free PDA running JMP

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mason

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After this recent thread I have decided to try to replace my smartphone with a PDA running JMP and only free software. I'm now trying to find on a good fully free device to use.

The Ben Nanonote looks ideal, but I can't actually find a source from which to buy one. The wiki says that as of 2015 only IDA Systems sells it, and it appears that now they don't sell it either.

The DragonBox Pyra looks like a good alternative. The GPU may or may not be nonfree. I can't find any recent information on that. However, since I don't plan to use the device for games I might be able to avoid using the GPU even if it is nonfree.

The Pandora, which is the predecessor to the Pyra is less expensive and sufficient for my needs, but I find it even more difficult to find information on any freedom issues.

I also found this tutorial on creating a mini computer using a Raspberry Pi, but if this is up-to-date then is sounds like the Raspberry Pi is nonfree.

Can anyone share knowledge about any of these devices or others that might work?

Also, obviously WiFi will be necessary for how I plan to use this. Is it likely that I should be okay with any device with a USB port for a ThinkPengiun WiFi adpater assuming I can install the driver?

happy_gnu
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You could also have a smartphone with Replicant and use it without a SIM card

GNUbahn
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It seems to me, that mason doesn't want to be tracked. To my knowledge, a SIM enabled device is by default actively asking to be tracked. For instance, you are able to call emergency services without a SIM card inserted.

happy_gnu
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I didn't know this.

In my country this doesn't work :/

But it is interesting.

mason

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It also appears that all devices supported by Replicant require nonfree firmware to use WiFi, unless this list is out-of-date.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Replicant_(operating_system)#Supported_devices

GNUbahn
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But you use a wifi-dongle working with free firmware.

SuperTramp83

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This is not correct, senor GNUbahn. A phone without a sim card can indeed make emergency calls and in many countries this is law, but it certainly can not be tracked by it's IMEI alone. To track a phoon a sim must be inserted inside the phoon. In fact if no sim card is present in da phoon and you call say 911 and then after a few seconds end the call, the operator of the service will not be able to call you back.
IMEI is also how most thieves get caught, for they are ignorant on the matter, they know they have to remove the sim and most of them also knows they need to factory reset the phoon, but they ignore one simple matter, once any sim is connected to any cellular network it is sending it's phone number together with the IMEI number to the cell towers..
Consider also keeping your phoon in airplane mode all the time for added peace of mind..

Soon.to.be.Free
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>The Ben Nanonote looks ideal, but I can't actually find a source from which to buy one. The wiki says that as of 2015 only IDA Systems sells it, and it appears that now they don't sell it either.

Indeed- the domain has changed hands at some point, and the original owner appears to have gone out of business. Sigh... the Nanonote was so beautiful, and free to boot!

>The DragonBox Pyra looks like a good alternative. The GPU may or may not be nonfree. I can't find any recent information on that. However, since I don't plan to use the device for games I might be able to avoid using the GPU even if it is nonfree.
>The Pandora, which is the predecessor to the Pyra is less expensive and sufficient for my needs, but I find it even more difficult to find information on any freedom issues.

Both are addressed in https://trisquel.info/en/forum/some-info-open-pandora-pyra-pandora-game-console#comment-92758 ; the original source for the question on the Pyra was at https://pyra-handheld.com/boards/threads/how-close-does-the-pyras-design-come-to-respecting-your-freedom.76105/.

For the Pandora, do you know where units are for sale? I'd be interested in one myself if they're still around.

>I also found this tutorial on creating a mini computer using a Raspberry Pi, but if this is up-to-date then is sounds like the Raspberry Pi is nonfree.

Unfortunately, the Pi is still not freed- booting goes via the GPU first, for some reason, which requires loading the proprietary GPU blob. Work has been done on this (https://github.com/christinaa/rpi-open-firmware), but there's a little way to go before it's usable. I *do* hope somebody can complete it- it would be a wonderful thing to have.

>Can anyone share knowledge about any of these devices or others that might work?

As happy_gnu said, a Replicant device without a SIM card would also serve well. There's also the PocketChip, which seems rather similar to the Pandora freedom- and spec-wise.

>Also, obviously WiFi will be necessary for how I plan to use this. Is it likely that I should be okay with any device with a USB port for a ThinkPengiun WiFi adpater assuming I can install the driver?

Yes- as long as the firmware/driver is installed, any wi-fi adapter will work.

mason

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I thought I had found the Pandora for sale here, but not understanding German I did not realize at first that it is out of stock. It appears they are only selling the Pyra.

