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Open Hardware and Software Laptop

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the just-the-way-you-like-it dept.

Hardware Hacking 152

New submitter mihai.todor85 writes "It looks like Andrew 'bunnie' Huang has been quite busy lately, developing a nice open hardware laptop. He was even kind enough to provide all the schematics without NDA. For anybody interested in owning such a device, he says that he 'might be convinced to try a Kickstarter campaign in several months, once the design is stable and tested' if enough people are interested."

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that will make RMS happy? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42319843)

maybe

Re:that will make RMS happy? (-1, Troll)

BitZtream (692029) | about 2 years ago | (#42319855)

RMS won't be happy until the entire planet lives in hippie communes. You can't satisfy a person like that. His 'goals' are just a political agenda and a way to get people to pay attention to him. He is an ego whore, everything else is a side effect. Some of those side effects are good, most aren't.

Re:that will make RMS happy? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42320193)

You sir, are an idiot.

RMS created the free software movement. He is the original author of gcc, emacs, and others. Unless you only use windows (probably the case based on your post), you have benefited from his work. Lots of kids here on /. like to trash talk RMS at every opportunity, but they are either stupid, or ignorant of what the world was like without RMS's free software movement.

No, free software doesn't feed starving babies, but it is the basis of the education of millions. And, many thousands of those millions contribute back-- keeping this movement of sharing knowlege alive-- now across generations.

You. What have you done with your life that makes you think you measure up favorably against someone like RMS who has done so much? Yeah, thought so. Nope, being a pathetic loser troll doesn't give you any bragging rights.

World needs more dedicated folks like RMS (in all fields).

Re:that will make RMS happy? (3, Interesting)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#42320369)

Free software is a very large part of the reason these idiot trolls have the ability to annoy people. They should be thankful. the era of software freedom seems to coming to a close though. Open source has won the battle for the server, but is in a losing battle for the client, with walled gardens springing up all over.

Re:that will make RMS happy? (3, Interesting)

snadrus (930168) | about 2 years ago | (#42320619)

It's just a flicker in time like DOS vs Apple ][. HTML5 & the open web is the standard. For example the preferred graphing calculator for many isn't local, but Wolfram Alpha. Then local apps are only a manifest file away, like Firefox OS does.
Sure native's faster, but HTML5's write-once, run-everywhere (a feature no one else can offer now) is big.

Re:that will make RMS happy? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42320979)

As someone who recently did a bunch of HTML5 code for a multi-platform app, your use of "write-once, run-everywhere" amuses me.
More like "write once, then rewrite once per OS and browser version, avoid any advanced features, and run (almost) everywhere but don't expect it to work or look the same". YMMV.

Re:that will make RMS happy? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42321783)

Liar.

Re:that will make RMS happy? (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 2 years ago | (#42322145)

As someone who recently did a bunch of HTML5 code for a multi-platform app, your use of "write-once, run-everywhere" amuses me. More like "write once, then rewrite once per OS and browser version, avoid any advanced features, and run (almost) everywhere but don't expect it to work or look the same". YMMV.

Yep. The same can be said about Java, and I presume, any product that claims to be "write once, run anywhere" -- Write Once Debug Everywhere is more like it, and when I consider that, I might as well be writing cross platform native code which is write once, Debug on 3 to 5 platforms vs write for the web and test on 3 to 5 platforms times three to seven browsers... ~20 testing environments vs ~4.

Re:that will make RMS happy? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42323193)

As a long-time web developer, I say that there has never been a better time for cross-browser web development.

If you're using in-development features of an in-progress standard, you can't realistically complain about lack of consistent implementations.

Re: that will make RMS happy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42320845)

AKA: The users cannot be trusted.

look at the authors on the software you use (1, Interesting)

decora (1710862) | about 2 years ago | (#42322057)

extremely high chance its not RMS, but some guy whose day job is at a huge corporation, "selling out" to the man. the whole thing is hypocrisy stuffed inside the asshole of elitism. most 'free software' is built by work-a-day nobodies who prefer anonymity and the act of building itself to any kind of idealistic horse shit.

