1. 4

    Why would you even run Libreboot? That’s a serious question. I’m for hardware freedom (I run coreboot on all my boards and I’m buying Talos II). I just don’t get why one would want to run a derivative of coreboot that brings nothing to the table, when you can just use upstream. Oh, and you can actually run ucode updates with coreboot (you run ucode anyway, so there’s no harm in updating it).

    Another advantage is that you can easily use SeaBIOS with coreboot, making *BSD systems actually usable with it.

    1. 3

      Libreboot is much easier to flash, and its documentation is friendlier to non-tech savy folk.

      1. 2

        Yeah, and I guess it would be the only advantage over coreboot. Libreboot was my 1st step to starting playing with coreboot, so I guess I’m kind of grateful to Libreboot devs for making the entry easier for people.

        Still, once you get the hang of it, it’s better to just switch to coreboot.

      2. 4

        Coreboot is where most of the development happens, it’s true. But Coreboot uses a rolling release model and has a lot more knobs to adjust. I’m not really a BIOS hacker; I just want to run free firmware.

        Libreboot periodically takes snapshots of the Coreboot tree and stabilizes around it. Their changes mostly involve streamlining the build process and ensuring there are no binary blobs. Personally I found Libreboot much easier to configure and compile on my machine. The ideological guarantee is a nice bonus.

        1. 2
          1. coreboot also has releases, so it’s not rolling release (but it was).
          2. You don’t need to be a BIOS hacker (I’m not). You usually need to adjust only two knobs (vendor and model of your board).
        2. 2

          Same reason people run Trisquel GNU/linux-libre, no blobs.

          Why do people use SeaBIOS for *BSD? I guess the TianoCore payload isn’t ready, but you can use the GRUB2 payload?

          1. 1

            Same as guys before, coreboot can also have no blobs.

            You can use GRUB2, but you can’t use full disk encryption with it on *BSD systems with GRUB2.

          2. 1

            I don’t use either system, but my understanding is that Libreboot removes the binary blob components that are included with Libreboot, and that’s important to some people.

            1. 1

              Libreboot doesn’t remove anything, because coreboot doesn’t load unconditionally those blobs. You can not to run any. That way I can run blobless coreboot on my X200 or KGPE-D16 (also supported by Libreboot).

              1. 1

                coreboot doesn’t load unconditionally those blobs.

                so it does load them conditionally? it sounds like maybe coreboot is not deblobbed by default, while libreboot does not require any configuration to have it be deblobbed.

                1. 1

                  It loads blobs when you enable them in your config, if there are any to enable.

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            I like the idea of a decentralized wireless internet. Who cares what Comcast is doing with Net Neutrality when people can set up their own Last Mile Network. You still need fiber for inter-city connects, but that’s a lot cheaper than digging up all the streets in every city.

            How feasible is such a decentralized internet? Isn’t the existing internet vulnerable to malicious BGP updates? Could you charge for internet traffic running through your node(with e.g. Bitcoin), to incentivize people setting up new wireless nodes?

            In Portland, there’s an ISP using wireless radio towers. I don’t know if it’s similar to the wireless cell phone networks: https://www.stephouse.net/

            1. 5

              Ideally, I think something like a crowd funded version of project loon would be great for connectivity at scale. These could be nodes that connect mesh networks across cities and countries.

              1. 1

                Who cares what Comcast is doing with Net Neutrality when people can set up their own Last Mile Network.

                net neutrality is still important; without it ISPs could still block/throttle sites for everyone not using the decentralizes/alternative ISP. it would still limit the reach of people who refuse to pay the centralized ISPs.

                1. 3

                  net neutrality is still important; without it ISPs could still block/throttle sites for everyone not using the decentralizes/alternative ISP

                  .. Which would just hasten the adoption of the de-centralized alternatives!

                  1. 3

                    i would like to believe that, but it hasn’t happened in similar situations in the past. there was no mass exodus from gchat when they canceled XMPP support, for example. so in addition to net neutrality regulation we need regulations to enforce open standards (i.e. gchat and facebook messenger should be required to support XMPP or some other open protocol). the market hasn’t worked.

