The World’s First Open Source Laptop Makes its Debut

Computers & Mobile Technology
The World’s First Open Source Laptop Makes its Debut
The Novena laptop.

Does the world want an open source laptop? We’re about to find out.

The hardware/software team of bunnie Huang and Xobs are offering their highly hackable, portable Novena computers to backers on the Crowd Supply crowfunding platform. bunnie’s post about the project on MAKE generated a lot of buzz. Here’s how they describe it:

This is not a machine for the faint of heart. It’s an open source project, which means part of the joy – and frustration – of the device is that it is continuously improving. This will be perhaps the only laptop that ships with a screwdriver; you’ll be required to install the battery yourself, screw on the LCD bezel of your choice, and you’ll get the speakers as a kit, so you don’t have to use our speaker box design – if you have access to a 3D printer, you can make and fine tune your own speaker box

They’re offering three versions of the laptop: the “all-in-one desktop” for $1,195, a slightly more robust version for $1,995 and a $5,000 “heirloom” model done up in wood and aluminum by Kurt Mottweiler.

On the first two models the screen is mounted on top of the unit. This allows the computer to be used as a wall-hanging unit when the screen is closed and ‘it also solves a major hackability issue with a clamshell arrangement – it can be difficult to access the internals for hacking, as it’s blocked by a keyboard mounting plate.”

bunnie and Xobs are also offering just the board (loaded with 4GiB of RAM, 4GiB microSD card, and an Ath9k-based PCIe wifi card that boots to a Debian desktop over HDMI) for $500. The main boards are manufactured by AQS.

The “heirloom” version. Nice.

As of today, the project has reached $31,000 of its $250,000 goal with 46 days to go. One backer has already kicked down for the heirloom model.

What do you say, makers and hackers? Do you want one or are you inspired to build your own?

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

Stett Holbrook is editor of the Bohemian, an alternative weekly in Santa Rosa, California. He is a former senior editor at Maker Media.

He is also the co-creator of Food Forward, a documentary TV series for PBS about the innovators and pioneers changing our food system.

View more articles by Stett Holbrook


Maker Faire Bay Area 2023 - Mare Island, CA

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Buy Tickets today! SAVE 15% and lock-in your preferred date(s).