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EOMA68-A20 Crowd-funded Laptop and Micro-Desktop


i've been working on a strategy to make it possible for people to have
more control over the hardware that they own, and for it to cost less
money for them to do so, long-term.  i've had to become an open
hardware developer in order to do that.

i believed for a long long time that leaving hardware design to the
mass-volume manufacturers would result in us having affordable
hardware that we could own.  they would make stuff; we could port
OSes to it, everybody wins.  starting in 2003 and working for almost
2 years continuously on reverse-engineering i got a bit of a rude but
early wake-up call where i learned just how naive that expectation
really is [1].  example: it took over THREE YEARS for cr2 to
reverse-engineer the drivers for the HTC Universal clamshell 3G

for everyone else, that message came through loud and clear with
mjg59's android tablet GPL violations list - which he stopped maintaining
because it was pointless to continue [2][3].  it was a bit of a slap in
the face - a wake-up call which not only debian but every other ARM
free software distribution is painfully reminded of on a regular basis
when someone new contacts them and asks:

  "I have hardware {X} bought off of Amazon / Aliexpress, can i run
   Linux on it"

and pretty much every time someone has to spend their time patiently
explaining that no, it's not possible, due to the extraordinary
amount of reverse-engineering that's required due to rampant and:
endemic GPL violations, and even if they could, it's *already too late*
due to "Single-Board Computer Supernova Lifecycle" syndrome.

shockingly even intel do not really "Get It".  not only do they have
the arbitrary remote code execution backdoor co-processor [4]
in every x86_64 processor since 2009, but in speaking to a member
of the intel open source education team at fosdem2016 i learned that
intel considers something as trivial as DDR3 RAM initialisation
sequences to be "commercial advantage" and this they use as
justification for not releasing the 200 lines of code needed... not
that it would help very much because of the RSA secret key needed
to sign early boot code.

we also have the issue of proliferation of linux kernel device drivers:
put simply if there are M processors and N "types of products",
we can reasonably and rationally expect the number of submissions
of device drivers and device tree files for upstream inclusion to be of the
order of "M *TIMES* N".  with "M" just in the ARM world alone being
enormous (over 650 licensees as of 10 years ago) and "N" likewise
being huge, this places a huge burden on the linux kernel developers,
and an additional burden downstream on you, the OS maintainers, as

... would it not be better to have hardware that was designed around
"M plus N"?  this would stop the endemic proliferation of device drivers,
would it not?

so this is the primary driving factor behind EOMA68 - to reduce the
burden of work required to be carried out by software libre developers,
as well as reduce the long-term cost of ownership of hardware for

so after five years i can finally say that the EOMA68 standard is
ready, and with the last (and final) revision adding in USB 3.1 it
can be declared to have at least a decade of useful life ahead of
it.  there are NO "options".  there will be NO further changes made
(which would result in chaos). a modern Computer Card bought
10 years from now will still work with a Housing that's bought today,
and vice-versa.

if this approach is something that you feel is worthwhile supporting,
the crowd funding campaign runs for another 40 days.  crowd funding
campaigns are about supporting "ideas" and being rewarded with
a gift for doing so.  they're not about "buying a boxed product under
contract of sale".

with your support it will be possible to bring other designs and other
processors to you later.  picking a processor has its own interesting
challenges [5] if you have ethical business considerations to take
into account, such as "don't use anything that's GPL violating or
otherwise illegal". [why *is* it that people think it's okay to sell GPL
violating products, even amongst the open hardware community?
ethical ends can never be justified by unethical means].

lastly, i'm... reluctant to bring this up, but i have to.  *deep breath*.
i'm aware that a lot of people in the debian world don't like me. many
of you *genuinely* believe that i am out to control you, to tell you
what to do, to "order you about".  which is nonsense, but, more
importantly, rationally-speaking, completely impossible given the
nature of free software.  we can therefore conclude, rationally, that
the conclusion reached by many of you [that i am "ordering you
about"] simply cannot be true.

after thinking about this for a long, long time, my feeling is that this
startlingly and completely overwhelmingly WRONG impression
stems from my reverse-engineering background, which, when
*accidentally* applied to software libre as a way to predict future
outcomes of decisions made across the board by many of you,
working individually and tirelessly (and in most cases unpaid),
can draw conclusions about possible train-wrecks that are
extremely likely to be just around the corner.

i can only apologise for having this ability, whilst at the same time
not really being fully cognizant of this until very recently, *and* also
not really having the communication skills to be effective in getting
things across. or being able to work out when it's best to keep quiet
and let you work it out for yourselves.  it wasn't really until i
encountered *two* other well-known software-libre reverse engineers
that are having enormous difficulties in their respective communities
that i made the connection:

    reverse-engineers *reverse-engineer the future*
    with better-than-average accuracy.  that's what
    they do: they beat entropy.

so whilst you may not like me, i have a proven track record of staying
ahead of the curve and of sticking to ethical principles.  i'll do you a
deal: you work on the software, i'll bring you the hardware.  we'll
respect each other's expertise and chosen paths, and take
direct responsibility - together - for serving others in an ethical


[1] http://hands.com/~lkcl/linux.phones.html
[2] http://www.codon.org.uk/~mjg59/android_tablets/
[3] http://mjg59.livejournal.com/132339.html
[4] https://hardware.slashdot.org/story/16/06/15/1835227/intel-x86s-hide-another-cpu-that-can-take-over-your-machine----you-cant-audit-it?sdsrc=rel
[5] https://www.crowdsupply.com/eoma68/micro-desktop/updates/picking-a-processor

crowd-funded eco-conscious hardware: https://www.crowdsupply.com/eoma68

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