Group: Hardware/TODO/DUPLICATE INFO/Freest

From LibrePlanet
Jump to: navigation, search


For projects that don't fit into a portable device or "desktop" type of device. the project is not just a device but instead are a concept/design/way of doing things/implementation/innovation/formfactor/etc.

h-node, hardware database of free software compatible devices

H-node is a handy database of devices that work with a fully free operating system. You can check out h-node and utilize its features here:


going above the diagonal yet practical. I'll hope add more info later. see website and mailing list for now.

Crowd fund for first product is in pre-lunch signup to be notified!

Embedded Type Hardware

Generic Info

  • no BOIS instead you have uboot which is free but I'm not sure if there's cases where it is contamited with non-free code.
  • 3D acceleration = nightmare. all drivers and firmware are proprietary. however some have been reverse engined. like Mail ones.
  • _each_ device has to be especially supported in the kernel and is time consuming. most products are stuck to old kernel without huge effort to update it and thats when the drivers and firmware are free when there not you can forget it.
  • more efficient than x86
  • the way to go for a small battery powered device.
  • it is possible to have a 100% free software system - including the boot firmware!
  • projects like rhombus-tech are providing a solution to these sorts of problems.


Lemote Yeeloong 8089 and 8101

The Lemote Yeeloong is the first fully free laptop, including the bootloader(that replaces the BIOS) and the operating system.There are no firmwares in the wifi card. gNewSense MetaD mipsel is already available for this laptop, and used by Richard Stallman.


  • MIPS 64 CPU@800MHz
  • 512MB or 1GB of DDR2 RAM
  • 1024x600 screen
  • 160GB hard disk or 2GB SSD or 8GB SSD

Non-Free Components

While Lemote has made an amazing effort to make the hardware as free as they possibly could, there are still a few non-free software components (in the form of binary blobs):

  • The Embedded Controller (EC) - Code belongs to Quanta, Lemote cannot release. Lemote has agreed to not release nonfree update code; from a freedom point of view, it can be treated as unmodifiable hardware. However this is suboptimal, so there is a project to make OpenEC work on it (#gnewsense-dev channel on freenode IRC).
  • Hard Disk firmware (on hard disk itself)


The touchbook is based on a beagleboard,it has non-free 3d,but using 3d is not mandatory(you can use omapfb). The wifi requires a firmware,but the wifi card is usb,and you can easily open the device and change the usb wifi card. The other things beside the Others CPU(DSP etc...) seem free.

The first thing to liberate it is to change distribution for another one that doesn't use the 3d driver if it exist. Then you have to change the wifi usb card,which is easy. Then if you're in DSP programming you could look at the work of Benoit Papegay for making the same for omap3.

Penguin International GNU/Linux Notebook

Like all other x86 notebooks the Penguin International is dependent on some non-free code due to the non-trivial nature of porting a free BIOS and other microcode. What makes this notebook different is all the major chipsets are free software compatible and there are no digital restrictions. There is support for 3d acceleration and wireless using free software. The laptop ships with Trisquel and can be ordered with other free distributions. It also has international support with various keyboard layouts and AC adapters to choose from.

For more information see:



These systems at minimum should have:

  • The ability to work stand-alone - no reliance on other computers being available
  • Libre boot firmware (BIOS)
  • No components that can not be replaced by a person with a screwdriver that require drivers with binary blobs to function
    • Usually wifi adapters and graphics adapters are the issues here - you can help with this if you are a hacker with appropriate skills...
  • Not make an insane amount of noise or have a form factor that is aimed at the server market

Comparison: Basic properties

Release year Approx System Price Architecture Boot firmware Wifi chipset Video chipset Links
BeagleBoard RevC2 2008 $206.30[1] armel u-boot - PowerVR[2] Detailed Specifications
ThinCan DBE61C-USB 2005 $395
(for 2)
i386 coreboot[3] - ? todo
OLinuXino 2012 $60 ARM Cortex-A8 (Allwinner A13) uboot on GNU/Linux, nonfree bootloader on Android RTL8188CU (nonfree,optional) Mali-400 (free drivers exist) (?)
Improv (modular enclosed cpu card and feature board) 2014 $75 ARM Cortex-A7 (Allwinner A20) u-boot-sunxi none (maybe in future feature boards) Mali-400 GPU driver: lima driver, Boot: u-boot-sunxi

Comparison: Where purchasable and lowest-cost shipping option

BeagleBoard RevC2 Yes $22
ThinCan DBE61C-USB Yes $125
A13 OLinuXino without Wifi/Android Yes $60
Improv (includes feature board) No. Available in: US and Europe. More "soon" $75

Please use ISO Country Codes.

