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Purism's Librem 5 Making Progress In GTK4 Toolkit Usage, Kernel Upbringing

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  • #11
    Originally posted by cybertraveler View Post
    From the article:
    It's nice but as Almindor pointed out, the main hardware where most of the kernel adaptions are going to be needed doesn't even exist yet.
    They can only do small side projects hardware-wise for now (the cited power chip support)

    Originally posted by lucasbekker View Post
    The groundwork they lay could really have nice results in the future, perhaps the second or third model they produce will be an actual competitor to android phones!
    I'm looking this from a very bleak perspective :

    the current trend in smartphones is to make as much thing integrated as possible on the same SoC. Thus the modem core being in the same SoC, often with extended privileges, basically working as a north bridge (mostly for power-saving issues).

    Which means that by volumes, most of the low-energy chips suitable for a smartphone are going to be the all-integrated kind. (That's one of the reason why they are stuck with a Freescale iMX8 SoC)

    This means it's going to get harder over time for them to find newer platforms where they can pull their current "modem is a separate chip on a standard bus" type of privacy-conscious feature.

    Without this feature, they'll be losing a big part of the interest they are generating, and simply become an "also possible alternative OS" in the same vein as UBTouch.
    (At least in this game Jolla's Sailfish managed to attract more end-user attraction by breaking the "user community catch-22" by supporting some android apps).

    *IF* they can generate enough interest to reach a wide audience, they might pull it, but I doubt.

    For the rest, except a slick interface they aren't bringing much to the table that wasn't attempted before by countless other projects (OpenMoko, Firefox OS/Boot-to-Gecko {though KaiOS seem to be surviving}, UBTouch, Sailfish {miraculously not dead yet}, etc.)


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    • #12
      Originally posted by DrYak View Post

      This means it's going to get harder over time for them to find newer platforms where they can pull their current "modem is a separate chip on a standard bus" type of privacy-conscious feature.
      Worst case scenario, they can just use an integrated chip with a modem but not use that modem. They'll still be a communication bus that they can use to connect that integrated chip to some other chip which contains the modem they actually use.

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      • #13
        Originally posted by cybertraveler View Post
        Worst case scenario, they can just use an integrated chip with a modem but not use that modem.
        But :
        • You'll still have a modem on your SoC
        • That modem will still be in charge of crucial things like bringing up the whole hardware (act as a northbridge
        • That modem will still run a giant opaque blob
        • For licensing reasons, there's no way legal way to obtain its source or open-source it.


        In theory, they could collaborate with a SoC maker to make together a firmware that basically disables the modem (pulling an "IntelME"-like stuff).
        And maybe such a limited/low-risk firmware could even interest blob-free Androids like Replicant, and thus attract a little bit more attention (and workforce).
        And maybe even if this restricted blob isn't open-sourced, but is provably restricted to only bring hardware up and then shut up (see "IntelME") it can still interest the current Purism userbase, despite not being 100% opensource any more.

        But I'm not hold my hopes high.



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        • #14
          Originally posted by DrYak View Post

          But :
          • You'll still have a modem on your SoC
          • That modem will still be in charge of crucial things like bringing up the whole hardware (act as a northbridge
          • That modem will still run a giant opaque blob
          • For licensing reasons, there's no way legal way to obtain its source or open-source it.


          In theory, they could collaborate with a SoC maker to make together a firmware that basically disables the modem (pulling an "IntelME"-like stuff).
          And maybe such a limited/low-risk firmware could even interest blob-free Androids like Replicant, and thus attract a little bit more attention (and workforce).
          And maybe even if this restricted blob isn't open-sourced, but is provably restricted to only bring hardware up and then shut up (see "IntelME") it can still interest the current Purism userbase, despite not being 100% opensource any more.

          But I'm not hold my hopes high.

          I agree with your entire post, but the issue you originally raised was: "'modem is a separate chip on a standard bus' type of privacy-conscious feature." This is a big problem because these embedded modems can read and write to main system memory without interception by the operating system. If the embedded modem is not connected to any antenna, then that risk of a remote attacker secretly accessing your data or controlling your phone is mitigated. Details here: https://www.replicant.us/freedom-pri...ity-issues.php

          The issue you are now mentioning of opaque firmware/microcode blobs is another issue. I'm personally far more concerned above the issue above than the opaque blob issue. I'd like to see both fixed (and other issues too), but the modem isolation is the most important one to resolve.

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          • #15
            Originally posted by cybertraveler View Post
            I agree with your entire post, but the issue you originally raised was: "'modem is a separate chip on a standard bus' type of privacy-conscious feature."
            The thing is, even if the one modem that is connected to the 3G/4G antenna and SIM-card isn't the one with the over-reaching access,
            there's still another one *with over-reaching access*, that has access to pretty much anything and is connected to everything in the phone except the 3G/4G antenna and SIM-card.

            The only thing that you could be protected against is from the northbridge-modem going rogue following a direct interaction with a cell tower (either the cell tower sending a malicious OTA update, or simply sending a command to an already malicious modem), because it's the USB-modem that is in contact with cell tower, and it only contacts the CPU over a serial (for AT commands) and network (4G modem use that for data) interface.

            The northbridge-modem could go rogue following any other thing (either as an exploit, or an already malicious modem listening for a trigger command on anything it has access to - including network connections).

            Again, see IntelME for realworld exemple of buggy blobs running on the northbridge being remotely exploitable.



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            • #16
              Originally posted by DrYak View Post
              I'm looking this from a very bleak perspective :

              the current trend in smartphones is to make as much thing integrated as possible on the same SoC. Thus the modem core being in the same SoC, often with extended privileges, basically working as a north bridge (mostly for power-saving issues).

              Which means that by volumes, most of the low-energy chips suitable for a smartphone are going to be the all-integrated kind. (That's one of the reason why they are stuck with a Freescale iMX8 SoC)

              This means it's going to get harder over time for them to find newer platforms where they can pull their current "modem is a separate chip on a standard bus" type of privacy-conscious feature.
              Chips for TV, tablet and other things will still be a thing, first because it's less complicated and expensive to omit a modem you don't need. Expensive IP and a more "mixed signals" kind of chip although I have no real idea how expensive and labor intensive it is.
              But also there should be other people interested in a more properly robust solution.
              There's a story about how you can send AT commands to an absurd amount of phones via USB and pwn them. Though maybe this isn't actually related to the modem. Well maybe this will be good to wipe locked phones.

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              • #17
                Originally posted by grok View Post
                Chips for TV, tablet and other things will still be a thing,
                Yup, Smart TV's chip are probably going to still be available without cell modems for quite some time (unlike smartphone, tablet or smartwatches).

                BUT, they are also probably not going to be geared for the same kind of power consumption neither.



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