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Purism Eyeing The i.MX8M For The Librem 5 Smartphone, Issues First Status Update

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  • #21
    Originally posted by GI_Jack View Post
    What I want:
    comes stock with TWRP and Linaege OS, and a native, everything working fork.
    That won't be made by Purism.
    Part of their whole point is to have a full GNU/Linux stack.
    (Though they might support andbox by the time the device ships).

    On the other hand, as the device is supposed to be full open-source and supported by stock vanilla linux,
    and all the weird parts (3G/4G modem, GPS, etc.) only being isolated in separate chips only talking over standard protocols (serial, network), it should be almost trivial for anyone in the LineageOS community to port it to the Librem5.


    All the rest you're hoping fore (no DMA access granted to the modem, free drivers everywhere, etc.) is exactly what they aim for, and why they stay with i.MX8 SoCs instead of the latest shiny from Qualcomm.

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    • #22
      I have the expectation that the hardware on this phone will be "good enough".
      It's their first phone and they have a lot of requirements to be able to be as libre as they can, give them a break.

      The reason why I backed this project is because I want to see a open source mobile operating system which you can actually contribute to.
      The fact that it will run upstream code will also mean that it could technically be supported forever in comparison to android phones which get updates in just 1-2 years which is simply horrible. Hell, even the nexus phones which are supposed to have good software support only get 3 years support!

      If this succeeds and is still available in 3 years, this is our best bet on "real" convergence.
      Personally I'd still like to have my desktop for performance, but to dock it into a laptop with just battery+screen+keyboard+trackpad would be really neat.
      Everything could probably even be sent through a USB-C port with thunderbolt/usb3.1.

      I wouldn't mind a RISC-V variant of the Librem 5 in the future either
      johanb
      Senior Member
      Last edited by johanb; 17 January 2018, 08:00 AM.

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      • #23
        Originally posted by DrYak View Post


        Hence the whole point of not using a chipset (e.g.: most from Qualcomm) where the modem is the north bridge of the SoC, but using a relatively clean Soc where everything is supported by opensource software, and isolate the modem as a separate chips that only communicates over standard protocols (for 4G, that's usually a combo of serial port and USB-networking).
        The LTE firmware would be a perfect place to snoop on all traffic that is sent over the internet -. It doesn't really matter if the modem is inside the SOC or outside. Why do you think NSA wants to have a backdoor on Cisco routers ?

        From a security perspective the open source GPU brings nothing to the table. Yes, it may be able to run Wayland. But most of Linux desktop technology that has been developed on powerful Intel CPU just doesn't work well on ARM. I have several ARM SBC's and Linux desktop sucks on all of them -.

        By the way Sailfish is a closed source software that pretends to be open source.

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        • #24
          Originally posted by Vasant1234 View Post
          The I.MX8 is a quad core Cortex A53 which is pretty much an entry level phone right now. In 2019 it will be comparable to a $150/- Android phone with very limited software.
          And for those open-source advocates, the LTE modem runs closed source firmware and I believe the video decoder (VPU) is closed firmware. Some one needs to better define what a true open source device is.
          Well shit. in 2018, every phone on the market is completely overpowered for what it does. This phone won't be directly comparable to any phone on the market. They might have more powerful specs, on paper, but they still won't be able to do what this thing does. First, it will be unlocked, so it root is guaranteed. Two, you'll be able to put whatever OS you want on it. In all likeliness, my cries for an ASOP fork will be not heard, so you'll essentially wind up with a pocket laptop, and not a phone. Since its not running GAPPS, it will be entirely incompatible with android apps, and iphone apps, so no direct comparison in performance will be meanigful. It will likely come stock with a debian derivative OS, or meego, running GNU directly. Also helping if its running debian, and glibc, is that its not running everything on a jvm

          That said, the Linux nerd/hacker crowd has entirely different ideas of what they want to do with a phone than the mainstream, so trying to compare hardware specs will not really be possible. It will likely be able to do a lot of things that normal cell phones don't do.

          There is a very real, but very niche demand for this. It will have a lot of utility value that is not reflected in raw processing power. Mostly of use to hackers, sysadmins, engineers, tinkerers, and the like. If the sensors are accurate enough, it might be of use to scientists as well. But generally the technical crowd that will use it to do technical things.

