Open Source

Meet Novena, the pricey PC that's open-source inside and out

A new computer made almost entirely from open-source hardware is now available for pre-order. But unlike open-source software, it's anything but free.

The project is called Novena, and as Wired reports, nearly all of its components are open-source. That means anyone can dive deep into the schematics and scrutinize the designs for bugs, defects and government-imposed security backdoors. It also allows users to drop in their own components and reprogram the machine as they see fit. Novena is taking pre-orders through Crowd Supply, a crowdfunding site similar to Kickstarter.

For $500, all you get is a motherboard with some basic computing parts, including a Cortex A9 processor (one of the elements that isn't open source), 4GB of RAM, a 4GB microSD card with Debian on-board, a Wi-Fi card, HDMI output, an ethernet jack, two USB ports, a headphone and microphone port and a power supply.

If you want more than just the board, the price skyrockets. An "All-in-One Desktop" build costs $1,195 and adds an aluminum enclosure with room for expansion, along with a 13-inch 1080p display. The "laptop" model costs $1,995 and adds a battery controller board, a 3000 mAh battery pack and a 240GB solid state drive. You'd still have to supply your own mouse and keyboard. Those who want to go all-in can spend $5000 for the "Heirloom" model, which integrates a Lenovo Bluetooth trackpoint keyboard and comes in a wooden enclosure built by a designer in Portland, Orego.

And if you thought those prices were high, the creators tell Wired that the price will go up after the crowdfunding campaign ends.

Of course, this is a niche product, one that's impractical to the average user for many reasons. In fact, Novena's crowdfunding campaign warns that the device isn't made for consumer home use, and says to think of it "more as a piece of lab equipment." It's largely aimed at enthusiasts who want to deepen their knowledge of hardware with the help of open documentation.

At the time of this writing, Novena is roughly a third of the way toward its $250,000 funding goal.


« Oculus Rift at the movies? Multiple companies want to make VR films a reality


Excel for iPad: The best spreadsheet app for the iPad »
IDG Connect

IDG Connect tackles the tech stories that matter to you

  • Mail

Recommended for You

How to (really) evaluate a developer's skillset

Adrian Bridgwater’s deconstruction & analysis of enterprise software

Unicorns are running free in the UK but Brexit poses a tough challenge

Trevor Clawson on the outlook for UK Tech startups

Cloudistics aims to trump Nutanix with 'superconvergence' play

Martin Veitch's inside track on today’s tech trends


Is your organization fully GDPR compliant?