Should I refuse to buy from Technoethical?

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ylevental

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I was thinking of buying replicant smartphones from them, but I saw this thread (https://trisquel.info/en/forum/technoethical-t400s-now-available?page=1) and this thread (https://trisquel.info/en/forum/purism-working-libre-phone#comment-120424).

It seems really unethical for a company to behave like this. It's a shame, as they are one of the few companies with RYF smartphones.

ylevental

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Sorry, I meant almost RYF smartphones.

icethebite
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i would say it really depends if you really trust or want their phones me i use a cheap samsung j3 phone but i know it doesn't respect my freedom but i have it rooted so i can get rid of the apps,use apps and use custom os to it and replicant is a custom os.

FindEssential
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Hi Ylevental,

It seems you have gotten a lot of feedback here and I hope it has been helpful. That said I thought I would chime in. I have been hesitant to discuss my opinion on Libreboot/Minifree/Technoethical here specifically as I know my view will be unpopular, but my reasoning might be helpful to you.

Plainly speaking I refuse to support Libreboot/Minifree/Technoethical because I do not see them as professionally run companies that I can trust my personal information and security to. I don't buy technology to tinker with, what I buy I use every day. Seeing the lack of professionalism among these previously mentioned projects and companies has insured I will seek other ways to do my computing and try as I am able to seek software freedom via other means. This is sad to me because I have a similar view of Purism, but it is clear the products of these other companies are more in line with my values.

Its a matter of trust for me and I have none. One should not conflate speaking for their company and speaking for themselves, it is a cardinal sin of business. All of these folks have done this and it is a prime example why so many people scoff at the Libre movement as just for wonks and true believers. In my view by taking the path these folks have taken they have undermined their own credibility and the credibility of the Libre movement as a whole. I will not support that.

Smartphones are a tough environment and I do support Replicant, I just don't feel the phones it supports are fleshed out enough for every day consumer use. So, I donate to Replicant regularly as I am able and focus on other ways to secure my phone. Right now I and dumping Google/Microsoft and will be flashing my Nexus 5x to Copperhead OS. It is not free software, but is far better than stock, and results in a fully functional phone without dongles hanging off it. Replicant also collaborates with Copperhead via code sharing. Between carefully choosing how I use my phone and switching to Copperhead I feel that is the best, most complete option at current, but i am hopeful about the future.

Thats how I am handling it, I wish you luck in finding your own way.

Time4Tea
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I respect your opinion, FindEssential, and I agree that in the end it comes down to who you choose to believe/trust. Although, I find it interesting that you choose to trust these companies who are producing non-free software/firmware over individuals who are working hard (and often not getting paid) to provide completely free computing options. With non-free firmware, you have no idea what else they are putting in the code you are using. With Libreboot, you or anybody else can audit the code at any time, and it's endorsed by the Free Software Foundation.

FindEssential
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Hi Time4Tea,

For me it is a balancing act. I didn't have a free system to begin with (like most people) and as I said I use my system every day for personal and work purposes; I don't buy or use systems just to tinker with. My system needs to be stable, it needs to work, it needs to be complete, and needs to be well supported by a stable community. My goal is to use only free systems, but until free systems can meet those four basic needs I don't see them as an option and I am not willing to undermine those needs to get there.

The issue here is that I do not believe the Libreboot/Minifree/Technoethical community is stable and could implode at any time. I am not willing to gamble with my every day tools in the name of software freedom. I will take steps though. I use Trisquel, I have an X200 as my primary computer, and should Libreboot take the steps needed to show me it isn't an unstable one person show where that leader can't seem to not start fires online I will dive in, not a minute sooner.

With Libreboot I am looking to see if 1) It rejoins GNU, and 2) The larger management team holds for a period of time with no drama and with growth. Just being endorsed by the FSF doesn't do it for me, it did before the kerfuffle, but now I need to see additional steps. Again, I had a non-free BIOS before so nothing has appreciatively changed for me. Libreboot, or possibly a fork of it is a potentially exciting upgrade path I am watching. I bought my x200 with Libreboot in mind, the kerfuffle caused me to take a wait and see approach. I received my x200 the day Libreboot announced it was pulling out of GNU for context.

With Minifree/Technoethical I am unlikely to support them at all. I am unimpressed with the immature leadership of both places. Neither company sells anything that is so unique that I can't get it elsewhere from a more professionally run outlet or simply do it myself. I make these votes with my wallet every day, it is normal marketplace behavior.

