The future of Libre Computing: Crowd Funding Campaign Starts Now

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Chris

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Over the last several years I have worked on projects with the aim of getting code released and putting control over ones computing devices back into the hands of the user. Working with others in the community I've managed to get code released for wireless chipsets and funded efforts to produce freedom respecting routers. These efforts have not been insignificant, but now we have a chance to change the underlying dynamics of the computing industry more significantly.

Today computers are designed around proprietary bits intended to be thrown away when the next generation of devices is out and upgrading and repairing them is nearly impossible. Fortunately it doesn't have to be that way. Working with Luke Leighton we've managed to develop a solution to this problem. By designing computers in the form of a simple freedom-conscious user-upgradable computer card we no longer have to be as dependant on the output and decisions of large corporations that don't have our - the users - interests in mind. We can swap out CPUs and components easily for ones that will respect user's freedoms. In other words we don't need to be dependant on Intel, AMD, Broadcom, and others. When one doesn't cooperate we'll more easily be able to move to another.

What's revolutionary about this new standard is that once you have a 'computer card' that computer can be used in any device compliant with the standard. That means you can swap out an older 'computer card' for a newer one when it's no longer up to the task of handling your desktop computing needs without replacing the rest of the computer. Then you can sell that card, or use it in another type of device compliant with the standard, such as say a router, tablet, or maybe an entertainment device. Wouldn't it be nice if you could super charge your $50 USD router by reusing your 'computer card' from last year? Now you have a $200 router for little more than $65.

The prototype Libre Tea Computer Card has been reviewed by the Free Software Foundation and will get RYF certification when it ships. There are no blockers. The card utilizes a dual-core A20 CPU with 8GB of internal flash and 2GB of ram. We have the sources for the main controller chip as well (ie screen, keyboard, LCD touchpad, etc). Future computer cards will be much faster, contain more memory, and flash. However we do need to see this Crowd Funding campaign succeed before these efforts can continue.

I've written a bit about the backdoors and security issues in Intel and AMD CPUs on our blog here:

https://www.thinkpenguin.com/blog

You can access the Crowd Funding page directly here:

https://www.crowdsupply.com/eoma68

If you want to help promote it click the link below and up-vote it on Slashdot:

https://slashdot.org/submission/6035171/eoma68-modular-eco-computing-project-launches-on-crowd-supply

Just click on the "+" button at the top. This will increase the likelihood of it hitting Slashdot.

I'm extremely busy so I may or may not come back and respond to questions/messages unless people ask me to. To ask just click on my user name and send me a message that way. Then I'll make a point to revisit this thread.

Alexander Stephen Thomas Ross
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Joined: 09/18/2012

This i great news. heh in fact i just came to post a link to the
crowdfund my self to promote it :). ive already made my pre-order for...
well... everything :D

It’s been great to hear your excitement for the effort. Thank you so
much for sponsoring it :D Big hand shake/hug :).

No longer do those that care about software freedom have to make do with
mainstream, not fully free cpu’s in laptops and other devices. this is
the best chance, that i see my self and for you, getting RYF laptop and
other devices. Designed how we like them and as chris says. with this
eoma-68 computer card standard (brain in a module) we can swap to
whichever is the best,fastest,free’est computer card (SOC/CPU) there is.

luke really cares about these issues. ive followed the development of
this project from near the beginning. I come to trust him to do the best
he can.

I truly do believe this is a really good bet for ya all. ive put my
money where my mouth is too :D , nod.

this approach means a far greater, than before, independence.

