Minifree is in dire trouble,

45 respostas [Última entrada]
anonymous

"I've done everything in my power so far. The bank turned me down for a loan. I'm actually panicking. I *do* have some retro gaming consoles since I have another company (retrofreedom.com) and for the last year I've been doing research on those old systems. I mod old consoles to enhance their functionality, remove copy protection / DRM and restore them such that they last at least another 10 years (e.g. capacitor replacement, trace repair, etc - I'm quite handy with soldering equipment!)

I wouldn't normally ask for charity from the public, but I currently am in desperate need of money to 1) Pay the bills 2) buy food 3) honour my minifree orders and ship/refund each customer. I am today launching my consoles on my twitter and on retrofreedom.com and on my twitter: https://twitter.com/n4of7"

Anywho, please help if you can, I dont have extra money to use at the moment. :/

nadebula.1984
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Whether Minifree survive or die doesn't make any difference. Software freedom doesn't stand a chance in the capitalist world.

zapper (non verificado)

Dunno if we should give up that easily. At least until risc-v and other options are available, this is the best option...

strypey
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That's a bit cold nadebula.1984. It sounds like it's going to make a big difference to whether Leah survives. That's something I care about just because she's a fellow human being, and given everything she's contributed to the software in her work on Libreboot etc, I expect that's something anyone in this community would care about.

zapper (non verificado)

Yeah... this.

I agree completely. She deserves better that what Nadebula said.

We shouldn't let her go under.

Also kind of sad. will try to help if possible.

commodore256
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Capitalism is an anti-concept.

https://invidio.us/watch?v=-QsbvE_0Kpc

Also, "means of production" could mean anything, it could mean 3D Printers, you couldn't own a 3D Printer, it could apply to a 2D Printer, it could apply to a printing press, it could apply to any computer with a CD burner or even a floppy drive for people interested in retro software, it could even apply to reproductive organs because they're a means of re-production as it is self-explanatory, it's in the name.

Freedom, including software freedom does have a place in the free market, but the problem is the market isn't free. Highly regulated. Do you honestly believe if we didn't have copyright law, we would have non-free software? If the market were free, nobody would trust black boxes. With new computers, there's no way to know if the BIOS isn't spying on you. That's not a product of a unregulated market.

People like openness and transparency and free software is the axiom of openness and transparency applied to software. It's just not convenient due to laws that make it hard to compete. Regulations only help incumbents, not customers or even the market at all.

But talk about freedom aside, minifree is having issues due to a plethora of reasons. Running a business is hard and if you need to serve a niche, you have to make extra sure your operating costs are low and you have to make your products appealing in more than one way. If you sell a librebooted x200 for $400, you get freedom loving people that are willing to make big compromises. If you can sell a librebooted ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 4 with all of the hardware working for $2,000, (of which would be impossible) they would fly of the shelves. I think the best way to get newly made freedom friendly hardware would probably be novelty hobbyist hardware. I'd love a 80's style home computer, but built around Gameboy Advanced backwards compatibility and would be a quad core ARM CPU with each core in the league of a Pentium Pro MMX 200 running something like OS/2. There's a market for clone consoles, but I'm very curious of a console clone that's a fork. Novelties can sell, I'm thinking of starting a printing business like David Bull and he's still in business.

https://invidio.us/channel/UCKSrgKjevPmNZxCAyTZP5cQ

chaosmonk

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> Do you honestly believe if we didn't have copyright law, we would have
> non-free software?

Yes, of course. Even without copyright law, developers still could
withhold source code and impose DRM. Not only that, but without
copyright law the GPL would would no longer be enforceable. Currently,
derivatives of GPL'd software are legally required to be free. Without
copyright law, they could and would be proprietary. In the absence of
other social or legal changes, eliminating copyright law would probably
be bad for software freedom. It would take either government regulation
against or widespread social rejection of DRM and the practice of
withholding source code to ensure that software freedom could survive
without copyright law.

strypey
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These are all good points, Chaosmonk, but for the sake of argument:
> Even without copyright law, developers still could withhold source code and impose DRM

The ability to withhold source code depends on the ability to keep all copies on all network-connected computers completely secure at all time. What keeps Windows source code as secret as it is (and if I scoured the darknet for long enough I could probably find it) is Microsoft's ability to prosecute people under copyright law if they openly distribute it, and especially modified versions. Similar, DRM would be very difficult to enforce if hardware makers didn't have to accept it in order to be able to use patent-encumbered technologies and standard their devices depends on, and if distributing code to hack around it wasn't punishable with prison time.

