Motherboards that run Linux

From OpenCircuits
Revision as of 13:44, 14 March 2021 by Definitionofis (talk | contribs) (3rd try fix link →‎Other Boards that Run Linux)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Motherboards that run Linux, and are open hardware. Some of these have all the connections you may expect on a PC, while others don't. In no particular order:

Elphel camera[edit]

Elphel cameras are free software and open hardware cameras. The cameras run Linux. The cameras have several interfaces -- 10/100 Ethernet, USB, IDE, RS-232, etc. It uses a FPGA for video processing and video compression. More information here at Open Circuits: Elphel camera; and at the Elphel wiki.

The $9 CHIP Computer[edit]

David Scheltema writes in "With Linux and Creative Commons, The $9 CHIP Computer Reveals Its Open Source Details" that Next Thing Co. has published open hardware files for CHIP on github.

CHIP runs Linux. CHIP has a 1GHz R8 ARM processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of NAND storage, and WiFi and Bluetooth built-in.

ARMUS Embedded Linux Board[edit]

The ARMUS Embedded Linux Board is An ARM920T board running Linux at 200 Mips with sound, Ethernet, CAN, 48+ bidirectionnal IOs and 4 DSPs for motor control (DC, Servos, etc...). Built as a student proof robotics design platform.

68 Katy[edit]

Steve Chamberlin. "68 Katy – 68000 Linux on a Solderless Breadboard". Based on the Motorola 68008 CPU, 20 bit address bus and 8 bit data bus, running at 2 MHz. (Apparently it is now impossible to build on a solderless breadboard, using only chips currently in production, a computer that can run Linux -- so running Linux on a solderless breadboard necessarily requires using some out-of-producing part like the 68008). Runs uClinux, heavily pruned to fit in 480 KB Flash ROM (the remaining 32 KB of the 512 KB Flash ROM is masked by memory-mapped I/O devices) and and 512 KB of SRAM. Runs vi and Colossal Cave Adventure. "a super-minimal uClinux system ... it needs about 343K of ROM and 312K of RAM, or just 628K of RAM if you’ve got a bootloader that can fill RAM from some external source. My 68 Katy system is slightly heavier than that due to including vi and Adventure".

Steve Chamberlin. "68 Katy". a later PCB version runs at 12 MHz. schematic and board layout available in KiCad format.

Steve Chamberlin. "Make Your Own Katy".


The Bifferboard has:

  1. 150MHz CPU, Intel 486SX instruction set, MMU.
  2. 1 watt power consumption (200mA @5v)
  3. 68mm x 28mm x 21mm (weight 28g)
  4. 32MB SDRAM/8MB Flash
  5. OHCI/EHCI USB 2.0
  6. 10/100 ethernet
  7. Serial console 115200 baud (can be used as 2 GPIO)
  8. 4-pin JTAG (can be used as GPIO)
  9. 2 permanent GPIO (1 LED, 1 button)

Balloon Xscale ARM+FPGA dev board[edit]

Balloon Xscale ARM+FPGA dev board The Balloon project has produced Balloon3, a high-performance ARM board designed for use by OEMs and Higher education. Spec is PXA270 (583Mhz), FPGA or CPLD, 1GB flash, 784MB RAM, USB (master, slave, OTG), CF slot, expansion bus, 16-bit bus, I2C, LCD, serial, audio. Very low power in CPLD confiuguration. Small, light. Various add-on boards: VGA LCD driver, robot motor driver+A/D, digital IO. Released under the Balloon Open Hardware license, which allows anyone to manufacture and for people to make derivatives. The expansion bus allows balloon to be used as the computing component for various special-purpose devices.


The linuxstamp is an open source processor module. It is designed to be a very simple board capable of running linux. It is based on the Atmel AT91RM9200 processor (An ARM9 processor with a MMU).

