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posted by CoolHand on Tuesday October 10 2017, @02:14PM   Printer-friendly
from the freedom-fighter dept.

"The most popular mobile operating system on the planet, Android, is already based on Linux, but with Google in charge of it, many consumers cannot depend on it for privacy. With that said, Purism is planning to fight the impossible fight against Android and iOS with the "Librem 5" smartphone. This is a device that will run a privacy-focused Linux-based OS called "Pure OS," but the hardware is wide open for any OS, really. Purism is trying to raise $1.5 million through crowdfunding, and earlier today, it reached a significant milestone -- $1 million! Maybe the fight isn't impossible after all..." - via BetaNews

In the news:

https://puri.sm/shop/librem-5/
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15436716
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15090156
https://www.reddit.com/r/linux/comments/74cl80/purism_librem_5_has_surpassed_1000000_raised_in/
https://www.reddit.com/r/linux/comments/75bjmp/librem_5_funded_hooray/


Original Submission

Related Stories

Purism Disables Intel Management Engine on Librem Laptops 29 comments

Purism Disables Intel ME On Its Privacy-Focused Librem Laptops

Purism, a startup that aims to develop privacy-focused devices, announced that it has now disabled Intel's Management Engine (ME). The company, and many privacy activists, believe that because Intel's ME is a black box to the user, it could hide backdoors from certain intelligence agencies. Alternatively, it may contain vulnerabilities that could even be unknown to Intel, but which might still be exploited by sophisticated attackers to bypass the operating system's security.

[...] The Librem laptops use Coreboot firmware, which is an open source alternative to BIOS and UEFI for Linux. The company said that using Coreboot is one of the primary reasons why they were able to disable Intel ME in the first place. Coreboot allowed them to dig down on how the processor interacts with this firmware and with the operating system.

Purism had already "neutralized" the Intel ME system on its Librem laptops, which essentially meant that the mission-critical components of Intel ME were removed. However, this could still cause some errors, because the Intel ME would still be "fighting" Coreboot's attempt to neutralize it. With the new method that disables it, the Intel ME can be shut down gracefully. Purism's laptops will continue to support both methods for extra security, just in case the Intel ME is able to "wake-up" somehow, after it's disabled.

[...] Both Librem 13 and Librem 15 laptop models will now ship with Intel ME disabled by default. Customers who have purchased the older Librem laptops will also receive an update that will disable Intel ME on their systems.

Related: Purism Exceeds $1 Million in Funding for Librem 5 Linux-Based Smartphone
How-To: Disabling the Intel Management Engine


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Tuesday October 10 2017, @02:23PM (12 children)

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Tuesday October 10 2017, @02:23PM (#579811) Journal

    Looks like my next phone. Pity there's no physical keyboard. I've been hanging on to my very old Samsung Strat II with Cyanogen for that reason, and because I don't want to go deeper into the thicket with Google and Apple. I have been replacing components on the old one but the physical enclosure itself is about to disintegrate.

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.
    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 10 2017, @02:28PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 10 2017, @02:28PM (#579813)

      Fools and their money will soon be parted... by overhyped crowdfunding campaigns.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by LoRdTAW on Tuesday October 10 2017, @02:52PM

      by LoRdTAW (3755) on Tuesday October 10 2017, @02:52PM (#579829) Journal

      I'm in the same boat. After buying a Nexus 5 and the original Nexus 7 2012: paperweight edition, I'm no longer buying Google devices.

      These features have me hooked:
      MicroSD slot
      Headphone and Microphone Jack (3.5mm)
      Hardware kill switches for:{
      Camera
      Microphone
      Baseband
      WiFi/Bluetooth
      }

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by KiloByte on Tuesday October 10 2017, @02:57PM (9 children)

      by KiloByte (375) on Tuesday October 10 2017, @02:57PM (#579835)

      Looks like my next phone. Pity there's no physical keyboard.

      So you'd want Gemini [indiegogo.com] instead. Can run a real operating system, has USB ports that take regular peripherals (a mouse? a data stick? a GPG keycard?), etc. I'd prefer a slider over clamshell, but this one can replace both N900 and a small laptop.

      --
      Ceterum censeo systemd esse delendam.
      • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Tuesday October 10 2017, @03:14PM (4 children)

        by Phoenix666 (552) on Tuesday October 10 2017, @03:14PM (#579841) Journal

        Excellent, thanks. After taking apart and rebuilding my phone several times I'd developed a fantasy about building my own from parts, because I've become increasingly frustrated about living in a world constrained by corporate bean counters where nothing is ever exactly what you want, and whenever you get close the corporation decides to pull the rug out from under you. But your option looks pretty good, and there are only so many hours in the day, right?