                    1. 1

                      there was no mass exodus from gchat when they canceled XMPP support, for example

                      That’s not an apples-to-apples comparison though, is it? If ISPs make life difficult enough, and decentralized alternatives exist and are viable, then people will adopt the alternatives.

                      so in addition to net neutrality regulation we need regulations to enforce open standards

                      Nope, we don’t need government coercion to fix problems caused by government coercion. The problem can’t be its own solution.

                      I’ve even seen someone say that “net neutrality” is/was a bad thing because it limits competition. I don’t know if that’s accurate in this case, but as a general rule of thumb, actual competition is always a good thing.

                      1. 4

                        That’s not an apples-to-apples comparison though, is it? If ISPs make life difficult enough, and decentralized alternatives exist and are viable, then people will adopt the alternatives.

                        ISPs can ruin the internet without making life difficult for 99% of people. They could limit/throttle access to sites in such a way that the number of people who are affected day-to-day is comparable to the number of people who were affected when gchat removed XMPP support.

                        Nope, we don’t need government coercion to fix problems caused by government coercion. The problem can’t be its own solution.

                        How is the industry’s departure from open standards caused by government coercion?

                        1. 1

                          I’d like to see stats on competition limiting. It’s true that in a healthy competitive environment, net neutrality laws would be less needed, but telecom always trends to very little competition when left alone

                          1. 1

                            telecom always trends to very little competition when left alone

                            But it’s not left alone! That’s what I’ve been repeating here.

                            Every country on earth has a state-maintained cartel of ISPs, i.e. the government prevents any real competition from bothering their buddies running the ISPs.

                            That’s why you’d need a license to even try and start an ISP, right? The license will be expensive, and if you seem like you’d actually compete on quality and price, then you just won’t get it no matter how much money you have.

                            Or if you manage to get going, and start being a nuisance by providing people with a good connection for a good price, then you’ll be shut down by the government. It doesn’t need to be like, they show up and tell you to stop competing, they can just bury you in bullshit paperwork until you quit.

                            1. 1

                              That’s why you’d need a license to even try and start an ISP, right?

                              If they started requiring licenses to run an ISP here I could see people getting very upset about that.

                  2. 1

                    You can’t run from politics. If this new network becomes a nuisance to ISPs or NSA folks, they will buy people in Congress to ban or handicap this network.

                    1. 2

                      I think piracy shows that it’s pretty hard to control technology in practice. You can pass all kinds of regulations, but you have to be able to enforce them as well for them to have teeth. When technology is cheap and ubiquitous people will use it, and there’s not much you can do about that.

                      1. 2

                        Piracy showed it was hard for entertainment industry to control what ISP’s and their users were doing when ISP’s didn’t want to spend their own time and money enforcing entertainment industry’s will. That tells you nothing about what would happen if ISP’s paying off Congress wanted something done to benefit ISP’s. The recent FCC ruling tell us they get results they want when their people are in office. So, they’d get what they wanted there, too.

                        1. 2

                          That’s why net neutrality is important in a nutshell. If the ISP can decide what’s allowed on the network, then it’s basically the end of the internet as we know it.

                  1. 2

                    I’ve had a gapps less cyanogenmod set up on myold nexus for over 1½ years (and am waiting for a stable ROM for my current device), and it’s interesting to see that people pretty much eventually end up with the same solutions. I’d just add that if you’re euthusiastic about free software, one should use IceWeasel and if one wants a good FOSS twitter/mastodon experience, I can only recommend Twidere.

                    Also, why use AnySoft if you can use the AOSP one. I’m currently struggling with the counter-intuitive nature of AnySoft, but can’t find a AOSP .apk :(

                    1. 4

                      IceWeasel? You mean the rebranded Firefox for Debian of yesteryear? It no longer exists.

                      1. 2

                        It still does on Parabola.