However, I feel better about the Pyra after reading the link you included. I'll take a look at the PocketChip too, as I'd rather not wait for the Pyra to be finished. I rely on an iPhone now and feel disgusting about it.

Hopefully someone will start manufacturing the Ben NanoNote again. It looks awesome.

kopolee11
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I haven't done this myself, but another option to consider is using a Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 Wi-Fi only version with Replicant. (https://redmine.replicant.us/projects/replicant/wiki/GalaxyTab270P31xx) It would not have a telephony modem to worry about, but to use Wi-Fi you would have to use a USB dongle.

The main problem is that it is only on Replicant 4.2, and I haven't heard anything about it migrating to 6.0.

mason

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What exactly is the WiFi-only version and where can I find it? Does it literally have no modem, or is the modem somehow completely disabled with certainty?

GNUbahn
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kopolee11 is talking about a tabelt (7 inches), I am talking about a phone.

The tablet exists in a sim-card enabled version and a wifi-only version. In the latter there is no modem.

In the phone (S3 G4) there is a modem, but perhaps, as telephony doesn't work, this could mean that the modem doesn't function at all. IF that is the case, I suppose it could suit your needs (and my wishes). It should be examined further, though.

GNUbahn
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What about using a S3 4G? Since telephony doesn't work, would that mean that the modem is inactive? In that If so, you could have a wifi-only phone with a 100% free software!

Soon.to.be.Free
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Unfortunately, I'm not sure this works- though my knowledge is limited, and I could very well be wrong (I hope I am). The issue is that the modem is a separate computer- it loads independently of the main device, and has its own flash. As such, removing the ability to use telephony from the main processor has no bearing on the modem, which doesn't depend on the main chip for firmware.

In any case, even if I am wrong, the S3 has a proprietary bootloader.

mason

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It sounds like until the Pyra is released my options are the PocketChip and the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 WiFi-only version.

The PocketChip's CHIP OS is apparently based on Debian. If like Debian it is "optionally free" but not FSF-free I am fine with that, but since freedom appears not to be an explicit goal for the creators of the CHIP I'm not sure that this is the case. Does anyone have any information on this?

The Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is a little large but is probably just small enough for a mobile device. What are the disadvantages of Replicant 4.2 compared to 6.0? Since I only plan to use the device for JMP and a couple other things I don't necessarily need the latest versions of applications, so my concerns would be about security holes or major bugs.

Soon.to.be.Free
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I'm 99% sure chip OS is "optionally free" in the same sense as Debian- though it does (unlike) Debian default to shipping blobs. I'd imagine it isn't too hard to uninstall the ones which are executed by default.

For a general discussion of the issues, there's a mailing-list thread here discussing an effort to produce a libre-by-default OS for the device: http://lists.phcomp.co.uk/pipermail/arm-netbook/2017-May/013561.html.

kopolee11
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Again, I haven't run Replicant myself so I am probably not the best person to answer that. One such issue seems to be "Browsers using the webview framework (such as the browser shipped with Replicant and Lightning) are subject to various security flaws in Replicant 6.0. Replicant 4.2 did not receive security updates since its latest release in September 2015 and many serious security issues are not fixed." (https://www.replicant.us/freedom-privacy-security-issues.php)

However, it does look like Replicant 6.0 is planned on being ported to the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. "Thanks to device donations from the community, it will be possible to get Replicant 6.0 working on the GTA04, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 and Galaxy Note. Please consider donating to Replicant to help development." (https://blog.replicant.us/2017/05/replicant-6-0-released/)

I'm also not sure how quickly Replicant 6.0 gets updates. Perhaps someone who has a Replicant device can give more info.

Last thought, it seems to me that a Replicant run Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 Wifi device is as free as most non-librebooted laptops. Which seems pretty cool, if I'm not mistaken.

singpolyma
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I highly recommend the Pyra. If you can find a used OpenPandora that'll probably serve (or a used N900 if you can disable the radio).

My pocketCHIP is great -- the specs are on the low side, and the screen resolution is quite low -- I've already sent patches upstream for some apps I use to make them fit better on it. You can also upgrade the screen on the pocketCHIP with some skills. The batter is about as advertised: 5 hours. Which is fine, but not amazing. Wifi needs a binary firmware, and works ok but also not amazing -- could use an RYF USB dongle replacement.

mason

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Thanks. Are you using the default OS on your PocketChip? I don't mind carrying a charger and I have a USB WiFi adapter, so that seems like a good inexpensive option to use until the Pyra is released. Is WiFi the only nonfree component?