Re:that will make RMS happy? (5, Insightful)

knarf (34928) | about 2 years ago | (#42323337)

Open source has won the battle for the server, but is in a losing battle for the client, with walled gardens springing up all over.

Android [android.com] is the biggest mobile platform at the moment. It has eclipsed Microsoft in the number of installed systems. Although these typically are not traditional desktop/laptop PC installations, the market seems to be heading more in the direction of Android (and similar systems) than it does towards those 'traditional' PC configurations.

In other words, the biggest platform at the moment is open source. Never mind that are several closed markets which serve this platform, you are not bound to them.

A quick look around the farm here shows that the advent of Android has pushed the last stronghold of closed source - mobile - off the cliff. All our PC's, servers and laptops run Linux in some form or other. All our phones run Android in some form or other. All our tablets run Android in some form or other. There is a television in the house somewhere, served by a DVB-T [wikipedia.org] receiver/decoder. The thing runs Linux. The DSL modem? Linux. The router? Linux (OpenWRT). There is only one remaining 'closed' box attached to the network here: the (HP Laserjet 2200) printer. Guess which of all these devices is the most troublesome?

In contrary to what you state, gaining software freedom has never been as easy as it is now. Even better: it looks like it will become easier still with the advent of open hardware.

Re:that will make RMS happy? (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 2 years ago | (#42320457)

Even if he only uses Windows, he has visited websites running on open-source software, so he benefited from RMS' work.

Re:that will make RMS happy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42321079)

Even if he only uses Windows, he has visited websites running on open-source software, so he benefited from RMS' work.

[Citation needed]

Re:that will make RMS happy? (1)

dririan (1131339) | about 2 years ago | (#42321229)

Seriously? Is it not common knowledge now that the majority of sites run on Linux with Apache (which almost certainly has all the GNU libraries and tools since it's not embedded)? I really am glad Slashdot isn't Wikipedia. How about you try spamming [citation needed] there? I'm sure that position is in demand.

Re:that will make RMS happy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42321267)

Seriously? Is it not common knowledge now that the majority of sites run on Linux with Apache (which almost certainly has all the GNU libraries and tools since it's not embedded)?

[Citation needed]

Re:that will make RMS happy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42321039)

Ad hominem much?

Re:that will make RMS happy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42321239)

Most of the software I buy is proprietary. I use open source stuff a lot, but when it comes down to it, I buy proprietary.

Re:that will make RMS happy? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322691)

That is because of the side effect of open source being usually free, as it is much harder to make money with it, when the source code can be freely distributed.

Re:that will make RMS happy? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42321495)

RMS created the free software movement.

No, he popularized "his" version of "free" which really isn't free depending on your perspective.

He also did it after Berkeley had already been distributing their software, for free.

And, there was software distributed freely long before BSD too.

Re:that will make RMS happy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322715)

But ultimately you could say that closed source is the most free, as it frees you to distribute your programs as binaries if you want to. Then again GPL is probably the best choice to keep the source code and all its modifications available to anyone.

Re:that will make RMS happy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42321815)

u mad bro?

Re:that will make RMS happy? (1)

mister2au (1707664) | about 2 years ago | (#42321897)

You sir, are an idiot.

maybe a troll - yes
disagrees with your views - yes
an idiot and an AC - no

free & open-source software existed before RMS and would have existed without him ... and he is clearly politically driven more by a philosophy than practical considerations ... and is somewhat of a nut-job !

ignorant of what the world was like without RMS's free software movement.

what was it like? i seem to recall that we got by just fine ... like we did before "Steve jobs invented the iPod" or "Bill Gates invented DOS/Windows"

Just because someone was the front-runner or the biggest fanatic in an area DOES NOT mean the world would have been a disaster without them !