commodore256
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Yeah, if Microsoft couldn't sue anybody for using leaked code, nobody would be using windows. They would be like "What is this _NSA_KEY_? Bye Microsoft, it was nice knowing you" and say if their source code were leaked and there were no NSA Key, well, they could stay in business if their business model is build around the cards they're dealt, they would probably do crowd funding of their products and agree to release the source code and still have support contracts. People would be like "OK, MS developed the damn thing, so it would be a good idea to pay for premium support". It would be a better world without idea monopolization.

chaosmonk

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> The ability to withhold source code depends on the ability to keep all
> copies on all network-connected computers completely secure at all
> time. What keeps Windows source code as secret as it is (and if I
> scoured the darknet for long enough I could probably find it) is
> Microsoft's ability to prosecute people under copyright law if they
> openly distribute it, and especially modified versions.

Sure, it would be possible to obtain some source code this way.
Committing a security breach would still be illegal, but at least using
leaked source code would be legal. Without copyright law, some non-free
software would become free. However, it would be unfortunate to have to
rely on leaks in order to obtain source code that is currently made
available freely in order to comply with the GPL, Linux patches for
example. Non-free software developers would not *always* be successful
in withholding source code, but they often would.

> Similar, DRM would be very difficult to enforce if hardware makers
> didn't have to accept it in order to be able to use patent-encumbered
> technologies and standard their devices depends on, and if
> distributing code to hack around it wasn't punishable with prison
> time.

It would be more difficult, but probably not very difficult. DRM is not
always implemented at the hardware level, and patent law (distinct from
copyright law, by the way) is not the only reason it gets implemented.

I'm not defending copyright law, just pointing out that the law is not
the only way to render information non-free , and that RMS has hacked
copyright law so that it sometimes actually works to free software's
advantage.

commodore256
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If they withheld source code, if we actually had a free press (of which we don't have due to business regulations and FCC licensing laws) I doubt people would trust black boxes, they would mostly trust the reverse-engineered software because they have nothing to hide. The press would have a field day with lack of transparency. "Why should we trust you if you don't trust us?". Copyright is very anti-freedom.

chaosmonk

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> I doubt people would trust black boxes, they would mostly trust the
> reverse-engineered software because they have nothing to hide.

People already have the option to choose free software over non-free
software if they don't trust black boxes. Most people don't care, and
removing legal restrictions on leaked and reverse-engineered source code
would not make them care, although it would be good for those of us who
already do care.

> if we actually had a free press (of which we don't have due to
> business regulations and FCC licensing laws)

> The press would have a field day with lack of transparency. "Why
> should we trust you if you don't trust us?".

The press could already be saying this about non-free software, but they
are not. Business regulations and the FCC do not prevent them from
saying this, and are probably not a large factor in what the press
covers compared to the influence of advertisers and corporate
influences.

> Copyright is very anti-freedom.

I completely agree. My point is that it is not the only way to render
information non-free.

commodore256
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The problem with copyright is leaked source code can never be free software. Idea monopolization is hurting software freedom because it's hurting actual freedom. If Intel, Nvidia or AMD gets their IP Cores leaked and they couldn't use the strong arm of the law, there won't be a damn thing people could do about it and the same with Unreal, the only thing keeping people from using the Unreal Engine how they please is the strong arm of the law. The source code is there, but Epic dictates what I can do with it. There is free software now, but I can't just magically turn Unreal Engine into free software without worrying about the strong arm of the law.

chaosmonk

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> The problem with copyright is leaked source code can never be free
> software. Idea monopolization is hurting software freedom because it's
> hurting actual freedom. If Intel, Nvidia or AMD gets their IP Cores
> leaked and they couldn't use the strong arm of the law, there won't be
> a damn thing people could do about it and the same with Unreal, the
> only thing keeping people from using the Unreal Engine how they please
> is the strong arm of the law. The source code is there, but Epic
> dictates what I can do with it. There is free software now, but I
> can't just magically turn Unreal Engine into free software without
> worrying about the strong arm of the law.

Sure, I don't disagree with any of this, but not all source code would
be leaked, so non-free software would still exist, which is why the
answer to your question, "Do you honestly believe if we didn't have
copyright law, we would have non-free software?" is "Yes."

commodore256
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It's a lot easier to leak secret software than to do a clean room reverse engineering. I guess we wouldn't have proprietary software, we would just have secret software and I think it would be a lot easier to find people that don't trust secret software. It would be a "wait a minute, what are you hiding?" and it would be easier to reverse-engineer secret software because you can just peak at the binaries and build AI that can reduce labour in reverse-engineering.

