An Open Hardware project for everyone, a PowerPC Notebook for you. Join now!
Ready to switch to Open Hardware GNU/Linux PowerPC notebooks.
The game has changed, now GNU/Linux is everywhere running on every CPU architectures and devices. It's the right time to make new choices, an Open Hardware PowerPC Notebook designed around GNU/Linux, make it happen!
We are searching people that really like innovation for passion and want to realize this project. Join and strengthen the PowerPC Open Hardware Notebook Team! Subscribe to the newsletter and fill the participation survey.
Our passion on innovation and for our Open Source project have already motivated and joined Acube Systems for the design of the mobo and future production and Slimbook for the notebook body.
Your participation make the difference to complete the design and production.
We are making Donation Campaigns to pay the design of our Open Hardware PowerPC Notebook motherboard designed around GNU/Linux.
We will build a solidarity based purchasing group, with a fair price for everyone (manufacturer and customer).
As you know, we last stated that it was our goal to begin the crowdfunding campaign in May. We have settled on the way in which we want to conduct our crowdfunding, which is a combination of recurring and non-recurring crowdfunding over time to fund the development of the laptop. We’re not aiming a campaign constricted in a short time as we felt that would not go well with self-hosting our crowdfunding. This manner of crowdfunding is comparable with Patreon donations or the manner in which organizations like Haiku Inc. are funded.
For us it is important to take a while to coordinate this with our manufacturer, to finalize an exhaustive text and to produce a video to explain the fundraising. Due to this we are delaying the start as we’re sorting this out at the moment. We need some more days to complete these tasks and to set up the online donation campaign.
A small delay is no delay
Our aim is launching the campaign sometime in June, but we will keep you updated as we make progress.
Our apologies for the delay, we thank you for your patience and stay tuned! 😀
We are happy to announce that we are finishing all the tasks required to launch our first crowdfunding campaign.
As you might know at this stage we will financing the electrical engineering and schematics of the motherboard. This work will be carried by ACube Systems if the campaign goal is achieved.
The campaign will be hosted in our current website and these days we are closing some requirements for the launch such as the WordPress plugin, text contents, videos and the secure payments integration through Paypal. We expect to have all ready during the second half of May.
The Power Progress Community ( the non profit organization that we have founded in July 2016) will launch a crowdfunding campaign to finance the analysis of the system architecture, components selection and electrical schematics for the PowerPC Notebook.
The decision has been taken after a voting process, inside our core team, celebrated the third week of March. The majority of the members voted to go ahead with the crowd funding as soon as possible.
This phase will be only the first step to achieve the whole design as the progress of selecting all the required components where taking too much time and energy from the project volunteers. If the funding objective is reached, this task will be done by ACube Systems in a timed boxed period.
Further details about this campaign will be published soon.
Power Progress Community publicly reveals its fruitful cooperation with ACube Systems, an Italian company producing its own line of PowerPC based motherboards. Since the beginning of the project, ACube Systems accepted to build our motherboard. We would like to thank the people of ACube for allowing us to pursue a transparent approach towards a purely Open Source Hardware project, aiming to publish and deliver all technical details of the hardware.
Power Progress Community collaboration with Acube Systems
Our cooperation with ACube, in addition to the chance of building the hardware, gave us an experienced and passionate partner free of charge. Because of that, we also want to thank their continuous support and contribution to our project, allowing us to overcome the encountered difficulties.
So far, ACube is the only company we are cooperating with. In the near future, we wish to be able to establish new cooperation relationships with new associations and organizations sharing the same innovating spirit as our Power Progress Community.
Power Progress Community is a non-profit association composed by people contributing on a voluntary basis, and inspired by the Open Source Hardware and Software movement. The mission is not focused on selling products, and the contribution to the “PowerPC Notebook” is an example; here the Power Progress Community is working to establish and consolidate a potential purchasing group big enough to motivate a manufacturer to start the building process. In addition, the Power Progress Community association is supporting a crowdfunding campaign for designing and prototyping the laptop, as well as encouraging the open source developers in supporting the PowerPC platform.
ACube Systems S.r.l., a world-renowned company, was established in January 2007.
The main goal of ACube Systems is to create and promote innovative hardware and software products thanks to an in-house research and development team supported by collaborations with some well-known Italian and international teams.
As you probably know, the PowerPC Notebook team had already selected Debian 9 (Stretch) OS, as it seemed to offer a lot of advantages (DFSG, Altivec, compatibility etc…). Because of this, the Debian team has recently decided to remove powerpc (Big Endian) from its release architectures for the upcoming Debian 9 (Stretch) and Debian testing (Stretch) powerpc repositories have been removed. Besides that, they will keep ppc64el (Little Endian) as a release architecture (For those of you who don’t know the difference between powerpc, ppc64el (and ppc64) – check the short summary on the end of this message).
