Uncorrectable freedom and security issues on x86 platforms

Paul Boddie paul at boddie.org.uk
Tue Apr 5 11:42:55 UTC 2016

On Tuesday 5. April 2016 10.20.49 Daniel Pocock wrote:
> On 04/04/16 18:42, Tobias Platen wrote:
> > Half a year ago I baught a libreboot machine from Minifree, which
> > is now my main computer. I own several ARM based computers, with
> > processors from Texas Instruments and Allwinner, which I use for
> > various other tasks. I'm also interested in PowerPC, as a
> > replacement for Intel. Ive heard about a PowerPC notebook[1] as a
> > community effort.
> This type of practical feedback and action is really underestimated
> If every serious free software developer and user goes out and buys at
> least one piece of genuinely free hardware and tries to use it for
> some aspect of what we do then it will make us much more conscious of
> the fact that these platforms need to be supported seriously, even if
> we aren't explicitly things developing for them.

Agreed. I'm fed up of hearing about people who "must" have a MacBook (or 
whatever they're called) because of their supposed reliability or friendliness 
to Free Software, or because those people think it runs a "good enough version 
of Unix", as they then go and install all the GNU tools, anyway, after 
eventually discovering what everyone who had to use proprietary Unix a decade 
or two ago already knew.

> The question is, can we make a shortlist of devices that people should
> consider buying?  Such a shortlist would probably consider:
> - price and value for money
> - suitability for specific tasks (e.g. compiling, making
> presentations, watching movies, office work)
> - warranty and servicing issues, e.g. for laptops
>   - can the battery be replaced,
>   - how easy is it to get it fixed or replaced
>     at short notice if it fails while traveling
>     to a conference
> - which distributions are supporting the device seriously and how many
> other developers already have something similar, does it have critical
> mass
> Collating these details for various products in each category (e.g.
> laptop, workstation, home server, embedded development board) will
> make it much easier for people to overcome whatever inertia keeps them
> from acquiring free hardware.

This kind of thing is a lot of work. We tried to collect a list of hardware 
vendors on the wiki:

http://wiki.fsfe.org/Migrated/Hardware Vendors

(Everything on the wiki has been moved around, so links may need to be 
followed via error pages.)

And there wasn't an attempt to catalogue the details, either. Really, it was 
enough work just tracking whether the companies offering stuff were still 
doing so or were even still trading at all.

> Going beyond that, finding a way to gift such devices to free software
> developers could create even more momentum around support for free
> hardware.

I would rather Free Software developers came to their senses and made the 
right purchasing decisions than have them getting presents that they probably 
don't want and which end up lying around unused (or sold on, if various device 
developer programmes are any indication).


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