Basically I want to have a computer to experiment with that is 100% free and open source and that doesn’t break the bank. My current idea is to use a RISCV board like the mango pi and use FreeBSD on it. I only use terminal applications expect for the browser so I’m not too worried about performance. But also I have never done anything like this before, this is really just to mess around and learn. But I’m looking for some advice what are the best RISCV boards and is it even worth it? Plus is it even possible to build a 100% free and open source computer with a RISCV board? I am currently doing research into this and this is part of my research lol, thank you.

A lot of people would suggest GNU/Linux as operating system, my suggestion is FreeBSD.

  1. It runs rock solid.
  2. It runs on a lot of platforms. Architectures
  3. There is only one FreeBSD and not a hundred of distros.
  4. It has a very good BHYVE (virtual machine) and Jails architecture.
  5. One can run Linux Apps (no emulation!) within FreeBSD.
  6. There are a lot of applications, which you can find at FreshPorts, explained at one place and the possibility to contact the port manager.
  7. A lot of desktop environments and window managers. e.g. WindowMaker, what can be very slim and usable.
  8. It is very well documented: FreeBSD Handbook

Just my 5 (8)Cents. ;)

I think Minifree might get you pretty close.


I think the MNT Reform and MNT Pocket might be the closest you can get. They use an iMX8 board that uses no firmware blobs.

It’s not exactly DIY or RISC, but you might be interested in looking into purism.

They also try to make or use open source hardware

“Fully open source”, to me, would imply open source hardware. However basically any device you get these days has a security chip which is a complete black box to the user. Intel have the Intel Management Engine, AMD have their own version and even mobile phones have them too.

You basically have to run Linux on a potato to get fully open source.

So I think it’s worth clarifying your scope in terms of what must be open source and what can be proprietary, especially on the hardware side. On one end you can get any random prebuilt off the street and run LinuxFromScratch, FreeBSD or what have you.

On the other extreme, do you need a CPU, GPU chip, camera module etc. to have released their full specifications and code, do the exact manufacturing blend of the solder you use need to be released?🤣

One site that might be of interest to you is, they make open source ARM based phones, boards, laptops and tablets.

I don’t know if this will really clarify things but i’m looking for as much freedom as a librebooted x200 thinkpad with parabola or something as the OS, and thanks for the site I forgot about pine64 I was looking at their phones a couple of years ago

Theoretically current RISCV boards are not fully open since the processor itself is not. That might or might not matter to you, but you can always use an FPGA board. Anyway, hmu for anything, it’s nice to help with projects as a community :)

Thank you, and by the processor not being open source do you mean the design or the code running on it? sorry if this is a stupid question but I’m new to this just coming off a coreboot thinkpad lol

Basically, RISCV itself is open source, but it’s just a specification. Actual processor designs implementing it are usually not open source.

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