DIY portable computer

Open Hardware – Reform

© Lead Image © donatas1205,

© Lead Image © donatas1205,

Article from Issue 217/2018

An open hardware laptop that encourages hacking and repair while offering security and transparency – all for an affordable price.

A few years ago, open hardware laptops were refurbished machines. Now, new laptops that aspire to being open are becoming so common that they have their own niches, ranging from Purism's line of high-end, secure laptops [1] to Olimex's forthcoming do-it-yourself TERES-I [2]. MNT's Reform laptop falls in the middle of the spectrum, a do-it-yourself ARM laptop with an emphasis on "security, transparency, [and] hackability" [3]. Currently in beta-testing, Reform is the subject of an upcoming crowdfunding campaign [4] to make the final drive towards general manufacturing (Figure 1).

Reform's developer, Lukas F. Hartmann, prefers "an operating system with Unix-like terminals" based on his past use of AmigaOS and BeOS. In fact, the first product released by MNT, Hartmann's private company, was a graphics card for running vintage Amiga software with modern computers [5] (Figure 2). For a decade, Hartmann administered Linux and FreeBSD servers and worked on web development while personally using Mac OS. About four years ago, Hartmann decided that "the time was right to give up some comfort for more freedom and control over my computer. The more I got used to the flexibility and pragmatism of FOSS, the more backwards it seemed to deal with proprietary software."

Reform has been in development since late 2017. According to Hartmann, his goal is a machine that you can:


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