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Librem 5 Smartphone – Final Specs Announced

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Gadgets
  • Librem 5 Smartphone – Final Specs Announced

    We are proud to unveil the final specifications for the Librem 5 smartphone, set to begin shipping in Q3 of 2019.

  • Librem 5 privacy-focused Linux phone specs finalized as pre-orders begin

    Despite the growing number of evidence and cases of mobile software that blatantly violate user privacy, it’s almost impossible to imagine life these days without a smartphone. While hardcore privacy advocates might be able to ditch their mobile device for good, there are some that try to promise the best of both mobile and privacy worlds. One of those is Purism who has finally finalized the specs and features of its crowdfunded privacy-respecting Librem 5 phone.

    [...]

    The question now is whether all of that is enough to justify a $699 price tag. For those who answer a resounding “yes”, an early bird pre-order will shave $50 off that price for $649 only until July 31. As for the shipping date, that is still unannounced for both those pre-orders and, more importantly, the original backers back in 2017.

  • Purism Reveals Final Hardware Specs of the Privacy-Focused Librem 5 Linux Phone

    Purism, the company behind the powerful Linux-based laptops known as the Librem computers, announced today the final hardware specifications of their upcoming Librem 5 Linux smartphone.

    As you probably are already aware, Purism is working for some time on a Linux-powered smartphone, which the company calls Librem 5. Designed from the ground up to be privacy and security-aware, the Librem 5 Linux phone is currently scheduled for launch in Q3 2019, after it's been delayed a couple of times.

  • Purism Finally Announces The Firmed Up Specifications For The Librem 5 Smartphone

    It still remains to be seen if Purism will be able to ship the Librem 5 Linux smartphone this quarter as is their current revised target, but at least today they are publishing the finalized specifications for the phone's hardware.

    While we've long known of their plans to use the i.MX8 SoC and other components, items like the phone's cameras, battery capacity, and even RAM were not known until now.

Consent Matters: When Tech Takes Remote Control Without Your Permission

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Gadgets

In my previous post I talked about why consent matters when it comes to privacy; and yet, privacy is only one of the areas where tech companies take advantage of users without their consent. Recently, tech companies have come to a troubling consensus: that they can change your computer, remotely (and often silently) without your knowledge or permission.

[...]

Anyone who has ever worked for a large company in the computer age has experienced first-hand the authoritarian, controlling, and restrictive policies that IT employs to manage company computers. Starting with centralized systems like Active Directory, IT teams were able to create policies that controlled what sorts of passwords employees could use and whether employees could install applications, access printers, and even, in some cases, insert USB drives.

These centralized tools have evolved over the years: they can now add and remove files, install new software and software updates, remotely control machines over the network in order to view what’s on their screens and access local files. This controls extends into Active Management Technology features embedded into the Intel Management Engine, that lets administrators remotely control computers even if they are turned off. Now that smartphones are critical tools in many organizations, MDM (Mobile Device Management) tools are also often employed at enterprises to bring those devices under a similar level of control–with the added benefit of using GPS to track employee phones even outside the office.

The most common justification for these policies is convenience. If you are an IT department and have thousands of employees–each with at least one computer and one smartphone that you need to support–one of the ways to make sure that the appropriate software is on the systems, and updates get applied, is to push them from a central location. Companies often have custom in-house software their employees rely on to do their jobs, and throughout the life of the company more tools are added to their toolbox. You can’t expect the IT team to go desk-by-desk installing software by hand when you have thousands of employees working at offices all over the world: when an employee’s computer breaks, these same tools make it easy for IT to replace the computer so the employee can get back to work quickly.

The main justification for the strictest–and most controlling–IT policies isn’t convenience, though: it’s security. IT pushes software updates for protection against security bugs. They push anti-virus, anti-malware and remote monitoring tools, to protect both employee and company from dangerous email attachments, from software they might download from their web browser. IT removes local administrative privileges from employees in the name of protecting them from installing malware (and, practically speaking, from installing games and other time-wasting apps). They disable USB storage devices so employees can’t insert disks containing malware or copy off sensitive company documents. Each of these practices have valid reasons behind them for companies facing certain threats.

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Also: Fitness Trackers and Smartwatches Don’t Correctly Track Heart Rate of People with Darker Skin

Ubuntu MATE 19.10 Alpha Arrives, But Only for the GPD MicroPC

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GNU
Linux
Ubuntu
Gadgets

Did you know that Ubuntu MATE is besties with the GPD Pocket & Pocket 2?

Well it is; the pair of pocket-sized PCs, which were made possible through various crowdfunding efforts, got their own, customised, and 100% official Ubuntu MATE 18.10 install image last year, and a follow-up with the 19.04 release this year.

I guess making a custom-spun ISO is the distro equivalent of weaving a friendship bracelet!

Accordingly, it’s no major surprise to learn Ubuntu MATE 19.10 will also come tailored for use on China-based GPD’s latest mini-marvel, the GPD MicroPC.

Interestingly, the device is sold with Ubuntu MATE 18.10 pre-loaded.