Designer fashion is flourishing and they can't really copyright their designs.

chaosmonk

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On 12/17, name at domain wrote:
> It's a lot easier to leak secret software than do do a clean room
> reverse engineering. I guess we wouldn't have proprietary software, we
> would just have secret software and I think it would be a lot easier
> to find people that don't trust secret software. It would be a "wait a
> minute, what are you hiding?"

Most proprietary software is already "secret software". If someone does
not have a problem with this now, why would they have a problem with
this in the absence of copyright law?

> and it would be easier to reverse-engineer secret software because you
> can just peak at the binaries and build AI that can reduce labour in
> reverse-engineering.

That would be good.

> Designer fashion is flourishing and they can't really copyright their
> designs.

What's your point?

evilive
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"Capitalism is an anti-concept."
Private property is an anti-concept now?

"Also, "means of production" could mean anything"
No. They can't - they refer to the predominant mode of production of a historical era. Today the means of production is the digital information complex.

"but the problem is the market isn't free."
But the problem is the market doesn't exist when you have to share it with a guy who has 100 000 000 000$. In whose favor will governments write their laws, in favor of you, with your 5 000$? Or the other guy will simply buy off the government?

commodore256
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"they refer to the predominant mode of production of a historical era. Today the means of production is the digital information complex."

If I want to save up for a $20,000 printer or CNC mill, I want that to be mine so I can make that snowball bigger with a $200,000 Printer or CNC Mill. Also, as much as I hate the distinction between "private property" and personal "property", information, art and ideas isn't property, I call "IP" "Imaginary Property".

"In whose favor will governments write their laws, in favor of you, with your 5 000$? Or the other guy will simply buy off the government?"

Don't blame business, blame centralized authority for being sell-outs. The problem is centralization, this is why I like free software, I'm free from centralized software. Centralized authority can use mental gymnastics can call anything a "means of production", that actually started in a feudal mercantilist guild system along with imaginary property. They could say "Your tomato has seeds, therefore it's a means of production and needs to be taxed more" or they would beg the king pretty please to give their book a one year printing monopoly or stupid bullshit like that.

strypey
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Centralized authority can use mental gymnastics to call anything "private property", including your own genome. Like "intellectual property", all "private property" is an imaginary construct, whose existence is enforced by the state. Without that state enforcement, all anyone could own would be their personal belongings and the places they personally occupy (by living or working in them regularly). "Private property" is the nonsense that it's fair for me to own the house you live in, or the hackspare you work on your CNC mill in every day, and kick you out if you don't keep paying me protection money. If you think taxes are "taking other people's money", what do you think rent is?

CNC mills and seeds are "means of production" in an argument-by-etymology sense (in that they're a means of producing things). But as somebody pointed out earlier, the phrase "the means of production" has a specific, technical meaning. In the feudal area, agricultural land was the means of production. In the industrial era, factories were the means of production. In a decentralized system, control of these, and their products, would be distributed among the people who work in them. But capitalists use the state and "private property" to centralize ownership of the means of production, and their products, and effectively claim ownership of the working lives of the people who depend on them to meet their needs ("wage slavery"). The resulting system was called capitalism by the person who invented the term, Karl Marx.

If you really want to understand any of this, you have to throw out all the ancap caricatures of socialist ideas, and the romanticization of capitalism as some kind of free enterprise utopia, and read the original works. I'd suggest starting with Adam Smith's 'The Wealth of Nations', which argues pretty strongly against allowing businesspeople anywhere near the levers of governments, lest they use them to engineer monopolies and oligopolies in their own interest, at everyone else's expense. The essays in 'Markets not Capitalism' would also be well worth exploring:
http://radgeek.com/gt/2011/10/Markets-Not-Capitalism-2011-Chartier-and-Johnson.pdf

zapper (non verificado)

Centralization is bad, but this kind of is off topic. ;P

This thread was to get help for minifree's survival.
just sayin...

;)

arielenter

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I tried to make a deposit at my back in Mexico and they said I had to pay a transaction fee of 47.54 euros -_-

I wasn't going to send much but I figure anything would help.

Independently from Leah the persona, what she has done for the free software world with libreboot is priceless and for that I wanted to show my appreciation. Hope he gets back on his two feed very soon.

calher

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I think you meant 'she' and 'her'.

rachad
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i my self cant trust Technoethical they use fonts.googleapis in there website there prices are also so hight just watch the t400s
they add a screen touch and made it 1300 usd
so we need to save minifree idk what happend to her but im planing to buy only from there and if it goes under i will libreboot my thinkpads alone hopefully i wont burn so many untill i make it

tonlee
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Kernelpanic
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Minifree is shutting dow, permanently. Its finances are fucked beyond all recovery...
:((((
Ps. What happened with John Sullivan??

andyprough
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> Ps. What happened with John Sullivan??

