Apr 262014


The team that is building the Novena project is launching a crowdfunding campaign around the Novena open hardware computing platform. Originally, this started as a hobby project but by popular demand, they have prepared a crowdfunding offering and so everyone can contribute to the interesting project and bring at his home this interesting computer.

Novena is a 1.2GHz, Freescale quad-core ARM architecture computer closely coupled with a Xilinx FPGA. It’s designed for users who care about open source, and/or want to modify and extend their hardware: all the documentation for the PCBs is open and free to download, the entire OS is buildable from source, and it comes with a variety of features that facilitate rapid prototyping. 

Combined with the open nature of the project, this creates a lot of possibilities for using the laptop as a hacking tool. It has dual ethernet, for routing or sniffing purposes. USB OTG support lets the laptop act as a USB device, for USB fuzzing and spoofing. There’s even a high speed expansion bus to interface with whatever peripheral you’d like to design.

In a description, Huang said, “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.”

The screen is “self opening” as it springs open so you can access and work with the hardware below the keyboard.

This project has an “heirloom model” that craftsman Kurt Mottweiler designed. It will sell for $5,000.


Heirloom model of Novena.

The crowdfunding campaign will end May 18. The board itself is $500. The desktop is $1,195, and the laptop is $1,995. The machines will come with Debian (GNU/Linux) preinstalled. It is not aimed at your everyday consumer.

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