"Respects Your Freedom" certification?


comradekingu

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Free Software Supporter Issue 109 said:
Bringing prototypes back from LibrePlanet for further coreboot porting work
From March 28th by Jeff Fortin

We were very happy to support the Free Software Foundation by sponsoring LibrePlanet! On Saturday morning, we started setting up our booth slowly, thinking there would not be much activity going on at the beginning of the day. We were proven wrong: There was a crowd around our booth at pretty much all times (except lunchtime) throughout the day Saturday, during which it was revealed that Todd is possibly a cyborg, as he stood there answering questions for eight hours straight, without needing to eat, drink, or sit.

Those are niche products. One of which is a handy way to move a computer around, the other is a server motherboard with a uncommon architecture.

What you need to gauge interest for, is a regular laptop, and a regular smartphone, because that is what people are buying currently, needless to say, there are alternatives available en masse.

The Librem laptop has hardware switches, so it is the only regular Linux laptop with hardware kill switches.

This is a great offering over what is available. Meanwhile you cant make a regular laptop without an x86_64 processor, which in turn means it won't be a RYF level machine.
Maybe an ARM laptop is possible in the future. The only valid example of what was possible is the i.MX6 novena, which traded the expense for actively being a hackers device. That isn't the same thing, and it is a very tough act to follow, because you then need to undercut what is available enough to make it worthwhile. It is also going to be a fully custom job, which is what purism gets most of their cost-cutting from not doing.

I suppose if TALOS brings the price down on what they are offering, and EOMA68 gets some bargaining rights with allwinner, things will change, but purism is also doing something meaningful.

It is undeniable that their focus is security and freedom, you can argue whether they are delivering on all accounts, but the fact that the idea could be sold to a general public speaks volumes. The level of honesty and clarity rivals ED these days, you will find purism freely admit they don't deliver on even their own standards: https://puri.sm/learn/freedom-roadmap/

Other actually RYF certified devices not flying off the shelves means one or more of three things
  • It wasn't actually the same product,
  • it was too expensive, or,
  • it wasn't actually communicated right.
The Pyra is here the same as lots of things, Personal audio and video players, similar to a laptop, cell-phone capable, and a gaming device. Only the latter market is really moving because others fail to see what it is, or why it is for them.

Put Fairphone into this context. It is perfectly reasonable to argue their first phone was almost anything but. And the current one has problems with sourcing and longevity too. However arguing that people don't care about fairness and sustainability ends right there, because it has outsold every other meaningful project combined.

The reason why doing anything, heavy lifting or not, may be irrelevant as it scales up, is because you actually need to sell something to have done anything.
Yes the firmware is the crucial bit, which requires the most amount of involvement to get around, but even if there was that, you need a vision. Purism has good design and communication. It isnt perfect, and for the most part it couldn't be. Compared to https://www.thinkpenguin.com/catalog/notebook-computers-gnu-linux-2 which has neither design, nor laptops on offer. I can't always go back in time to re-buy a X200 and wait till there is libreboot available for it, that isn't what purism is trying to do, they are trying to offer new machines that compare to it.

So, the Librem phone is the indicator of how popular freedom respecting devices are. As was the laptop. The discussion over how well that is achieved, is not something people are going to complain about. If you buy a device for its security, etc, you will not complain if it offers _more_ of any of those values over what everyone else offers.

What you have to pick from is what there is to pick from, at the given time.
 
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diligentcircle

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The level of honesty and clarity rivals ED these days, you will find purism freely admit they don't deliver on even their own standards: https://puri.sm/learn/freedom-roadmap/
Surely you must be joking. That is your indication of honesty from Purism? That's my prime indication of dishonesty from Purism. Actually look at that nonsense chart they've drawn up. Everything which is "filled in" is either non-steps or steps that they had nothing to do with. The first five steps are a long-winded way of saying "completely libre OS", which was trivially achieved in the early 1990s and made easy with FSF-endorsed distros more than a decade ago. The next thing they brag about is using GRUB, which every GNU/Linux user has been using for decades now, and "fusing the CPU for unsigned binaries", a confusing reference to Intel Boot Guard, which only involves not buying from someone who has enabled that. It's even more obvious with the original version:

https://archive.is/HBDm3

Note, very little has changed since then. What has changed is that they're using Shimboot now (which means absolutely nothing for freedom), and they've added in "Libreboot" as an extra step so they could fill a square in. Or, half-fill it in.

