Tommelise is Forrest Higg's attempt to build his own RepRap-like gadget before RepRap itself is ready for wide distribution. He has spoken at an O'Reilly conference about the RepRap project and he has some fascinating ideas about architecture and how fabbers might relate to it. The recent (early Feb 2008) postings in his Tommelise blog describe his success in connecting stepper motor axles to threaded rods, something I had been wondering about myself.
In the Tommelise FAQ, Higgs mentions Linux and Java (which have been adopted by the RepRap project) as presenting a steep learning curve to people without a software background, citing Microsoft Windows and Visual Basic as more user-friendly alternatives. My own early experiences with Linux required enormous patience. Higgs writes Tommelise has been created for people who aren't particularly clever and may be living in modest circumstances. Any open-source "fabber revolution" (1, 2, 3) will be an empty exercise if it fails to serve such people. Then again, if a genuinely open-source revolution is to occur, we'll eventually need to wean ourselves from Microsoft and make our own tools equally user-friendly.