Here’s a new twist on the open source craze. Fabless chip and system designer Via Technologies has released to the community OpenBook, a reference design for a low cost ultra portable laptop that runs Windows or Linux at up to 1.2 GHz and includes WiFi, BlueTooth and high-res 3D graphics capabilities, and could weigh just over two pounds.

Sure, the design’s based on the company’s own chipset, but a snip here and a tweak there could turn their blueprint into a world class palmtop of you own design—at absolutely no cost to you.

According to the OpenBook Web site, a GPS receiver is optional, as is a second configuration with options for WiMAX, HSDPA, and EV-DO/W-CDMA broadband connectivity. The system supports as much as 2 GB DDR memory, up to 1024 pixel x 600 pixel display resolution (on an 8.9-inch screen) and a maximum of 256MB video memory, a pair of two mega pixel cameras and four-cell battery rated at about three hours of useful life. The unit is capable of running Windows XP or Vista and “all popular Linux distributions.”

The design, delivered as a set of computer-aided design (CAD) files, is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0, which allows unlimited use and distribution, provided the design is attributed to Via; design changes must be similarly shared. Other hardware niceties include three USB 2.0 ports, a four-in-one card reader, DVD RW control logic, Realtek HD audio, Gigabit Ethernet, magnetic or solid state hard drive options, and mic in and headphone out jacks.

The OpenBook will reportedly cost between US$500 and $800.

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