I strongly suggest and strongly recommend that you take this chance up
cus i fear there wont be one like it. in the past ive tried to mention
this cool project on this list and i hope this time you somehow see why
ive been so excited about it over these years.
happy web browsing :)

onpon4
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OK, I definitely want to back this. I would have backed this if it was just a freedom-respecting computer, but a freedom-respecting computer and this really nice modular approach? There's no way I can not back this!

lkcl
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remember that you can also download the casework CAD files (as a python program) and 3D-print up replacement parts too... :)
https://www.youmagine.com/designs/libre-hardware-licensed-parametric-laptop-design

mg
mg
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I will certainly back this project. Just one question regarding the laptop before I decide exactly what to go for. Initially, there will be no options for non-English keyboards, right? So I would either have to replace the keyboard myself (if I can find one that fits the housing) or buy something like this: http://www.worldlanguage.com/Products/Keyboard-Stickers-for-Swedish-Finnish-White-for-Black-Keyboard-106118.htm

lkcl
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there's a guy from france who is helping with the firmware... which is of course GPLv3+ licensed. the plan is to find a keyboard supplier willing to actually supply us with a generic enough keyboard that people will be able to source random variants off of ebay. reprogramming the firmware to produce the required keycodes is a reasonably straightforward proposition, or you can use keymaps.

but yes, stickers is good. we are considering using a blank keyboard... :)

mg
mg
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For me, that is good enough in a campaign like this one. A Libre Tea card, a PFY kit and some cables are coming my way :)

lkcl
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:)

SuperTramp83

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Keep up the good work mate Chris! +1

jxself
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I don't seem to see any information on the graphics part of things. I am concerned that something like Mali may be in use. Can you please speak to that?

root_vegetable
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Indeed, Allwinner A20 system-on-chips use Mali for graphics.
So, no 3D acceleration, but as far as I know you can use 2D without blobs due to the Lima driver.
It's really annoying but it's the best we have.

onpon4
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Chris

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As far as 3D goes the situation is not perfect. Like the LibreBoot laptops there are components which are not fully supported. There are no proprietary bits needed to boot however and the desktop environment doesn't require it. There is some hardware acceleration though so you can watch videos and similar. Even though I've been involved in the discussions with the FSF on this it's a little foggy in my head as to the details. We had a working demonstration of a test desktop environment running on Parabola Linux-libre at a recent event. It works.

The main thing though is not the Computer Card or whether there is any support for graphics components- or even free software. The main thing here is we have a standard and laptop/desktop housing design that solves the underlying problems. The problem is we have little to no control over the design of components and boards.

We have had little to no control over upstream companies doing design of critical components or even what components end up in these designs (wifi, CPUs, graphics, etc). If we can't or can't easily get code from upstream nor swap these components it becomes an impossible task to design a free software friendly device. More and more is getting integrated into SOCs or being soldered down on the boards themselves.

If this succeeds we will for the first time have a real chance at fixing long-term critical and long-standing non-free software issues. In the past Intel and AMD have been uncooperative in certain areas and the situation was such that we were just stuck. With this design and standard we can swap components more easily and work around uncooperative companies for which we were previously dependant.

Ultimately these housing designs and standards open doors and give us options that we didn't have before. There are valid criticisms here and I'm far from completely happy myself. What is important here is we will have a means to solving these problems long term as long as the Crowd Funding campaign succeeds. The majority of the work here is done. We funded that much. What isn't done is proving that there is sufficient demand for libre-friendly hardware. If there is not evidence of sufficient demand from this Crowd Funding campaign it won't matter that we solved the problem on paper. Right now it is far from certain that there will be enough demand. Fortunately we only need about $150,000 USD for the first run or about 250 sales. Further out we'll have to hit much higher numbers.

lkcl
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the summary is - and this surprised me to find out exactly what the FSF's rules are - that basically average end-users must not be accidentally tricked into running proprietary software (which could potentially end up spying on them), for example like in Debian GNU/Linux you run synaptics, it presents "nonfree" as one of the click-check-box options, there's absolutely no warnings whatsoever about the dangers of installing non-free software, and the average end-user really doesn't know what they're getting into with that. *this* is the scenario that the FSF's rules are intended to cover - *NOT* the average TECHNICAL end-user usage-case where they're competent enough to know how to compile up code (even though they can't program), follow instructions online and generally make informed decisions about what they're getting into.

