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Andrew “Bunnie” Huang, a well-known hacker who hacked the original Xbox game console, announced a project dubbed Novena, an open-source laptop.
Above: Andrew “Bunnie” Huang
Image Credit: Dean Takahashi
Speaking at the Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose, Calif., Huang said that the hardware and software specs for the machine will be made openly available for anyone to use.
The funding for the project is being raised via crowdfunding on Crowd Supply. The machine is designed to be open, flexible, and powerful. It can be used as a desktop, laptop, or a stand-alone board.
“You can go to the site, download the schematics and everything,” Huang said in his speech. “Everything that we could engineer we have released for you to download and paly with.”
The basic Novena 1100 has a 1.2-gigahertz Freescale quad-core ARM-based processor that is closely coupled with a Xilinx field-programmable gate array chip. Users will be able to modify or extend the hardware as they wish, as all of the documentation is open and free to download. The entire operating system is buildable from source code.
The crowdfunding campaign will end on May 18. The board itself is $500. The desktop is $1,195, and the laptop is $1,995. The machines will come with Debian (GNU/Linux) pre-installed. It is not aimed at your everyday consumer.
In a description, Huang said, “This is not a machine for the faint of heart. It’s an open source project, which means part of the joy – and frustration – of the device is that it is continuously improving. This will be perhaps the only laptop that ships with a screwdriver; you’ll be required to install the battery yourself, screw on the LCD bezel of your choice, and you’ll get the speakers as a kit, so you don’t have to use our speaker box design – if you have access to a 3D printer, you can make and fine tune your own speaker box.”
Huang is working on the project with fellow hacker “xobs,” or Sean Cross. They are operating under the name Sutajio Kosagi. They started it as a hobby project in June 2012. By December, tey had their first working board.