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GNU/Linux Devices: Raspberry Pi, AAEON and Librem 5

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GNU
Linux
Gadgets
  • Raspberry Pi 4 B+ - PCI Express

    Without much exaggeration, the new Raspberry Pi is likely the largest single-step improvement on the Pi family since the early changes of the form factor. Although Pi3 introduced 64bit capability, it's been pretty limited in practice due to lack of memory. Pi4 introduces 4GB RAM, USB 3.0 and Gigabit Ethernet.

    Most importantly for our purposes, the USB 3.0 (and 2.0) chip is attached via the PCI Express interface - that means, if we were to remove it, we can gain access to the underlying bus. So, without further ado, the sacrificial goat.. uhm, chip.

  • Modder Connects External PCIe To Raspberry Pi 4

    Raspberry Pi is a low-cost computer designed for tech enthusiasts, students, and engineers who wish to make extreme use of limited hardware. Just two weeks ago, the Raspberry Pi 4 was unveiled, which caught the attention of technology enthusiasts.

    The latest version of Raspberry Pi is a big improvement over the previous version despite its faulty USB-C port design. It relies on PCI Express for USB chips. However, there isn’t any provision to connect external devices on the Raspberry Pi 4.

  • AAEON Launches BOXER-8150AI Compact Embedded Box PC Features 8 USB 3.0 Ports

    The BOXER-8150AI is able to support up to eight USB connected cameras or devices, each operating independently of one another.

  • Runs on the Librem 5 Smartphone – Week 3

    We’ve been showcasing a different piece of software running on the Librem 5 Smartphone Development Kit every day for the last twenty days.  Twenty.  In a row.

    And we’re not done.  Because, holy smokes, do we have a lot more to show.  And, let’s be honest, these are just plain fun.  Daily videos kick back off tomorrow (July 11th) with video number 21.

    You can enjoy Days 15 through 20 below — and Days 1 through 14 in the Week 1 and 2 posts.

  • Purism and the Linux 5.2 Kernel

    Hello again. Following up on our report for the Linux 5.1 kernel, here’s a list of contributions for the Linux 5.2 kernel cycle, for which our team recently contributed with 14 patches–including a new driver for the Librem 5 devkit’s panel...

Up and Running With Your Librem in Three Minutes

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GNU
Linux
Gadgets

The right to respect and privacy should be unconditional; within the digital world itself, it shouldn’t be necessary to be an expert in computer science to guarantee you can–and know how to–be entitled to those rights. Making secure and respectful devices is essential, but to be fully ethical, those devices also need to be simple to use, so everyone can use them.

Our mission at Purism is to make technologies that respects people, whoever they are and whichever background they come from. That is why we make sure that everything we develop conforms to the Ethical Design manifesto, The manifesto itself is quite simple in what it states: that everyone should have the right to be respected and to have a delightful user experience.

I am not saying that Purism’s technology is perfect in the sense of simplicity of use–nevertheless, we are constantly working towards it, and we will always keep that goal in mind. Purism is a Social Purpose corporation, it is funded by the people, and we give back all our research and development to the people. This way we make sure that the initial ethical goal of Purism is a free seed that will grow no matter what.

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GameShell is a portable and modular DIY retro game console

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GNU
Linux
Gadgets

It’s the “world’s first modular, portable game console” running a GNU/Linux operating system. You can easily play retro games from Atari, GameBoy, GameBoy Advance, Nintendo Entertainment System, and more on the GameShell. Or, create your own game entirely with Preset C, Python, Lua, Javascript, or LISP.

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Also: Google's Fuschia operating system has been in works for years now.

Pine64 Linux PinePhone could get Moto Mod functionality

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GNU
Linux
Gadgets

With the focus given to Huawei’s US ban, there has also been some discussion about Android, Google’s hold on the platform, and truly free (as in freedom) alternatives to the world’s biggest mobile OS. There has never been a shortage of alternative mobile platforms, many of them revolving around Linux, but there has been a dearth of companies making devices that run and support such platforms. Pine64 is one of those few and it is now sharing some development in its quest to make a privacy-respecting open source smartphone.

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The $149 PinePhone Linux smartphone will support modular add-ons

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GNU
Linux
Gadgets

The upcoming PinePhone is expected to be an inexpensive, but versatile smartphone designed to run GNU/Linux operating systems. Yesterday we took a look at some of the operating systems that are already being ported to run on the PinePhone. But it looks like the software isn’t the only thing that’s actively under development.

Pine64 has posted an update on the state of the smartphone’s hardware with new details about the phone’s battery, hardware kill switches, and a previously announced feature — support for swappable back covers that can add functionality to the $149 smartphone.

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The Finest Linux Tablet You Can Build

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GNU
Linux
Gadgets

For the last few years now, we’ve all had access to tiny, affordable Systems on a Module. These wunderchips are complete Linux systems with WiFi, a halfway decent GPU, and enough memory to run a real system. This is the perfect platform to base a tablet build on, the only problem is that someone has to actually do it. The DLT One is the ‘Damn Linux Tablet’ from [Prof. Fartsparkle]. It’s the answer to the question of when someone is going to build a tablet computer around one of these cheap Systems on a Chip that are floating around.