World indicates that there is at least one reseller that is willing to ship anywhere in the world as a standard part of their business.

BeagleBoard RevC2

  • 3D graphics require a binary blob, but you can just not use 3D graphics.
  • Boot loader is u-boot. ROM source isn't open, but ROM is really ROM, in the chip, not flashable from software. There is a loader between the ROM and u-boot called x-loader, but it is based on u-boot and is free software.
  • x-loader is also called MLO when put on a sd-card : from the #beagle channel: "<khasim> MLO is x-loader, x-loader is strip down version of u-boot, used to get a minimal bootloader onto OMAP3's internal RAM, generally used with NAND and MMC booting as they are don't support executing in place"
  • the tools for compiling and flashing x-loader are free software : "<Gnutoo> ok are the tools for compiling x-loader and flashing it free software? => <jpirko> Gnutoo: yes" and the source of some uttilities can be find here
  • The Always Innovating Touch Book is basically a BeagleBoard in a (*really* :-) nice case.
  • See IRC logs starting here for more...
  • It's *really* tiny. The box is about the size of 2 packs of playing cards.
  • Kridner observed that the board's HDMI video port is not actually HDMI-compliant. However, he said it "works great" with low-cost HDMI-to-DVI adapters and ordinary LCD flat panel displays. "The splashscreen is 1280 x 1024, but the bottleneck is on the pixel clock, which has a 75MHz limitation. So right now we can do 720p — 1280 x 720 — at 30 frames per second," he said. [1] - This is good as HDMI is usually DRM-encumbered [2].

  • lshw output

Output from lshw.


ThinCan DBE61C-USB

Really expensive shipping.

  • lshw output

Output from lshw.


Allwinner Devices

See some of the freedom details regarding Allwinner SoCs here: Group:Hardware/Single_Board_Computers

Make Play Live's Improv

The Improv seems to be the result of this project. The parent company is listed as a partner.

  • bootloader in ROM
  • free driver for Mali400 has been reverse engineered
  • the WiFi enabled version ships with nonfree android, WiFi requires a binary blob
  • Think Penguin sells freedom friendly WiFi adapters
  • can be used as a freedombox
  • runs Debian GNU/Linux

The OLinuXino-LIME uses an Allwinner A10 SoC, it's probably similar to the other, A13-OLinuXino board (more evaluation needed), though enlosures seem to be avalible. Looks as if it can run Debian

Machines to evaluate when possible


Available in Europe from Lemote Fuloong 6004 Linux mini PC. Price: 215.00 € excl. VAT, excl. delivery.

(But be aware that some boards use the Intel Curie as a co-processor and actually boot off UEFI ... *grumbles* proprietary *grumbles*) - J05HYYY (talk) 03:18, 2 July 2016 (EDT)


  • Some server can be bought with coreboot pre-installed,informations are here


A lot of router run or are capable of running a GNU/Linux distribution,but most of them have non-free wifi drivers despite of having a free bootloader(which replace the bios). Consider getting a router compatible with librewrt.

  • Mesh talks about some specific ath9k wifi access points / routers

Mini Computers

Qi Ben Nanonote

  • Qi-Hardware is a project that works around copyleft hardware its first product is called Ben NanoNote
  • The Ben Nanonote is supported by librewrt


Zipit Z2

Mozzwald's ZipIt Z2 Info

free software is not a priority for the community around the zipit. You can run your time with just free software but for the wifi firmware buy using mozzwalds flashstock to flash uboot and the openwrt distribution. Don't know if theres other non-free bits though laying around in the system but not required.