The discussion over how well that is achieved, is not something people are going to complain about. If you buy a device for its security, etc, you will not complain if it offers _more_ of any of those values over what everyone else offers.
No, what they'll complain about is that they're getting the same thing already, why should they buy your slower, more expensive computer when they've already got a Librem which protects their privacy? I know it's stupid, but that's the kind of simplistic thinking that drew people to Purism in the first place.

You talk about how EOMA68 is a "niche product" because it's not a laptop. Well, it is a laptop, if you just have the Libre Tea card and the laptop housing. So no, that's not the problem. The problem is that the Allwinner A20 is incredibly slow compared to what most people are used to (even slower than those aftermarket laptops using Libreboot), and the price for the laptop housing is high. This is most likely going to be the first RYF-endorsed laptop to ever be made new. Lots of people in the libre software community flocked to it, myself included, because of how significant this is. It did not succeed based on being, as you say, "a handy way to move a computer around". It succeeded, just barely, by appealing to the niche interest of freedom-respecting hardware, and in particular to the hope that it could lead to more freedom-respecting hardware being made in the future. With out that, I am certain the campaign would have failed miserably, because no one else is so desperate to get new hardware made. That's also why I think it is a great indication of what kind of influence the libre software community has.
 

comradekingu

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It isn't illegal to make mistakes, nor learn from them. If the current purism makes sense from the ground up, with an actual new product, then that is good.

You don't get anywhere with just honesty, you need to communicate a clear message.
Saying "completely libre OS" fails at the latter, because the amount of people understanding the concept, is a small group of people you don't need to draw up charts for.

There was nothing trivial about any free software OS in the 90s, much less early 90s. While it may hold true for one decade past, for FSF-endorsed distros it was not.
Not every distro uses grub, but that is beside the point. You will find plenty of bootloaders are non-free, even if grub is laid atop it.
You cant actually communicate what levels of involvement are needed to do something, and taking things for granted certainly does none of that. There are many variations over the theme not-fully-there. And while every single one of them but the most crucial one is covered, it is still progress of sorts.

Personally I supported the EOMA68 campaign because it is a tangible way to convince allwinner to change their ways. Not because i need another fully free not fast enough computer. We could have 10000 EOMA68 companies, and the biggest issuers of computers would still have the same names. There are many things that qualify a product, what the product is, short of what it shouldn't be, is in some sense what it offers.

You said the same thing already existed, and that wasn't it. If you want a regular laptop, you are either looking at a x200, or bust. None of which actually brings you closer to bringing out a new laptop that compares. Which is a laudable, and at the time, impossible task. Mental gymnastics in comparison between the options, does not make them commercially viable equivalents.

If anyone thought they could get the same thing, they would get that, and no money would be raised. You can't make a comparison to imagination, because those are not real. The eoma68 is still not a regular laptop, and while it may be a freedom-respecting one, to the point of ticking all sorts of boxen, that is barely enough, because the current marketplace has no provision for combining it with anything mainstream. Bringing it around is the other focus, and for better, it doesn't make it easy.

What we have learnt is to deliver what the marketplace is capable of, focusing on real issues, for everyday people.

What sorts of boxen does the librem phone not tick btw?
 
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diligentcircle

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There was nothing trivial about any free software OS in the 90s
"Trivially achieved" wasn't in reference to the ease of installing the system. It only meant that it became a possibility by then: you could take components of GNU together with Linux to make a fully libre operating system, with the necessary technical skills. That's why I also mentioned that it was only with FSF-endorsed distros that it became easy. The overall point, though, is that Purism had nothing to do with any of this.