                        1. 2

                          @zge most likely meant IceCat - IceWeasel’s new name. IceCatMobile to be precise.

                          1. 1

                            Yeah, my bad. I always mix those two up.

                      1. [Comment removed by author]

                        1. 5

                          Device firmware is not a blob, it’s a inextricable part of the hardware that often comprises the bulk of its functionality, being required by both free/open source and proprietary drivers alike. It just so happens to no longer be located on-device, like it always has been, and must now be explicitly loaded onto it first. OpenBSD requires that all firmware included be freely redistributable and includes those full terms alongside firmware in /etc/firmware.

                          This is a good point - how many of these people can audit the fixed-function silicon? Or audit the very machine-specific DSP code that’d normally be on ROM? How many could replace the latter?

                          1. 1

                            I’m very much in favor of using audited hardware as well as software, and it’s part of the reason I’m so excited for libre Risc-V implementations. I don’t have the resources to audit everything on my own, which is why sharing audited hardware and software is so important.

                            I don’t agree that rewritable firmware is equivalent to immutable ROM-based firmware. I think it depends on the vendor and the peripheral. I’m sure many devices are benign, but I like to know.

                            I am extremely leery of anything that runs code, can be updated, and is connected to the internet.

                          2. 5

                            It’s not ignorance; it’s widely known that the BSD community has a different definition of “blob” from the GNU/Linux definition.

                            FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD all include instructions for obtaining nonfree programs in their ports system. In addition, their kernels include nonfree firmware blobs.

                            Nonfree firmware programs used with Linux, the kernel, are called “blobs”, and that’s how we use the term. In BSD parlance, the term “blob” means something else: a nonfree driver. OpenBSD and perhaps other BSD distributions (called “projects” by BSD developers) have the policy of not including those. That is the right policy, as regards drivers; but when the developers say these distributions “contain no blobs”, it causes a misunderstanding. They are not talking about firmware blobs.

                            No BSD distribution has policies against proprietary binary-only firmware that might be loaded even by free drivers.

                            From https://www.gnu.org/distros/common-distros.en.html

                            1. 3

                              OpenBSD requires that all firmware included be freely redistributable

                              OpenBSD requires that device firmware is gratis, but doesn’t require it to be libre. Granted, that’s a sane choice and I don’t think OpenBSD should change. It’s just not idealistic enough for some people.

                              I’ll take the contrarian stance and say that LibertyBSD is a worthwhile project. Just as I think Libreboot and Trisquel are worthwhile projects. Yes, they are all derivative forks leveraging the technical achievements of others. And yet, it’s nice to use a distro with ideological gatekeepers. There’s a strong assurance against accidentally running non-free software, if that’s the sort of thing that’s important to you.

                            1. 0

                              Great article, never thought of it this way before but it makes perfect sense.

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                                I don’t think Taler is meant to replace Bitcoin (anonymous, speculation-valued, chiefly illegal purposes and speculators). I think it’s gunning for the Paypal and the godawful credit card payment infrastructure (account-based, asset-backed, chiefly for payments).

                                (I haven’t been able to watch the videos yet. Will someone please correct me if I am incorrect?)

                                1. 1

                                  Yes, it pretty clearly bills itself as a taxable, privacy-conscious payment method, not a cryptocurrency.

                                1. 3

                                  can’t wait for all that cryptographically signed malware

                                  1. 2

                                    You don’t need to wait, there is a high chance you already have it :)

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                                      Bruce’s piece must’ve eaten into their profits. Good!

                                      1. 3

                                        I miss the days when a web page was just a web page, not a full-blown program you have no control over.

                                        1. 5

                                          We still have those, as well as so many things we never had before. webassembaly is what we have always had with downloadable binaries but now you don’t have to let them have access to your full system.

                                          1. 4

                                            I miss the days when computers were just a bundle of circuitry, not a full-blown instruction evaluator you have no control over.

                                            1. 2

                                              I believe circuits already are an error, they are not easy to fix with a saw.

                                              1. 1

                                                Clearly, if you disapprove of JavaScript on the web you can only be a Luddite, right?

