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[Freedombox-discuss] don't write code - user-friendly configuration

On Sun, Sep 5, 2010 at 23:59, Matthew Johnson <mjj29 at debian.org> wrote:
> One of the things I feel quite strongly about is that this device should be a
> turnkey, off the shelf device.

I'm interested in having a turnkey, off the shelf "freedom box" too.

I don't think we're likely to have the privilege of just targeting a
single bit of hardware though -- more likely we'll end up doing the
usual Debian/free software thing of working on just about anything
people can think of.

Rather than try to fight that, maybe we can move the "configuration"
step earlier, so instead of getting a box and some Debian media and
telling the two how to cooperate, you get a box, go to the Debian
website and tell it what you've got, and then you get given exactly
what you need (eg a firmware image and any necessary instructions).
For devices/resellers that support Debian directly, this could be done
at the factory/retailer.

At which point you're up to:

> ?- The user buys the box and plugs it in. It does discovery to work out whether
> ?there's another FB on the network, whether there's an existing router, etc.

> ?- The user then, for example, browses to a well know name that it's set itself
> ?up as in your local DNS or if it's also your ADSL router, any website and it
> ?transparently redirects you.

Having (a) DHCP+a captive portal if there's not currently a DHCP
server on the network, or (b) an automatic dyndns-style registration
using its serial number (sn3141592.freebox.org) if it's on the
internet, or (c) a special program that uses a custom UDP protocol to
find the freedom box on the local network would probably work. Relying
on an existing DHCP server to have an updateable DNS server locally
seems a lot to ask.

Using the serial number to register on a distributed hash might work too.

(The benefit of the serial number is that (hopefully) the software can
work it out without asking the user any questions, and the user can
work it out by just looking at the label on the thingy they bought.
The benefit of captive portals is it just works.)

> ?- The website reached asks you some simple questions like:

Wouldn't it be better if it just "worked" straight away? Your toaster
doesn't ask you how you like your toast -- you plug it in, put the
toast in, press the button, and then fiddle later if it ended up

Plug it in, and voila you have a working freedom box. You pick the
"Freedom-12345" wlan that's suddenly appeared, and you get a page that
lets you create a new email address, or host a website, or a blog, or
a microblog, or a photo/music/movie album, or aggregate stuff from
your friends, or admin the freedom box, or you can tell the captive
portal to bugger off and just let you access the internet properly.


Anthony Towns <aj at erisian.com.au>

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