Debian 9 is coming
One of the reasons of this decision was an apparent lack of porters/maintainers/testers – Although the powerpc Debian team includes some very competent, motivated and reactive people.
Some of us are willing to take the Debian powerpc road, but we need volunteers, people willing to give some of their time to the Debian powerpc community, to learn, test, fix bugs etc…
This does not suggest we don’t keep a “plan B” – by testing another distribution. It is just that Debian powerpc works well on current 32 bits and 64 bits machines, and we can try to keep this situation.
If you have a 32 or 64 bits PowerPC machine, and want to join us in keeping Debian powerpc alive, contact us on [email protected].
Short summary about powerpc / ppc64 / ppc64el :
powerpc is the historical Debian PowerPC port (1997). It works on 32 and 64 bits Big Endian PowerPC (G3/G4/G5 and newer freescale/NXP chips). That’s what you would use on your PowerMac/PowerBook/Genesi/Amiga machines. Note that is supports Altivec, which accelerates greatly some applications (video, graphics, image processing).
ppc64 (Big Endian) was supposed to be used on 64 bits Big Endian PowerPC only (G5 and newer freescale/NXP chips). It has some advantages over the first but currently is not so well supported as powerpc.
ppc64el (Little Endian) started with Debian 8 Jessie. It works on newer Power chips from IBM (for servers). Despite some newer freescale/NXP chips can also be used in Little Endian mode (but without Altivec) they can not be used with ppc64el as this version is compiled with VSX (Vector Scalar eXtension) enabled.
At the end of this past year we started to consider the possibility of making our motherboard Open Source Hardware (OSH). After discussing the idea with the hardware producer, both sides agreed that this was a good idea. We announced this new challenge at the beginning of the year and now we think is the perfect time to clarify the implications of making the motherboard Open Source Hardware. To explain it better, we are going to formulate and respond to a couple of questions.
What is open source hardware?
It seems difficult to explain what is OSH. A complete and detailed explanation can be found on the OSHWA definition page, but simplifying it even further, we can say that OSH is hardware made in such a way that its design is publicly available. Not only that, the documentation provided to understand and reproduce the device should be friendly, in terms of allowing its edition and improvements. So a PDF file containing the schematics is not enough to describe a hardware device as open source hardware. To open source a hardware project, the complete set of CAD and description files should be provided, enabling for instance the edition of the circuits. Of course if any firmware is used to make the hardware work it should be also available as open source code.
The problem for a project like ours is attempting to reach a complete degree of openness. A notebook uses many components which are created by third party companies and, as can be imagined, nearly all of them are under proprietary licenses. In many cases, if you want to use them you have to sign an NDA agreement with their maker (for instance, NXP for a PPC processor). Furthermore, the signature of an NDA means that you can not reveal particular pieces of information in relation to that item.
The OSHWA also refers to this particular problem when explaining the process of awarding a certificate to hardware for achieving the satus of being Open Source Hardware:
“However, that does not necessarily mean that the entire project must or will be open source. If the creators used third party closed components outside of their control, they are unable – and are therefore not required – to open source those components. While it is strongly prefered to use open components when possible, OSHWA recognizes the reality that this is not always possible”
So, what’s our plan?
We want to be as open as possible. We will publish all the CAD files, specifications and any other documentation in a way that could be usable. Of course we will share our source code too (firmware and drivers). On the other hand, we will not be able to make public any third party resources covered by an NDA.
One more thing we will do is give preference to any component that could be considered open source if it accomplishes what we need. However, we need to be practical too, so the selection could be a different component if the open source hardware component lacks desired features.
Finally, where are we in in this process?
As we announced a couple of weeks ago, we have constituted the Power Progress Community association this past summer and the members of the project are currently in the process of joining the assocation by completing our membership application and paying the yearly membership fee (30 Euro). WIth that, Roberto is currently presiding over the association and soon we will have the first NDA agreements signed.
Power Progress Community logo
Another important point to quickly cover is the list of hardware components for the PPC notebook. The selection of these components is not quite completed yet, but we now feel this aspect of the project is most important so it is currently our main focus. Once the list of hardware components is finalized we will release this information in another project update. Look for that in the very near future.
We are proud to announce that our association has been constituted. As you might know, it is an Italian organization so the original statutes are written in Italian and we are working to have an English translation. The contents of that document were discussed at the beginning of July, the conversations were very productive and after some modifications we had the statutes ready for the creation of the association. Moreover, in that meeting we approved its name and now we are setting up a new Internet domain according to that. After agreeing all this, the association was finally registered at the end of July.
Power Progress Community
This fact is very important for us because it allows us to contact other organizations and companies as a real entity and gives us the possibility of signing agreements of any type. Even more, the association is the legal figure we need to start the funding campaign.
And now… we need a logo
We are organizing a contest during August to select the Power Progress Community logo. Everybody is invited to send us an image but we are deciding how to receive them and the voting application to use. Stay tuned to this website if you are interested on participating.