If you want a regular laptop, you are either looking at a x200, or bust.
No, that's not true at all, since you seem to be content with what Purism did. By that metric, Think Penguin was selling laptops just as good for years before Purism was even founded. Yes, new laptops. I'm typing on one of them right now. (It's not new any more, though; it was bought a few years ago, I want to say in 2013.)

I even looked at Think Penguin's offerings at the time one of the Purism campaigns was running. It's really hard to compare CPUs, but I found that you could get a very similar offering from Think Penguin to what Purism was offering at a significantly lower price point. I think the only obvious difference I wasn't able to account for was the material; Think Penguin uses plastic, and I seem to recall the Librem laptops use aluminum or something. But I may be misremembering that point.

If I'm not entirely clear on this, Think Penguin has always sold only computers which 100% libre GNU/Linux distros can work on. There's even a version of the website, libre.thinkpenguin.com, which erases all references to proprietary software and changes the default OS to an FSF-endorsed one (usually Trisquel). The FSF has linked to Think Penguin multiple times, once in a list of shops that sell computers with GNU/Linux pre-installed and several times in their "holiday giving guides". They have a really strong reputation in the libre software community as a libre software friendly hardware supplier.

What sorts of boxen does the librem phone not tick btw?
The Librem 5 only has three important differences from mainstream Android phones that I can concretely see:

1. It is not equipped with any "restricted boot" esque system.

2. It can work with a libre OS.

3. It's designed to "separate" the baseband from the main CPU. I assume that means that it will be isolated, but the campaign is not actually clear on that.

So, it's about the same as the OpenMoko was. It still has all the other problems with cell phones, including most critically from the standpoint of privacy the possibility of tracking by triangulation. To be perfectly clear, the Librem 5 is better than the current alternatives. But I don't like the fact that it's being promoted in such a way that many people are going to think that it's already perfect, when it is nowhere near that.
 

ible

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you guys have both some legitimate and interesting points, and should continue to argue indefinitely.

(one part of that statement is sarcasm.)
 

comradekingu

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Having the OS available for download and distribution, doesn't make it available for purchase pre-installed. Those two are distinctly different.

Making it available for purchase now, with an OS pre-installed, changes how it is available now. If you bought a regular laptop in 2013 you got crucially none of the security the x200 offers. The situation is as per now that it is an extra vendor, and the only one with customizations to the hardware. While it is still impossible to do, not selling laptops does not solve the problem…

If we have Clevo and Compal, Foxconn and the rest of them, then it is very similar to what those machines would otherwise ship with. That is a great improvement on OS alone. And it really makes the same difference as the discrepancy between the marketshare between the others.

When you want to buy a device, the main thing is not to sell what historical significance you have had. By that metric everyone would get trolltech-phones, seeing as they made QT.

I am very happy with what Purism did with the first laptop, not so much with how they did it, but it seems they have heard and responded to the critique.

The Lunduke hour, which dedicated a whole episode to the librem 5 phone, has great reach, something in the campaign is working, so there is that.
Maybe people care about it looking professional, or being sturdy. These are all selling points to replicate, with no loss in sight.

The difference with the phone is:

1. no tax to MS, which all mainstream Android phone makers pay per handset
2. It _ships_ pureOS
3. It does seperate the baseband and the CPU
4. You can get it without the baseband.
5. Harware killswitches.
6. Removable battery, S8 by comparison has a breakable non removable backplate that costs 160 dollars (Norwegian equivalent) to replace (!)
7. The support of major desktop environments, and a end-to-end encryption network, preinstalled
8. No gapps or other fucky businessmodel spyware
9. Free shipping for US residents
10. You can have all the documentation non-NDA from NXP
11. Non-blob free software drivers for graphics
12. Bootloader is not a fuckyfuck
13. Exposed hardware debugging interface

Again, how is anything the Librem 5 phone wants to be not _exactly_ how one would do it, considering what is available? Did anything change since we discussed it?
 
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