Spark: A Tablet Running Open hardware and KDE Plasma Active Pre-installed

A tablet has been on my to do list since forever. Two things held me back: the priority to replace my terminally ill eight-year old laptop and the unhappily well known fact that the current crop of tablets are tied down more securely that a latter-day Gulliver in Jonathan Swift's tale.

Regular readers of Free Software Magazine will have read the encouraging news about the Raspberry Pi and the Allwinner A10, running free and open software on open hardware. That's just great but what really got my attention was this tablet equivalent. A cheap, reasonably well specified tablet built with open hardware and running KDE Plasma Active. Check it out here and view the features on YouTube.

Here's the precise specification:

  • 1GHz AMLogic ARM processor (Cortex-A9)
  • Mali-400 GPU
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 4GB internal storage
  • SD card slot
  • 7″ capacitive multi-touch screen
  • WiFi, HDMI Out, 1x mini-USB ports

I've seen better stats than that--but what do you want for $200 for God's sake? Still pretty decent though and I for one am willing to sacrafice a little to get a cheap tablet, above all one running GNU/Linux which doesn't require me to void the warranty by jailbreaking the device and risking bricking it too.

FSM's editor, Tony Mobily, is worried that Android will be the death of GNU/Linux. Maybe Tony will sleep a little better in the knowledge that there are people out there determined to bring open software and hardware stacks to smartphones and tablets. The vendors will not tie us down. The big question to ask is if Spark will run traditional GNU/Linux software repositories or some kind of unwalled app garden. Or both.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

With thanks to Fremantle Counselling to keep FSM editors sane.