Soon.to.be.Free
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And the GPU- although that's not really of interest outside graphics-intensive applications.

mason

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I plan to use this primarily for JMP and email, so that shouldn't be a problem. What would be the best way to disable the GPU? Deleting the firmware? Would that cause other problems?

Soon.to.be.Free
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I'm almost certain it would disable the GPU without causing other problems. On the other hand, that's just a (somewhat informed) guess based on what I've read about the Pandora; it's not yet confirmed.

Alexander Stephen Thomas Ross
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i have a ben nano note. love it to bits. for my needs i really needed
usb host though. i used my nano note for notes and music mainly. There
was a india shop still selling the last stock. Try asking on the
freenode.org #qi-hardware irc channel. the nano note devs hang out on
there. :)
my scripts i made for it: https://gitlab.com/NanoNote-Scripts/

so i now have a zipit which but for the wifi firmware other wise runs
free software only to my knowladge. kernel problem has blobs in it but
then depends on what modules you compile i guess. its a old little thing
but hinv on the #zipit freenode irc channel has a hole stock of them to
sell and i have a goodie pack of bits to go with them to sell. I have my
zipit attached to a diy addon pack with usb hub, 128gb cheap usb stick,
larger battery, gps, etc.
http://mozzwald.com/zipitz2

gta04 phones 2rd or new batch are another option. could do with more dev
time though. is usable with a 10Ah usb power bank to keep ya running for
the day. that or play with the more power efficient kernel build* which
i have yet to do and idk if i will get around to. so i have wondered
about selling on my gta04 if theres someone with more energy to help
improve the software for it or to just use it more. if people are
interested msg me and ill have a think about it. I do like it other
wise. been running replicant on it.
* http://projects.goldelico.com/p/gta04-kernel/

pocket chip i think comes with yucky non-free bootloader due to them not
knowing about the reversed engineered free one, i think, i forget the
"reason".

mozzwald from #zipit was working on a diy handheld computer using eoma68
computer card :D as a little personal project.
https://www.crowdsupply.com/eoma68/micro-desktop
http://mozzwald.com/

also got a samsung phone running replicant. works well, power saving is
very good. upgraded to Rep6 but can get non-free wifi working again. got
non-free bluetooth working. need a usb otg host hub with external
battery for free usb wifi. the galaxy note phones have more power for
usb ort/host. so i think there ok.

mason

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> pocket chip i think comes with yucky non-free bootloader

Can it be replaced?

Alexander Stephen Thomas Ross
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On 14/08/17 18:54, masonhock [at] gmail [dot] com wrote:
>> pocket chip i think comes with yucky non-free bootloader
>
> Can it be replaced?
i think so, there is a free one. they didn’t use it :(. i forget the
details. there where posts about it on arm-netbook the rhombus-tech
eoma86 mailing list:
http://lists.phcomp.co.uk/pipermail/arm-netbook/
http://rhombus-tech.net/

Soon.to.be.Free
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To elaborate, the particular post appears to be here: http://lists.phcomp.co.uk/pipermail/arm-netbook/2017-July/014340.html. It also suggests Debian Stretch runs fine on the PocketChip (although would need to be flashed to NAND to become the default OS)- so it definitely runs fine without proprietary blobs.

Thanks for pointing that out too, Alexander- I was under the impression that the u-boot used was just the standard, and so free. Frankly, it's quite unfortunate that the only freeable portable PDA form-factor currently for sale seems to be the PocketChip: NTC don't seem to show more than the absolute minimum of commitment to their 'open source' claims, to the point where they recommend some in-browser flashing tool for the Chip where free software alternatives have existed for *4 years*.

If somebody could manufacture the NanoNote (possibly with some slight spec improvements) again, I would be the first to buy it. *Sigh*

Alexander Stephen Thomas Ross
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Thanks for digging the info up.

On 15/08/17 22:34, gpast_panama [at] protonmail [dot] com wrote:
> If somebody could manufacture the NanoNote (possibly with some slight
> spec improvements) again, I would be the first to buy it. *Sigh*

i would say your best bet is for now is a zipit for £20 and if you are
willing to do some soldering, a usb hub,usb power exteral power, usb
wifi and you have free software pda. nano note is more power efficient.
i find a Panasonic li-ion 18650 3.5AH cell does the job for powering it.
zipits suspend works btw. im not sure if the nano note suspend did or
maybe it wasnt at the press of a button wheres the zipit is.

oh the people that compile software for the zipit do leave blobs in the
kernel, so a diy kernel compile would be wanted for 99%-100% FS only. i
think they where compiling the free usb wifi kernel modules, i asked
them to a while ago. i forget. ya might need to ask or diy.

