There's Talk Again About An "Open To The Core" Ubuntu Laptop
Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 22 November 2014 at 08:32 AM EST. Add A Comment
HARDWARE --
Given the recent crowdfunding success around the Jolla Tablet, there's talk again about crowdfunding a truly open-source laptop that's running Ubuntu and would be priced around $500 USD.

Ubuntu developer Bryan Quigley is currently trying to gauge interest whether a crowdfunded $500 Ubuntu "open to the core" laptop would be a success. While he hasn't yet carried out his market research and isn't in negotiations with any manufacturers, his dream would be to see a $500 open-source laptop with a 15-inch 1080p display, Intel i3+ CPU or AMD A6+ APU, built-in Intel or AMD graphics with no proprietary firmware, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, Wireless-N, and would use Coreboot rather than a proprietary BIOS. The laptop would be priced around $500 and available in the US while shipping Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.

The hardware specs would be reasonable for the price these days from a tier-one vendor, but it would be more difficult finding one to support Coreboot rather than a proprietary UEFI/BIOS. Additionally, Bryan is after all-free firmware, which wouldn't pan out well when noting the possibility of AMD graphics given that their open-source Linux graphics driver is still heavily dependent upon binary-only microcode files for hardware acceleration. Even the Linux laptop vendors from the likes of ZaReason and System76 are still using proprietary BIOS and drivers that require binary microcode files -- even the proprietary NVIDIA Linux driver on many systems.

It's also worth reminding readers that even the Free Software Foundation's first endorsed laptop is rather an outdated piece of crap by today's hardware standards especially given that it's refurbished for its price.

Stretch goals for this pipe dream include a touchscreen, GPS, FM tuner / digital TV tuner, ruggedized, Bluetooth, backlit keyboard, etc.

Those optimistic that a $500 open-source Ubuntu laptop could become a reality with nice hardware can visia Quigley's blog.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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