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Build your own Laptop

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#1 OFFLINE   abarbarian

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 07:35 AM

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Bulgarian open-source hardware outfit Olimex has released the final designs and components for DIY fans to build their own modular Linux laptop.

http://www.zdnet.com...olimex-teres-i/

At the main site,

https://www.olimex.c...cts/DIY-Laptop/

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TERES-I DIY Open Source Hardware and Software Laptop kit which is ready to assembly with instructions.
With different main board configurations: first with ARM64 and x86 later MIPS and other architectures may follow.
The concept is to make templates which other to may use to customize and any other SOC can be used for main board.
TERES-I will come with two different LCD configurations: 1376x768 or 1920x1080 pixels.
Open Source Hardware means you will be able to tailor the PCBs to your needs and add more processors, memories, etc.
KiCAD FOSS software is used to make all the PCBs.
TERES-I will run Linux distributions, but Android and Windows also possible.
With this DIY Laptop you will learn lot of new stuff while building it.  You can teach your kids electronics and how laptops are made if you build it together. You will know every bit of your laptop and will be able to fix if something is broken.
TERES-I is also environmental friendly by default - you can upgrade your main board and not waste everything when new faster and better processor is available.

Now that is what I think is a great idea. You can configure the pc to suit yourself. You can replace every bit if they fail. You can upgrade parts of the pc to suit your changing needs.
It will be interesting to see what different parts they will offer when they get underway and how much they will cost.
The company has links to CERN.

https://home.cern/ab...-cern-treatment


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#2 OFFLINE   Peachy

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 10:05 AM

This is an interesting product. I noticed the CPU spec is an Allwinner Cortex, similar to the one in the Cubietruck.

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#3 OFFLINE   abarbarian

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 11:01 AM

View PostPeachy, on 13 July 2017 - 10:05 AM, said:

This is an interesting product. I noticed the CPU spec is an Allwinner Cortex, similar to the one in the Cubietruck.

The Cubietruck looks interesting too though I do not know much about it.

I am not up on all this type of tech I just like the idea of being able to make a portable to suit. The company offers quite a few products, for example.
  • A13 SOM boards based on Allwinner A13 processor (ARM Cortex-A8 @ 1GHz; ~2000 DMIPS)
  • A20 SOM boards based on Allwinner A20 processor (ARM Cortex-A7 Dual-Core @ 1GHz; ~4000 DMIPS)
  • RK3188 boards based on RockChip RK3188 processor (ARM Cortex-A9 Quad-Core @ 1.6GHz; ~16000 DMIPS)
  • AM3352 SOM boards based on Texas Instruments AM3352 processor (ARM Cortex-A8 @ 1GHz; ~2000 DMIPS)
I also like their mission statement,

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OLIMEX Ltd has agreement with Allwinner for longevity support. We can purchase Allwinner chips which are obsolete if we order minimum quantity of 50Kpcs. This allow us to offer our boards for a very long period of time (typical life of Allwinner SOCs are 8-12 months) and we keep producing boards with A10 and A13 although these chips were anounced as obsolete in 2014 and Allwinner do not sell them anymore. We can order these chips and keep producing the boards with A10 and A13 as long as there is demand for them. We also sell the Allwinner chips on our web, so if you decide to manufacture OLinuXino by yourself locally you can do this safely.

OLinuXino design is improving continually, the other Linux boards have one or two revisions, our boards have many revisions (some of them 12 or more) as we listen to community feedback and implement new and new improvements, but keeping backward compatibility, so once you choose your OLINUXINO you can be sure you will get them always in same specs, just better and better with time. This is not toy board which will overheat, or use linear LDOs or have weak USB host capability and it will not reboot when exposed to noise like or competitors do :) Our boards are used in applications where reliable 24/7 operation is needed. Each detail of them is designed based on our 25+ years of experience. With the open source design nothing is hidden and you can check and evaluate every bit of them.

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#4 OFFLINE   Digerati

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 12:49 PM

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You can configure the pc to suit yourself. You can replace every bit if they fail. You can upgrade parts of the pc to suit your changing needs.
Not really. Sadly, there is no ATX Form Factor standard for notebooks like there is for the desktop/tower PC. If there were, there would be a thriving build-it-yourself notebook industry like there is with PC parts. This is a neat project, but you have very limited options to choose from initially, and even fewer should you wish to upgrade down the road. :(

And because it really is a proprietary system, there is no guarantee replacement parts will be available should they fail.

And of course, your software options are limited too.

It would be a fun project, but it sure will not replace an ATX compliant PC or a typical AMD/Intel notebook.
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#5 OFFLINE   V.T. Eric Layton

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 01:31 PM

Laptops are a dime a dozen these days. I have close to a dozen of them, actually. Why in the world would I want to build one? ;)

#6 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 08:50 AM

Agree with Eric. For the money you can get a 3-4 year old off-lease Thinkpad that'll run Linux like a champ.
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#7 OFFLINE   Digerati

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 10:08 AM

View Postraymac46, on 14 July 2017 - 08:50 AM, said:

Agree with Eric. For the money you can get a 3-4 year old off-lease
This is true, if looking for the smallest hit on your bank account. But not everyone wants something used - especially when it comes to ever-evolving technologies. Something 4 years old (especially if proprietary like virtually all notebooks) may not even run W10 due to lack of driver support.

But yeah, if you shop around, you can get some killer deals on refurbished notebooks. But then you couldn't say you built it yourself which is much of lure here.

