[Freedombox-discuss] off the shelf reference hardware software.

Ted Smith tedks at riseup.net
Wed Sep 7 14:41:48 UTC 2011

On Wed, 2011-09-07 at 08:59 -0400, Jim Tarvid wrote:
> Some commercial off the shelf products approach the design requirements for
> FreedomBox. For example, the FoxConn nT535 -
> http://www.foxconnchannel.com/product/Barebones/nT-535/index.html# The
> addition of a 2.5" SATA drive, a single stick of  ddr3 800 4GB so-dimm
> memory and a USB-Ethernet adapter would get you going (~$300 total). Not too
> much wizardry required to do battery/solar instead of the brick.
> A base Linux install + tasksel would get a core set of servers going.
> Lots of other issues. Getting as close as we can with available resources
> would accelerate the time line. How many of the "complications" are really
> necessary? At what cost should they be indulged?
> Jim

This is something that's been said a few times, but it's more fun to
speculate about "the next DNS" or abstract notions of "identity" than it
is to take what already exists and plug it into other things that
already exist. I attribute this to Western culture (not to say that
non-western culture doesn't fall for this, only that western culture is
all that I have personal experience with) and its tendency to only
revere impossible things. Unicorns wouldn't be so idolized if you could
see them in a zoo, but if llamas weren't real, they'd be every bit as
idolized as unicorns.

There's a disturbing trend on most lists like this to focus on
technological unicorns rather than technological llamas. Even though we
really need to just integrate the things that do heavy lifting (hell, we
even need to AGGREGATE those things), it's less fun than having
arguments about whether unicorns authenticate over WebID or DNS+DANE or

What the Freedombox Foundation could do to address this is come up with:

      * A list of programs that need to be packaged for debian
      * A list of Debian packages that need to be configured for
        non-enterprisey home server usage

Any person with an internet connection and a computer can learn to
package software for Debian, or learn configure software. These things
don't need special hardware, but they do need an authoritative voice
saying "these are the things we need worked on."

If these things aren't just put down by mandate, there needs to be some
other clearly defined procedure (like a voting website, or a voting
system among people who have already contributed) to avoid endless
debate. We need to avoid bikeshedding, and counteract the human tendency
to avoid discussing important things for fear of status loss.
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