MNT Reform

The open source DIY laptop for hacking, customization, and privacy

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Jun 01, 2020

Project update 6 of 15

Boot Image Build, Blob-free H.264, a Podcast, and an AMA

by Lukas H

System Image Build Process and Demo Video

Over the last week, we worked on the bringup of the first MNT Reform 2.0 beta unit that will be sent out to a customer. I used the opportunity to update and polish the system image build process and out-of-the-box experience when you first boot MNT Reform from the SD card.

The build process is based on Debian Multistrap and performs the following steps:

The resulting reform-system.img can then be written to an SD card that any MNT Reform can boot.

In addition to all the theory, here’s an unedited video I recorded directly off the HDMI output of my personal MNT Reform to give you a sense of the look, feel, and speed of the default installation. Some delays when starting bigger applications are the result of not loading from a fast NVMe disk but directly off of the SD card. Also note that the colors are washed out as a side-effect of the 60 FPS USB video capture. On the real display, everything is nice and crisp.

Libre Lounge Podcast Episode

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed for the Libre Lounge podcast by Serge Wroclawski. Libre Lounge is a podcast about "various topics involving user freedom, crossing free software, free culture, network and hosting freedom, and libre hardware designs." In this episode, I talk about my personal background in software and hardware, how I came to Free Software and Linux, and some future directions for Reform:

Blob-Free H.264 Video Decoding

Did you know that i.MX8MQ (the default System-on-Chip of MNT Reform) has built-in hardware video decoders? Due to recent development work by Ezequiel Garcia, Philipp Zabel et al, Linux 5.7 includes support for the Hantro H.264 (and MPEG-2) decoder block via the video4linux infrastructure. Recent builds of gstreamer can already leverage the code to play back H.264 video on MNT Reform without significant CPU usage.

Save the Date: AMA on June 3rd

As part of the campaign, the MNT Reform team (at least Greta and me) will be available for an AMA (ask-me-anything) on the Crowd Supply Discord Server this Wednesday, June 3rd at 1pm Pacific Time. Here’s the link to the Discord channel: And here’s a link that will translate to your local time: We are looking forward to all of your questions.

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