so in talking to the FSF i was surprised to learn that if we simply don't compile in mali.ko into the linux kernel, then because it's LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE to gain access from userspace to that proprietary piece of graphics - as in, there's nothing that the user can do which would allow them to even know that MALI was even on the SoC - turns out that that's good enough to be able to apply for an "Exemption" under the FSF's RYF Certification Programme.

now, exemptions *specifically* require a Board Meeting to evaluate them, and that means in effect that Dr Stallman needs to evaluate it, but chances are high that we'll be ok.

what that *doesn't* mean is that it's okay for ARM to get away with messing everyone about. this should *NOT* be used as an excuse by ARM to continue to do what they're doing. and i can tell you right now that if we had any other choices - any truly libre SoCs with full 3D graphics - i would certainly be using them. this processor therefore represents the nearest stepping-stone to get to where we want to be.

davidpgil
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This seems like a cool idea. The crowdsupply presentation seems to indicate even the hardware designs will be GPL'd:

"you will always be able to repair your own EOMA68 devices by 3D printing replacement casework parts; you will always have access to the source code and the PCB CAD files."

I don't know if this is all you need to build this device yourself if you could.

Chris

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So there are elements that you can't print yourself because the technology to do so doesn't exist. The casework can be printed though. There are also plans to release the PCBs, but this is ultimately less important. There are certain minimum thresholds that have to be met to get these pieces manufactured. The practical usefulness therefore is minuscule unless this project succeeds and it turns out that there is demand for variations and so on by other interested parties. So the software and casework is much more significant right now.

When you start talking about minimum numbers to manufacture something like a laptop you are talking about somewhere in the ballpark of 100,000 units. To give people an even better idea a 100,000 units is more like a trial run to see if it'll be successful in the market place. We'll need to hit something like 250,000 units in the long term. 250 units is basically like a small test run. That's what is going on here.

Can it be done? Get involved and you'll be a part of answering that question. Long term we need substantially more demand than what freedom-conscious users can sustain so keep that in mind. We have to get both the technical minded and masses on board.

To give people some idea of what numbers are like and how seemingly insurmountable an effort like this is I'll provide some estimates of demand for other devices within the GNU/Linux world. Among all the GNU/Linux users regardless of who is or isn't concerned about freedom there is a demand for about 500,000 USB wifi adapters a year. No small entity is going to be able to get anywhere near filling that entire demand or even a small percentage of. Even filling 10%-20% is impressive. The majority of that demand will be filled accidentally. That is people buying random hardware and it coincidently it working [because others like myself have worked to get the code released / chipset supported]. There will also be large quantities bought by companies whom have tested different hardware components. So for example a company selling kiosks to T-Mobile might buy a Linksys wifi card. Linksys doesn't know anything about the chipset and even the manufacturer upstream of Linksys likely knows nothing about it either. But none-the-less it works so they use it. [yes- often companies get into trouble here because they don't understand that the model doesn't equal a chipset, but none-the-less the practice continues].

tonlee
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I was about to ask if this is something like the librem computers. Then it is think penguin.
>We expect the Libre Tea Computer Card to receive the Free Software Foundation's >Respects Your Freedom (RYF) certification

>either ARM to make their
>minds up to provide the sources (and you can help there by contacting
>ARM by telephone and taking up the receptionist's time by asking to
>speak to someone about why they haven't provided the source: the more
>money that they lose by having to pick up the phone the better), or
>for someone to put the funds up for the three years necessary to keep
>Luc Verhaegen full-time employed to carry out the necessary
>reverse-engineering

If someone wrote this to think penguin, what would he answer?

Crowd supply does not accept paypal. Is that because crowd supply does not accept paypal or because think penguin does not want paypal? Can I get to pay by paypal?

onpon4
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That email you quoted is from Chris. So, that's what he would answer. Or rather, what he did answer.

