Before there was Kickstarter, before there were iPads, and before the smartphone market has really even taken off, there was the Pandora. It was designed to be a Linux-powered handheld computer which could be used for gaming and other tasks… but the crowd-funded project was plagued with shipping delays, which left a bitter taste in some people’s mouths.

So does it make sense to try again in 2016?

dragonbox pyra

Michael Mrozek certainly seems to think so. And so to a number of other people: Two days after he started taking pre-orders for the new DragonBox Pyra, enough people had placed orders to fund the production of 700 units.

Mrozek, who also goes by the nickname, EvilDragon, spoke with me for the latest episode of the LPX Show.

700 units may seem like small potatoes compared to the millions of phones or tablets a company like Apple or Samsung makes. But the DragonBox Pyra is the kind of niche device that will probably never be made by a company like Apple: it appeals to a small set of geeks who value open source software and open hardware designs and are willing to pay a premium price for a versatile, hackable mini computer.

The DragonBox Pyra is priced at 500 Euros (about $575), although if you place a pre-order you’ll only be billed for 330 Euros and given a voucher you can use toward the purchase of a Pyra once the product is ready to ship.

Sure, you could buy a phone, tablet, or laptop for that price… but Mrozek says that’s kind of missing the point. You can find out what he thinks the point is, by listening to the podcast.

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17 replies on “DragonBox Pyra: Crowdfunding an open source, modular handheld PC (LPX Show)”

  1. Oh there were ipads, they were just yet another size, and a name one letter different.

    As a developer, one thing I do care about is market share – I was put off the original time round by the fact that I likely wouldn’t even know anyone else to try a game I might write for it, so preferred to look at Symbian and later Android. Android gives me open source and dominant market share. Apple gives neither.

    1. Fortunately, your game would be easily portable to Linux or even Windows if you were to use SDL.

    1. That would be great! The possibility to run Steam and some GOG.com games without further ado on the Pyra would be a killer app.

      1. Given that you can run tens of thousands of games through emulation, Steam, which is also an emulator, isn’t that big of deal for a low watt device. New stuff would just crawl anyway.

        1. ಠ_ಠ “steam which is also an emulator” no, it’s a store and delivery platform. I agree that you’re not gonna get crysis running on an atom but they’re surprisingly capable. Plus you’ll find plenty of indie or low power games that while they have linux versions do not support ARM.

          1. > you’re not gonna get crysis running on an atom

            Yes, you will, actually



            Now, will it catch fire in that tiny package or not is completely different story

          2. wow, that looks surprisingly playable, as in I probably would play it 😛 These atoms are full of surprises!

  2. Great interview. Brad, I think you hit a lot of the important questions and discussion points.

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