  • same form factor as the Nano Note but thicker.
  • wifi which needs non-free firmware.
  • usb 1.1 host via expansion connector
  • 32mb ram
  • 6mb NAND flash!
  • MiniSD not microsd. you can buy micro to mini sd card adaptors from places like
  • cheep, can be got for £18~

Mobile Phones and PDA / Tablets

Openmoko freerunner(not the GTA01)

  • Neo Freerunner is currently the most free mobile phone, however no 100% free software distribution for it exist, debian is the closest one.
The good
  • all what runs on the main CPU is free
  • it uses a standard GNU/Linux distribution
  • several GNU/Linux distributions avaliable such as:
    • SHR
    • Debian
    • QTMoko
  • free schematics
  • debug board avaliable(JTAG+serial)
  • 2 bootloaders so you can realy be free and change your bootloader without risks

The bad

  • Some units are affected by a buzz(strong noise during calls),but there were buzz-fix parties,and some resellers sell fixed phones
  • Glamo chip:
    • compatibility problems with some micro-sd cards
  • The basses are filtred on the headphones output...because of a capacitor which value was too low(can't be fixed)
  • non-free firmwares:
    • GPS
    • GSM (There is a project at to create a free software GSM firmware)
    • WIFI(beware hardmac...that is to say that the wifi connection stack is in the firmware)
  • Me and other people experienced gprs connection drop with SIP
  • Others bugs/problems are in the bugtracker
  • The openmoko company had economic problems and transferred the development of the next phones,and the task of maintaining the current software to the community
  • non-free uttility needed in order to update the GSM's firmware(only needed if you want to update the gsm's firmware because of bugs such as the non recognition of some sim cards)


  • The GTA04 is the second most free software friendly mobile phone: it comes after the openmoko because it has a non-free Wifi firmware.
  • It contains way more recent hardware and way less hardware bugs.
  • There is a port of Replicant in progress for it.



Replicant is an active project to free various Android phones under Android.


See the Replicant website for a list of supported phones.

NOTES on openmoko and android:
  • The freerunner is only able to run old versions of android.
  • The freerunner is armv4 while most native android applications are armv6-novfp at minimum. Pure Java applications seem not to be a problem.
  • The openmoko phone is capable of running a free version of android(without google stuff,see [3]). There are several ways of having a fully free android for the freerunner:
    • Compiling the image yourself
    • using a user-generated rootfs [5]
    • Using a kooolu[8] image but removing the non-free software: In order to do that you must replace the userdata.img by one from a user-generated rootfs [5]
Notes on compiling and the SDK
  • Replicant makes sure that you can compile it on 100% free software Distributions such as trisquel.
  • The SDK produced by replicant is free software.
  • The official Google SDK seem non-free.
  • look if there is 2d acceleration for kdrive/xorg


  • "More annoying, though, is that the phone requires the creation of a Gmail account as part of its setup process. The fact that one does not have - and does not want - such an account is not relevant. So now your editor has an entry in the Gmail account database which will never be used." [8]
  • "Once you have overcome this stage you will notice that there is sporadic data traffic without letting you know who accesses the net with which information and why. Even worse if you enabled GPS sometimes you see the GPS getting a fix and then data traffic, WTF!? Here I would wish more control. On Series60 you can choose to be asked to allow data connections." [1]

[2] inside [8]
[3] as explained here there are several modalities for a vendor to put android on a phone
[4] "JDK 5.0, update 12 or higher. Java 6 is not supported, because of incompatibilities with @Override." in
[7] IRC logs:in #freerunner-android in freenode
[8] Jul 05 16:15:04 <Gnutoo> so basically your images(so not koolu's ones that have skype) are 100% free
Jul 05 16:16:41 <serdar> but not working well
[9] /proprietary G1 files
[10] /freedroid

Walkmans/Music players

See Group:Hardware/Devices/Music_players


There are generally two ways to identify free software compatible components. One way is by the model number and the other is by the chipset(s). Selecting a piece of hardware based on the model number can be challenging. This is because most companies go through many iterations of a product and not all iterations will use the same chipset(s). Since you need a compatible chipset you never know if the product you are getting will work. Some companies advertise Linux compatibility even when there is no mainline kernel support or project to back it. Frequently these companies don't offer any end-user support and rely on non-free non-redistributable drivers or firmware. This violates the core tenants of free software and is incompatible with free software distribution models., a vendor focused on GNU/Linux and free software is trying to fix some of these problems by working with distributions, chipset developers, and manufacturers. Many components can now be purchased from the company that don't come encumbered with these problems. All products in the companies catalog are free software compatible. Trisquel is fully supported and even has its own portal at where 25% of the profits go to the distribution. The company also sponsors other projects through various means.

