That Open, Upgradeable ARM Dev Board Is Trying To Make A Comeback

Written by Michael Larabel in Arm on 2 July 2016 at 08:22 AM EDT. 203 Comments
Remember that Improv Dev Board using an open-source, upgradeable design and running Mer from 2013~2014 before the project collapsed? It's back now in the form of a new crowdfunding campaign with some changes to the hardware and the option of a build-your-own laptop.

Several Phoronix readers have been writing in this week asking I write about this EOMA68 Micro-Desktop campaign that's trying to make this project finally a reality. One of the readers wrote in and summed it up nicely, "The guy behind this project is the guy that collaborated with the one of the KDE guys to try and produce the KDE-based vivaldi tablet, which ultimately failed (for a number of political and technical reasons as I understand). Now admittedly, I was pretty bummed out when that old improv crowdfunding campaign went belly-up (I decided to back that project as well... back in the day). Following that incident, the main desginer/creator of the concept Luke Leighton, made a number of revisions to the modular hardware specification to further furture-proof the design (he has mentioned that he plans to support the spec for the next 10 years) and also, he finally was able to get himself a sponsor who not only supports the project at a financial level but, also at an ideological level."

For $65, their "Libre Tea Computer Card" has an Allwinner A20 SoC with 2GB of RAM and 8GB of NAND Flash. They will be trying to get the Free Software Foundation's Respect-Your-Freedom certification on this hardware and ship with a Linux-libre distribution or alternatively there's an option for Debian.

If pledging $450 USD, you can get a laptop housing kit that includes the connectors, cables, LCD, keyboard, and other components to be able to build your own laptop... But you don't get the housing, rather only the 3D printer plans for the laptop housing. But if pledging $500 USD, you can get those 3D-printed parts.

So basically for ~$500+ (the laptop housing options, plus the computer card separately), you can build your own open-source ARM laptop with an Allwinner A20 SoC with dual-core Cortex-A7, 2GB of RAM, 8GB NAND storage, and potentially FSF RYF certification. But for WiFi with this laptop, you'll need to use your own USB WiFi adapter as there isn't any built-in WiFi nor Ethernet. There also isn't much in the way of graphics support as they aren't advertising the Mali graphics of the A20 due to the lack of a working, open-source driver. Then again, the graphics aren't too important when by next year when the devices should be shipping the dual-core Cortex-A7 will be too weak if you are hoping for ARM gaming and similar.

The project is hoping to raise $150,000 USD over the next two months so they can bring this EOMA68 computing card into manufacturing in early 2017. If you want to learn more about the "Earth-friendly EOMA68 Computing Devices", visit
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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 20,000 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, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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