I've been searching for information but because of the popularity of the Pi there are a lot of results that are how-tos or talking about alternatives. I have tried to do my research. This question was so hard to phrase; really sorry guys. (addendum I'm not cutting off my nose despite my face, just looking for something less "kiddy" the Pi feels very 'classroomy' - made to look good on exam board's websites, this isn't helped by having an OCR thing on the desktop and having a boot to that "scratch" thing...)
THIS IS NOT: a question asked by someone who has a Raspberry Pi because it is cool and uses top to feel more "h4xor"-like. I am not looking for a more powerful alternative (from similar questions), I want to find something that can fill the gap between z80+breadboard+uart and a useful computer - which the Pi does, but I am wondering if there are others.
Are there any alternatives to the Raspberry Pi (cheap, small, ....) that are more open? I completely get why there's an ARM chip sitting there, but they're not the most open bunch (eg: Java extension, anything FOSS out there able to use it, I have found nothing so far). Are there any devices which are entirely free, that require no binary blobs?
Anything based off: http://www.latticesemi.com/products/intellectualproperty/ipcores/mico32/index.cfm or the openSPARC or openRISC projects?
Regarding the ports used for the camera or face or shield (whatever they are called) is that bus well documented? what is it's name? (I could probably find this one out by myself, pointers welcome!)
I've also noticed that the GPIO pins are... not as robust as I would want from an educational device, given the cost of resistors I find it odd that a few pence was saved rather than shield the fragile SoC from the clumsy/impatient/stupid students, perhaps this is less of a problem than I think, I'd love some views of the experienced.
I've re-written this like 7 times because I don't want such an open ended question, sorry about that, edits welcome.
Lastly, there's no question that the Raspberry Pi is a useful device, but I doubt it is the first of its kind and I doubt there are just a handful of devices of that kind (Beagleboard and co, I don't count the Aurdino(spelling?) in this category btw) but I can't find them!
BTW kits would be good, something more hands on than "put the ram in the slot" :P