Making RMS happy. (1)

formfeed (703859) | about 2 years ago | (#42321991)

RMS won't be happy until the entire planet lives in hippie communes. You can't satisfy a person like that.

Of course you can satisfy RMS.

As long as you don't have cats, or dogs that bark, but net access with ssh-connection, and maybe a parrot to talk to, he might even find your house an acceptable place to stay [mysociety.org]

Re:Making RMS happy. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322725)

But for christ's sake don't buy a parrot just because he's visiting, dude would not be cool with that.

Re:that will make RMS happy? (1)

mihai.todor85 (1663759) | about 2 years ago | (#42319889)

Only if he can compile the schematics into chips.

Re:that will make RMS happy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42320023)

You can get those yourself with an electron microscope in most cases. Plus, unless you've got a ridiculous amount of money, you're not going to be replicating a chip anyways. You'll just worry about what goes in and what comes out. And hopefully it's always the same in all cases.

I don't care for RMS, but I think your comment is ridiculous. Now, if at some point in the future it becomes cost effective to make chips in quantities of 1 from ones own home, that might change. But for now, unless you've got hundreds of millions sitting around, or probably more, you're not going to be able to make much use of it anyways. The chip manufacturers pretty much always provide a compiler or make sure that there is one available that will work with the chips.

Re:that will make RMS happy? (1)

mihai.todor85 (1663759) | about 2 years ago | (#42320107)

Why so serious? :)

Re:that will make RMS happy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42320209)

Not enough emoticons or coffee. I'm not sure which, but one of them is lacking right now.

Re:that will make RMS happy? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 2 years ago | (#42322263)

Only if he can compile the schematics into chips.

Alas, at the moment it looks not to be - are there open-source schematic to RTL and RTL to transistor layout tools yet?

After all, the existing VHDL and Verilog compilers are horrendously buggy and expensive.

Re:that will make RMS happy? (3, Informative)

Tumbleweed (3706) | about 2 years ago | (#42320853)

RMS is not a destination; he is a journey.

RMS - a spark (2)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 2 years ago | (#42321169)

RMS is not a destination; he is a journey.

Actually, RMS is the STARTING POINT of (hopefully) a very llooooooooooonngg journey.
 
For every inferno, there must first be a spark that started it all.
 
RMS is _that_ spark.
 

Re:RMS - a spark (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42321487)

RMS is not a destination; he is a journey.

Actually, RMS is the STARTING POINT of (hopefully) a very llooooooooooonngg journey.

For every inferno, there must first be a spark that started it all.

RMS is _that_ spark.

Root-Mean-Square is neither a destination, journey or starting point. In locomotive terms I guess it would be analogous to continuous velocity, and as such it could be used to derive the peak velocity.

Really? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42319851)

Why?

dudes a cantonese dog (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42319857)

im surprised hes got time in between spitting and pooping on subways

Except that it's not (0)

acariquara (753971) | about 2 years ago | (#42319863)

Binary blobs required for 3D acceleration and many Wifi drivers. Nothing to see here.

Re:Except that it's not (1)

mihai.todor85 (1663759) | about 2 years ago | (#42319915)

Not necessarily [bunniestudios.com] . It depends on what your needs are and how much money are you willing to invest.

ARM is not open (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42319961)

It's a proprietary design. If you want open hardware you can have a look for example here:

http://opensparc.net/ [opensparc.net]

Re:ARM is not open (1)

mihai.todor85 (1663759) | about 2 years ago | (#42319999)

"401 Authorization Required" - The irony...

Actually closed-blob free? Re:Except that it's not (2)

Fubari (196373) | about 2 years ago | (#42320013)

"The bunnie" says otherwise (from The Fine Article's comment section):

bunnie says: December 16, 2012 at 3:20 am

Clarification: Wifi does not require a closed-source blob, if you use an Atheros 9k mPCI-x version. An example card is linked under the mPCIx feature bullet.

