EOMA68: The Awesome Future Of Personal Computer Technology

in technology •  19 days ago

EOMA68.png

As we gain more ability in the personal computing world we get better and faster devices. With that, the number of devices we own continues to increase. For me personally, I own a mobile device, laptop, and a desktop computer. Out of the three, the laptop gets used the least. It is only in need when I am away from the desktop and my mobile can't do whatever the task at hand. That being said, many of us nerds like to keep our computing experience a certain way. When everything is familiar, we can enter the flow of productivity easier and stay in it longer.

When we switch between computer environments can pull anyone out of the flow. This is true with how the keyboard feels, how we hold the device, and different operating systems. It is a mess, and that is why I do my best to have the exact experience on both my desktop and laptop. The same operating system, the same window manager, and the same color scheme. This end goal takes a lot of time and effort and it is not perfect. There are things that don't work quite the same between computers and small tweaks have are always needed. This takes even more time when we should be productive.

Then there is the amount of trash we produce in electronic waste. The number is large and we may never slow down the technological progress to limit our waste. On top of that, it seems as if the manufacturers are purposely ignoring the most up-to-date parts in favor of cheaper alternatives. Causing us to need a new device every few years. There are reports floating around the web that Apple plans out a device's obsolescence, so the user is forced to buy a new one. Talk about lame and untrustworthy. Just another reason I'll never buy an Apple product.

I would love to see the day where my mobile, laptop, and desktop are all the same core piece that gets plugged into different shells. The same experience on every machine we own and even those we don't. Imagine being able to eject the core of your friend's computer, slide in your core and everything is identical to your home experience. Need to borrow a phone to call home? Have your friend remove their core, slide in yours, and its your information that shows on the screen. We need to rethink how we compute and challenge the consumerist idea of buying a new device every two years.

This is why I am intrigued with the credit card sized EOMA68 computer. It is thicker than a credit card but the other two dimensions are close. The first point mentioned on their CrowdSupply page is that is will make your computer much cheaper to fix. There will not be a repair that is too expensive and forces you to buy a new computer when you don't need or want to. This is just the surface of what computers like this can bring us.

eoma-computercard-wallet.jpg
Image from EOMA68's CrowdSupply Page

About the EOMA68

The card itself is $65 USD this is the core of the computer so you will need to get either the laptop or mini desktop to house it in. Their mini desktop housing is $55 USD and you need to supply your own keyboard, mouse, and monitor. The laptop housing is an all in one unit as you would expect and it starts at $450 USD. These are reasonable prices since it may end up being the only shell you will need again. Read what they have to say about the "EOMA68 Standard" computer:

The goal of this project is to introduce the idea of being ethically responsible for both the ecological and the financial resources required to design, manufacture, acquire and maintain our personal computing devices. This campaign therefore introduces the world’s first devices built around the EOMA68 standard, a freely-accessible royalty-free, unencumbered hardware standard formulated and tested over the last five years around the ultra-simple philosophy of “just plug it in: it will work.”

Us nerds are suckers for all things free and open source. The project is in the works to have the next batch (as of November 29, 2017) of these computers fit the Free Software Foundation's rules for endorsement. This means that the EOMA68 can be a free and open source computer in its entity from the start. Freedom is a big deal to many computer users in this day and age. The choice to make this project one hundred percent free (as in freedom) will only bring in more potential users.

The EOMA68 is designed to be:

Truly Free: Everything is freely licensed
Modular: Use the same Computer Card across many devices
Money-saving: Upgrade by replacing Computer Cards, not the whole device
Long-lived: Designed to be relevant and useful for at least a decade, if not longer
Ecologically Responsible: Keeps parts out of landfill by repurposing them

This sounds ambitious but I see them pulling it off. They already raised enough money on CrowdSource to develop the devices with some already in use. The libre, or FOSS, version is up for sale now and will be shipping out in six months. This seems like a long wait and I expect them to speed up the process as time progresses.

eoma-micro-card.jpg
Image from EOMA68's CrowdSupply Page

Specifications for the libre model:

Compliant with the EOMA68 Specification
A20 Dual-Core ARM Cortex A7, 1.2 GHz
2 GB RAM
8 GB NAND
Micro-HDMI Interface (for 2nd monitor)
Micro-USB-OTG (bi-directional power)
Micro-SD Card Slot
Pre-installed with Parabola GNU/Linux-libre Operating System
Respects Your Freedom (RYF) Certification from the Free Software Foundation (currently in progress with no known blockers - a full refund will be available if certification is for some reason not granted)

These specs are respectable for a computer its size. They could be better and there is no way you will play the newest computer game on the market. This is not a big deal since most computer users don't even play games let alone the newest ones. With 8GB of storage space you will need an external hard drive to keep most of your data and keep your most used files on the EOMA68.