                                                1. 2

                                                  Not necessarily. But “luddite” comes with it the benefit of time passing and technology advancing. If you were against automatic instruction evaluators in the late 1940s, would you be a luddite or just a reasonable person that disagreed with a particular engineering trade off? (I intend that to be a rhetorical question.)

                                              2. 2

                                                That ship has sunk with Java, ActiveX and Flash. I think it’s really exciting that we get a platform that is neither closed source, nor proprietary or owned by a company and their financial interests.

                                                That being said, WebAssembly is not the greatest name. Lots of people think it comes with scary low-level APIs, when it is in fact just a different way to encode JS into bytecode in a form that is just more handy in terms of encoding/decoding and compilation.

                                                1. 3

                                                  when it is in fact just a different way to encode JS into bytecode in a form that is just more handy in terms of encoding/decoding and compilation.

                                                  That’s not strictly true. Not until WebAssembly has GC memory and direct access to DOM.

                                                  I actually like the name, for a while I thought JavaScript is becoming the assembly of the web with asm.js. WebAssembly spared JS that fate.

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                                                It’s interesting to ponder why Google would invite someone with a completely opposite worldview. Not just different, but a perspective that openly calls for the end of all the Googles out there. I have to watch it.

                                                Edit: Gold nugget in the last final seconds:

                                                Interviewer: Do you have anything you’d like to ask us [Googlers, marketers, software engineers]?

                                                Chomsky: Why not do some of the serious things?

                                                1. 7

                                                  Remember that Google might not equal the Googler or team of them that invited this person. This is a huge company with a lot of different kinds of people. I imagine they bring in many different kinds of people to suite different tastes. It’s also not going to be threatened by someone disagreeing with it given the audience can just shout the person out the door and not invite them again. One or more inviting him probably liked some stuff he said in a movie or presentation. Then, they thought some people might enjoy hearing him speak. The end.

                                                  That’s my default assumption anyway.

                                                  1. 3

                                                    I agree. In fact it would’ve been more notorious not accepting the proposal of his talk.

                                                    1. 2

                                                      Working at Google (but having no idea of the background of this talk) I would very much expect it to have happened like that.

                                                    2. 7

                                                      It’s interesting to ponder why Google would invite someone with a completely opposite worldview. Not just different, but a perspective that openly calls for the end of all the Googles out there. I have to watch it.

                                                      That’s a good way to signal you’re secure in your worldview: freely invite people to challenge it.

                                                      1. 13

                                                        While I agree with you in the general case, I think Google is doing this to placate it’s employees. What better way to dispel animosity than to accept the other side as one of your own?

                                                        1. 9

                                                          (kind of tangential, but…) I’ve always found it fascinating how social movements often collapse when legitimized.

                                                          It’s like when a manager gives lip service to the concerns of an unhappy employee, making them feel like it’s all going to be better soon, but effort is not spent to actually change a situation.

                                                          When you walk around Google campuses, there is often material on the walls in common areas that talks about various social causes that Google is working to improve. It feels great to think that your organization is part of the solution.

                                                          The gap between superficial and structural control structures is interesting to pay attention to when seeking changes to a system. You can really dispel the risk of an insurrection by letting a Black Panther get elected, bringing in an external investigator to fix your sexual harassment problems, hosting a Noam Chomsky talk, etc… without risking any structural change.

                                                        2. 2

                                                          I think know what you’re trying to say, but if your opinion is “Google should stop existing” and then Google invites you to give a talk, what’s the point here? They’re not going to be persuaded into oblivion, so… why? As a pretense of open-mindedness? Or maybe it wants to be associated with the intellectual prestige of Chomsky? What’s the real reason, I wonder.

                                                          1. 3

                                                            An institution like Google might not even consider it to be at odds with a progressive, anti-capitalist view like Chomsky’s - it’s a different sphere with a different perception of reality. “Don’t be evil” is not just a empty phrase, these people really believe it. Moreover, the questions given by the interviewer where purely instrumentalist in nature: science is a tool for them, a means to an end. It’s an attempt to learn from an famous scientist, without considering the moral issues which are much more important to someone like Chomsky.