The USB card is provided as an option just in case you want to put something else in the mini PCI slot, or you wanted a second wifi interface for some reason. Also, the USB card is much cheaper than the mPCIx card, so it’s a cost-down option for those who don’t care as much about a small blob in the system. Basically, if you care about having no blob for wifi, you can pay for an option that is open source.

GPU, on the other hand, is probably out of reach. nvdia and ATI have set a pretty strong precedent for closed source drivers to use those elements, and the IP vendors for integrated GPUs (like Vivante) are following suit. However, GPU is non-essential IMO for a large application space.

An interesting project, I wish them luck. Even if it is never widely popular in the marketplace, who knows what spinoff projects this might launch?

Re:Actually closed-blob free? Re:Except that it's (0)

acariquara (753971) | about 2 years ago | (#42320045)

"The bunnie" says otherwise (from The Fine Article's comment section):

bunnie says:
December 16, 2012 at 3:20 am

Clarification: Wifi does not require a closed-source blob, if you use an Atheros 9k mPCI-x version

The USB card is provided as an option just in case you want to put something else in the mini PCI slot, or you wanted a second wifi interface for some reason. Also, the USB card is much cheaper than the mPCIx card, so it’s a cost-down option for those who don’t care as much about a small blob in the system. Basically, if you care about having no blob for wifi, you can pay for an option that is open source.

GPU, on the other hand, is probably out of reach. nvdia and ATI have set a pretty strong precedent for closed source drivers to use those elements, and the IP vendors for integrated GPUs (like Vivante) are following suit. However, GPU is non-essential IMO for a large application space.

An interesting project, I wish them luck. Even if it is never widely popular in the marketplace, who knows what spinoff projects this might launch?

Yeah, for Wifi IF you use one specific mPCI-x version, but he also ammends GPUs are "out of reach", as in "binary blobs required". So, from a purist point of view, no different than the myriad of ARM netbooks/tablets/convertibles/whatnot.

Re:Actually closed-blob free? Re:Except that it's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42320101)

horseshit.... how many netbooks/tablets/convertibles/whatnot have a RPi header + many servo/motor PWM capable controllers?

I can count them on no fingers.

Re:Actually closed-blob free? Re:Except that it's (1)

acariquara (753971) | about 2 years ago | (#42320165)

I'm not saying this is not a cool device. As cool as the Raspberry Pi for instance, but you can't say it's really "open hardware" if if needs binary blobs. Open is open, and this is not.

Re:Actually closed-blob free? Re:Except that it's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42320263)

You don't need a binary blob to boot to a console...

Re:Actually closed-blob free? Re:Except that it's (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42320397)

...because gaming is for fags, right?

Re:Actually closed-blob free? Re:Except that it's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42320703)

It's probably not for people with ARM CPUs in their open laptops.

Re:Actually closed-blob free? Re:Except that it's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322731)

You don't need a binary blob to boot to a console...

So fucking what? None of the typical PCs usually require binary blobs to boot to a simple console either.

Re:Actually closed-blob free? Re:Except that it's (1)

Splat (9175) | about 2 years ago | (#42320187)

horseshit.... how many netbooks/tablets/convertibles/whatnot have a RPi header + many servo/motor PWM capable controllers?

I can count them on no fingers.

So you're going to do what with this, put your entire laptop onto an RC Plane? No, for that you'd use a Pi, Arduino, or any more appropriate form factors. Same on a RPi shield - are you going to cut a hole in your keyboard for the shield to stick out?

Re:Except that it's not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42320231)

Binary blobs required for 3D acceleration and many Wifi drivers. Nothing to see here.

Stupid.

Would you be happier if the chips had on-board flash and loaded their binary blobs without the OS' involvement? Then what would you find to complain about?

What's the difference between hardware you can't touch, other than via its documented interfaces, and "software" running on that hardware that you can't touch, other than those same documented interfaces?

