Computers

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Parabola x86_64 and i686 support computers with x86 CPUs quite thoroughly and relatively easily. Because those computers are highly homogeneous, they can be supported without any computer-specific packages (boot-loaders, firmware, etc) or installation guides. For that reason, almost any of them will work well with Parabola, and the installation procedure is generic. These are by far, the most common computers today; but they are not very libre-friendly, hacker-friendly, or repair-friendly machines.

Parabola has basic support for many other (non-x86) computers (those with ARM, POWER, and RISC-V CPUs); but those are much more heterogeneous. Typically, they require special attention to be supported fully by a distro, and the procedure for installing an OS is not as simple. They are however, generally much more libre-friendly and hackable/repairable. Many of them have "open" hardware schematics available for hackers, and have little or no opaque firmware, or "closed" specialty hardware, which the owner can not inspect or control.

Because of the huge number and variety of "exotic" computers, Parabola can not claim to support them all, as completely as the more common x86-based computers. In addition to basic software support, Parabola maintains this list, and detailed install guides for a small set of those computers, which are deemed to be highly desirable from a software/hardware freedom perspective, and are designated with high-priority support status. Each of these are in the possession of at least one active Parabola team member; which is an essential requisite for bug-triage, trouble-shooting, and bug-squashing. Given that most of the available options are comparable in computing power and cost, differing mainly in minutia, obscured with technical jargon, this limited set of recommended hardware, also helps users to decide among such a bewildering assortment of options.


1 Things that are not supported yet

There are some things that are not supported yet for the ARM computers we support:

  • Booting from a GPT partitioned storage device (we'd need to add support for it in the u-boot packages (like uboot4extlinux-sunxi) and the installation instructions).
  • Modifications to the device tree, for instance with device tree fragments. We need to find how to make u-boot pick them up with the boot schemes we use. This prevents supporting some peripherals that are not autodetected (like LCD displays that are connected through LVDS or parallel connectors) or from using certain pin configuration (like to enable SPI on the pin headers of beaglebone black/green for instance).

2 Parabola recommended computers, with priority support


Single-Board Computers
ModelMakerCPUNotes
A20-OLinuXino-LIME Olimex ARM 32bit (A20) RYF Certifiable, nonfree ssd/microSD firmwares
BeagleBone Black BeagleBoard.org Foundation, Texas Instruments ARM 32bit (AM335x) Free boot, nonfree ssd/microSD firmwares, non-working: 3D, video decoding, PRUs, capes


Smartphones
ModelMakerCPUNotes
None yet


Laptops
ModelMakerCPUNotes
Chromebook C201 Asus ARM 32bit (which model?) Supports Libreboot - No libre driver for internal wifi
Thinkpad X60 Lenovo x86 32bit Supports Libreboot
Thinkpad X200 Lenovo x86 64bit Supports Libreboot

3 Other interesting computers

The computers on this list were deemed to be interesting enough to justify investigation. However, they are not yet designated with high-priority support status, because none of the Parabola developers has one, or some work remains to support them.


ModelMakerCPUNotesRationaleStatus
BeagleBone Green BeagleBoard.org Foundation, Seeed Studio ARM 32bit (AM335x) No display connector Works fine but needs to create a device page for it (and maybe update the ARM installation guide?)
TBS2910 Matrix ARM mini PC TBS ARM 32bit (I.MX6) Free boot, no WiFi, no video decoding Works fine but needs to complete installation instructions
A20-OLinuXino-LIME2 Olimex ARM 32bit (A20) gen-1 specifically - we have gen-2 and gen-3 Add support for the Lime2 (all generations) We need to support all 3 Ethernet PHYs in a sustainable way. The rest is working fine and we even have installation instructions.
TERES Laptop Olimex ARM 64bit (A53) Initial revision has 2GB RAM. The manual suggests that future revisions will have various memory .capacities. Add more libre laptops - Based on Lime2 - Probably easy to support. ?
Talos II Raptor Engineering PPC64LE RYF, no FSDG distros for the BMC or the PPC64LE Add support for ppc64le + RYF hardware (may need separate articles for each: Talos II / Talos II Lite / Talos Blackbird ) partially-working
Beagle-V BeagleBoard.org Foundation, Seeed Studio RISC-V 64bit (U74) No libre firmware for wifi Appears to be very libre-friendly and relatively powerful working
T2080RDB-PC NXP PPC64LE Probably free boot, no display controller - The nouveau and radeon drivers depend on data/bytecode in the Video BIOS. Is that bytecode data or also code? Add more ppc64le computers - easier to work with than Talos ?
GNU/Linux PowerPC Notebook - https://www.powerpc-notebook.org/en/ TBA/collaborative PPC64LE Probably free boot, no display controller - The nouveau and radeon drivers depend on data/bytecode in the Video BIOS. Is that bytecode data or also code? Add more libre laptops - Add more ppc64le computers Proposed, not in production
HiFive1 Rev B SiFive RISC-V 32bit (E31) Requires blobs Add support for RISCV partially-working
HiFive Unmatched SiFive RISC-V 64bit (U74) ? Add support for RISCV Pre-order, not in production
Board with ECP 5 + LiteX TBA/collaborative PPC64LE Expected to be 100% libre (HW/SW) Go way beyond RYF: free HDL design + FPGA, but slow (some) support in Linux
Jetson TK1 NVIDIA ARM 32bit (A15) Both Tegra K1 and Tegra X1 has nonfree nouveau firmwares (but no video BIOS as that's in the kenrel). The Tegra X1 has a signed (power management only?) firmware for the GPU though. Support Tegra, free bootloader ?
Pinebook Pro PINE64 ARM 64bit (RK3399 - A72 + A53) Free boot, WiFi non working, DPTX firmware is nonfree, No external display, has eMMC or NVMe PCIe (so has DMA access at least at boot). Using eMMC is posssible instead. The nvme connector may be repurposable to add an ath9k on it (untested, requires adapter on the forum). Add more libre laptops - Fast CPU, 4GiB of RAM, can probably have ath9k WiFi requires patches
Novena Sutajio Ko-usagi ARM 64bit (i.MX) Free boot, almost everything working. The FPGA is probably supported by the free toolchain but lacks some blocks like DSP and so on. As with other I.MX6: nonfree video decoding acceleration. It also has a free EC and so exist in desktop versions. Add more libre laptops - Slow but has SATA, mPCIe, 4GiB of RAM, and so on - It appear that production of the cases is discontinued; and only the mainboard is still available. requires patches
EOMA68 Rhombus-Tech ARM 32bit (A20) Non-free eMMC/uSD firmwares. TODO: look if the cases and accessories will be shipped or not. RYF Certifiable - Add more libre laptops Pre-order, not in production. UART access probably requires patching.
MIPS Creator CI20 Imagination MIPS 32bit (JZ4780) Boots with free software, GPU not working - https://elinux.org/MIPS_Creator_CI20 Bring back the MIPS port? ?
LibreCMC compatible WiFi AP with USB port ? MIPS (which one?) Boots with free software WiFi Access points in Parabola, bring back MIPS support? Some probably have their DTS upstream.
APU1 PcEngines x86 64bit Works fine Nonfree SMU firmware, free replacement needs testing and packaging, needs to be added to Libreboot after fixing that.
APU2 PcEngines x86 64bit (AMD G GX-412TC) Sucessor of the PcEngine APU1 More powerful than APU1, long-term production huge nonfree software in Coreboot (nonfree AGESA)
GTA04 Golden Delicious ARM 32bit (DM370?) Free vendor u-boot, good Linux support - TODO: get support in u-boot works with parabola (but only with custom bootloader) {{{status}}}