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MNT Modular, Open Source 'Reform' Laptop to Hit Crowd Supply in February

(Image credit: MNT)

It's easier than ever to make open source hardware that doesn't rely on hardly any proprietary technologies. "Easier than ever" isn't the same as "easy," though, which is why it's taken a few years for the MNT Reform laptop to officially debut. CNX Software reported Sunday that the wait should finally be over soon--the MNT Reform 2 is expected to hit the Crowd Supply crowdfunding platform in February.

CNX Software said the original MNT Reform was envisioned as a DIY kit for which development started in 2017. MNT sent units to beta testers in 2018, and once it received their feedback, it started work on the MNT Reform 2. Now it's reportedly set to debut on Crowd Supply in February; its placeholder page can be found here.

The MNT Reform 2 is based on several open source technologies you're probably already familiar with--it features an Arm processor and runs desktop Linux--as well as a few you might not be. (We suspect few people would think to avoid HDMI because it's a proprietary format that requires a binary blob to function.)

Here are the spec highlights MNT shared on the Reform 2's page on Crowd Supply:

  • Free & Open Source
    • all firmware, hardware, and software
    • binary-blob-free Linux desktop with open Etnaviv GPU drivers
  • all firmware, hardware, and software
  • binary-blob-free Linux desktop with open Etnaviv GPU drivers
  • Modular
    • easy to customize and repair with standard and 3D-printed parts
    • swap out motherboard, mechanical keyboard, and optical trackball or trackpad
  • easy to customize and repair with standard and 3D-printed parts
  • swap out motherboard, mechanical keyboard, and optical trackball or trackpad
  • Private & Secure
    • no microphone
    • no camera
    • no management engine
  • no microphone
  • no camera
  • no management engine
  • Durable
    • custom anodized CNC-milled aluminum case
  • custom anodized CNC-milled aluminum case
  • Long Battery Life
    • 8 x 18650 LiFePO4 battery cells
  • 8 x 18650 LiFePO4 battery cells
  • Modern Hardware
    • NXP i.MX8M: 4 x 1.5 GHz ARM Cortex-A53 + Cortex-M4F, GC7000 GPU
    • 4 GB DDR3 memory
    • mPCIe
    • NVMe for SSD
    • Gigabit Ethernet
    • USB 3.0
  • NXP i.MX8M: 4 x 1.5 GHz ARM Cortex-A53 + Cortex-M4F, GC7000 GPU
  • 4 GB DDR3 memory
  • mPCIe
  • NVMe for SSD
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • USB 3.0

CNX Software reported that MNT will offer numerous Reform 2 configurations, including a mix of DIY kits and fully assembled laptops, to Crowd Supply backers. Details about the laptop's pricing and release timing weren't provided. More information about the MNT Reform 2 can be found on MNT's GitHub page.

  • bit_user
    Modern HardwareNXP i.MX8M: 4 x 1.5 GHz ARM Cortex-A53 + Cortex-M4F, GC7000 GPU
    Not modern. It's Raspberry Pi 3-class. A Pi v4 would run circles around it.

    And while it probably performs like a laptop from 15 years ago, it looks like one from 30 years ago!
    Reply
  • TJ Hooker
    The specs and goal of this laptop remind me a fair bit of the Librem 5 smartphone.

    bit_user said:
    Not modern. It's Raspberry Pi 3-class. A Pi v4 would run circles around it.
    Yeah, even low-middle end phone SoCs outperform this thing :/
    Reply
  • mogster
    Speaking of 15 years ago, I was amazed to see a real trackball.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    mogster said:
    Speaking of 15 years ago, I was amazed to see a real trackball.
    You can still buy them, standalone. I use a trackball at home & a mouse at work. It helps switch up my movement to reduce the risk of RSI.

    But, in laptops, I think they first got replaced by those little thumb-sticks, and now even those have been dropped.
    Reply
  • mogster
    Oh yeah, the eraserheads. I kind of miss those.
    Reply
  • laptop-Tech
    What is this thick laptop?
    Reply