More activities of interest
Continuing with this update, we were doing a survey to check how the community wants to support the project. Over 150 people filled our survey and most of them show interest in funding the project somehow. In addition, there is a group of people which will contribute only if the final specs of the notebook match their expectations. Lastly, a very small group showed only curiosity with no intention of collaborating with money.
Some weeks ago we wrote a post explaining our first Hardware Group meeting. The good news here is that this group is being very active these days and we arranged a new meeting last week focusing on what components could be more open and accomplish our requirements. In relation to this, we are maintaining conversations with two companies that could provide us the enclosures. This is a key point because determines how the motherboard is designed.
That’s almost all, we are moving forward and the crowdfunding campaign is near.
On June 13th, we had our first hardware meeting about the components selection with the hardware producer. There are still a lot of pending points but the discussion was quite positive as a first approach.
Our team during the hardware meeting 🙂
There were some agreements in terms of what technologies to use, to discard or even the ones that needed to be followed and investigated further.
We were discussing about the use of a southbrige chip, like the AMD one or some other different chips to manage USB3, USB2, SATA2/3, or even U.2
To make it clear, we are are trying to select chips that permit us to design an Open Hardware motherboard (chips having an NDA that limit less this idea). Moreover, we want components that are well supported by GNU/Linux and other OSs.
After the conversation, we agreed the next tasks to achieve which are the following:
Review Power TDP for parts
Review cost for parts
Select additional parts
Check southbridge technologies and select one from the two proposed
Following our will of transparency reporting our activities, we do a fast review of the last month and what is coming next.
The first thing we want to say is that we recently requested your help through the forum to choose the core set of applications available on our Linux distribution. We proposed an initial list grouped by the type of application and now we have some new suggestions that we are considering. As you can imagine, in our listing appeared well known software like LibreOffice, Iceweasel (Firefox), Gimp, Transmission, Calibre … We invite you to visit the forum and give your suggestion in the dedicated thread.
Regarding the initial funding, we recalculated the amount to raise, placing it at 55000 €. The increase is due to the expenses that we expect to certify the product. The objective is still to collect this sum before September 2016. So the crowdfunding will cover the design( that we will publish with an Open Hardware license ), the production of five prototypes and the certification process.
As we said some time ago, to get the crowdfunding phase launched we need to establish ourselves as an organization. The chosen form is a non-profit organization created in Italy. We are currently in the process of establishing the organization and we hope to close this issue later this month. Once established, we will notify and invite anyone who wishes to become a member. This will also help the project as it will provide funds for small expenses like hosting our website, presentation materials such as flyers, etc. More details will follow soon.
Alongside this month we will continue with the discussion on the hardware components to use. We have a list of possible components but we need to pick the right one in each case. Moreover, this kind of decisions depend on the format of the chassis. It is quite possible that this last requirement will be clarified very soon but we cannot guarantee anything yet. Once again we invite you to participate in the hardware forum to give us your opinion.
Finally, as someone asked in our forum, we want to inform you about our presence in social networks. You can find us on the following sites:
It’s been over a month since our previous post so it’s time to report about our activities. Basically, we are working on the same issues we discussed in the previous news. Anyway, in this PowerPC Notebook project update, we will try to go over all the areas that we are working on, just because our idea is to be as transparent as possible.
Status of the GNU/Linux PowerPC notebook project
Firstly, regarding the creation of an organization, we have evaluated to establish a foundation but the cost is too expensive for us. We have also tried to get the protection of an existing organization but, sadly, we have not been answered. Finally the most suitable and fast solution for us is to register a non-profit association in Italy. This association will promote the funding campaign for the motherboard design and prototypes.
On the hardware side, we have a first list of components to be used in the notebook. We are evaluating their suitability to our needs and also choosing them according to how much open they are. We still have to keep working on this, discarding some elements and adding new ones. We are doing this in collaboration with the designer of the motherboard.
Our software team remains in contact with the Debian community but again we move slowly and we need more feedback to be able to focus our efforts. The software team is thinking about an alternative approach to streamline this task.
Finally, we have to talk about obtaining a chassis for our laptop. In this case we can say that we are contacting several companies that supply barebone notebooks and some other laptop producers. Here again we must say that we are waiting for responses. Our preferred option would be to obtain the help of Iameco. We love its chassis and case concept for ethical reasons. The Iameco laptop is produced using recyclable materials and producing a minimal carbon footprint. We would love to design our motherboard to fit one of its chassis.
In short, all the community groups are working hard and some progress has been achieved by all of them. In addition, our community continues to grow daily. We have new volunteers for translation, dissemination of our messages and for the computer software. Some of our new members apologize in advance for not having much time, we answer always saying that we are volunteers, we are moved by our principles and we try to reach our objectives enjoying the project with passion and enthusiasm. If you miss the days when computers had more personality, join us and help us recover the spirit of the pioneers of computing.
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