Linuxstamp Mboard 1[edit]

Linuxstamp Mboard 1 This is the first mother board for the linuxstamp. It is still in the planning stages (no pcbs).

Linuxstamp II 9260[edit]

Linuxstamp II 9260 The Linuxstamp II is an open source processor module. It is designed to be a very simple board capable of running linux. It is based on the Atmel AT91SAM9260 processor (An ARM9 processor with a MMU).

Linuxstamp II 8-channel RC Control board[edit]

Linuxstamp II 8-channel RC Control board Motherboard for the Linuxstamp II to interface with RC servos.

LART -- an open license StrongARM based tiny SBC[edit] (broken link) LART -- an open license StrongARM based tiny SBC.

"All CAD files required for building LART are available under the closest we could get to an Open/Free Hardware License." The link in the Linux Devices article no longer works; the most recent link is . 75 mm x 100 mm.

  • "Tiny "open hardware" SBC now available commercially": "Aleph One Ltd and Remote12 ... announce that they are able to supply LART boards, with a User Guide, software and cables." 2001.
  • "Open hardware for open software" "Aleph One Ltd of Cambridge, England and Remote 12 Systems Ltd of London, England are now able to supply both LART and KSB boards, plus a User Guide, software, and cables." 2001. "The KSB board plugs onto LART and provides: IDE/ATA interface (44 pins on 2mm centers); stereo 16-bit 44KHz audio output at line and headphone levels; PS/2 connections for mouse and keyboard; mono audio I/O, POTS and ADC fron a UCB 1200chip; connectors for IrDA, USB Client, video, and touchscreen."
  • "More LART SBCs?" 2002.


Gumstix - Motherboards the size of a stick of gum

A Gumstix motherboard is called a COM, which stands for computer-on-module. Gumstix COMs are inexpensive, and have RAM/Flash, 802.11b/g, Bluetooth and power management "on COM". Each COM connects to a wide variety of openly published expansion boards that include USB interface (gadget mode and host mode) and have things like Ethernet, GPIO and LCD module interface.

An Overo COM is powered by a Texas Instruments ARM-based Stellaris, DaVinci or OMAP 35xx processor. A Verdex Pro COM is driven by a Marvel PXA270 (Verdex Pro series).

Very cool site.

All Gumstix expansion boards are open hardware. Gumstix expansion board schematics and layouts at are published under a creative commons licence.[1]

Designing with Gumstix

Gumstix Developers Center.

User Wiki

The gumstix mailing list at SourceForge.

Toradex Colibri[edit]

Although the actual Toradex Colibri processor board is apparently proprietary (?),

  • The processor board runs open-source Linux.
  • All (?) Toradex carrier boards are open source hardware.

Raspberry Pi[edit]

main article: R Pi Notes

The Raspberry Pi is a low-cost (USD $35; GBP ~£22) credit-card sized Linux computer for teaching computer programming to children, and often used by hobbyists. This board is so small and cheap that it is often though of with micro-controllers, which it is not.

To use it you will need a power supply ( usb ) and a memory card ( perhaps 8 gigs ) It has an Ethernet connection and you will probably want to use it; either straight or, through a usb wireless dongle. Compare the cost to adding Internet and memory disk storage to an arduino, and you will see how economical this guy is.

It also has connections for a usb keyboard and mouse. If used these push the cost of the Pi into the 100 dollar range. However, the mouse and keyboard are not necessary ( at least past initial setup ), instead you can use a remote desktop connection and use your PC's keyboard and mouse.

The Pi has nice support for Python which is a powerful but friendly language.

The Pi does not run programs in deterministic time ( nor to most Linux machine ) which is a disadvantage compared to most micro-controller systems. A nice combination is an arduino connected to Pi, low level task running in deterministic time ( blinking an IR Led as remote control ) can be done by the arduino while large memory space, Internet connectivity, and logging to memory cards is doe by the Pi.

There are several different models available, check them out.

