I’m tired of buying stuff from businesses that want to control what I do with the things I buy. If you design a product to not be repaired, you’re a shite. If you provide a first-party repair service and force customers to go through it for all repair work, you’re a shite. If you tell manufacturers not to make components available, you’re a shite. If you’re selling something that takes batteries, and those batteries are either glued into the case or not otherwise trivial to replace, you’re a double-shite.
This goes for everything - not just personal computers, but especially personal computers. So with that, I bought an MNT Reform.
Q Is it underpowered?
A Certainly. It’s about as powerful as a Raspberry Pi Model 3.
Q Is it bulky?
A Like a Matilda II.
Q Can I replace the battery?
A Yes. Any, all, or none of the eight 18650 cells.
Q What about the other parts?
A All of it. And I have the schematics to prove it.
It hasn’t turned up yet. MNT Research are shipping out crowdfunded devices first, I imagine I’m somewhere at the back of the list. But I have a number of projects I’d like to start with when it turns up. They’re in no particular order.
Out of the gate, the Reform is shipping with a build of Debian. I don’t dislike Debian, but Alpine is wonderfully simple and if I were to run Linux on a device, it’d be Alpine Linux. Fortunately, Alpine has some support AArch64, although the i.MX 8M isn’t mentioned.
NetBSD/evbarm had i.MX 8M support added in time for NetBSD 10. I’d like to see about getting a non-accelerated desktop running (etnaviv is in the tree, but I doubt any work has been done to keep parity with Linux).
I store my TOTP keys in plain text files encrypted with gnupg. I then use a shell function that matches a provided string to one of those files, calls gpg2’s decrypt tool, then uses oathtool to generate a time-based one-time-password. As the MNT Reform comes with a small screen that is completely under the control of the user, I’d quite like to see if I can get this working on the small display. I’d maybe also like to integrate my Solo 2FA key. But that’s down the line.
It’s not really a project, but I want to play around with ARM assembly. The MNT Reform comes with a Cortex M4 (ARMv7E-M), in addition to the Cortex A53 (ARMv8-A).