Did you know your SSD drives are running real software, often on embedded (and occasionally multi-core) ARMs? Whether or not the "binary blobs" are visible, most hardware hardware has software running on it.

Re:Except that it's not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42320347)

Do you think that makes it better or worse?

Also many SSDs may be running GPL'ed software and noone would know.

Re:Except that it's not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42321159)

I think it makes the complaint pointless. Unless you get every single schematic, and every single breakdown of every single chip, and the fabs to produce those chips, and the EE skills to work on the hardware and decipher the chip designs, and the source/assembly for all the MCUs and embedded ARMs and whatever else, then you have "binary blobs" *everywhere*.

The fact that the "binary blobs" are loaded from the OS instead of internal flash, or having their logic implemented in hardware, is a pointless distinction.

Re:Except that it's not (1)

snadrus (930168) | about 2 years ago | (#42320699)

Would you trust a network card with a Chinese binary blob to run it? My strawman could have a much bigger backdoor than the average blob'ed SSD.
The difference is also what we give the future: "Greek Fire" in ancient times won them many battles, only we have no idea how they made it today.

Re:Except that it's not (1)

davydagger (2566757) | about 2 years ago | (#42320917)

we have equivs like napalm, and white phosporous.

Re:Except that it's not (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42321233)

Would you trust a network card with a Chinese binary blob to run it? My strawman could have a much bigger backdoor than the average blob'ed SSD.

What do you think those Chinese-manufactured chips are if not binary blobs? The fact that the logic isn't loaded by the OS doesn't make a whit of difference.

resolution resolution resolution... (1)

rroman (2627559) | about 2 years ago | (#42320259)

If the hardware would be good enough, mainly the screen with good resolution (FullHD and more) it could be interesting for me. There simply are almost no options for people who want good notebook with high resolution without Windows preinstalled.

And a matte screen. (1)

taxman_10m (41083) | about 2 years ago | (#42320795)

None of that glossy shit.

need more usb ports 2 is way to few (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#42320349)

need more usb ports 2 is way to few

Re:need more usb ports 2 is way to few (1)

Christian Smith (3497) | about 2 years ago | (#42320431)

need more usb ports 2 is way to few

Pah, USB hubs are cheap.

Re:need more usb ports 2 is way to few (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 2 years ago | (#42320475)

USB hub? Bluetooth? WiFi?

Re:need more usb ports 2 is way to few (1)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#42320541)

need more usb ports 2 is way to few

They can get rid of one of the ethernet ports, 2 on a laptop is not needed.

Re:need more usb ports 2 is way to few (1)

mattr (78516) | about 2 years ago | (#42322785)

This is so it can act as a filter/router he says. There is a use case someone wanted something like this just recently on /.

Re:need more usb ports 2 is way to few (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about 2 years ago | (#42320635)

What for? Moderns motherboards have about 10, and I don't think most people use them for anything else than keyboard+mouse. And since this is a laptop, it unlikely even a usb keyboard would be used.

Just because they're cheap and everybody give you more than you use doesn't mean they're needed.

Re:need more usb ports 2 is way to few (2)

davydagger (2566757) | about 2 years ago | (#42320939)

and forget digital cameras, USB Sticks/card readers, external HD's.

3 is the magic number, at least for laptops, that permits most reasonable combinations of commonly used devices for most common scenarios.

6 is also nice.

Re:need more usb ports 2 is way to few (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42321139)

But 5 is right out.

Re:need more usb ports 2 is way to few (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42321063)

External HDD, USB stick with bookmarks etc., trackball mouse, proper keyboard, digitizer tablet, USB cable to charge phone, flatbed scanner, local printer, cable to sync MP3 player.

Re:need more usb ports 2 is way to few (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42321117)

Just get a USB hub, goddamnit.