                                                            1. 1

                                                              “Don’t be evil” is not just a empty phrase

                                                              They dropped that a while back if you’re talking Google. The company has been practicing plenty of evil in surveillance sense, too. Hell, just the revenues versus spending on quick, security patches for Android by itself shows how evil they’ll be to their users to squeeze extra profit out. ;)

                                                              1. 1

                                                                I totally agree. What I meant was that the people behind the institution called Google most certainly have a different perception of evil.

                                                        3. 7

                                                          A friend’s workplace had protestors picket outside its door. The boss brought out coffee and donuts, warmly thanked them all for coming, and went back in. Within a half-hour, fed on the company’s dime and with no target for anger, they wandered off.

                                                          The Google employees watched a rousing argument from a famous voice. Really what they watched is their employer act totally unworried while a thousand other employees sat still. Next comes lunch or that mid-afternoon status meeting with the team in Australia. There’s no social movement started here. If Chomsky is lucky he planted a seed, but it’s pretty easy to forget someone ineffective telling you that you’re wasting your life and should do something uncomfortable.

                                                        1. 2

                                                          Kinda surprised they even used gcc in the first place, given their allergy to copyleft.

                                                          1. 35

                                                            Simple:

                                                            OpenBsd: Initial release October 1st, 1996

                                                            Clang: Initial release September 26, 2007

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                                                              1. 4

                                                                There are some other compilers that are fun to hack on or play with, but none were ever ready to replace the system compiler in OpenBSD (or most other systems). Off the top my head, there is CompCert-C, TenDRA, Open Watcom V2, pcc, lcc, Open64, OpenUH, abc, vbcc, 8cc, sdcc, kencc, DRI/Alcyon C, OrangeC, SmallerC, tcc, deSmet C, and the various ack forks such as aack, nack, dack, etc. It seems that gcc is going to be around a lot longer since the BSD systems support architectures that do not have any support at all in clang.

                                                                Edit: A quick web search and wiki review pointed me to nwcc, neatcc, LuxCC, scc, oucc, ucc, and cparser as well - good to see compiler hacking is alive and well.

                                                                1. 3

                                                                  Ken’s compiler URL is wrong, this is the canonical version: https://bitbucket.org/plan9-from-bell-labs/9-cc

                                                                  1. 3

                                                                    We have a collection of those and maybe others on the link below. You probably covered the others with your very, comprehensive comment and pile of links. Compact enough to put my reference posts to shame haha.

                                                                    https://bootstrapping.miraheze.org/wiki/Main_Page

                                                                  2. 2

                                                                    Apple gave up being gcc compiler maintainers as well - but their efforts are preserved at https://opensource.apple.com/tarballs/gcc/ all of which are based on a commit shortly after GCC 4.2.1 where the license changed. Seems others had made various attempts to continue that (see gcc* patches) but have since ceased work.

                                                                  3. 9

                                                                    My guess is gcc was already there and switching requires some planning and effort. There is a small crowd of people getting sick of gcc/clang who want a new C compiler that isn’t slow as hell or written in C++ like gcc and clang.

                                                                    1. 8

                                                                      Count me in with that crowd. I try to use TCC when I can get away with it. The generated code is “slow” by C standards, but the simplicity more than makes up for that.

                                                                    2. 1

                                                                      Isn’t Theo an emacs user?

                                                                      Note that OpenBSD is still using older versions of GCC, because the newer ones don’t necessarily support all the older archs that OpenBSD runs on.

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                                                                        1. 3

                                                                          Emacs was a prominently GNU project, and recent versions are GPLv3-licensed.

                                                                      1. 2

                                                                        In German speaking regions the application is called Firefox Klar. It’s complicated and silly. Exactly the same app though.

