Open Hardware - Thelio

Hello Everyone, I’m a bit new to this forum, so please let me know if I’m stepping on toes or speaking out of line in some manner, I’m just enthusiastic about this topic and am trying to get a conversation going that seems to have been swept under the rug by most other reporting outlets. This starts by saying the Thelio System76 recently unveiled is an impressive looking product, but completely failed to stand up to any scrutiny at all when considering their marketing campaign.

The System76 Thelio is a wonderful product, but the marketing around it was misleading to the point of feeling malicious and manipulative.
The only aspect of Thelio that is open is the case, which is not bringing Open Computing further than it has ever been before. As was claimed in their marketing emails saying “The open computer is coming” and “Bringing the open desktop-computer further than its ever been before.”

System76 is not starting a revolution, if anything they’re walking in the shadows of others, but you’d not be aware of it unless you were aware of the open hardware/open compute communities.

Lemote and their Loongson devices, roughly a decade ago had them beat, Bunnie Huang and the Novena have them beat, RaptorCS and the TALOS/TALOSII have them beat, SiFive have them beat with the HiFive Unleashed, even Fujitsu and their latest SPARC devices may be more open than the Thelio.

Even on their own blog, their end game is to “Eventually, all that will be left are proprietary hardware initialization bits and convincing Intel and AMD to open up there.”, which boils down to "maybe we can convince both intel and AMD to open up their AMD64 and IA32 ISAs and implementations, including the IME and PSP. Fat chance of that happening in the next few years if ever.

Meanwhile, the open computing revolution is here NOW. You can get a computer that requires no proprietary blobs to boot and function NOW, but not from System76, you’d have to get it from RaptorCS (, who went even further than System76, using an FPGA to reimplement and abstract away the proprietary aspects of a motherboard. You can even re-flash your own firmware that you wrote yourself if you wanted! NO OTHER PC AVAILABLE allows this!

I think System76 has noble goals, I really do. But they let us down. Hard. It’s not even shipping with Coreboot/Libreboot from what I’ve seen.
I think it’s important to support OSHW and FLOSS, but that’s not System76. Not yet anyway.

Get the Thelio because they finally have AMD options and it’s a nice pc, but if you want Open Hardware, get a TALOSII, TALOSII Lite, or the upcoming Blackbird board. Or maybe get a SiFive Unleashed. Both are available NOW, and both are usable NOW to run a full desktop. Thelio could’ve been amazing, but instead we got a terrible compromise and promises it’ll get better. I’ve ordered a TALOSII Lite, because I believe you should have full control over your system.

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I will take a look at raptorcs, having not heard of them before. Personally I am waiting for fully open RISC-V based hardware to get a bit more affordable. It seems like for the first time we are nearly where (powerful, usable) open hardware is becoming available for the first time.

Regarding System76: I did not follow the conversations around the Thelio but I agree calling it “fully open hardware” would be misleading. However, the way they currently present it on their products page I don’t think there is anything misleading about it. Mostly it’s fairly benign marketing talk. (my opinion)


If you’re curious about the Talos II and other OpenPOWER stuff, you might want to drop by the Power Architecture megathread, since the Talos II is a large part of what we talk about there.

Thanks for the heads-up, I’ll have to check in over there since I’ve recently received my TALOS II Lite, and am just waiting to get more parts to put everything together