things better. If my only tool to do either was broken and I didn't have the prerequisites to fix it and nor could I get said prerequisites, well then I'd have just been stuffed.
Please excuse the slightly(!) rambling post, I blame the hour.
Edited: to correct at least some of the typos and grammatical flubs.