Re:need more usb ports 2 is way to few (2)

Miamicanes (730264) | about 2 years ago | (#42322429)

Or better yet, stick a powered USB hub into the power brick like Lenovo does with one of their power supplies (http://www.amazon.com/Lenovo-57Y4600-ThinkPad-65W-Adapter/dp/B0044KR91U) . Sigh. Dammit Lenovo, can you PLEASE make this in 95-watt size? (for those who don't know, 65W is enough to run a Thinkpad OR charge its battery, but not both at once. To charge AND run simultaneously, you need 95w).

Combine a USB3 hub with beefy power brick big enough to supply the laptop itself with 95w so we can use it to power a bright second travel monitor, and there'd be just two words to describe it: Flawless Perfection.

Re:need more usb ports 2 is way to few (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322763)

Kensington also makes a PSU with USB [kensington.com] .

Re:need more usb ports 2 is way to few (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 2 years ago | (#42320659)

it's a laptop. I don't think I've ever used more than 1 USB at a time on my laptop, because the keyboard and mouse are already there.

USB 2.0 (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 2 years ago | (#42320937)

But why not USB 3.0?

Re:USB 2.0 (1)

Nimey (114278) | about 2 years ago | (#42321073)

Most likely there's not a sufficiently Free USB3 implementation to make it into the design.

Re:USB 2.0 (5, Funny)

chaered (1834264) | about 2 years ago | (#42321095)

I want USB 3.14 -- it has rounder cables.

Re:USB 2.0 (1)

Whiteox (919863) | about 2 years ago | (#42322085)

My USB goes to 11.

Re:USB 2.0 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322851)

Actually, I'm looking forward to the 3.142 spec. Sure, it's just a minor update to the 3.14 platform, but you will really want that if you are serious about your cable roundness.

Re:USB 2.0 (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | about 2 years ago | (#42322593)

USB 3.0? It's an ARM based design that uses a SD card for storage... how are you going to saturate even USB 2.0?

And here I was, all excited, thinking someone had designed their own *laptop* and not an oversized clamshell smartphone... :(

scratching an itch that may not exist (1, Interesting)

hhw (683423) | about 2 years ago | (#42321201)

What exact benefit does this supposedly 'open' laptop have over just buying something like a Thinkpad that uses Intel components that are well-supported by open source drivers on open source operating systems (Linux, *BSD, etc.)? If it's to promote the use of standardized components that can be re-used in different laptop designs, it may serve to reduce costs or to increase the useful life of some of those parts. On the other hand, the standardization would also limit designs and prevent some cutting edge innovations from being utilized. All-in-all, as great as it's been to have interchangeable components on desktop builds, there's a reason why there's been limited standardization on laptops and servers, where innovation has more benefit. And considering how inexpensive laptops have already become simply due to competition, I see there being little to gain but much to lose from this approach.

Re:scratching an itch that may not exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42321357)

None. This is Bunnie's pet project. He may or may not actually sell these.

Re:scratching an itch that may not exist (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42321407)

RTFA. This guy is making the laptop he wants, the way he wants it.

One of the features: dual ethernet jacks, so he can use the laptop as a packet filter or firewall.

Another one of the features: an analog meter. He's setting it up for software control so it can display battery life, audio peak loudness, or silly things like time of day represented as the position of a single needle.

He doesn't claim anyone else wants one. He did say that if, after he does all the work, there is sufficient interest, that he might do a kickstarter.

I presume this meets with your approval?

Re:scratching an itch that may not exist (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | about 2 years ago | (#42322457)

Dual ethernet jacks are kind of silly, just because USB ethernet jacks now cost about $10, and are now almost smaller than a PCMCIA ethernet jack dongle ALONE used to be 15 years ago.

On the other hand, a real sliding switch to physically cut the connection to the speakers, so you can safely boot up someplace where you CAN NOT have it making noise... well, that's another matter entirely, because that's NOT something an end user can go graft onto the system himself after purchase (at least, not without completely destroying the laptop's resale value).