I hope this helps to clarify my position for you, Be well.

ylevental

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I have to think about it some more.

quantumgravity
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"there was forum drama" is not expressing the abhorrent things that happened in those threads properly; I think you're understating the issue.
Everybody can read and judge for themselves. If you still want to buy, go ahead.
I will not.

ylevental

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Yes, they were being out of bounds. I guess I don't have to buy from them.

SuperTramp83

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yep..

GNUbahn
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First of all, in my experience Technoethical gives superb service before, during and after purchase of their products and services. I can only recommend it from a consumer point of view.

Secondly, I do not want to enter or re-open the discussion that have taken place and that Heather correctly states 'has worked itself out', but I don't think a company can 'behave' unethically. People can though. I will not publicly judge anyone in the mentioned thread but if you - as you question suggests - judge staff of Technoethical to have behaved unethically to a level where you are willing to denounce the company, I guess you will soon run out of companies to deal with. To the best of my knowledge, Technoethical has for long and still contribute to the community of free soft- and hardware in a large scale. That deserves out support.

loldier
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Of course a company can behave unethically. Many of them do. Take Apple for instance. Operating on the right side of the force gives you no immunity.

GNUbahn
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I know what you mean an you could probably catch me saying things n alignment with it. I do believe though, that ethics is a human measure.

I am not sure what you mean by "Operating on the right side of the force gives you no immunity", but as I read it, it underlines what I wrote: No matter how 'right' you are, you have to take responsibility for your actions. I.e., working for Apple etc is not without ethical consequences to yourself.

loldier
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I mean even if you work for the common good and seek proliferation of free libre software/hardware you are still quite capable of not meeting higher standards in your actions.

GNUbahn
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Vikings makes a good comment to this further down.

I can just speak for my self: If I were to be ultimately judged on my wrongdoings, I would be very lonely

Vanecek
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I wouldn´t hesitate to place a order in the Technoetical online store.

They gave me always a fantastic service and a fast delivery.

Out of me sight it´s an absolut recommendation.

IrishUSA
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I advise buying from them. Or from anyone else offering comparable products like Minifree, Vikings, Libiquity, or ThinkPenguin (especially the latter's accessories and other products other than actual computers, unless you're OK with a non-libre BIOS/bootloader).

It's human nature to see yourself as the good guy and your critics as having bad motives rather than being merely mistaken, let alone perhaps correct, especially once you've said something and are thus emotionally vested in it. (This is one reason I greatly admire Leah Rowe's retractions and apologies.) This is magnified in our context since it's inevitable given the principles of the movement (freedom, independent thinking, idealism over convenience, crusading against falsehoods from freedom-violating commercial interests or confused quasi-allies, etc.) that many in the free software community will be very strong-willed and assertive. When non-anonymous people's reputations are affected, that escalates the stakes, and when their financial interests are involved, that does so even further.

We can feud and purify and anathemetize and excommunicate each other into oblivion (like the "Life of Brian" with its People's Front of Judea, the Judean People's Front, the Campaign for a Free Galilee, and the Judean Popular People's Front), or we can realize that human beings are flawed and it's impossible to have perfection all the time.

I'm not saying that every dispute is petty, or that every claim thrown back and forth is true (or false), but I'm disinclined to dive into the thick of it all. I think we ordinary bystanders should take a step back, just be grateful that anyone is offering these important products and services, and vote with our money that they continue to do so.

GNUbahn
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I second and applaud that

quantumgravity
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What I'm going to say now is not limited to this thread / technoethical, it is more of a general remark on several viewpoints that I've heard in this thread a lot.
The ideas / viewpoints i'm talking about include the following:
"As long as they support free software, I don't care about the rest"
"It's only human to act like that if we get criticized"
"Other companies are worse, if you refuse to buy from them, you'll run out of companies soon".

I personally think that all of the above are terrible ways to think and they give rise to even more terrible conclusions.
Selling or supporting proprietary software is one of the many wrongs a company can do. There are plenty of others that are just as bad, if not worse.
However, in contrast to other unethical actions, proprietary software is not recognized as a problem by the public.
We, the free software community, realized this issue and we stand together in order to change it. It's natural that we give a higher priority to everything computer-related.
It's also true that RYF hardware is something very scarce, and therefore it is in high demand within our community.