Note that getting RYF certification does not require 3-D to be working. Also note that the page says the Libre Tea will be RYF certified before it is sent out, and if that doesn't happen, anyone who ordered it will get a full refund. That's how you (not knowing the technical details) can know that this is not like the "Librem" laptops.

tonlee
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About fsf you are right. Writing that phoning arm will make them release source software is like negotiating intel to do the same thing.

jxself
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"That email you quoted is from Chris."

Just as a point of order to correct the record: The message in question was forwarded by Koz Ross and seems to have originally been written by lkcl (Luke Leighton), not Chris. Although Chris was CC'd on the message.

lkcl
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yup, that was me. my point about phoning up ARM is: never underestimate the power of crowds. one person phoning up is a nuisance - a mosquito that can be slapped away. but have you ever seen what happens if you pour petrol onto a tire at night and set fire to it in the middle of a jungle? my uncle told me this story 25 years ago: he did this in the 2nd world war: the quantity of moths and other insects attracted to the flames that were previously plaguing the soldiers LITERALLY smothered a raging petroleum fire. amazing. so. never underestimate the power of crowds...

root_vegetable
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I'm sceptical of this story. If the insects could smother a raging petroleum fire, how could the soldiers even move?

ADFENO
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"never underestimate the power of crowds"

...

I also think the same, such that I'm trying to help out people
organizing action items in the LibrePlanet.org wiki, see the "Action
items" page:

https://libreplanet.org/wiki/Action_items

There is more than this list up there (for some reason, Semantic
MediaWiki didn't show them all in that table), so just look for the
subpages of "Action items":

https://libreplanet.org/wiki/Special:PrefixIndex/Action_items/

I like the concept of LibrePlanet.org wiki because it allows free/libre
software activists to get organized on subjects that do not concern only
one project, but instead can be interesting for various people.

Warning: From this point on, this might turn out to be off-topic. If you
want to discuss this with me, please open another topic.

Also, for those who are unemployed like I am, there's no need to spend
money buying web hosting for a free/libre software event, specially if
one fears that your local event won't receive enough
free/libre-software-related speakers ("how do you tell a free/libre one
from the rest?" Just send (or specify in the event page) that they have
to fill a form to categorize each software *and functional data* that
they will mention or present as either free/libre or not (don't put open
source), and so, when reviewing the submission, you can measure how much
percentage of the talk/speech is compromised by reading the title,
subtitle and long description).

In 2015, I tried to organize a local free/libre software event, I asked
my mother to cover half of the cost associated with "renting"/"hiring"
the space, its seats and media resources inside, while the other part of
the same cost were covered by a mate of mine. It turned out that
free/libre software activism here in Brazil is way much desynchronized
with the worldwide activism as I would have thought in the beginning of
my studies about the free/libre software movement (you all know that
there are some exceptional good free/libre software activists that live
in Brazil, and for your information: most of them *are indeed*
free/libre software activists).

We had four 30min slots available, and we (I and my mate) indeed
received submissions, but all of them weren't approved due to presence
of non-[free/libre] software in their category of free/libre software.

As a result, we were left with an unused space and resources (for which
we never went due to frustration), a total of 500 BRL (Brazilian Real)
as prejudice/loss, had to write an angry Diaspora publication on how
disappointing it was to see Brazil in such a de-synchrony with the rest
of the movement, and at least I *am still having* to endure the
pessimist and non-supportive look and speech of my mother, even when I
look away, she's always speaking against me for the others (I have
silently caught here doing so once at least).

Nowadays, whenever I see a Brazilian event or person that calls
himself/herself/itself as a "free/libre software"-related one, I tend to
consider it not as such unless I have proof.

lkcl
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> Crowd supply does not accept paypal.
> Is that because crowd supply does not accept paypal

.... where do i start? ok let's start gently with a *few* choice stories.

http://www.inc.com/eric-markowitz/paypal-crowdfunding-mailpile-foes-friends.html
http://brown-moses.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/paypal-effectively-destroys-my.html
http://www.carbonated.tv/technology/crowdfundings-paypal-and-scam-problem
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9629341
http://venturebeat.com/2013/08/14/glassup-raised-100k-on-indiegogo-but-paypal-is-refusing-to-pay-up/

but my all-time favourite one is this:

http://garethhayes.net/paypal-warning/

where the guy basically got over 600 people to register for class-action lawsuit against paypal in under 48 hours.

i think these two sentences basically say it all though:

"Accepting Paypal for crowd-funding campaigns creates a massive liability for the campaign owners as well as campaign funders and in my humble opinion is simply not worth it."

