Calls:

Send in your ideas. Deadline October 1st, 2020.

 

Balthazar - One laptop for the new internet age.

[Balthazar - One laptop for the new internet age.]

Project's ambition is to design and deliver an innovative and technically advanced open hardware (RISC-V/ISA) based, European made, inexpensive, FOSS laptop as a personal computing device, containing on board all desirable (FOSS compliant) hardware and software features and functionalities needed to prevent any 3rd party intrusion into the system. It adds physical safety features currently not available in the market such as hot-swappable CPU, hardwired switches for e.g. camera and audio devices, and a quickly removable encrypted hard drive and peripherals. A goal of Balthazar is to enable and educate end users to be private, safe and careful with their own data, and that of others. Another goal is to make computing more sustainable and reach eco-friendly footprint, by empowering users to take up their 'right to repair', through a modular laptop that allows components to be easily exchanged and upgraded - up to the CPU itself. The goal is to lead by example and gently lead other hardware manufacturers to become fully open and transparent. And create an educational platform, as well as an advanced computing device where its users (including those with low income ) to feel secure, safe and comfortable using it. For the children of all ages.

Why does this actually matter to end users?

When you go to a store to buy a laptop or mobile phone, you may see different brands on the outside but choice in terms of what is inside the box (in particular the most expensive component, the processor technology) is pretty much limited to the same core technologies and large vendors that have been in the market for decades. This has a much bigger effect on the users than just the hefty price tag of the hardware, because the technologies at that level impact all other technologies and insecurity at that level break security across the board.

In the field of software, open source has already become the default option in the market for any new setup. In hardware, the situation is different. Users - even very big users such as governments - have very little control over the actual hardware security of the technology they critically depend on every day. Security experts continue to uncover major security issues, and users are rightly concerned about the security of their private data as well as the continuity of their operations. But in a locked-down market there is little anyone can do, because the lack of alternatives. European companies are locked out of the possibility to contribute solutions and start new businesses that can change the status quo.

To break through this standstill, developer communities are working hard to deliver open, trustworthy and accessible alternative computer hardware that anyone can use, study, modify and distribute, just like they can with open source software. This project aims to combine open source software and open hardware into a sustainable, affordable and trustworthy laptop, to make privacy-friendly and transparent computing technology available and accessible to everyone.

Run by Balthazar E.V.

Logo NLnet: abstract logo of four people seen from above Logo NGI Zero: letterlogo shaped like a tag

This project was funded through the NGI0 PET Fund, a fund established by NLnet with financial support from the European Commission's Next Generation Internet programme, under the aegis of DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology under grant agreement No 825310. Applications are still open, you can apply today.