          It will be more comparable to the Nokia N900. If I have extra spending money, I might buy one as a pocket size tablet/console as GNU support instead of hacking to run TWRP, ASOP based custom rom and termux/debian installer would be worth the price of admission.
          GI_Jack
          Senior Member
          Last edited by GI_Jack; 17 January 2018, 05:11 PM.

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          • #25
            Originally posted by Vasant1234 View Post

            The LTE firmware would be a perfect place to snoop on all traffic that is sent over the internet -. It doesn't really matter if the modem is inside the SOC or outside. Why do you think NSA wants to have a backdoor on Cisco routers ?
            Oh it does. Snooping doesn't do much good if its all encrypted. It also doesn't do much good if you use WiFi or you are simply storing data, not posting it. If the chipset has DMA access, or on north/south bridge, it can override the OS, and whatever OS and/or application countermeasures you might have. For anything, not just data. It could also not respect settings, turn on wireless devices turned off in software, invisible to the OS.

            It makes a huuuge difference. If this is isolated, lets say on a USB bus, then no, the chip can only snoop on what comes in or is sent out. Most of that today is encrypted.(thank you https-everywhere), and its not hard to encrypt sensitive data.

            As for the feds.

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            • #26
              Originally posted by Vasant1234 View Post
              And for those open-source advocates, the LTE modem runs closed source firmware and I believe the video decoder (VPU) is closed firmware. Some one needs to better define what a true open source device is.
              firmware is hardware's implementation detail. open source device does not need open firmware. open hardware device does need open firmware

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              • #27
                Originally posted by johanb View Post

                If this succeeds and is still available in 3 years, this is our best bet on "real" convergence.
                Personally I'd still like to have my desktop for performance, but to dock it into a laptop with just battery+screen+keyboard+trackpad would be really neat.
                Everything could probably even be sent through a USB-C port with thunderbolt/usb3.1.

                I wouldn't mind a RISC-V variant of the Librem 5 in the future either
                Thunderbolt is likely too power hungry for a phone, and expensive, and wants much PCIe, and doesn't want HDMI, and...

                On the other hand sending HDMI on some pins of the USB-C, USB on other pins, both at the same time, this should work!
                Your target hardware has to support it, "HDMI alternate mode" ; if not, e.g. a monitor is too "dumb" then I suppose you would need some sort of break out box. Some or most existing USB displays will also only use USB and not HDMI.

                I don't know with certainty if you get limited to USB2 when using HDMI. If so that's a decent worst case.

                Just to clear up things if you mix up "thunderbolt" with the other, more affordable video + data options.
                grok
                Senior Member
                Last edited by grok; 17 January 2018, 10:21 PM.

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                • #28
                  Originally posted by pal666 View Post
                  firmware is hardware's implementation detail. open source device does not need open firmware. open hardware device does need open firmware
                  We do have to be careful else Intel ME is just "firmware" and hardware details.
                  I do like the explanation that an LTE modem can only connect to a network you have no control over anyway. We would need open firmware and software to run on the cell tower, fully auditable. A way is to wait for a spectrum auction ; buy an LTE license for about 5 billions euros or dollars, hire a large team of lawyers and staff. I forgot about buying and installing an open source LTE tower.

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                  • #29
                    Originally posted by pal666 View Post
                    firmware is hardware's implementation detail. open source device does not need open firmware. open hardware device does need open firmware
                    Now we're arguing over minor details, but I think we should get open firmware on our phones. But since nobody is offering it and Mozilla and Canonical couldn't make it happen with their open source phone operating systems and ten times the Purism budget, there's no way in hell Purism will be able to manage it.

                    The important thing is that Purism didn't lie about the situation. Buyers know what they're getting, and what they're not getting. Our best hope is that projects like this get popular enough that open firmware does become available for useful mobile devices. It's not likely, but there's nothing better on the horizon.

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                    • #30
                      Originally posted by DrYak View Post
                      Their primary target is people who want to be fully in control on everything that goes inside their phone (so a full GPL GNU/Linux stack).
                      you can't control everything when all your hardware is closed
                      Originally posted by DrYak View Post
                      So maybe some functions will be missing
                      like youtube?

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