                                                                        1. 1

                                                                          on iOS? If it’s on Android, you can get from F-Droid https://f-droid.org/packages/org.mozilla.klar/

                                                                        1. 2

                                                                          Reminds me of this post about demystifying device charge times. It turns out its okay to overcharge your mobile devices and in fact it may be even better for your battery life to overcharge it some.

                                                                          1. 4

                                                                            Sometimes battery charging feels like nutrition science: every week an expert tells you a bit of (seemingly) contradicting information.

                                                                            1. 2

                                                                              The problem there is feedback: my nutrition advisor said “try out a couple of things, you’ll notice changes within a few days “ (and gave me a couple of things to try), my battery longevity has a very different and more costly feedback loop.

                                                                          1. 10

                                                                            Here’s something note cited in the article that I think is an important point - it’s also a self fulfilling prophecy - I’m seeing more and more sites start to work poorly on Firefox, because there’s an unspoken “Yeah but all the cool kids use Chrome” thing happening among web developers.

                                                                            Kind of a shame, I use Firefox because I think having an open source web browser is super important so the web ecosystem doesn’t become a monoculture - but it’s getting harder all the time.

                                                                            1. 6

                                                                              Especially google services get worse and worse: No more hangout calls, youtube is sometimes weird, google drive takes forever to load etc. It is a damn shame. I want to stay on firefox, but my frustration is rising…

                                                                              1. 8

                                                                                The interesting (and sad) thing to note is that your frustration with Firefox is rising. In a just world, your frustration with the apps that work poorly in Firefox would be rising.

                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                  True, but I cannot move away from gmail/hangouts and google drive since we use it at work. For my private life I can switch to/already use alternatives, but not for work. So that leaves me no choice really and move to chrome in the end :-(

                                                                                  1. 4

                                                                                    I have chrome installed for those rare cases, but use firefox mainly. Mostly, because I like it :).

                                                                                    1. 3

                                                                                      I like to keep my work stuff isolated from regular browsing anyway, so for me this works out well with two browsers.

                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                        I do the same but with Firefox and Firefox Developer Edition. Works great.

                                                                                  2. 3

                                                                                    Yeah, I recently switched to Firefox from Chrome & the only things that haven’t worked for me are some of Google’s apps.

                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                      Out of curiosity, what made you switch?

                                                                                      1. 4

                                                                                        Chrome is notoriously bad at memory consumption on Mac OS X and Firefox was recently rearchitected to isolate tabs better so I thought I’d give it a shot again and stuck with it.

                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                          Just thought I’d take a moment to add that while Chrome’s js dev tools are a little ahead of Firefox’s, Firefox CSS dev tools absolutely take the cake. It’s why I probably won’t move away from Firefox for a long time.

                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                            I do do much web frontend dev so neither of those is a factor for me. I just want to read stuff online without needing more than 4 GB of RAM.

                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                              Is this still the case? I’m not doubting you - #notawebdev - but FF has put a LOT of energy into improving its devtools lately.

                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                    Is the site offline? I get an error, even when switching networks and browsers: “This page isn’t working - voice.mozilla.org is currently unable to handle this request.”

                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                      Works for me

                                                                                    1. 4

                                                                                      protects its users freedoms

                                                                                      No, it really doesn’t. Where’s the source code? https://github.com/qwant

                                                                                      1. 8

                                                                                        On a logistical note.

                                                                                        Say the source code is available, how do you confirm the service you are interacting with is running that codebase?

                                                                                        ‘Freedom’ as a search engine, not everyone has the pocket change to do this.

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                                                                                        1. 4

                                                                                          May be related to their decentralization initiative.

                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                            Is Mozilla considering doing yet another thing that pretty much nobody wants at all

                                                                                            If they did, why bother with a survey?

                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                            It’s worth pointing out that these days laforge is working on free software for cell network base stations rather than phones: https://osmocom.org/

                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                              Is that still going? I was under the impression the project was dead (I hope not!)

                                                                                            1. 4

                                                                                              Good luck, OP. Talking about women in tech in male-dominated tech circles is a hellish experience, but kudos for bringing up an important subject.