Soon.to.be.Free
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>i would say your best bet is for now is a zipit for £20 and if you are willing to do some soldering, a usb hub,usb power exteral power, usb wifi and you have free software pda.

Thank you for this! If I may ask though, where can you get a Zipit for £20?

Alexander Stephen Thomas Ross
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On 16/08/17 21:15, gpast_panama [at] protonmail [dot] com wrote:
> Thank you for this! If I may ask though, where can you get a Zipit for £20?

np, glad to help. I said where in my prev posts but here is the info
with extra help:
Ask hinv on the #zipit IRC channel. On freenode.org server. You can use
Trisquel’s default IM client, which is pidgin. to connect too it. Or
heres a webchat to connect to it:
http://irc.lc/%23zipit@freenode

hinv is not always on, so stay connected to the channel and look out for
him. when hes connected to the channel, type his nickname "hinv" and a
msg and wait until you get a reply, maybe leave you computer on. or use
services like http://riot.im/ (Israel company :/) to keep save chat
history or use the logs to check for any msgs left you for.
https://mozzwald.com/irclog/zipit

Soon.to.be.Free
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Thank you!

mason

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UPDATE: My PocketCHIP arrived today. I like the device itself. It's a little bulky but fits in my jeans pocket. The keyboard works pretty well. I'd hate to write a long document with it, but terminal commands are pretty painless. Fingers don't work very well with the touch screen, but a pencil eraser works well as a stylus. The pencil stand thing (photo attached) looks silly but is actually kind of convenient.

Now I would like to liberate it as best as possible, replace the desktop environment with something less awful, and configure it for email, chat, and SIP.

These are the freedom issues brought up in this thread so far:
(1) WiFi firmware is nonfree, but can be avoided with a USB adapter.
(2) GPU firmware is nonfree, but can be deleted as I do not require advanced graphics.
(3) The bootloader is nonfree. A free one apparently exists, but I do not have the knowledge to find it and replace the nonfree one. Can anyone help out or link to a resource?
(4+?) Is anyone aware of other issues?

The home screen of the default DE (photo attached) contains six launchers, out of which only the terminal and file system will ever be useful. It would be nice to replace the DE entirely with something I can customize. According to this thread I should at least be able to install xfce4, and I do see some packages related to xfce4 when I run $ apt-cache search . but I get E: unable to load package xfce4 when I try to install it. When I run $ sudo apt-get update it looks like it attempts to update
- http://opensource.nextthing.co jessie
- http://security.debian.org jessie/updates
- http://http.debian.net jessie-backports
- http://ftp.us.debian.org jessie
but for each [repository] I get Err [repository] InRelease
Err [repository] Release.gpg could not resolve '[domain]'
plus a few of Failed to fetch [repository]/*

This is also possibly why other packages that should be in Debian Jessie such as evolution, pidgin, and ekiga are also not found or unavailable.

Any advice on any of these issues?

pencil.png home.png
Soon.to.be.Free
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Thanks for the description- I think I too might purchase one once it's clear how to liberate it (and I can find a touch GUI to call/SMS through a cellular modem), so it'd be interesting to see what can be done.

The best "reference" I can find at the moment is at http://lists.phcomp.co.uk/pipermail/arm-netbook/2017-July/014340.html. It reads more like a proof-of-concept than a usable guide, but I'll ask and see if anyone there can be of further assistance.

mason

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I'm curious as to why you'd want to use it with a cellular modem. What would be the advantage over a smartphone running Replicant?

Soon.to.be.Free
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With a USB cellular modem (I don't think I made it clear that it was USB- sorry for the confusion), the use of USB offers excellent modem isolation and verifiable powering down. Also, the ability to remove the adapter provides further piece of mind- and, by putting it into another machine, wireless internet on a large screen (although that's really not something I often need)!

Also, running GNU/Linux on a phone is fun.

mason

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A USB modem would be neat. You'd still give away some info about your location whenever you use it, but you'd have much more control over what and how much information you give away. Since I can't call 911 with JMP I might even like to carry one in case of emergency even if I never use it otherwise.