With many modules to choose from, the first task is actually choosing one of these Linux modules. [Fartsparkle] ended up with the Nvidia Jetson Nano, an impressive little board that has one distinct advantage: it’s drop-in compatable with the Raspberry Pi Compute Module, the Raspberry Pi-on-an-SODIMM. Given a single chassis, [Prof. Fartsparkle] can simply upgrade his tablet by getting a newer version of the Jetson Nano (or the Compute Module).

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PinePhone $149 Linux smartphone could support Ubuntu, Sailfish, Maemo, LuneOS and more

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OS
GNU
Linux
Gadgets

The PinePhone is a cheap, Linux-ready smartphone that’s expected to ship in limited quantities later this year. It’s not exactly a high-power device by modern smartphone standards, but with an expected starting price of $149, it will be a lot more affordable than some of the other Linux phones on the horizon.

It’s also starting to look like the PinePhone could be a very versatile device.

Pine64 has been sending out development kits for a while, and it looks like developers are porting a number of GNU/Linux-based operating systems to the platform.

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Linux Candy: ASCIIQuarium – embrace marine life from the terminal

Who loves eye candy? Don’t be shy — you can raise both hands!! Linux Candy is a new series of articles covering interesting eye candy software. We’re only going to feature open-source software in this series. I’m not going to harp on about the tired proverb “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. But there’s a certain element of truth here. If you spend all day coding neural networks, mastering a new programming language, sit in meetings feeling bored witless, you’ll need some relief at the end of the day. And what better way by making your desktop environment a bit more memorable. Read more

Bookworm is a light-weight eBook reader for Linux

While Calibre has a built-in reader, and is the absolute best when it comes to managing and converting eBooks, some people may prefer an alternative when it comes to reading ebooks. Bookworm, a lightweight ebook reader for Linux, offers a minimalist experience. Developed for Elementary OS, Bookworm is also available for other Linux distributions such as Ubuntu or OpenSUSE. Options to install from source or flatpack are provided as well. Read more

Review: Drauger OS 7.4.1, and EndeavourOS 2019.07.15

This week I once again turned to the DistroWatch waiting list to sample new items I had not tried before. Near the top of the list of projects waiting for evaluation was Drauger OS, a Linux distribution based on Xubuntu. The project uses the Xfce desktop environment and is built to run on 64-bit (x86_64) computers. The project places a strong focus on offering easy access to games and, correspondingly, good desktop performance. To this end, Drauger ships with Steam installed by default, along with WINE and PlayOnLinux. Drauger OS also comes with the modified, low-latency, Liquorix Linux kernel, which is based off the ZEN kernel. According to the project's documentation, the distribution can run on UEFI-enabled machines, but booting in legacy BIOS mode is recommended. The documentation also mentions that in place of the regular Xubuntu installer, Drauger uses the System Install utility to copy the operating system from the live media to the local hard drive. While most of the project's listed features are technical in nature, one of the main talking points goes a bit over the top when describing Drauger's security advantage: "Drauger OS is far more secure than the leading desktop operating system. This means that you can game without fear of trolls hacking into your computer, getting a virus, or losing your data." Of course Linux systems can be hacked and certainly may lose data due to various bugs, security breaches or hardware failure. The developers' claims strike me as being optimistic, at best. Drauger is available in one edition and the distribution's ISO file is a 3.2GB download. Booting from the disc brings up a menu asking if we would like to run a live desktop session or launch a system installer. The live option shows the Ubuntu boot screen, which identifies the distribution as "Ubuntu 7.4.1". The system then presents us with a graphical login screen where we are given the choice of using a "user" account or a "guest" account. In either case we can sign in without a password. Drauger's live mode uses the Xfce 4.12 desktop. Once the desktop loads, a welcome screen appears, showing buttons that open links to the distribution's website, launch a tool for installing third-party drivers, open a readme file, and link to some on-line resources. There is also a tutorial button which opens a series of pop-up messages about the desktop elements. We can only move forward through the tutorial tips one at a time, and cannot go back to previous pop-ups. The Additional Drivers button opens the Ubuntu software sources, updates and driver utility. On-line resources and documentation are opened in the Firefox web browser. The welcome window is pretty straight forward to use and navigate and I like that we are put in touch with both on-line and off-line resources. Read more

GNU Guile 2.9.4 (beta) released

We are delighted to announce GNU Guile 2.9.4, the fourth beta release in preparation for the upcoming 3.0 stable series. See the release announcement for full details and a download link. This release enables inlining of references to top-level definitions within a compilation unit, speeding up some programs by impressive amounts. It also improves compilation of floating-point routines like sin, implements the Ghuloum/Dybvig "Fixing Letrec (reloaded)" algorithm, and allows mixed definitions and expressions within lexical contours, as is the case at the top level. Try it out, it's good times! GNU Guile 2.9.4 is a beta release, and as such offers no API or ABI stability guarantees. Users needing a stable Guile are advised to stay on the stable 2.2 series. Experience reports with GNU Guile 2.9.4, good or bad, are very welcome; send them to guile-devel@gnu.org. If you know you found a bug, please do send a note to bug-guile@gnu.org. Happy hacking! Read more