To see more of the EOMA68 and all it's housing options head over to the CrowdSource page. If you have the cash pick up some stuff or drop them a small donation to help keep the project running.

Thanks for reading!

If you have any questions please ask and I will do my best to get you the answer.

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This is a perfect idea and too long in coming. I hope the compatibility trend continues... We're all about going green on this should carry over into the computer industry. I also have gone away from Apple. I really just like my phone, but my children convinced me. Android was a better option... so now I have the Galaxy Note 8 an absolutely love it. I was also gifted a Galaxy 4 tablet and I know that it's possible to sync between the phone and the tablet but I'm having a little difficulty with that. Maybe we can chat and you can assist me. :) awesome and informative article, as always. Resteemed.

I don't think I can mince words with you here; the specs on that computer are terrible, especially compared to already extant platforms like the Raspberry Pi 3 or the BeagleBone Black. While the 2G of onboard RAM is quite nice, it's coupled with a painfully underwhelming CPU.

You say…

These specs are respectable for a computer its size. They could be better and there is no way you will play the newest computer game on the market. This is not a big deal since most computer users don't even play games let alone the newest ones.

But that's not really true, is it?

One of the biggest drivers of computer sales right now is games and gaming. In particular on mobile devices, which has become a massive industry. One of the most interesting and widespread projects involving Raspberry Pis is as a standalone console emulator, which it does quite well for systems even as recent as the PS 1 with the fairly low cost on board graphics that it has.

Blowing off "gaming" as a platform seems to be unwise.

The sensible target market would seem to be looking at those who are currently comparing the purchase to a Chromebook or other extremely lightweight communications notebook. In that sense, the EOMA68 isn't really a serious competitor. As much as I love open source solutions, and I absolutely adore open source solutions, I can't really say this looks like a good investment in terms of return on simply using it as a platform.

Long-lived: Designed to be relevant and useful for at least a decade, if not longer

For anyone who has been paying attention in the computing space for more than 20 minutes, they find this to be the most comedic claim available for this platform. We have cell phones and tablets who haven't even reached half a decade old and maybe still "useful" in some context but definitely not relevant.

But on top of this they're trying to sell a not particularly impressive razor blade for premium price and definitely gouging on the accessories. $55 for a plywood enclosure? Just a plywood enclosure. $450 for a laptop housing kit, which is literally a kit – it arrives with the pieces uninstalled – and on top of that you have to 3D print your own enclosure! For something the size of a laptop, that is not insignificant as additional cost. The PFY version gives you some 3D printing connectors, some cheap bamboo plates, and all the stuff from the kit above – but pointedly doesn't include the computer itself.

If you want the whole thing, actually able to be used out-of-the-box, it's $1200.

I'm not here to bust anybody's balls but while the basic platform may be a tolerably decent web server, the rest of the pomp and circumstance that goes with the way it's being sold is a little bit of a concerning bag of hype. Not unusual in this environment, but not something that we should smile and nod at for the pleasure of it.

I feel like there are better pieces of hardware which do pretty much everything that this thing promises already at least as well as it should, and I'm not exactly sure how it expects to be competitive in that context.

They seem to be going for a sort of "disposable technology" core concept. Is your computer outdated? Toss that core card and get a new one! Do you want to take your computer to your buddy's house? Forget all that online stuff, just disconnect your core, stick it in your pack, and head on over to slot it in there! (Let's ignore the fact that he probably has his own and you might want to do things together at the same time.)

The use case just seems a little silly. Which is a shame, because the designers seem earnest. They've just come up with a product that isn't really useful.

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the specs on that computer are terrible, especially compared to already extant platforms like the Raspberry Pi 3 or the BeagleBone Black.