It's probably regarding this thing from a few years ago where Leah's friend got fired by the FSF and Leah claimed it was trans discrimination, but RMS and Sullivan said it wasn't. https://fossforce.com/2016/09/fsf-says-firing-wasnt-discrimatory/

zapper (non verificado)

Well damn... :/

I have to agree with her on RMS resigning. I *FOOLISHLY* thought it was time for RMS to give the FSF to someone else, but alas... I regret even thinking that, because I am beginning to think Stallman's FSF is going downhill.

It's a long story though... but yeah. :/

I don't know much about John Sulivan, but I really hope he regrets what he did. I don't think Leah would make up crap about someone for no reason.

:(

strypey
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Leah was having a difficult time back then and later admitted having misinterpreted the situation and overreacted. The issue was resolved and AFAIK everyone involved was satisfied with the resolution.

koszkonutek
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> The issue was resolved and AFAIK everyone involved was satisfied with the resolution.

Well, the rant at the bottom of minifree.org is a newer thing. And that old issue is also mentioned there.

koszkonutek
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"Minifree is shutting dow, permanently. Its finances are fucked beyond all recovery..."

What a shame.

Personally, I appreciate Leah and Libreboot and at the same time I think it is no longer the way to go. More modern, non-x86 computers are already appearing. There is PowerPC Talos (already RYF-certified https://www.fsf.org/news/talos-ii-mainboard-and-talos-ii-lite-mainboard-now-fsf-certified-to-respect-your-freedom) for those, who have the money and there are also cheaper ARM-based devices working with blobless coreboot or u-boot, i.e. Pinebook Pro (shame they use Google's ReCaptcha on their website) and other RockChip-based devices, already usable with mainlined Panfrost and Lima drivers for their GPUs.

Librebooted ThinkPads and Bulldozers were the best option at some point, yet they have their drawbacks (lack of co-operation from Intel and AMD (and VIA?) resulting in unfreeable boot firmware in all newer x86 processors, lack of free EC firmware even in older ThinkPads, proprietary microcode...).
Now, we can move a little step further and we should. This is also why Leah stopped selling librebooted AMD mobos and called of others (Technoetical, Vikings) to do the same - to not compete with Talos computers that give better perspectives for the future.

As to ARM devices, idk why Libreboot isn't adding support for more of them. Still, I believe it's possible to get fully free with corebot or u-boot even without official libreboot support.

And to make things clear - this is not the end of the path. I do expect risc-v to make ARM and PowerPC deprecated too. I just don't know when this will happen. In the meanwhile, I think we should concentrate on the software part. The state of ARM in ethical distros is not too good. And it's even worse with other arches.

And despite I don't consider Libreboot crucial for the future of freesw-enabled hardware, I think it played an important role in the past 7 years and we can be grateful to Leah for the hard work

calher

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On 3/22/20 2:16 PM, name at domain wrote:
> And to make things clear - this is not the end of the path. I do expect
> risc-v to make ARM and PowerPC deprecated too. I just don't know when
> this will happen. In the meanwhile, I think we should concentrate on the
> software part. The state of ARM in ethical distros is not too good. And
> it's even worse with other arches.

It shouldn't be too hard to build Guix System on new architectures.

--
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(816) 892-9669
https://bluehome.net/csh

koszkonutek
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Yeah, Guix seems to be the most portable of all... Still, Guix is a:
1. non FHS-compliant
2. rolling-release distro
3. for advanced users
4. that doesn't provide replacements for all of it's packages (need to compile -> compiling shall take long on cheap ARM/risc-v socks)

I'm not saying it's a bad distro, some of those points are a big + for some ppl. Yet, I don't think Guix fits all needs :/

zapper (non verificado)

I have to say, its possible that RISC-V laptops whenever they come out may end up needing to be librebooted in future. Why do I say this?

The companies that make these will probably DRM those too. Albeit in a more tricky fashion. :/

So Libreboot will hopefully never die.

koszkonutek
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> The companies that make these will probably DRM those too. Albeit in a more tricky fashion.

I'm sad to have to admit, that You're right.
Still, there is one big advantage: with free (as in freedom) hardware design files other companies will be able to manufacture DRM-free laptops. In other words: we'll no longer have to deal with uncooperative hardware vendor lock-in :)

zapper (non verificado)

That is true, and its also true that even if the companies make risc-v processors that have drm, I think they will be easier to liberate then say, intel,amd,arm,etc...

