MIPS IV is nice, because it's a 64-bit ISA that's over 20 years old (the magic number for patents). FreeBSD 10 runs on it out of the box with the BERI kernel config on the Altera DE4 boards and in simulation and 10.1 should include a kernel config for the NetFPGA 10G board. These boards are pretty expensive, but we have a couple of configurations that will let it run on smaller FPGAs. Removing the FPU makes it a lot smaller and you can also build a microcontroller variant (simple static branch predictor, no MMU) that's even smaller. The simulator is slow, but just about useable (it takes about an hour to boot to single user mode, but it's enough for testing).
It's only in the last couple of years that FPGAs have become interesting for this kind of thing. There are a few high-level HDLs appearing, because hardware is sufficiently complex that the traditional approach of throwing it all away and starting again every CPU revision is increasingly impractical. The devices themselves are now fast enough that they're useable for prototyping and getting a reasonable feel for behaviour. We can get 100-200MHz with 4 cores in a single FPGA with the latest generation - not competitive with an ASIC, but fast enough that you can actually use them. I gave a demo that ended up being more compelling than I expected because I was showing people some things running on the UART console and I'd left the network cable connected so the screen kept being spammed with messages about invalid ssh connection attempts. Nothing I was doing said 'this is a real computer' quite as much as people on the Internet trying to attack it...
Step by step instructions please, since apparently it's easy...
Why do you think switching to linux would be much more simpler?
I'd have said FreeBSD not Linux, but the question still remains. For an answer, how about £5.5M? To put that in perspective, the annual budget of the FreeBSD Foundation is about a tenth that, which funds new development work, subsidises some conferences and so on. The UK government is paying £5.5 just for security updates. I can point you at several companies who'd be happy to provide extended support for a particular branch of FreeBSD for a fraction of that cost and an even bigger number who'd do it for Linux. £5.5M, even including overheads, will pay for 50 developers working full time. Let's assume that there's a lot of overheads, shareholder profits, and so on and call it 20. Do you really think it takes 20 developers to backport security fixes for Windows? Oh, and if they were running FreeBSD then I can point them at a couple of UK companies who would happily take half that money, provide the same support, and keep the money in the local economy. Want to take a guess about where Microsoft will be spending that £5.5M?
Almost all of the apps I have installed on my Android phone are from F-Droid. I tried setting it up without a Google account at all, but there was one app (irritatingly, my Internet banking one) that required a Play Store account. I also have the Amazon AppStore installed for its free app of the day thing (it was NeoCal a few days ago, which is a really nice calculator app, but I use a calculator so rarely that I'd probably never have bought it).
The biggest limitation with iOS for me though is it's lack of some decent equivalent of OSMAnd - a map app that lets me download entire countries worth of vector maps and can do offline navigation, so I won't run up huge bills using it when abroad.