        --
        Washington DC delenda est.
        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Grishnakh on Tuesday October 10 2017, @03:34PM (3 children)

          by Grishnakh (2831) on Tuesday October 10 2017, @03:34PM (#579850)

          After taking apart and rebuilding my phone several times I'd developed a fantasy about building my own from parts

          That just isn't feasible, unless you can somehow get a decent number of phone makers to adopt some actual standards. You can already build your own phone from parts, to a degree: pick a phone that's pretty easy to disassemble (like a Samsung S4/S5), go on Ebay, and search: you can buy casebacks, screens, cameras, SDcard PCBs, USB port PCBs, etc. But the catch is that they're all particular to that phone, or even perhaps to certain sub-models of it (for the S4, there was a mid-year revision that has some incompatible parts for instance).

          To "build your own" phone from generic parts, the way you can with a desktop PC, requires standardization. It's no different than the situation with laptops: you can't interchange them, though you can buy spare parts easily. I can buy a battery for my Dell laptop, but it's only compatible with a certain range of other Dell laptops within that line. Some things are a bit more universal, like WiFi cards that are miniPCI, but even there some laptop makers intentionally screw up the signal lines so you need a card from them instead of a generic one. Motherboards are completely unique to each chassis. Optical drives are like batteries, they'll swap between a small range of models from the same maker.

          So if you want phones to be like (desktop) PCs, you have to push for standardization, like the (creaky old) ATX standard that PCs have been using for 20 years now. Of course, the downside is that it's really hard to get things engineered to be extremely compact that way. Just look at how horribly wasteful of space desktop PCs (the non-SFF kind) are, and also how terribly noisy they are because they aren't engineered for proper airflow because of the mix-and-match nature of their generic parts. But if some mfgrs want to standardize on some really good detailed designs, and then maybe update them every year or two, it's certainly doable. I just don't think it's likely because competing mfgrs never want to standardize on anything these days; the only reason we got the mix-and-match PCs we used to enjoy is because 1) IBM made the PC (and XT and AT) with an open architecture, and everyone "cloned" them, and then 2) Intel pushed for standardization (ATX and later BTX) because it was good for their CPU-selling business. We just haven't seen anything like this with mobile devices, and I seriously doubt we ever will.

          • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Tuesday October 10 2017, @07:17PM (1 child)

            by Phoenix666 (552) on Tuesday October 10 2017, @07:17PM (#579987) Journal

            That is all true. I did say it was a fantasy.

            Still I have this brain and these opposable thumbs and can also shape matter. Could I too not shape matter in the way they do? All I'd need is to be three times smarter than I am and have 36 hours a day for the 24 everyone else gets.

            --
            Washington DC delenda est.
            • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Tuesday October 10 2017, @10:00PM

              by Grishnakh (2831) on Tuesday October 10 2017, @10:00PM (#580100)

              There's a ton of work that goes into a modern cellphone, even if you're just ripping off last year's state of the art. And getting the parts fabricated would be very expensive too, not to mention doing all the exhaustive testing needed to make your PCBs work (they're a lot more complex than your garden-variety FR4 PCBs, and not that easy to design so that you get decent yield).

          • (Score: 3, Informative) by Pav on Wednesday October 11 2017, @06:58AM

            by Pav (114) on Wednesday October 11 2017, @06:58AM (#580323)

            I've seen a Raspberry Pi based phone. It looked like a brick, and had poor battery life, but it worked. All you need is a battery, touch screen, modem. There are more powerful Pis available these days with lower power requirements, and I believe there are low power 4G modems also (the one I saw a few years ago was 3G). Last time I looked there was even a primitive OS and app suite someone had done. This would be an awesome nerd project, but I never actually got around to it.

      • (Score: 2) by TheRaven on Tuesday October 10 2017, @03:40PM (2 children)

        by TheRaven (270) on Tuesday October 10 2017, @03:40PM (#579855) Journal
        I still have fond memories of my Psion Series 3 [wikipedia.org], but most of the time that I want a physical keyboard but don't want to carry a laptop, my ThinkOutside folding keyboard and phone works fine. The company that made the keyboard no longer exists, but I bought it back in 2006 to go with my Nokia 770 (back when Nokia was selling them with 2/3 off to open source developers). The 770 was underpowered - 64MB of RAM meant the OOM killer was running a lot and would often hit the X server, or failing that the app with the most unsaved data - but the combination was fine for X + Xterm + vim (no frame buffer console) and I wrote quite a few articles and a couple of book chapters on it.
        --
        sudo mod me up
        • (Score: 1) by DECbot on Tuesday October 10 2017, @04:49PM (1 child)

          by DECbot (832) on Tuesday October 10 2017, @04:49PM (#579886) Journal

          I've got that keyboard too. I retired it this year because I finally got fed up with the lack of a dedicated number row.

