Huang designs an open-source laptop

Posted by Shane McGlaun

Laptop powered by open operating system and designed around open hardware.

If you follow the technology world and the exploits of hardware hackers who like to mod devices such as Xbox 360 game consoles, you will unbdoubtedly recognize the name Bunnie Huang.

Huang is a notable hardware hacker who in 2010 leapt to the defense of one Matthew Crippen when he ran afoul of the federal government for running a business modding Xbox 360s in his garage.

We haven't really discussed Huang 2010, but he is back along with some pals and a new design for an open laptop. Not only will this device run Linux, the laptop design will also be freely available for anyone to download, modify and use as they see fit. 

The project - codenamed Novena - currently includes designs for a mainboard and battery board. Hardware includes a 1.2 GHz Freescale i.MX6 ARM Cortex-A9 quad-core processor paired with a Vivante GC2000 GPU (graphics). The above-mentioned processor isn't exactly a speed demon, but it is fast enough for the Linux operating system, especially Ubuntu.

The laptop design is said to be remarkably open - as the only proprietary drivers required are for Wi-Fi and graphics modules. The design is described as a DIY project for now. However, Huang says that if the project gathers enough interest he might eventually launch a campaign via Kickstarter to build notebooks for people who are interested.

Other key features of the open notebook design include a Raspberry Pi compatible expansion header, a single DDR3 SO-DIMM, an available interface for mobile data cards, USB Wi-Fi module header on the board, a direct drive for a resistive touchscreen and an integrated digital microphone.