Graphic cards

  • Free Graphic cards drivers must be checked in order to see if there are some sort of microcode loaded.

Intel Cards

Most of intel card come with a free software driver but some cards like the GMA 500 are instead a Powervr which lacks free software driver for something else than framebuffer.
Note that the Poulsbo chipset incorporate a Powervr

Ati Cards

The status of the most common Ati chipset support in the free software driver can be found here.

Warning: Most of the free drivers are currently depend on the non-free binary firmwares from Linux, which were removed from the Linux-libre (liberated version of Linux). That means that there is no 2D/3D acceleration support currently for most of the ATI chipsets in the free GNU/Linux distributions.

Also there are report that some very recent cards fail to work without the non-free firmware.

The correspondence between the chips and the cards models are here

Nvidia Cards

The support for Nvidia cards in the free software driver(nouveau) is very experimental,status can be find here,there is also a Status Matrix

Wifi cards

  • ath5k
  • ath9k
  • ath9k_htc with the free firmware
  • rtl8187
  • rt2500
  • some b43 card with openfwwf


Mainboards for x86 system

Usually Mainboards comes with a bios already present,but that's not always the case:

  • some alix boards but not all of them comes with a free software replacement for the BIOS named tinybios The alix board have a free software VSA but that can only be built with proprietary microsoft compiler for now.
  • some system can be bought with coreboot preinstalled(where?)
  • Otherwise the only solution is to install coreboot if the mainboard is suported or port it if the chip are suported but not the mainboard.

WARNING: BE SURE TO HAVE A RECOVERY METHOD(external flashing or a second flash chip with a working image inside...) IN CASE WHEN THE MAINBOARD DOESN'T BOOT ANYMORE.

Here is the list of Supported Motherboards, WARNING not all mainboard are euals in freedom.


See Group:Hardware/Freest/e-readers

Other Hardware

PLCC Writer

  • - openbiosprog is a fully Open Hardware and Free Software USB-based programmer for BIOS chips. The first version will support Low Pin Count (LPC), Firmware Hub (FWH) and SPI chips, later versions might add support for parallel flash chips. The microcontroller firmware is GPL (version 3 or later), the user-space source code is part of flashrom (GPL, version 2), the schematics and PCB layouts are licensed under the CC-BY-SA 3.0 license.

Incoming Hardware


Milkymist (2011) is one of the leading open source system-on-chip designs. It is today the fastest open source system-on-chip capable of running Linux, and it comes with an extensive set of features and graphics accelerators.

More info at the product's homepage.

Note: this SoC is discontinued but, the folks behind it have said that MiSoC is the spiritual successor of Milkymist.

Hobbyist hardware

  • BUGlabs's bug:
    • Has non-free wifi firmwares but one can plug a wifi USB card(even works on battery)
    • is not supported yet by a 100% free software distribution.
    • The rest is Free software.
  • Arduino
  • Pinguino,the blog of the project is here
  • Improv - from reading Aaron Seigo's introduction, it seems to be quite focussed on freedom. The free driver for the GPU works but is slow (I'm told it "just barely plays Doom 3") and a proprietary blob exists and is commonly used, so one has to watch out to avoid this. Project died due to other problems and not getting enough orders in needed time frame. however it's partner who MPL was a client of is still forging ahead see rhombus-tech section of this wiki page.

See Also

Mediawiki-related work in progress

Looks like we need some things that are on wikipedia mediawiki [3] but not here or default in 1.15.1 [4] for this to look good. I'm copying a lot of syntax from this wikipedia article [5].

Specifically this syntax is not working completely:

Template syntax


Example: style="background: #90ff90; color: black; vertical-align: middle; text-align: center; " class="table-yes"|Yes


  1. BeagleBoard + Power Supply + Case
  2. (framebuffer can be used without proprietary driver, 3D needs proprietary drivers)
  3. states that "USB boot is not possible without highly experimental code."