Crowdfunding Novena, the fully open/transparent laptop project


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That doesn’t seem like something Facebook would want to buy out.


What’s that text flashing on the screen behind Bunnie at 2:15 (and again in the last shot) ? :slight_smile:

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Bunnie Huang is a technology badass. What I don’t understand is: doesn’t the RasPi already tick these boxes (apart from being a laptop)? Obviously this is a beast of a machine compared to a RasPi - but am I mistaken in my understanding that it’s fully open?

@jlargentaye Looks like he compiling or decompiling code on his imac there. No idea why it’d flash up on the large monitor but I imagine that’s what it is.

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I think that it is the fact that it is all open source (or at least openly documented) – not just the CPU/SOC, but also the wifi module, etc. He probably could have used a Raspi as the core, but I think that he was looking for something with a bit higher performance.


Doesn’t seem a lot different than Vertu: massively overpriced for the specs, and mainly appealing to a niche market that doesn’t really care.

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You are very much mistaken - the board, the GPU, and the boot loader (which runs on the GPU) are closed.


unfortunately out of my price range

Citation please.

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They do have a bit of open source for the video now, but it still relies on closed binary blobs.
Raspberry Pi marks 2nd birthday with plan for open source graphics driver | Ars Technica

Upton further noted that "there are still significant parts of the multimedia hardware on BCM2835 which are only accessible via the blob. But we’re incredibly proud that VideoCore IV is the first publicly documented mobile graphics core and hope this is the first step towards a blob-free future for Raspberry Pi: we're continuing to work on that, and we hope you'll come along with us!"

The start up process uses the closed source GPU stuff:

  1. When the Raspberry Pi is first turned on, the ARM core is off, and the GPU core is on. At this point the SDRAM is disabled.
  2. The GPU starts executing the first stage bootloader, which is stored in ROM on the SoC. The first stage bootloader reads the SD card, and loads the second stage bootloader (bootcode.bin) into the L2 cache, and runs it.
  3. bootcode.bin enables SDRAM, and reads the third stage bootloader (loader.bin) from the SD card into RAM, and runs it.
  4. loader.bin reads the GPU firmware (start.elf).
  5. start.elf reads config.txt, cmdline.txt and kernel.img

Edit: the third stage bootloader is no longer needed.

RPi Software -
GPU bootloaders
Currently all of the GPU software and firmware is supplied in binary format.


Oh, I thought you were talking about the Novena. I don’t think anyone here really cares about the Pi much. You might want to qualify “they” when two things are in discussion.

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The Novena GPU is still binary blob.
From TFA:
Major firmware risk areas are:

graphics: there are no open drivers for the 3D core. There is an ongoing project to reverse engineer and develop open graphics drivers. 

video: there are no open drivers for the hardware video accelerator DSP, but there are gstreamer libraries available.

If you don’t want to use the GPU blob, then you will need to rely on software-only decoders for video.


I expect some of this will change during the next year.


I’m confused why they’re going for tablet parts when they could have go for custom PC mobo with laptop chip and avoided all of the closed source nonsense. Plus it won’t be slow as balls for a $1200 “laptop”. Sure it would require an actual cooling solution, but that case has acres of free space, I’m sure you could work something out.

Things I like:

  1. Nice display. 1080p IPS displays are hard to find in laptops.
  2. 2x Ethernet (but 100Mb: BOOO, probably hanging off of the USB too, which makes it even worse)
  3. Built-in FPGA and tweakable ports make this a fun hacker toy
  4. GPIO: more fun hacker toys
  5. SATA port, so you can put real storage on it

Things I don’t like:

  1. Price tag. Ouch. I mean this is just seriously expensive, there is no way around it.
    2.You have to carry the keyboard separately most likely, unless you have a really small keyboard that will fit inside.
  2. Tablet hardware with its slow CPU, weak GPU, proprietary binary blobs, and general hassle of getting anything working on it.
  3. Only one SO-DIMM slot caps the memory you can put on this box

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