Crowd Supply is a crowdfunding website that does things differently. Projects hosted on it are usually directed at hackers, and they promote businesses that try to do things differently (I would describe it as “progressive” in a sense). Products can also keep being purchased after the funding target is reached, which also makes it a kind of online shop for cool hardware.
I wanted to tell you about two projects that I consider are worth supporting, mainly because of their links to the Free Software movement (both of them expect to be certified by the stringent FSF label “Respects Your Freedom“, or RYF), but also because they are great projects.
GnuBee: Personal Cloud 1
GnuBee is a personal cloud NAS device that is currently being funded.
From the project page:
The GnuBee Personal Cloud 1 (GB-PC1) is a network-attached storage (NAS) device specifically engineered to run free, libre, open source software (FLOSS). The GB-PC1 has all the functionality of any commercial, proprietary NAS, but at a much lower cost and with the transparency, reliability, and accessibility advantages that come with using FLOSS.
We designed the GnuBee Personal Cloud 1 with the Free Software Foundation’s Respects Your Freedom (RYF) certification in mind and have already initiated the application process with FSF.
In short, we expect the units shipped to backers to be 100% free of binary blobs. Below is a longer explanation.
In the current prototype, there is exactly one binary blob, but we have a clear path to removing it and plan to remove it before shipping the first production units. In particular, the binary blob is for the ASM1061 PCI-to-SATA bridge. As it turns out, a libre kernel driver for this particular chip was mainlined since our original board design, so it should simply be a matter of removing the associated SPI NOR flash chip and using the kernel driver directly to control the PCI-to-SATA bridge.
Even though we think we’d still qualify for RYF certification if we left the design as is (there’s an exception for secondary embedded processors), we nonetheless fully intend to remove this blob and the associated SPI NOR flash chip.
Unfortunately, I can’t afford this one currently, but I would not have hesitated in different circumstances.
Earth-friendly EOMA68 Computing Devices
EOMA68 has already reached its target, but you can currently purchase products.
The goal of this project is to introduce the idea of being ethically responsible about 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.”
- 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
The campaign offers a number of products, including different cards sporting different distros (the Libre Tea card being the one aiming at getting the RYF certification), a micro desktop housing, a printable laptop housing, and more parts for tinkering.
I supported this one by buying myself a Libre Tea card and a micro desktop housing, which I am really excited about. And to tell you the truth, I am already happy with my contribution because even just the updates are truly fascinating reads. I am very far from understanding all of the technical jargon, but the way they are written, the anecdotes that are part of the whole development and production process, and the amazing transparency that Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton offers make it a very enjoyable story to follow.