Star Labs Starbook with Trisquel

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Retropikzel
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Joined: 07/13/2020

Yesterday Star Labs said something in their newsletter I think you might find interesting.
Unfortunately I could not find any blog post or webpage telling the same things, so
I just have to quote parts of the email here.

The most interesting part would be:
"Trisquel- Offering a distribution that the FSF (Free Software Foundation) endorses like Trisquel requires slightly different hardware. In the case of the StarBook, the current AX201 Wireless card is too advanced to be supported by "free" drivers. Consequently, the FSF edition of the StarBook will feature a more expensive, albeit lower performance wireless card to allow for full free support. This edition of the StarBook will be available to order around the end of Q2. "

Full text:

"
The future of our firmware.

The next step. Moving forward, the intention is to bring our coreboot configuration up to the point where the comparison against AMI is only a list of positives. In this case, we would cease development of the AMI platform and focus solely on coreboot. To do this, there are two key features that we need to add to coreboot and our coreboot configurator:

1. Ability to disable/enable wireless, webcam and microphone
2. Support for capsule updates

The first stage is almost complete and will be released in the coming weeks. The latter is in progress, and whilst proving to be incredibly complex, will bring the security of coreboot on par with AMI.

coreboot version 5

Updates include:
• Rebased on upstream
• Removed delay for charger to connect/disconnect
• Improved battery ACPI
• Added CMOS option to enable Intel ME
• Bug fixes

Supporting new distributions

We are currently working towards offering two new distributions for the StarBook.

Qubes OS- Work on the out-of-the-box experience has begun, with the aim for our StarBook to join Qubes elite list of hardware approved vendors. This process is far more complicated than any of the distributions we have ever offered, due to the nature and security requirements of Qubes. We are hoping to release this in Q3.

Trisquel- Offering a distribution that the FSF (Free Software Foundation) endorses like Trisquel requires slightly different hardware. In the case of the StarBook, the current AX201 Wireless card is too advanced to be supported by "free" drivers. Consequently, the FSF edition of the StarBook will feature a more expensive, albeit lower performance wireless card to allow for full free support. This edition of the StarBook will be available to order around the end of Q2.

As the StarBook is in the final stages of production, we are offering 5% off all pre-orders for a limited time!

*The discount will be automatically applied at checkout

A heartfelt thank you. From everyone here at Star Labs (including Arthur) we just wanted to say a continuous thank you to everyone that has supported the journey so far. We couldn't have done it without your support and feedback.

No one ever reads the small print, but just in case you do- How many GNU/linux users does it take to change a lightbulb?

One. We are very efficient."

Cyberhawk

I am a translator!

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Joined: 07/27/2010

It is good news that computers with pre-installed Trisquel are being sold. But it seems not very nice what they say about the Wi-Fi card being "too advanced" for free drivers.

The issue is most likely, the manufacturer makes it a priority to prevent free drivers from existing. Free drivers are not somehow bad or non-advanced. They are often developed with resistance from the side of the manufacturers.

It's not more challenging to write drivers for a more advanced card. It's that the manufacturer does not want free drivers to exist more often than not, so the selection of supported hardware becomes limited - if something is older, chances are higher it has free drivers already.

lanun
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Joined: 04/01/2021

Agreed.

> too advanced to be supported by "free" drivers.
> a more expensive, albeit lower performance wireless card

These are typical talking points from the open-source people. Nothing prevents a system integrator from shipping an older ath9 compatible chipset, and in fact at a lower price. The alleged difference in performance does not exist at use time, except possibly for people suffering from bleeding edge withdrawal syndrom.

Reminiscent of this thread: https://trisquel.info/en/forum/thinkpenguins-new-ryf-router-here

Beformed
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Joined: 01/13/2017

I visited their web site and they don't mention anything about an option with Trisquel. These computers don't seem very freedom respecting. At that point and without saying they are the way to go, I think purism is a better option

Cyberhawk

I am a translator!

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Joined: 07/27/2010

They do say "we are working towards...". The newsletter above makes it feel like they don't yet offer Trisquel as an option, but want to do so in the future.

The best option freedom-wise, for an x86 platform, is a refurbished ThinkPad with libreboot, from one of the known places like technoethical, Vikings etc. Yeah, I know, very old tech...

Leah (maybe others too) offers corei7 driven ThinkPads, which are almost as good freedom wise, effectively the same probably.

Everything else, in terms of freedom, is a step down. That is the kind of twisted world we live in, no offence to Star Labs or anyone else intended.

AFAIK purism stuff is equally free as corei7 machines with "castrated" ME, but I might be wrong. Their machines are not my cup of tea tbh.

As long a PC uses libreboot and effectively prevents ME from being malicious (or lacks ME) - that's as free as an x86 based something will get. If Star Labs fulfills these criteria - they are offering a true freedom respecting computer (which really should get an FSF endorsed GNU/Linux installed, nothing else!)

For me, nothing beats a ThinkPad with dock though.

Beformed
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Joined: 01/13/2017

> For me, nothing beats a ThinkPad with dock though.

I cannot agree more.