Various open-hardware things related to the Raspberry Pi:


The Chumby is designed as open source hardware. Hacking the Chumby hardware is encouraged by the manufacturer.[8]

The same system sofware (Linux and mostly open-source software) runs on a very similar "Chumby Hacker Board" available from adafruit.[9]

The Chumby wiki discusses the Chumby from, the CHB from adafruit, and a few other closely related devices.

storage hardware[edit]

(Is there a better page for open-source storage hardware?)

Many people have published all the details needed to build a network-attached storage device (NAS), typically running Linux or other open-source OS. Alas, most of them use some proprietary motherboard, rather than the open-hardware motherboards elsewhere on this page.

In no particular order:

People at the XBMC wiki and XBMC forum often discuss building a network-attached storage (NAS) to support their home theater personal computer (HTPC) [10] [11]

  • Some people at XBMC use CuBox-i Network Attached Storage (NAS) [12] [13]

DIY NAS "Do It Yourself NAS" [14].

"Top 10 Linux Networked Storage Systems Under $1,000" [15].

"Storage Pod 4.0: Direct Wire Drives – Faster, Simpler and Less Expensive" [16].

"180TB of Good Vibrations – Storage Pod 3.0" "we open sourced the Backblaze Storage Pod design and introduced the world’s most cost-efficient way to store big data." [17]

"18TB Home NAS/HTPC with ZFS on Linux". [18].

"advice on cheap hardware for debian NAS"]. [19]

"the FreeNAS project". [20].

"How to build your own NAS box". with OpenMediaVault (OMV). [21].

the Netflix Open Connect Appliance Hardware [22].

"Building a tiny low-power Linux NAS". [23].

"Building a NAS Server". [24].

The Linksys NSLU2 , a.k.a. the "Slug", is a small low cost network storage device from Linksys. It can be flashed with Unslung, SlugOS, Debian/NSLU2 or OpenWrt/NSLU2 open-source firmware.

As of 2013, network-attached storage devices all use hard disk drives. People building NAS devices may be interested in

"Minimizing Hard Disk Drive Failure and Data Loss". [25].

People building NAS boxes sometimes don't have enough motherboard connectors for all the hard drives they want to attach. (It is practically impossible to find a motherboard with more than 8 SATA connectors, and often people pick motherboards with even fewer connectors).

  • Plug SATA port multiplier(s) into the motherboard SATA connector. Alas, this doesn't work with every motherboard -- the "List of SATA controller hardware features" at the Linux ATA wiki will help you find a motherboard that does.[26]
  • Plug a SATA card into (the PCI or PCIe slot of) the motherboard, then plug the hard drives into the SATA ports on that card, as in Backblaze Storage Pod 4.0
  • Both, as in Backblaze Storage Pod 3.0

Banana Pi[edit]

Banana Pi


"EDM is a Embedded Design Module standard under the Creative Commons license ... targeting ... embedded applications and controllers ... A copy of the specifications can be found at ." --

Embedded Open Modular Architecture[edit]

"Embedded Open Modular Architecture] is an initiative to create robust, reliable and interoperable hardware standards for mass-volume systems". --


Leopardboard has the complete schematics and bill of materials (BOM) available online.

(FIXME: What exactly does "Royalty-free open source 2A functions" mean?)

" is an open source community to provide developers a convenient place to get support for TI DM355 and Aptina CMOS Sensor applications" -- Leopardboard: Useful Links

Other Boards that Run Linux[edit]

  • "Cubieboard: ARM A8 CPU with SATA for Under $50" [27].

  • The MinnowBoard "The hardware design is open." with SATA. [28].
  • Radxa: "Open Source Hardware".
    • Radxa Limited: "An OSHW company from China"
    • Radxa Rock Pro from Seeed Studio. Micro-SD card slot; Bluetooth, Wifi, Ethernet, USB Host and USB OTG, HDMI; supports Linux, Android, and FreeBSD; ...