"All the evidence points towards Paypal’s core business model involving EARNING INTEREST WITH FUNDS STORED WITH THEM"

does that help answer your question, tonlee? :)

tonlee
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Your antipathy towards paypal is fine. I would like to use https://taler.net/ if available. I do not want to make a voluntary payment with a payment card and you will not display a paypal email address.

lkcl
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tonlee, i've since learned that crowdsupply will take direct bank transfers, you'll need to contact support [at] crowdsupply [dot] com (make sure to cc me, luke [dot] leighton [at] gmail [dot] com), send them your GPG key and they will reply with their bank account information (encrypted). you'll need to add $USD15 because they are charged $15 by their bank... if you are abroad (outside the US) you can use this link https://transferwise.com/u/c376 as they are an ethical company that does not overcharge for international money transfers. or national money transfers, for that matter.

please bear in mind that it is crowd supply handling the finances.

muhammed
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Nice going Chris; thank you.

a_slacker_here
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Ok, will it have 3-D acceleration? I really want to know.

jxself
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Not with free software, no.

Chris

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It's actually more complicated. There is some stuff that is accelerated via hardware in relation to the graphics utilizing the free software stack. My concern was limited to RYF certification, and I don't recall the details of it, but basically there are different pieces that do different things. So for example some video will be offloaded from the main CPU. There is also I believe 2D acceleration. It's not just the frame buffer. Or something like that.

While I/we were hoping to have better support for the graphics acceleration further reverse engineering work is needed and the work that was being done stalled out. The problem as I understand it is the key person behind it is burnt out and has had to get a real job. Engineers and developers need to eat too!

It's likely the case that the reverse engineering work for the graphics on this card won't be funded unless there are significant amounts of money raised here or someone else steps up to the plate to fund it. It's probably a minimum of a three year project to do the reverse engineering work. I think we're more likely to end up with a free software graphics stack in one of the newer SOCs. We may also be able to do a card based on a different SOC for which we can do a free software graphics stack. It's going to take more time to do that as there isn't a solid set of ports for the architecture, etc.

I also should point out that there are other major issues we need to take into account. There are no good 802.11ac chipsets to build off. While we don't have any date for which the AR9271 chips are going to be discontinued it's already the case that the adapters from other companies have dried up. That means we'll be one of the few companies that are still having wifi adapters with that chip manufactured for us. The AR7010+AR928x was also discontinued and is not in any adapters on the market now. We've got some stock, but it's not going to last past the end of this year.

lkcl
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http://linux-sunxi.org/Xorg#fbturbo_driver

okay so you can get an xorg driver that supports the 2D acceleration engine (G2D) which if you switch to 16bpp makes things pretty damn quick. so it's not like you're stuck with raw (sloooow) fbdev-only.

hmmm, i think i'll try that out with the parabola arm setup here... hmmm.... :)

lkcl
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ok i got it to work!
bear in mind this is parabola gnu/linux-libre, i had to install:
pacman -S xorg-xrandr xorg-util-macros xorg-server-devel xorg-utils libtool automake

and then the remaining instructions worked fine. so, i have the fbturbo xorg driver now installed, it's being used, it uses g2d for 2D acceleration instead of raw framebuffer. yay!

CalmStorm

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Is the bios completely free and does it support, 64 bit linux distros?