You make a great point here and I thought the same thing here perhaps I should have chose a better set of words. My goal was to get people excited for the concept. That being said this is a good deal flatter than the rp3 and BeagleBone. Maybe I am more willing to accept sub-optimal specs in support of a good idea. Who is to say they won't spend the money earned an research and development?

For anyone who has been paying attention in the computing space for more than 20 minutes, they find this to be the most comedic claim available for this platform.

Yes I thought that claim on their site was a bit odd as well since I find myself buying new parts for my desktop more often than I should.

Long-lived: Designed to be relevant and useful for at least a decade, if not longer


The use case just seems a little silly. Which is a shame, because the designers seem earnest. They've just come up with a product that isn't really useful.

You make good points sir. Perhaps I dropped the ball on this one...

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

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My goal was to get people excited for the concept. That being said this is a good deal flatter than the rp3 and BeagleBone. Maybe I am more willing to accept sub-optimal specs in support of a good idea. Who is to say they won't spend the money earned an research and development?

The basic, underlying concept – that this is a full computer in the space of a few stacked credit cards that you can carry around and plug into custom boards and frameworks to do different things… Well, it's a little bit sci-fi and the use cases fall apart in a hurry (as we see later), but it's a pretty cool idea.

Your computer goes with you everywhere you go – and, in addition, can be stolen off your person, wherever you go. Can be forgotten at the coffee house, wherever you go. Can be picked out of your pocket, wherever you go. Combines all the problems of having a cell phone with all of the problems of carrying a laptop, with all the problems of having an underpowered desktop. Wherever you go.

The more you think about it, the less a great idea it seems.

Yes I thought that claim on their site was a bit odd as well since I find myself buying new parts for my desktop more often than I should.

The funny thing is that it takes one of the most modular parts of the modern desktop PC, the motherboard, and makes it largely impossible to replace bits on it. My CPU blows? I get one of a very general type and plug it in. My CPU fan blows? My network interface blows? My USB rack goes? My SATA drive system goes? My graphics card goes? All of these things can be replaced just like they were a commodity. Because they are commodities.

You make good points sir. Perhaps I dropped the ball on this one...

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

My pleasure. If there are people really interested in doing what this project does, there are certainly ways to approach accomplishing what they want – but preferably in ways that better fit interoperability with the things that they already have.

New projects will always come along and be more reasonable than the old ones they've left behind. Let's hope that happens here.

The laptop/housing still looks a bit crude. As for Apple, I am disappointed that they continue to run slave factories oversees and being Anti-American leftist on the political spectrum.

Dumped Spyware Windows back in 2011 and have had a MacBook Air working generally fine since. I am also operating a Linux lappy which has been set free of any Microsoft product. It's old and it's a work horse.

Apple has some amazing software on their platform - and that's THE reason that I am still with it.

In any event, I am not jumping up and down as soon as they release a new product - just the opposite.

Main thing is, these tech giants will have to adapt or die - eventually - as most red-pilled folkd are no longer going to be held hostage by the corporate greed that still governs the West.

I like the idea, but as @lextenebris has pointed out it has some short comings.

It commodotizes the entire core of the system, and it's cheap enough to just discard if it gets "broken". When an upgraded core comes out, you just pop it in. That's cool. But the price is too high for the laptop part of it, which is what I'd find most valuable.

That being said, I'd gladly use a slightly underpowered system like this or the pi for tasks such as writing, or as a thin client to more powerful systems where my work is stored, if it meant I didn't have to fight with the hardware to get Linux working on it.

I have a Chromebook with Linux on it, and it's a battle to upgrade it. The Linux support packages for parts of it are now out of sync with the currently available version of Linux, so it's a bit like Frankenstein's monster if I want to have a GUI (X11) on it with 3D acceleration, so I just use a text interface (with framebuffer support, fbi, links -g for some graphics). Coincidentally, it's great for distraction free writing.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and Dex are a little similar to this, or would be if there were a laptop shell for Dex. But that's even more expensive and certainly nowhere near as open for modifications.

Wow, this is pretty sick! I love the concept of it, the whole plug and play core system...I don't think it's too unrealistic to say that that should be the way of the future, especially with how everything is trying to get smaller and more mobile these days. Thank you for yet another cool and educational post about technology!

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Welcome! I hope to see this kind of thing get better with time.

Eventually the industry must move to something like this. Good write-up. Thanks for the info.

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I agree and thanks for the kind words <3