Re:scratching an itch that may not exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42321607)

The benefit is to experiment and to gain knowledge from the process. This is one man's hobby or goal, and as such the only real benefit is for him. If other people are interested maybe he will make money. He never said he was going to sell one to you, or that you had to buy one. People noticed he was doing something interesting and decided to share. Go back to whatever you were doing that was more beneficial to humanity than this.

Re:scratching an itch that may not exist (3, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | about 2 years ago | (#42321729)

My personal itch is that we are at a point where BIOS and firmware can be suspected of hiding some backdoors. Having a verifiable design with 100% of the source of any code running on any chip inside is actually an interesting goal.

signed compiler (1)

stooo (2202012) | about 2 years ago | (#42322925)

>> Having a verifiable design with 100% of the source of any code running on any chip inside is actually an interesting goal

We still cannot be sure that this is the code that really runs on the target.
Who will invent signed/verifiable compilation / code distribution???

Re:signed compiler (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | about 2 years ago | (#42323187)

Compile it yourself, then.

Re:scratching an itch that may not exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42321769)

Diversity is a good thing. I don't mean the bs multiculturalism that says we shouldn't think about cultures and just call them equivocal; I mean that diversity of players, forces, designs, technology, etc., are good from many perspectives, one in particular being paramount: denying one or two players total control or decision-making, given human nature.
 
But beyond that, this is /.--why's there have to be an immediate overall benefit to everyone or anyone in particular, rather than enjoying that someone else is exploring some nerdiness, and letting us in on it? If this works and is not too expensive it may even let others be even nerdier too.

Re:scratching an itch that may not exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42321999)

In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few - Shunryu Suzuki

Re:scratching an itch that may not exist (1)

dissy (172727) | about 2 years ago | (#42322091)

What exact benefit does this supposedly 'open' laptop have over just buying something
*snip*
I see there being little to gain but much to lose from this approach.

Oh great. Now we are not allowed to create a personal hobby electronics project that does not meet your approval, or that of the market?

What next, I am not allowed to use my gcc compiler to write a program just because I want to write a program for myself, unless it meets your approval and is marketable?

Re:scratching an itch that may not exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322129)

It looks like I would be more supportive of this effort if the graphics component was not dependent on a blob (and simply being able to boot without it is NOT enough). I'm all for supporting companies like ThinkPenguin which are making a difference although this project is missing something big. I don't care to see another "almost free" system appear. It's got to kick the last bits out that aren't free. Otherwise I'm sticking to my x86 system which isn't dependent on the non-free bits for graphics, sound, wifi, etc.

I read enough to know there are major issues with this “open” laptop that I can't support it. Maybe that will change.

I disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322205)

You're living in an imaginary reality where there is no possibility of a handful of vendors dominating the market. It''s always better to have open source alternatives to insure that startups have something to work with, and it doesn't in any way impede the "cutting edge".
It's the opposite. Engineering enthusiasts and hobbyists come up with a myriad of ways to use a new platform large corporations invariably don't think of. We could see much greater innovation in laptops through this - the kind of concept laptops that are just mockups in some unused lab in some company would become a reality.

Re:scratching an itch that may not exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322331)

That's some fine flamebait, well done sir!

Did you *read* the article? (4, Informative)

Chirs (87576) | about 2 years ago | (#42322493)

This motherboard has a built-in FPGA, multiple channels of analog/digital I/O, PWM output, Rasp-Pi compatible header (to allow use of R-Pi accessory boards), builtin speaker amp (for small speakers, but still), 3 UARTs, and a USB-OTG port.

This is a hardware hacker's *dream* system.

Re:Did you *read* the article? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42323173)

Agreed.

Re:scratching an itch that may not exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322529)

What exact benefit does this supposedly 'open' laptop have over just buying something like a Thinkpad that uses Intel components that are well-supported by open source drivers on open source operating systems (Linux, *BSD, etc.)?

