[Arm-netbook] Regarding Improv, EOMA68, Free Software and Open Hardware.

Henrik Nordström henrik at henriknordstrom.net
Thu Jun 26 02:50:52 BST 2014

This is a response letter to the notice just received that the Improv
project is being warpped up. Only trivially editied to fit the context
of the mailinglist. (inital reply was sent privately)

I am sorry to see the Improv project being wrapped up but fully
understand and do not come as a surprise given the discussions over last

Just not sure I agree on the conclusions expressed in this letter
however, claiming that "The Free software community does not seem ready
at this point to make a concerted stand on the pressing issue of
hardware freedom". The issues that have dragged this project down has
very little to do with free software as such, or even the community at

EOMA68 have been dragged down mostly by lack of resources, being founded
as a garage project run on pocket money and begging, resulting in
endless delays and unfavorable compromises, plus numerous issues in
people relations. And in addition starting at the wrong end of the table
trying to make a standard for hardware without first being familiar with
hardware designs and considerations. Resulting in a project trying to
make a leap before it knew how to crawl or even less walk, with a very
high level of uncertainty as result. It will probably get there in the
end, but getting there takes a lot of time and experience.

As for Improv, by the time it entered (the hardware) it provided nothing
unique that developers could not find elsewhere. Also most people in my
humble opinion already had given up on EOMA68 as a serious initiative
due to the numerous problems that project had already seen. I still back
the basic ideas of EOMA68, but not sure about the current realization of
it, aiming purely at low end market in interface specifications. Also,
it has to be realized that any such specification do have a fairly
limited lifespan and needs to be revised regularly, which somewhat
nullifies the benefits.

A project like EOMA68 trying to break many new grounds needs early
adopters willing to spend both money and time on getting things
finalized, and I am fully convinced that early adopters are not the ones
looking for the low-end range specifications. And with such project
having a lifespan covering several years (not months like average Tablet
project) interface specifications need to be such that it can be
suitable for wide adoption in a two to three years time when enought is
in place and tested, not yesterday. 

For the sake of software development Improv isn't really needed, and was
not needed at the time of launch. There is and was fully OSHW solutions
available that covers the hardware functionality of Improv (minus the
exchangeable "CPU module" part). In particular I am thinking of Olimex
Olinuxino A20 MICRO (and it's related cousins), giving the same
performance specifications as the selected EOMA68-A20 module, but with
much richer hardware interfacing capabilities and of course 100% OSHW,
by a established manufacturer who works with believes in OSHW.

I have much more to say on the subject, but enough for tonight. Feel
free to contact me if you want me to elaborate further.

Regarding refund of my Improv "investment". Don't sweat over it. I'd
rather see you focus on moving forward than how to cover the refunds.
Failures are all natural path of moving forward and learning.


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