Also, is there an option for full disk encryption, if enough of these questions are true I may wait for this device and save up.

ps, I came over here to see if there was a post about this from christopher waid and sure enough,

I saw this thread.

crowdsupply just sent an email. hehe

I wonder if this plan will succeed of yours, Christopher waid. I wish you luck!

lkcl
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> Is the bios completely free

yes. actually it's not a bios, it's u-boot. the A20 processor is what's called "unbrickable" - it was designed that way by allwinner - the first thing it does on power-up is look to see if MicroSD card slot 0 (mmc0) has an SD-card in it. if it does, it loads 16k of data into memory and executes it. from there it bootstraps its way up to a full OS. you can get the *FULL* sources by following the chain here: http://linux-sunxi.org/BROM#Source_code_for_boot0_and_boot1

> and does it support, 64 bit linux distros?

EOMA68 is completely processor-agnostic, in fact there is on the roadmap plans for what we call a "pass-through" card http://elinux.org/Embedded_Open_Modular_Architecture/EOMA-68/Passthrough which basically turns any device into a set of peripherals - use your laptop as a 2nd screen and keyboard to plug into your desktop PC for example!

[update: this is very similar to the motorola atrix "lapdock", or to the product known as the "nexdock"... except a pass-through card would turn ANY EOMA68 device into something that you could plug into your PC or smartphone or tablet.]

the EOMA68-A20 Computer Card is 32-bit armhf (unlike the raspberrypi which is armel - no floating-point co-processor). *later on* we will have 64-bit Computer Cards, but we need to get this one out the door first.

> Also, is there an option for full disk encryption,

of course! that's an OS-level option, not a processor-critically-dependent option. so yes, you can just set up your preferred OS - bear in mind that it'll be ARM 32-bit - and you're away.

> if enough of these questions are true I may wait for this device and save up.

3 out of 4 is not bad when the 4th one will become true in the future... :)

Chris

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If you are going to be using encryption on these computing devices it's advisable to get an external random number generator as there is a possibility there there will be an insufficient source of randomness which can compromise encryption.

See here for a device you can hook up that'll theoretically solve the problem:

https://shop.fsf.org/storage-devices/neug-usb-true-random-number-generator

Magic Banana

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As far as I understand (I am no expert), encryption/decryption is a 100% deterministic process. I mean you can use a random number generator to generate keys and/or passwords but that has to be done only once or once in a while (if you lose trust in your key/password). Am I wrong?

Chris

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I'm not 100% sure of the details. However I believe mainly that it's the point at which you generate your key that you need the randomness so if you generated your key on a X86 system and then moved it to one of these systems you'd probably be fine. However this assumes you trust your X86 system to begin with. As a general rule it's probably best you don't.

Magic Banana

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If you only need to generate a few keys, there is no need for many bits of noise in the entropy pool.

CalmStorm

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Ah, That sounds great. Last question(s) though,

Will the device be very sturdy (hard to break if you drop it) and will they be making smaller sizes than 15.6 like 12.5 or 13 inch?

Also, will there be an option for even stronger batteries? I would love to hold a 10 hour web surfing charge. ;)

Chris

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--- err -

Chris

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I'm not sure many laptops that would withstand a drop. I wouldn't count on it here either. There are fragile parts including the screen itself.

Originally Luke (lead designer) was thinking of a smaller laptop/screen. Fortunately I convinced him that a 15.6" screen was the way to go for a variety of reasons. One of these was mass appeal, the fact it would get a full keyboard, have a higher chance of success in the Crowd Funding stage, and just generally be a real usable laptop, etc. The cost and availability of parts was another factor. A smaller laptop would not be feasible without a major redesign either. I believe one of the issues with a smaller laptop is that the battery we're using would not fit into a smaller laptop. This does not mean there will not be a smaller laptop down the road, but this campaign has to succeed for that to happen.

