Uncorrectable freedom and security issues on x86 platforms

Paul Boddie paul at boddie.org.uk
Sat Apr 23 14:07:33 UTC 2016

On Saturday 23. April 2016 10.34.10 Daniel Pocock wrote:
> There are also various other ways to approach this, for example, I
> started a discussion about ARM-based NAS devices on the debian-arm
> list[1].  This is one market where the hardware is readily available
> and the fact it is low power is considered a virtue by most purchasers.

Indeed. Since I use a desktop machine and don't care about the high levels of 
integration that plague laptops, and since my desktop machine is over ten 
years old, I intend to get a low-power system to replace my current one at 
some point. My needs are modest, but people are increasingly reacting to the 
supposed "need" to have obscene amounts of RAM and CPU power just to do basic 
computing tasks, albeit in a world where every Web page wants to run scripts 
from a hundred sites, show ten videos or animations, and lay itself out over 
and over again.

> The ASUS C201 appears very weak in the specs.  Some things that bother
> me are the screen resolution (only 768 pixels high) and it is USB 2
> only.  I don't like the Chrome logo on it either (or is that a sticker
> that comes off?).  Are there slightly stronger alternatives?

I can't answer shopping questions like this, but I've been interested in 
initiatives like EOMA-68 where thought has been directed towards making open 
hardware for such products. EOMA-68 is arguably progressing at an 
excruciatingly slow pace, which is understandable given the constraints 
involved, but certain vendors do appear to have seen an opportunity for 
collaboration with such initiatives.

> Another strategic topic on this theme: people won't necessarily see
> this thread and throw away all their x86 equipment the same day.
> However, how can these ideas be introduced to people at the times when
> they are making purchasing decisions?

I think the usual themes of sustainability and privacy are pretty useful here. 
It doesn't hurt that the cost of the new wave of lower-performance devices 
makes them easier to consider.

> 1. https://lists.debian.org/debian-arm/2016/04/msg00051.html

I know this is tangential, but I guess what you discuss in that thread might 
have some overlap with what the FreedomBox people have been trying to do. The 
task of making a non-interactive install image is familiar to me because I 
myself pursued the multistrap route to get Debian working on my Ben NanoNote.


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