However, the goal is not a society that supports free software, the goal is a society worth living and worth participating in, a just and friendly one in which we give everybody the rights that he/she deserves. Free software is one big, essential building block for this society, but it's not the only one, and we should not forget about our higher goal.
Therefore, I think it is important to judge the actions of a company as a whole, not limiting ourselves to single aspects.

Google, for instance, produced quite an amount of free software, and still it is not justifying the wrong they are doing - similar goes for apple (swift is afaik free software and cups was also made by them if i recall correctly). If they were to sell one particular piece of RYF hardware in some kind of fictional "open hardware" program, if they treat every customer nicely and give excellent support, should we just forget about the rest and cheer for them?
I do not think so.

Now, some of my remarks are strongly pointed in order to show the underlying logic and all the contradictions that come with the ideas I was criticizing.
By no means I am comparing google or apple to technoethical.
I am also glad that they sell RYF hardware (they are one of few), but i'm upset about other parts of their behavior.

Magic Banana

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A same person/company can be both cheered for the good she/it does and blamed for the bad she/it does.

Technoethical

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Hello,

I'll always stand up for myself and my projects, instead of playing the victim or answering with vague corporate statements. The people who actually interact with Technoethical know that we take criticism seriously and we try to fix in a timely manner any raised issue that is in our power to fix or at least help fix it if it's not up to us alone.

I doubt that the intentions of the OP are honest. No one is forced to buy from Technoethical, so it's a matter of choosing not to buy, not "refusing" to buy. The OP hasn't contacted us to ask for our opinion about the discussion threads they have referenced. Instead they have chosen to ask people on a forum of which they are member for only 2 days, what decision should they take. They also say that they were "thinking" of buying "smartphones" from Technoethical, which would be quite unusual. In our history, there have been only 2 customers to buy more than one phone from us with their first order. This "behavior" betrays the true intentions of the OP, which seem to be to invite people to not buy from Technoethical for unstated allegations that have made the OP assert that we are "unethical" despite our name saying we abide by the ethics in technology (set up by the free software philosophy of the GNU Project).

We encourage people to flash both Replicant and Libreboot themselves. We often find ourselves offering technical support to people who contact us merely for that, with little or no intention to buy (other) devices from us. People have to keep in mind that an important part of our job is testing, fixing and refurbishing hardware that is free software-compatible. Flashing is harder on some models and at times flashing might work only after several attempts that can take hours, but flashing is and has always been the easiest part of our job. People buying the same devices with proprietary software on them are not aware that in most cases in both second-hand and refurbished phones and laptops there are hidden hardware problems that you become aware only after some time of usage. Most sellers on websites like eBay don't accept returns or even if they accept, you can't return the devices with Replicant or Libreboot on them, so you get yourself hardware that runs free software, but has issues that need to be fixed by you or by a repair shop. There are people that don't mind spending this amount of effort and time to have free software-compatible hardware. And we encourage this, because this is the hacker culture and this is what we do too. Other people are looking for a lean learning process in the free software world with FSF-certified hardware prepared by companies that are doing all this as their main job.

About Leah, I'm surprised to see honest people looking up to her. She wrongs any number of people and projects at any time knowing that the worst it can happen to her is be expected to apologize. I gave her a lot of chances, from the moment she urged me to not start selling laptops with Libreboot, to the time when she would censor me on the Libreboot bug tracker, until just recently when she asked me to stop selling D16.

Tiberiu

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I doubt that the intentions of the OP are honest. (...) This "behavior" betrays the true intentions of the OP, which seem to be to invite people to not buy from Technoethical

Please do not impute motives to ylevental. He may very well be your potential customer. Well, after your post, the past tense may be more appropriate...

And please, stop attacking Leah, who made a good part of your business possible in the first place.

ylevental

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Sorry, it seems that you blew it. I was lurking on this forum, I just happened to discover the conversations before registering. I had heard of Technoethical before, but didn't know about this side of some people that were associated with them.

I guess I will have to install Replicant by myself. And as for you, PLEASE take a look at yourself in the mirror.

ivanB1975
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I think that this is not an easy task. You have to find a compatible device first.

ylevental

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There is an official list of them: https://www.replicant.us/supported-devices.php

ivanB1975
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Yep I know. But these are old devices. Second hand smart phone, battery probably gone and so on. But if you have already one then you could give it a try.

