[Freedombox-discuss] Intel Compute Stick

Sunil Mohan Adapa sunil at medhas.org
Wed Jan 14 05:25:17 UTC 2015

On Wednesday 14 January 2015 03:42 AM, Jonas Smedegaard wrote:
> Quoting Sunil Mohan Adapa (2015-01-13 21:05:38)
>> On Wednesday 14 January 2015 01:08 AM, Blibbet wrote:
>>> To me it is unsuitable for a FreedomBox due to firmware, which is 
>>> probably UEFI-based if hardware comes from Intel.
>> Indeed, proprietary firmware is a deal breaker.
> You mean UEFI specifically, or that *any* use of proprietary firmware is 
> a deal breaker?

I meant any proprietary firmware including WiFi firmware needed for most
single board computers with WiFi capability (by relying USB WiFi devices).

> Makes sense to me to steer free of proprietary code whereever possible, 
> and we have enough options not requiring proprietary firmware injected 
> at boot time, but I think it is too early to set the bar so high as to 
> require no proprietary firmware exist soldered onto the board.

If the proprietary firmware is not executed (or can be disabled), say
for an optional hardware component, then I guess we can live with it.

I do agree that it might be too early though.  We can confirm a few free
working options and then look at this direction.

> If you mean only UEFI, then why avoid that specifically? Yes, I know 
> that Free firmware like Coreboot is better when offered (which is not 
> the case currently), but how is e.g. proprietary BIOS better?
>> We should consider promising FreedomBox users images and devices with 
>> only free software and firmware.  Especially since we do seem to have 
>> some viable hardware options.  In the last meeting everyone seem to 
>> agree that we should remove non-free repositories from FreedomBox 
>> images wherever possible.  This would be a step further.
> What do you mean by "whereever possible" in above?  Is non-free Debian 
> repositories less of a deal breaker than UEFI or other pre-loaded 
> proprietary firmware?  If so, why?

We are currently using non-free repositories for all FreedomBox images,
even VirtualBox images.  We only had a brief discussion but from what I
understand the agreement was to remove non-free repositories from images
where it is not needed, such as from VirtualBox and BeagleBone images.
There was no discussion on what to do about hardware that requires
non-free software.

In my opinion, pre-loaded proprietary firmware is as bad as non-free
Debian repositories particularly if that firmware is replaceable.

> ****
> 60 boards now for sale arguably match or surpass the DreamPlug.  Makes 
> sense to me to raise the bar higher, but not arbitrarily.
> We could add a requirement that the board must not use UEFI (if that is 
> sensible - see my question above).  That would still leave is with 55 
> options.

I believe we should consider generalizing this for any non-free
firmware.  The idea is that all software and firmware on FreedomBox
shall be free.  If we do this (and pull off a nicely working
FreedomBox), many of our users will appreciate the fully freely aspect.
 It will become a strong point for FreedomBox adoption.

> We could add a requirement that the board must be Open Hardware.  That 
> would leave us with 12 options from 3 vendors.

I don't think we should do this.  At least, not yet.  We should
certainly prioritize Open Hardware though.


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