Soon.to.be.Free
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OK, the person who got Debian Stretch running on the Chip (Pablo Rath) has very kindly written me a list of the step involved in doing so. I've copied it below (it's on the arm-netbook mailing list as well), but has the caveat that boot needs to be from USB, not NAND, so if there's only one USB port exposed that may be an issue. I'd be curious to try myself- although that will require obtaining a PocketChip first.

Hopefully it's of some help- if not, just ask.

-------------------------------------------------
Necessary steps to install on Chip like I did are at least: 1. You will need some command line basics.

2. You will need a USB TTL Serial cable (USB to serial converter cables) providing a connection between USB and serial UART interface to interact with Debian Installer.

3. You will need sunxi-tools (http://linux-sunxi.org/Sunxi-tools)

4. Compile mainline U-Boot (build target is "CHIP_defconfig")

5. Download hd-media tarball and CD iso (see https://wiki.debian.org/InstallingDebianOn/Allwinner#Installing_from_a_USB_stick) The wiki still points to testing, but current stable (stretch) works.

6. Prepare the USB-stick like described and leave a large space free (without a partition)

7. put Chip into fel-mode and connect it with another computer. Use a "special" version of U-Boot via fel (http://linux-sunxi.org/FEL/USBBoot#Booting_U-Boot_over_USB) and boot Debian Installer on USB.

8. Install with Debian Installer

9. boot and see if this bug report is already fixed: https://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=866521 if not you have to manually update initramfs

Soon.to.be.Free
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OK, if you're looking at this, please don't worry about what I just posted- if the bootloader isn't proprietary, it should be possible to just uninstall the problem firmware and have a free device. I'll look into this as soon as I can, and (hopefully) that should lead to a much shorter process.

mason

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I'm almost done going through the non-debian-main packages that are installed by default. As expected,

chip-mali-modules-4.4.13-ntc-mlc
chip-mali-userspace
rtl8723bs-bt
rtl8723bs-bt-mp-driver-common
rtl8723bs-bt-mp-driver-modules-4.4.13-ntc-mlc
rtl8723bs-mp-driver-modules-4.4.13-ntc-mlc

are definitely nonfree but their removal will not be a problem for me once I mange to build open-ath9k-htc-firmware.

I haven't found license info on

linux-image-4.4.13-ntc-mlc
chip-mconfigs
xserver-xorg-video-armsoc

I'm pretty certain that I don't need chip-mconfigs, so if I can't find the license I'll just uninstall it. I'm not clear on exactly what xserver-xorg-video-armsoc does so I don't know if it's important. I do need to know whether linux-image-4.4.13-ntc-mlc is free or needs to be replaced.

mason

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I should maybe mention that I'm no longer using the default CHIP OS but have flashed Debian Jessie with xfce via

https://docs.getchip.com/chip.html#setup-ubuntu-for-flashing

https://docs.getchip.com/chip.html#flash-chip-firmware

Luckily the Ubuntu method works for Belenos so I did not need to use Chrome.

Soon.to.be.Free
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Nice! Thanks for the links- that's a far better way to do it.

Unfortunately, it seems like the kernel may be some trouble. Looking at the repository here, it turns out the base is not Debian's Kernel but rather the SoC-friendly linux-sunxi; which, quite incredibly, includes the firmware and drivers for everything from Intel WiFi chips to whatever Yamaha makes- not skimping on the proprietary ones, of course. That may require some de-blobbing (perhaps the FSFLA's linux-libre scripts work?).

mason

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Would replacing the kernel with Debian's break anything? I don't understand kernels well. I've also always been confused as to how non-free modifications of the linux kernel can exist without being in violation of GPLv2.

Soon.to.be.Free
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I don't think it would- although a libre equivalent must exist somewhere, since the EOMA68-A20 card has the option of Debian. I'll have a look for it and see if it isn't possible to just use that.

As for nonfree kernel modules, I don't know about those either. Perhaps it's just the people with power to do anything turning a blind eye to the situation.

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OK- I've looked into this a little further. Debian's default kernel would definitely not work, because it's missing support for the NAND memory which is integrated into the chip. This can be dealt with in two ways:

*Re-compile the kernel with NAND support: it's possible- the Chip uses free drivers/firmware/whatever- but will require further investigation, since they aren't packages with the 'mainline' kernel yet, and may simply not be practical.

*Not use NAND: whilst this is achievable, and indeed used by the both the EOMA68-A20 project and Pablo Rath's Debian Stretch boot on the Chip to solve the issue, it doesn't look practical here. I don't think you can boot the Chip from an SD card (if you can, then that would work), and USB support requires flashing mainline u-boot and a cumbersome boot process.