IrishUSA
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Concern trolling and incitement to bash are certainly common online in the form of seemingly innocuous requests for opinions, but I think it quite possible, if not likely, that amid the various feuds, accusations and counter-accusations about bad dealing and bad faith, from various parties, that a newcomer would feel a bit lost and confused if not intimidated, and feel hesitant about whom to trust and what to believe.

Assume good faith is a good starting point, like the Prisoners' Dilemma.

I would also advocate restraint in launching or repeating criticisms however valid in one's eyes, especially if the other party has dropped them let alone apologized. At least from a purely pragmatic perspective ("how does it make me look?" "Will it make increased sales more likely?"), if not from a perspective of "what does the target of my potential criticism deserve in a context of stern justice?"

Vikings_thum
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From what I've seen, heard and read Technoethical as a source of your libre-friendly computing is to be highly recommended. I've met Tiberiu personally on FOSDEM this year and I found him knowledgable, friendly and professional.

So what the OP/troll actually seems to be asking is if people in this company are absolutely perfect human beings or if they have personal flaws because they've read about some ranting, strong opinions and whatnot.

Perhaps, no, most likely they do have flaws. Then again who doesn't.

Strong opinions? Oh please yes! You don't have to agree with someone else at all times and it is/can be refreshing to get thoughts from outside your box even if you don't agree at all.

I certainly don't agree with Tiberiu on all topics. Then again I also certainly don't agree on all topics with my wife, family, friends, postman. So what, that's life.

So move along please, nothing to see here.

OT:
> until just recently when she asked me to stop selling D16

We were asked that as well and I see that a bit differently. It is conjecturable that it's been asked in "innocent naivety". Supposedly the intention was not to hurt TALOS II sales by stopping D16 sales world-wide.
This is generally honourable, but our world doesn't work this way IMO. Especially given that TALOS II and the D16 are playing in a very, very different ballpark money-wise. What's more, AFAIK TALOS II is, aside from enthusiasts, mostly going for the business and research market whereas the D16 is, because of its low price, more targeted towards private individuals.

IMO there need to be more places where people can buy D16s workstations and servers, we're barely able to keep pace with the orders we get.

loldier
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Calling the OP a troll casts a toxic cloud of doubt and distrust over your opinion piece.

All that matters is what we see here on the forum. That picture is not pretty.

That said, I'm pretty much against all user aggrevations/vendor disputes on a public forum. For every legitimate word of criticism there's a counter opinion. We have no way of knowing who's who and nothing can be authenticated.

On another forum, Modern Vespa, all disputes naming names are banned. They also ban outright every user who threatens to sue or make a legal case on the forum. I think we should try this approach here.

davidnotcoulthard (not verified)
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despite starting with "OP/troll" I don't find the post's tone afterwards really bad

But to be fair, I guess name-calling like that might lead to bad things happening

edit: words

Vikings_thum
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> Calling the OP a troll casts a toxic cloud of doubt and distrust over your opinion piece.

Oh wow, I find that a tad bit exaggerated. Anyway, perhaps you're right and they aren't a troll, in that case I'd apologize. =) My troll-o-meter was ringing though.

> That said, I'm pretty much against all user aggrevations/vendor disputes on a public forum.

I think I understand where you're coming from. I see this differently though, especially given that our community is a small one and this is one a the few places where people with a similar mindset group together.

A wide range of topics, voicing opinions and the one or the other small controversy is what this forum also should be for because it helps others to form their own opinions and engage in discussions they otherwise wouldn't have.

So if someone misbehaves a bit in your point of view you can decide not to listen/buy/whatever to/from them. I'm not at all talking about bringing a gun to a knife fight, I'm talking about having an interaction with people. Some people seem to have unlearned this or they need special treatment because they have low social skills or a special snowflake syndrome.

So if you read this and think this Vikings dude is a jerk, then you're free to disagree with me or not like my opinion/myself or you can try to convince me that I'm wrong if you think it's worth your time. I'm completely neutral about it.

Excluding discussions that are a bit on the rough side would be censorship, from time to time it's even necessary to have one in order to move on.

I admit that I stopped reading those specific rant-threads because I thought it didn't lead anywhere *at all* and someone was stepping over my imaginary line of decency. So what. Yawn.

Personally I prefer an ostensibly calm and amicable environment, people respecting each other on an at least basic human level and also a good culture of discussion and not other people wanting to shut you down. Despite that bit of ranting I still believe that this forum and 99% of its users are within my personal ideal environment.