Why build any mechanical or electronic item yourself when you can just buy an assembled one?
The hams and hackers sometimes come up with innovations that large manufacturers copy later. And sometimes they just make a better product because no one's offering them cash to bundle crapware with it or spy on their customers, or they don't limit functionality to justify the price of an unlocked model, or they don't design obsolescence into it.
It's good for consumers to be aware of open source alternatives. It makes them less tolerant of evils like ridiculous software patents and the erosion of the doctrine of first sale etc.

I see there being little to gain but much to lose from this approach.

Could you expand on what there is to lose?

Re:scratching an itch that may not exist (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | about 2 years ago | (#42322743)

On the other hand, the standardization would also limit designs and prevent some cutting edge innovations from being utilized.

No, I strongly disagree with this sentiment.

Standardization sets the baseline. Take HTML for instance. What if there was no openly accepted standard in the early days? It'd have taken a lot longer for things to take off; the improvements, variations, and deviations (MS HTML, VRML, HTML 4.0, etc.) would not have occurred. Everyone would've been attempting to (more or less) completely one-up the other person (see: Flash) and nobody would benefit until a monopoly were established, forcing everyone else out.

In the case of hardware: if you have a standard, then anyone can create components for it. Without the standard, it is essentially locked down. "We have a sound mixing device compatible with the board", "we have a video processor card compatible with the board", "we have an extended run battery pack for the board", and so on. If I recall correctly, having a simple hardware interface standard was what made Nintendo so wildly popular with the NES, back in the day (regarding things like controllers and other misc. input). While everyone else did crazy things to retain control and make it complicated, Nintendo made it a simple serial interface.

As someone who has attempted doing just this (albeit almost 7 years ago, now), let me just say: I want one. My ultimate goal was a 'laptop' which could be both always on and have a day or more worth of connectivity (massive battery). The biggest problem I ran into was trying to figure out how to make the case and how to interface a board with a monitor of suitable/proper size. Thankfully, options for monitors looks a little more mature nowadays with the prevalence of tablets, and ARM hardware has improved markedly as well while dropping in price.

The case is really what held me up. I had no idea how to get something useable with the materials I had. Fortunately, we have something now available to us which was not available then: printable 3D objects. If someone were to design a laptop chassis CAD file around one or two commonly available components (an inexpensive/common LCD panel, and the Lenovo UltraNav keyboard) we would be well on our way to something useable, I think. Make it 'shim layered' in design, so you print the whole thing out, reinforce it with metal (possibly thin metal rods/tubing in key structural tension points, like around the display bevel and longitudinally across the base

As for the board, I think SATA is mostly extraneous at this point for most laptops. miniPCIe is going to suit most needs for storage in a mobile device where USB and SD do not. The idea of having a rotating platter in a laptop is really quite extraneous and risky these days.

Re:scratching an itch that may not exist (1)

nazsco (695026) | about 2 years ago | (#42323167)

Because all thinkpads came with a portable fpga and cpu Ports...

RhombusTech? (2)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about 2 years ago | (#42321275)

Yet another open hardware project?

Might he combine resources with Luke Leighton, who as recently as last week was interviewed about a FSF endorsable arch, in addition to his eoma-68 project?

Diversity is good but with economies of scale there's a KDE tablet, Golden Delicious openmoko successor, replicant.us and geeksphone all promising varying degrees of openness but failing to develop much of a market up against the big boys...

sounds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322273)

like you're angry that there isn't enough progress in open hardware for smart phones. There's really not much need for that. Smartphones already have the sensors you need and want and the app ecosystems to power them. Would be nice for security and privacy though.

Good effort (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42321277)

It's not ideal but a big step in the right direction for me. I'm very much interested in getting one of these but need to take the time to carefully compare it with the Open Pandora. It's a shame about the graphics, I'll be looking at taking the graphics as far as possible with open source drivers.

TRROLKORE (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42321315)

clearly. The8e [goat.cx]
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