The Mer-Powered "Improv" Board Is Running Behind Schedule
Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 26 February 2014 at 07:44 AM EST. Add A Comment
Many Phoronix readers may recall the Improv ARM development board announced back in November that would be comprised of "open hardware" and be running Mer OS and compatible with Wayland. The Improv board was worked on by Aaron Seigo and other KDE developers with a focus on running either the Plasma desktop or Plasma Active, among other possibilities. While they hoped to ship the Improv in January, it's still not shipping yet to those who ordered.

It's been a tough challenge for a KDE Plasma Active tablet to materialize and it's also looking that way for the Improv ARM development board. When the ARM development board was announced, it was advertised as "shipping to North America and Europe near the end of January." A Phoronix reader wrote in this morning to remind us know that now at the end of February and there's still troubles in shipping out the Improv.

Aaron Seigo posted a few days ago in some MakePlayLive threads about the updates on the Improv coming forward, but there's no signals yet of a definitive ship date. The MakePlayLive product web-site is now advertising "Purchase today for shipping in March." The cost is still $75 plus shipping and now may finally ship next month as the Improv's SoC just becomes more outdated compared to more modern ARM designs.

This $75 (USD) ARM development board is based on the Allwinner A20 SoC with a dual-core ARM Cortex-A7 processor and there's 1GB of system memory. The hardware is far from impressive and really is only worthwhile if you really want to be about the "open hardware" spirit, like the modularity of the Improv, or appreciate the open community work going on within the Allwinner Linux community (largely at

The Improv is just one step better than the Raspberry Pi; those after more useful ARM hardware that's still Linux friendly and capable of much more, I would recommend the ODROIDs, CompuLab Utilite, or even the Samsung A15 Chromebook over the Improv for getting a much better bang for your buck with ARM Linux hardware. If you are after low-cost Linux hardware and going for x86 hardware, the new Intel Bay Trail NUC Kit is fantastic on Linux, among many other interesting Linux systems frequently covered on Phoronix.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

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