An avid development community has managed to keep the Chumby platform alive even after Chumby Industries went bust last year. Despite having no clear path forward in the time since, Chumby users haven't yet abandoned the company's line of hardware: over 40,000 devices remain in "active use" according to stats posted on the Chumby forums late last week. But now it seems the money needed to keep the open source project going could soon dry up. After Chumby the company went under, funding has been passed between the Chumby estate, an assignee for the assets, and most recently "a company that does not wish to be identified," according to the post. But that's set to end in February, with monthly payments that total between $4,000 and $5,000 threatening to sunset the project forever.
The end may be near for Chumby
Duane Maxwell, listed as vice president of software on Chumby's site, has pledged to keep things together as best he can. "I am currently in the process of creating a new company to keep at least some form of the service running, so that we're not all left with bricks," he writes. He plans to pay out-of-pocket to cover any costs necessary to keep Chumby going — at least temporarily — though he admits there will be major sacrifices. Widgets will be chief among those, with Maxell saying describing them as the project's "largest ongoing cost." Support for all of Chumby's Android clients will be slashed and software on existing smart TVs is also likely to cease functioning.
In fact, the scope of Maxell's effort is fairly small: he wants to "provide enough service for the devices to boot, download a Control Panel, and play a single fixed widget (probably a clock)." From there, he hopes to spread the source code and enable others to keep the software — and their beloved Chumby devices — up and running. But even if Chumby's loyal community kicks in donations, the project faces a tenuous future at best.