          I replaced it with the iClever folding, backlit keyboard and a pocket size folding phone/tablet stand. The keyboard is a reasonable size for typing and the charge last a long time even when using the backlight. I have no regrets whatsoever.

          folding keyboard [amazon.com]
          phone/tablet stand [amazon.com]

          --
          cats~$ sudo chown -R us /home/base
          • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Wednesday October 11 2017, @08:35AM

            by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Wednesday October 11 2017, @08:35AM (#580345) Homepage
            Would you sell me your old thinkoutside keyboard? Mine's suffered from too many beer spills (it's not actually for me, it's for a friend, he does his beer reviewing/rating on his iphone, and my thinkoutside is a boon for him - I was thinking of giving it to him as a chrissy pressy, as I don't use it any more, but giving him a kinda broken one seems a bit crap).
            --
            Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
      • (Score: 2) by bart9h on Tuesday October 10 2017, @03:51PM

        by bart9h (767) on Tuesday October 10 2017, @03:51PM (#579861)

        For a clamshell phablet, an external e-ink screen would be neat.

  • (Score: 2) by riT-k0MA on Tuesday October 10 2017, @02:35PM (2 children)

    by riT-k0MA (88) on Tuesday October 10 2017, @02:35PM (#579818)

    It would seem that they've already made their funding goal.

    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday October 10 2017, @02:54PM (1 child)

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday October 10 2017, @02:54PM (#579831) Journal

      Linky please (for the, eg, lazy or low energy insomniacs)?

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 10 2017, @03:38PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 10 2017, @03:38PM (#579852)

    Just say NO

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 10 2017, @05:13PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 10 2017, @05:13PM (#579901)

      https://www.netguard.me/ [netguard.me]
      Available on f-droid.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 10 2017, @03:39PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 10 2017, @03:39PM (#579853)

    Imagine having to raise that much money for your priapism!

  • (Score: 2) by richtopia on Tuesday October 10 2017, @04:13PM (3 children)

    by richtopia (3160) on Tuesday October 10 2017, @04:13PM (#579871) Homepage Journal

    Phones are pretty good these days at covering most bands, but you should be more specific than just LTE. There are over 40 bands for LTE and different providers/counties depend on very different collections of bands: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LTE_frequency_bands [wikipedia.org]

    • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Tuesday October 10 2017, @04:44PM (2 children)

      by RamiK (1813) on Tuesday October 10 2017, @04:44PM (#579884)

      Seeing how NXP i.MX don't have built-in LTE modems I'm guessing they'll source a global one and run it over the PCI-e lanes.

      --
      compiling...
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 11 2017, @03:47AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 11 2017, @03:47AM (#580272)

        Baseband is to be USB attached. I hope there will be multiple options offered (if module is not soldered on).

        • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Wednesday October 11 2017, @10:50AM

          by RamiK (1813) on Wednesday October 11 2017, @10:50AM (#580380)

          I guess that means they're re-purposing the extra PCI-e lane for USB3. Regardless, I doubt they won't solder. Maybe, just maybe, they'll socket it. But I doubt it.

          --
          compiling...
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 11 2017, @03:57AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 11 2017, @03:57AM (#580276)

    Last time I saw this phone come up on Soylent, it was mentioned that it will still come with a standard baseband processor running a standard, un-auditable, proprietary software stack. Put all the Open Source you want on top of that and it still isn't any more secure than iOS or Android. And even if the NSA can't do a back door, they will still be able to issue secret warrants which a tiny company like Purism won't have the legal funds to fight.

    In the the end, this is all just fluffy marketing to a different kind of hipster.

    • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Wednesday October 11 2017, @10:47AM

      by RamiK (1813) on Wednesday October 11 2017, @10:47AM (#580378)

      A baseband residing outside the SoC is a fairly dumb modem. It will likely communicate with the OS over pppd much like how Openwrt\LEDE is used in conjunction with external VDSL modems with about the same risks and same mitigation strategies (end-to-end encryption done on main CPU).

      --
      compiling...
  • (Score: 2) by Alphatool on Wednesday October 11 2017, @11:09AM

    by Alphatool (1145) on Wednesday October 11 2017, @11:09AM (#580391)

    I really want this to work, but there is a very, very long way to too to a useful handset. The hardware of a modern phone has become much easier, but the software stack is as difficult as ever. So far Purism has managed to get Linux to boot on a Dev board, which is a fine starting point. A phone operating system it isn't - not even close. There have been plentiful attempts to take Linux and put it on a phone and only Android has had huge success. WebOS, Firefox OS, openmoko, moblin, meego, maemo, Tizen... the list of solid yet failed attemps at Linux on a phone just keeps going. The last non-Android one left is Sailfish and it's surviving on life support despite building on billions spent by Nokia and Intel. I'm yet to see anything to convince me that Purism will succeed with a new OS where so many others have failed.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm a backer not a hater. I even expect to get some cool hardware out of it, but unless Purism change path and build on Mer (or licence Sailfish) I fully expect to run an Android derivative on it.

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