Now there are other reasons that certain features are not included in the design. You may have noticed that there isn't a PCIE wifi card, a SATA port for a hard drive, etc (note: It will work with an internal USB hard drive and a USB wifi card, where there is normally a PCIE slot and SATA port there exists USB ports). There are multiple reasons for this. None of the newer SOCs that would be feasible to use have these features. Some SOCs might look like they would work, but either they are older, A10, or they would eat up too much power (and there were other availability issues). While you could add a separate chip to do SATA or PCIE or similar it would increase the power consumption and that would result in more heat and lead to the need for a fan/heatsink/etc. The battery would also need to be changed out as well. The battery is a single cell ebike battery. This is good because it means we don't need to build off proprietary system/parts. It's a simpler more cost effective design. Thanks to the work of others there is a freedom friendly controller for the keyboard/power/screen/etc that we can build off explicitly because we have kept the design simple. It's also more future proof. If the design and standard had been finalized a few years ago and included PCIE and SATA then we would not be in a position to release new Computer Cards today. The reason is back to the fact the newer SOCs do not include PCIE nor SATA. The reason for that is these SOCs ended up being used in tablets and phones where these components don't make any sense and just cost extra money.

CalmStorm

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I currently have a libreboot x200. I wondered how much more sturdy it is than this device that your going to sell.

Though I am sure your device is far superior in every other way... ;)

As for the smaller laptop, 11 inch is what I heard may be in the future...

Which may be a tad too small but I would still probably take it over well... 15.6 inch. and 14 inch.

Regardless though, I will donate before the campaign is over if I cannot afford it.

I noticed you said there isn't any wifi card in the device. That is a shame.

But thankfully I have one of your wifi adapters till you can fix that problem. (assuming I can buy one in the future...)

Anyways though I will keep an eye on this just to see if you can succeed. ;)

lkcl
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Joined: 03/29/2015

hiya calmstorm, thanks for chipping in here.

the casework is surprisingly strong, for being PLA (from faberdashery) because i use 1.5mm PCBs to provide structural strength, but also the bamboo plywood is placed under compression from all sides and it stiffens up the whole assembly really well. that and it's only 1.1kg not 2.5 like most 15in laptops, and amazingly it's actually ok.

i wouldn't say this is superior... it's... radically different shall we say :)

no built-in wifi card because the power budget is seriously restricted to 15W otherwise we would need to go to dual-cell or triple-cell batteries, that's a whole new design right there, so instead i provide 2 internal USB connectors and an 8mm x 90mm x 60mm compartment where you can put *anything you like* - be it USB WIFI, BT, 3G, 4G, LTE, storage stick... absolutely anything you want, and it won't get knocked off.

and i'd recommend some of the stuff from thinkpenguin even if they weren't my sponsor... because in many cases they're literally the only company in the world selling the last remaining stock of some of these USB dongles with very specific drivers where the source is completely available....

thanks for keeping an eye on things, i hope people learn a lot from this, me included. if nothing else i've realised that a huge discussion has opened up across the community about libre issues and why they're actually important, which is great.

CalmStorm

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Joined: 12/31/2014

I know this is gonna sound odd... but, can you expand the limit of the battery that can be put in that system?

Like a 9 cell or 12 cell? :) Imagine the road-warrior uses that would have... ;)

or at the least a 3 cell or 6 cell. hehe

Even if you have to wait till the future to do so...

lkcl
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Joined: 03/29/2015

hiya calmstorm, good question. this is something we'll have to do in the future... but definitely not right now. the laptop's divided by a central spine 16mm wide and which has diagonal-bracing all the way down it so it's pretty strong on its own. the bamboo plywood panels on the bottom are chamfered into that. you can see the diagonal-bracing on the picture here https://www.youmagine.com/designs/libre-hardware-licensed-parametric-laptop-design

so that central spine divides the whole thing into two halves. on the left is where PCB1 goes, mostly underneath the keyboard. on the right is the area where the battery can fit, and it's COMPLETELY full. 6mm x 160mm x 130mm and you ain't gonna get another battery in there.

