[Freedombox-discuss] Freedombox-discuss Digest, Vol 64, Issue 4

robert bauer nybauer at gmail.com
Wed Nov 4 17:55:32 UTC 2015

> Date: Tue, 03 Nov 2015 20:31:11 +0100
> From: Jonas Smedegaard <dr at jones.dk>
> To: freedombox-discuss at lists.alioth.debian.org
> Subject: Re: [Freedombox-discuss] Let's decentralize: Hardware
>         recommendations
> Message-ID: <144657907186.3470.6705814307640466264 at auryn.jones.dk>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
> > As I understand Freedombox runs on any machine that runs Debian.
> >
> > Nevertheless I really like the idea of using a single board computer
> > due to its low energy consumption and small form factors (i.e. as
> > recommended on the Freedombox homepage Cubietruck / Cubieboard3).
> >
> > Having never used such a device before what are your experiences in
> > terms of performance with these small machines? What do I need to be
> > aware of, especially when running multiple services? As I would like
> > to run / help to get to run the Diaspora app on Freedombox I'm
> > thinking more power (cpu/ram) is probably better than less.
> On such tiny boxes you may not only wanna think about performance:
> The more performing boxes may(!) also be the more energy-consuming and
> therefore easier getting hot, needing a fan, and therefore noisier (not
> ideal to leave under your bed) and potentially having a shorter
> lifespan.
> Different kinds of ARM devices perform different with same amount of
> energy - Allwinner-based boards of same grade (e.g. Cubietruck and LIME2
> both built around Allwinner A20) roughly perform the same, whereas
> Sitara-based ones (like BeagleBone Black) is rumored to do some things
> more efficiently even if superficial specs may seem lower.
> Performance may be less important on a server than on a desktop system -
> it might mean more how much stuff you can load concurrently - i.e.
> memory.
1) I'm happy for the inquiry because I too think there is some confusion
created by the hardware requirements.  Some of them seem to be hardware
preferences and not really related to
installing/running/debugging/troubleshooting the FreedomBOX software.  I
think there is advantage to the simplicity of saying Freedombox runs on any
machine that runs Debian.  My comments here are as a hw person rather than
programmer, so I may be missing something, but here goes...

For example, I don't see why the noise level "must be below 20dB".  Isn't
this merely a user aesthetic preference and clearly unrelated to
the software?

Similarly, "should not consume over 15W at full CPU load" seems to be
unrelated to the software (correct me if I am wrong).  At least unlike
noise level this one is phrased as "should" rather than "must".

I would also recommend clarifying the "at least one serial interface" as I
don't know what that means, exactly.  Every computer has at least one
serial interface, broadly defined.

So these do not appear to be "requirements" in the sense that the hw must
have them to fully utilize the software, but a suggestion of what hardware
to use.  There is also in the statement that failing computers may be "a
danger to the reputation of the FreedomBox" an idea that the project is
more than sw.  I think most would not attribute hw failure to sw, but OK.

2) More fundamental issue is the query of whether a Freedombox
is a standalone server only or is it a service that one could operate along
with other software/services on a Debian desktop computer?   Is there a
technical or security reason or sw development complication why FreedomBox
sw cannot coexist with other services/sw on a Debian machine? Note that
even on the hw side there is beginning to be a blending of server/desktop
technology into Mini-ITX size by Supermicro and others.  If the project is
serious about weaning large number of users from privacy-compromised email
services, then it should be the latter.  Most users are not going to use a
separate machine for their email, imho, no matter the cost or small size.

Much kudos to the project as it is a much needed alternative.  I hope a
video of last week's demo will be available online at some point.

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