Which Hardware to buy

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AnotherStranger
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Joined: 09/15/2016

Hi there,

I've got a question regarding hardware and free software.
I own a librebooted T400 as my main machine.
However, it is not powerful enough to do computations as fast as I need them (numerical computations).
Therefore, I think of getting a more powerful desktop.
But I don't have the budget I need to build a full fledged librebooted system (I think of somewhat around 600€).

Do you know any somewhat modern hardware that does play well with free OSes like Trisquel?
Is AMD better than Intel (regarding PSP and Management engine)?

At the moment I'm just looking for input on the matter.
I'm not very experienced what hardware works well with free software.

Thanks in advance :)

Magic Banana

I am a member!

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Joined: 07/24/2010

"It is unlikely that any post-2008 Intel hardware will ever be supported in libreboot": https://libreboot.org/faq.html#intel

But you can still get recent hardware that Trisquel 8 (or Parabola or...) perfectly drives, including the Wifi and the video cards, which are the two most significant difficulties. For graphics, you actually want an Intel chipset integrated to Intel processors (hence, no AMD). For the Wifi, the only reliable way to get a laptop with functional Wifi is to get it from http://libre.thinkpenguin.com or https://puri.sm/products/ (but Purism's prices are over the top). ThinkPenguin's Penguin Z includes a Quad Core i7­-7700HQ 2.80GHz processor and 4GB of DDR4 RAM (upgradeable to up to 32GB). Does your number crunching requires more than than that (in particular, do you need to more parallelization with, e.g., eight cores?). Though cheaper than Purism's laptops, the Penguin Z is not cheap: US$ 849 plus taxes.

A cheaper option is to choose (anywhere) a laptop with an Intel graphical chipset and, if its Wifi is not functional (unfortunately the most probable outcome), buy a USB adapter at ThinkPenguin or Technoethical.

An even cheaper option is to choose (anywhere) a *desktop* with an Intel graphical chipset, which will be connected to the Internet through Ethernet.

strypey
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Joined: 05/14/2015

MagicBanana:
"An even cheaper option is to choose (anywhere) a *desktop* with an Intel graphical chipset, which will be connected to the Internet through Ethernet."

This is an important point. Laptops were, in many ways, the beginning of the end of the original open architecture of the PC, and the beginning of the move towards non-standard components requiring proprietary drivers. I have installed GNU-Linux on many, many 2nd-hand desktops over the years, including a fairly recent gaming rig, and seldom struck any issues (when using cabled ethernet).

AnotherStranger
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Joined: 09/15/2016

Thank you for your input Magic Banana and strypey!

I thought it may be interesting for you that I bought an AMD piledriver 8-Core CPU (It hasn't any built-in graphics).
As graphics card I got an old nvidia from the kepler series which are fully supported within nouveau.

The system works very well with fully free operating systems (I installed Gentoo with ACCEPT_LICENSES="-* @FREE" and the linux-libre kernel).
I could also boot into a Trisquel live session.
As far as I know the CPU is from before 2013 so it might be that it hasn't got the amd PSP but I'm not sure about that.

Magic Banana

I am a member!

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Joined: 07/24/2010

I installed Gentoo with ACCEPT_LICENSES="-* @FREE"

You may want "-* @FSF-APPROVED @FSF-APPROVED-OTHER". See https://wiki.gentoo.org/wiki/License_Groups

However, even with those settings, the situation is not perfect: programs that raise subtle issues, such as those listed at http://libreplanet.org/wiki/List_of_software_that_does_not_respect_the_Free_System_Distribution_Guidelines would still be installed unaltered.

AnotherStranger
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Joined: 09/15/2016

I changed the value to your suggestion!
I learned one more time how easy you install not fully free software by accident!
Thank you.

Vikings_thum
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Joined: 04/04/2017

Piledriver CPUs come without AMD PSP. If you're not using a motherboard supported by coreboot/Libreboot it will contain non-free boot firmware though.

AnotherStranger
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Joined: 09/15/2016

Unfortunately a Workstation with free firmware is still very expensive.
This is why I tried to get something as free as possible without PSP or ME.
A fully fledged workstation is something I will consider in the future.
First of all I'm happy that I got pretty good hardware for very low cost.