i'm using a single-cell E-Bike battery (!) because it's $8 in QTY 250 (as opposed to $25 for a dedicated laptop battery). it's 240 grams, and it's 10Ah (so that's 40Wh all on its own). it's not a shrinking violet in other words: it's pretty beefy, and if you're careful you should be able to get 10 hours battery life out of it, given that the CPU Card maxes out at 2.5 watts and the LCD maxes out at full brightness around 4.

in other words what i would recommend if you want extended battery life is to get one of those external portable 10Ah battery packs, find one that does 9V or 12V, find the right kind of DC cable and just go with that: plug it into the laptop's charger socket. the battery charger IC will accept a wide range of voltages input (up to 20v, something like that - check out the TI bq24193 datasheet) so you'll be fine with anything within that range.

but yes, at some point it will be necessary to do multi-cell batteries... but it's a *total* redesign, including the casework, to fit the damn things. and a total new PCB layout. it's not a small job, so we'll wait until after this campaign is successful and can look at it then.

CalmStorm

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Joined: 12/31/2014

Well when you do get a chance, 6 cell or 9 cell. ;)

I hope you will succeed. :)

Magic Banana

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It probably is too late, but proposing ~$20 goodies (caps, t-shirts, mugs, whatever) and/or ~$10 packs of stickers can raise additional money.

The campaign targets consumers who are concerned about the ecological impact of hardware production/shipping/etc. Those consumers will probably not buy (now) your hardware if they bought a laptop in the past few years: they would not use it. Yet, they may want to support your project. It is my case and I sent you "love" (the donation at the top of https://www.crowdsupply.com/eoma68/micro-desktop). But people love goodies and stickers... even overpriced ones!

lkcl
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Joined: 03/29/2015

allo mr banana, yes we discussed t-shirts and stickers but a couple of days before launch, we didn't have time to get it in there - but we can always do updates, so thank you, we'll investigate more today.

lkcl
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oh we finally added the t-shirts and stickers, i found it hilarious to re-use the darwin "evolution" bumper sticker concept and parody _that_ by putting "EOMA68" inside the oval.. :)

onpon4
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Joined: 05/30/2012

I posted this on another forum, and it is absolutely flooded with people claiming that this is somehow "tainted" because it uses an Allwinner SoC and Allwinner is guilty of GPL violations, trying to suggest that those of us who care about freedom shouldn't support this project on those grounds. It might be a good idea to put up something on the campaign page to counter this FUD (though considering they're trying to speak for a community they are not a part of, maybe not). Maybe an FAQ entry about Allwinner.

lkcl
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Joined: 03/29/2015

hiya onopn4 could you send me a link to that so i can take a look? yes we are aware that there is a lot of bad feeling with Allwinner, but i am the person who has been actively working alongside Allwinner in the background for many years to understand what is going on there and to help them to deal with the problem. The VP is pretty much tearing his hair out because it's legally his neck on the line, so I will be going over there to meet with them and help suggest a strategy... long story. Anyway the A20 is the one that has had pretty much everything sorted out, and even CEDARX is partly reverse-engineered so that MP4 playback can work without the GPL-violating libcedarx (which contains ffmpeg gpl code... *sigh*).

basically we're really stuck here and we had to choose something: i am NOT going to pick Mediatek (blatant GPL violations), Rockchip is the "next worst" candidate, they're a different kettle of fish, asking for $100k in fees in order to hand out GPL source code... Intel's SoCs are $21 instead of these being $7 and lower and Intel is terminating their Smartphones / Tablets division... we have to go with *something* and the A20 is pretty damn good.

rest assured though that i am definitely making Allwinner aware of the amount of bad feeling and the bad publicity that they're getting - I'm in touch with their marketing manager and he actually *genuinely* wants to hear what people feel so that he can put it in front of people and tell them, "look, this stuff is really damaging our reputation!"

so yes, *please tell me* where you saw the discussions, i need to pass them on so that they can be posted on to a big cluebat and used to beat people about the head inside Allwinner's offices :)

[update: thanks, got it - added a link to the pyra-handheld discussion on http://rhombus-tech.net/crowdsupply/#articles_online)