EOMA68 crowdfunding campaign (the last few days) plus ways forward for Libre Computing

Paul Boddie paul at boddie.org.uk
Tue Aug 23 20:45:10 UTC 2016

On Tuesday 23. August 2016 20.34.19 Xavi Drudis Ferran wrote:

[Levels of criticism of well-meaning projects...]

> In some case it's been more constructive than others. Funny thing is
> that when an evil corporation launches another evil product, you can
> hardly hear some boohs somewhere, not because everybody likes it, but
> because everybody expected something of the kind. But when someone
> says to be trying to sell something good in an ethical way, everybody
> instantly disbelieves it so they're going to point out any possible
> objection to prove it is not perfect. That's useful to reinforce their
> inductive reasoning and saves them the trouble of having to apply
> deduction to every news piece they come across. In other words, they
> know these things don't happen, so they simply find confirmation of
> their knowledge and share it.

That's a good insight. One could just say that, for the most part, people just 
believe what they already want to - or care to - believe.

Take the original Raspberry Pi, not because I have anything against the people 
who made it, but because it's a well-known example of a number of things. Most 
people who bought it probably didn't care about things like binary blobs, and 
when such things became a talking point, the Foundation downplayed it [1], 
which probably satisfied most people.

When enough people complained, the source code for the Linux device driver for 
the graphics stack was released [2], which probably satisfied most people.

When enough people pointed out that this device driver was just sending 
messages to an entirely separate operating system running on its own separate 
processor inside the SoC [3], the Foundation downplayed it, which probably 
satisfied most people.

When enough people got restless about that, the Foundation announced that 
source code was available [4] (but actually only for the graphics 
functionality on the separate operating system), which probably satisfied most 

As far as I can tell, the rest of the proprietary binary is still secret. 
Interestingly, it appears to be based on ThreadX [5] which also features in 
the Intel Management Engine technology, where not even mighty Intel is allowed 
to release the code [6].

In effect, the Foundation have "aimed low" but "claimed high", and their 
target audience are generally happy to go along with it rather than change 
their worldview. (They don't seem to care as much about the same kind of 
ethical issues as most people reading this list.)

Meanwhile, the Purism laptop campaigns, worthy as they and their instigators 
undoubtedly are, rely on their privacy and freedom credentials to promote 
their products. However, upon concerns being aired about Intel Management 
Engine and the surveillance dangers, the response has been to build a petition 
to get Intel to release the source code of such technologies [7]. Again, this 
may satisfy most people in their audience, but a more demanding audience would 
realise the most likely outcome [8].

(But to Purism's credit, they do acknowledge other products that are not 
encumbered by such things, including those ThinkPad-based products mentioned 
in your - Xavi's - message.)

I guess the conclusion is that if you have low standards, people tend to hold 
you to even lower standards, whereas if you have high standards, people tend 
to hold you to even higher standards. But it actually isn't helpful if people 
expect perfection in an imperfect world, and it can be especially infuriating 
if they aren't really willing to improve the world, either.


[1] https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/a-birthday-present-from-

[2] https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/open-source-arm-userspace/

[3] http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/10/all-code-on-

[4] https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/a-birthday-present-from-broadcom/

[5] https://lwn.net/Articles/588966/

[6] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11427432

[7] https://puri.sm/road-to-fsf-ryf-endorsement-and-beyond/

[8] https://libreboot.org/faq/#librem

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