[Freedombox-discuss] objectives

Anthony Papillion papillion at gmail.com
Wed Jun 8 22:04:58 UTC 2011

On Wed, Jun 8, 2011 at 1:17 PM, Bdale Garbee <bdale at gag.com> wrote:
> Catching up on recent list traffic, it's clear to me that we're
> suffering from the fact that "freedombox" means so many different things
> to different people.

Yes, it does, and I don't understand why that is. When I originally
joined this list, it was pretty well defined 'what' Freedombox would
be: it would be a plug computer that included all of the tools needed
to accomplish Ebens goals and whatever else the group considered
important. Quickly though, that became a 'let's cover everything from
mobile phones to systems on a chip' and I think that devolved the
project to a state where new contributors will have absolutely no idea
where to start because they will have no idea 'what' a FreedomBox
actually is.

> As a member of the foundation's board and chair of  the technical advisory committee, ? > I've spent a lot of time thinking about what it is that we're actually trying to do, and ?
> pondering how to  get from where we are to a useful reference implementation.  To that
> end, I think it's time to articulate a roadmap, starting with a
> statement of objectives for the core that consolidates our shared values
> and vision, and provides a framework for turning our is/is-not thinking
> in to a manifest of software components to be included in a system
> image.

I'm not sure I agree that this is the right question to be asked at
this point yet. Have we even settled on 'what' the Freedombox will be
from a hardware standpoint? Have plug computers been decided as the
main (primary) vehicle on which the FB will be delivered? Obviously,
if the question of hardware is still up in the air then discussing
software components is premature as they will change depending on what
hardware the system needs to run on.

Perhaps I've missed some discussion though and we are past the
hardware part of the FB discussion. Maybe it has been decided already.


>  We want to provide a way for people to share with others narrowly or
>  broadly a set of thoughts and media objects hosted on infrastructure
>  they own themselves and thus have ultimate control over, as an
>  attractive alternative to such sharing via popular existing services
>  that provide little control.

Right. And, for that, the software stack is nearly completely
available now. We can now replace cloud services like documents, file
sharing, chat, email, twitter, Facebook (soon), and even provide an
entire cloud OS if need be. Couple that with existing mesh networking
(I know it's a dirty word) and throw in an encryption layer and you're
almost where you need to be.   We're close, if not there, now. Put
these components on a plug or whatever device is decided on, write a
front end configuration tool that doesn't confuse a total newbie, and
you're ready to deploy.

>  We want to provide a way for people to communicate with each other
>  privately, minimizing their dependence on service providers, and
>  hopefully providing some resiliency in the face of service outages.

In my mind this is perhaps one of the most important aspects of the
project. In an environment where there is no hostility to
communication, the FB faces no issues. But if you add hostility to the
mix, things get interesting. Imagine a government (Syria?) that
decides to cut access to the Internet and/or the phone network to stop
the propagation of information from person to person. Obviously, the
FB becomes a major problem and those using one could very well face
persecution. It also means that, with the decreased flow of
information over networks, it becomes trivially easy to monitor what's
going over a particular 'mini-net'. It doesn't just fade into the
noise anymore, it becomes the noise.

For that reason, I think we need to look at a few things in this
aspect of the project:

1) having the ability to encrypt *everything* that goes on between
FB's and an FB network.

2) find a way to conceal (if needed) the fact that such a device and
features are being operated at all (this is HARD).

The need for private communication in the west is *much* different
than the need for private communication in a hostile environment.

> I'd love feedback on whether that resonates well with others on the
> list.  Do the things you care about fit in, or is there another major
> objective that I'm missing?

Overall, I think you've covered everything. Thank you for your service
to this community!

Anthony Papillion
Advanced Data Concepts

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