Altogether, the first solution looks like it may be the one required. Naturally, therefore, there might (though won't necessarily) be some experimentation involved, so the blobs might have to stay for the meanwhile. I am extremely sorry about that- if I misled you to believe it was already liberated, that was an honest mistake and one which I should have taken *far* more care to avoid in discussing it. Hopefully, though, NAND support is not too difficult to copy across; once that's done, it should be a half-decent PDA.

mason

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Thanks for looking into this. If I understand correctly, the Debian kernel can't replace the NTC kernel because it does not have NAND support, but the NTC kernel's NAND support is not proprietary; it's other drivers/firmware that make the NTC kernel non-free. In that case, would it be feasible to adapt this

https://linux-libre.fsfla.org/pub/linux-libre/releases/4.4.13-gnu/deblob-4.4

to deblob the NTC kernel? I don't really understand the script, but it seems to have one or more functions that it runs for each non-free file (reject_firmware and clean_blob for .c files, clean_mk for makefiles, drop_fw for .bin files, etc.) If I find a list of all non-free drivers/firmware in the NTC kernel and modify the deblob script for the files associated with each one, could that deblob the NTC kernel, or is it not that simple?

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>If I understand correctly, the Debian kernel can't replace the NTC kernel because it does not have NAND support, but the NTC kernel's NAND support is not proprietary; it's other drivers/firmware that make the NTC kernel non-free.

That's how I understood it. I haven't been able to find any explicit proclamations that it is (the relevant drivers here are free, but I'm not sure if they're the only components required); however, the article here and the "Liberating PocketChip" thread on the arm-netbook mailing list seem to suggest they should be.

>In that case, would it be feasible to adapt this to deblob the NTC kernel?

That should work- a little bit of tinkering might also be needed for the buildroot file with the configs for the kernel, perhaps, but it doesn't look like it should be much if anything.

>I don't really understand the script, but it seems to have one or more functions that it runs for each non-free file (reject_firmware and clean_blob for .c files, clean_mk for makefiles, drop_fw for .bin files, etc.) If I find a list of all non-free drivers/firmware in the NTC kernel and modify the deblob script for the files associated with each one, could that deblob the NTC kernel, or is it not that simple?

Admittedly, I don't really understand it either, but your description looks accurate as far as I can tell. In fact, it should be possible to list any non-free components just by running the deblob_check script included with the deblob scripts. If you run the deblobber first, then (hopefully) the listing should include just the NTC/Sunxi additions.

mason

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I'm trying to figure out how to run 'deblob-check'. In 'deblob-check' it says

# usage: deblob-check [-S] [-v] [-v] [-s S] [--reverse-patch] \
# [--use-...|--gen-flex] [-lDdBbCcXxPpFftVh?H] \
# *.tar* patch-* [-i prefix/] *.patch *.diff...

I've downloaded the NTC kernel via git clone https://github.com/NextThingCo/CHIP-linux.git and created a tarball via tar -cvzf CHIP-linux.tar CHIP-linux but when I run $ deblob-check CHIP-linux.tar I get deblob-check:command not found and when I run $(or #) ./deblob-check CHIP-linux.tar I get ./deblob-check: Permission denied whether or not I'm running as root, so I'm probably not using it properly. The only source I've found with sample usage of deblob is this

https://wiki.gentoo.org/wiki/Kernel_Deblobing

but it does not demonstrate usage of deblob-check.

I don't really know what I'm doing. Do you have any insight?

Soon.to.be.Free
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Try running:
chmod +x deblob-*

before executing it; that makes the scripts executable and hence usable.

Admittedly, I'm not really too certain how the script works. I'll get a copy and see what can be done as soon as possible, but my insights probably won't be anything you haven't already had.

Magic Banana

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Some violate the GPL, e.g., binary disguised as source code. But proprietary firmware (the largest problem, nowadays) arguably does not. It is and executable file that the kernel only sends to the peripheral that runs it. So, it indeed looks hard to argue that Linux + the firmware blobs is derived from Linux alone.

Even if they do not violate the GPL, proprietary firmware being proprietary, they are evil.

Soon.to.be.Free
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OK- so it's not violating the GPL because Linux only treats it as a data file, and the execution happens independently of the kernel? That's rather inconvenient: as you say, being legal makes them no less evil.

Magic Banana

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Yes. Linux and a firmware file are separate works: the license one bears cannot impose restriction on the other.

mason

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Actually, what's the problem with the bootloader? It appears to be GPLv2.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Das_U-Boot