But, I also think that there are better options in just making custom ones in general. ;)

Also, I hope this gives everyone some hope:

https://balthazar.space/wiki/Balthazar

Only issue though is I cannot contact them...

They are rejecting emails currently, not sure if its on purpose or not, but probably it is an error...

;/

Connochaetes

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Another issue is I haven't found any name so far, let alone a German-style Impressum and whom to contact with GDPR-relevant inquiries. If they were asking for money, it would look like a scam.
Also I like how they say this and that will get done "real soon", and "a certain percentage" of profits will go to FLOSS something something :D

zapper (non verificado)

Actually just replying to this, I made contact with them finally and I found this:

https://github.com/balthazar-space

I am hopeful it will be an awesome laptop in the future. :)

Might be 2-3 years before its out though if I had to guess, but meh...

Risc-V processors aren't exactly ready for laptops yet after all.

strypey
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Zapper:
> The companies that make these will probably DRM those too.

Hopefully the future of libre hardware will lie in small companies like Pine64, Vikings, and Purism, who will not do this. Reverse engineering Windows and Mac desktops/ laptops to run GNU/Linux was a good strategy to give more people the opportunity to use it, and grow the demand for hardware that runs it natively. But it will never get the sort of usage Firefox has until non-geeks can buy modern hardware engineered to run GNU/Linux from their local electronics store.

The challenge is to figure out how to scale up to that, from the boutique online-only vendors we have now. I suspect this will involve a significant localization of computer manufacturing. Maybe not right down to chip fabrication, but 3D printing the parts that can be made that way and combining with imported chips to build end user devices for local sale. Maybe even a hardware equivalent of the print-on-demand book business, where a device can be assembled in an afternoon to fill an order from someone down the road.

koszkonutek
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> Maybe even a hardware equivalent of the print-on-demand book business, where a device can be assembled in an afternoon to fill an order from someone down the road.

Assemble-on-demand a single device? Won't the costs be too high? :/ When I hear ppl speak about prototyping sth on a PCB, they usually order (or laminate themselves) a batch (no personal experience in the field, tho).

Otherwise, PCB assembly and 3D print services do exist. Getting device allowed might be the biggest problem at this point: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CE_marking
I know from one of university teachers, that this is very problematic, at least in the EU.
As if the goal was to block small companies/startups from manufacturing devices and cripple own industry.

strypey
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koszkonutek:
> Assemble-on-demand a single device? Won't the costs be too high?

That depends on how the different stages of production are managed. I'm envisioning local PC store doing the same with laptops and mobiles that they've always been able to do with custom desktops. Have a range of case styles in stock (or a 3D printer that can print them onsite), and a range of off-the-shelf components that can be plugged together to make up a working device to meet the user's needs. With desktops, it usually works out cheaper for the customer (especially if you don't buy a Windows license ;)

koszkonutek
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> off-the-shelf components that can be plugged together

Well, I didn't get Your thought previously.
If local assembly is not to include complex stuff like soldering and lamination, then it's way more realistic :)

Beko
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>This is also why Leah stopped selling librebooted AMD mobos and called of others (Technoetical, Vikings) to do the same - to not compete with Talos computers that give better perspectives for
>the future.

Reduced competition in the providing of free-hardware computers would be a bad thing I would think..

koszkonutek
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> Reduced competition in the providing of free-hardware computers would be a bad thing I would think..

I'd think the same, especially given different price... Anyways, here's the link I didn't provide earlier: https://libreboot.org/news/talos.html (bottom paragraph there)

Beko
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It seems she was referring to the D16 lineup of Desktops. I thought that she meant all x86 should stop competing with Power9, which would be ridiculous at this point in time.

There's a valid point there however because the D16 price point are similar to that of the TalosII.

With the lowest spec D16 going 1000 Euros, and highest spec going for just about 6000 Euros. TalosII is about 6000 USD. So they are actually not that different.

zapper (non verificado)

Let's leave it at this, Talos is extremely expensive. D16, is not as secure probably though. But Talos also uses a crazy amount of electricity.

There's no doubt cons on both desktops. At least until Risc-V joins the fray.

We will just have to wait and see...

tholbrook2
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I may not have gotten a libre-system from them, but it's a shame they're closing down. I was able to get my current system (T500) off of E-Bay. There are those in the U.S. who do flash libreboot onto Thinkpads as well, so that is fortunate as well. Hopefully when the COVID-19 crisis passes, more vendors will step up to the plate.