I have not purchased a PC in over 25 years. But I have built 100s. I tell my clients I cannot compete in price with Dell, HP, and Acer because I cannot go to Western Digital, ASUS, Micron and Microsoft and promise to buy 1,000,000 hard drives, motherboards, memory sticks and Windows licenses over the next year. But I can build a better PC, customized more to their exact needs than any of those makers. And my PCs will be able to evolve through several upgrades as the user matures and their needs change too.

I wish I could do the same with notebooks but since there is no ATX standard for battery shape or even voltage output, power supply/charger output and connector type, motherboard shape and size or mounting hole locations, I/0 port locations, there is no way I can build a notebook custom configured for me, or for each individual I build for.

And there never will such a standard because (1) users keep demanding thinner and lighter and (2) the major players will never come to a consensus like they did so many years ago with the PC.

This Bugarian offering is supposed to appease the DIY fans but to me, it just aggravates me more because it really illustrates how, with notebooks, we are limited to just a very few proprietary options. At least with this model, there are some choices.

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Laptops are a dime a dozen these days. Why in the world would I want to build one?
This project is not about saving money. And it is not being marketed that way either. It is an attempt to create a standard and that is a good thing. It is also intended as a learning/teaching tool. Also a good thing. I just don't believe there is going to be enough interest for this project to get off the ground.
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#8 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 12:03 PM

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Something 4 years old (especially if proprietary like virtually all notebooks) may not even run W10 due to lack of driver support.
My Thinkpad 430 was refurbished with Windows 10 Pro as its O/S. I promptly blew it off because I wanted to run Linux but I really doubt that an Ivy Bridge based, Intel Centrino technology laptop from 2013 will have any trouble with Windows 10. I'm running Windows 10 on an even older desktop.
I've built my own desktop. Never worried about building a laptop though because it's so difficult to find parts - even a barebones laptop is a tough thing to get. anywhere.
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#9 OFFLINE   Digerati

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 12:14 PM

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My Thinkpad 430 was refurbished with Windows 10 Pro as its O/S. I promptly blew it off because I wanted to run Linux but I really doubt that an Ivy Bridge based, Intel Centrino technology laptop from 2013 will have any trouble with Windows 10. I'm running Windows 10 on an even older desktop.
Sure, there are all kinds of examples of older hardware supporting W10. But there also all kinds of examples of older hardware not supporting it - even W7 era hardware.

That is not W10's fault. It is up to the HW maker to make compatible drivers. But the reality is, there is no return on their investment so in many cases, those hardware makers will not dedicate the necessary resources for legacy hardware support and want users to buy new instead.
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#10 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 02:35 PM

I hear what you are saying. It's hard to ensure 100% compatibility with older systems and this can be even more of a problem with a laptop where you can't always swap out an incompatible part. If the incompatibility is in the wifi adapter ( a common problem with Linux laptops) you can often be stuck. I have a couple of USB mini adapters that simply don't work with Linux.
From my limited research, Lenovo did release Windows 10 drivers for the 430s and it does run Windows 10 OK. Not that it matters as mine is an exclusively Linux machine now.

Edited by raymac46, 14 July 2017 - 02:46 PM.

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#11 OFFLINE   abarbarian

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 05:53 AM

You folks threw up some interesting views.

Don't know what supplies are like where you are but here you do not get many if any cheap laptops with a " 1920x1080 pixels." resolution.
An if you can pop in a " RK3188 boards based on RockChip RK3188 processor (ARM Cortex-A9 Quad-Core @ 1.6GHz; ~16000 DMIPS)" at some stage then that would be sufficient for quite a few everyday tasks for a great many folk.
You will be able to buy all the parts separately at some stage when they are fully set up so you do not need to buy the kit and alter. You will be able to buy what you need to suit.
You will learn or teach your kids "how to" and if parts break "how to replace" as opposed to buy and throw away and buy again. That will carry over to other parts of life.
All the parts and all the parts in the future will work with linux out of the box. No reaserch or fiddling required just order the part as you know it will work.
You make an upgrade and have working parts. You know you can pass them on or sell them as they will integrate and be able to be used.
If you can run Debian on it then you can run any linux flavour on it.

Yes if you are poor you can buy a secondhand laptop of low spec. If it goes wrong you are stuck as you probably can not afford another or the repair bill at a shop,if it is repairable at all, so basically you are gambling. With this type of kit you can save up and replace the part.

I do not think that the company are aiming to set a standard or take over the world. I think they are offering a way to help folk help themselves and give them the ability to mix and match to suit along with the ability to make customisations of their own.

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Edited by abarbarian, 15 July 2017 - 05:56 AM.

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#12 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 10:04 AM

It looks more impressive with the higher end RK3188 board. Otherwise the kit is similar in performance to my Toshiba netbook which I got for free and put a $50 SSD in. The kit has a better display for sure. A nice project for a hobbyist.
I'll still take my Thinkpad which has an i5, 8GB of RAM and a 120GB SSD.

Edited by raymac46, 15 July 2017 - 10:07 AM.

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#13 OFFLINE   Peachy

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 10:47 AM

I think I'd be more interested in a pi-top. o:)

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#14 OFFLINE   abarbarian

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 07:07 AM

View PostPeachy, on 15 July 2017 - 10:47 AM, said:

I think I'd be more interested in a pi-top. o:)

That looks like a decent project all round. The Pi-top would not be as versatile as the Olimex offering. I wonder if you could use a Pi 3 instead of the Pi 2 with the Pi-top ? :breakfast:
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#15 OFFLINE   Peachy

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 07:42 PM

View Postabarbarian, on 16 July 2017 - 07:07 AM, said:

That looks like a decent project all round. The Pi-top would not be as versatile as the Olimex offering. I wonder if you could use a Pi 3 instead of the Pi 2 with the Pi-top ? :breakfast:

Can't see why not?

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