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[Freedombox-discuss] 'No sysadmin' is the key to Freedom Box

2011/3/4 Bjarni R?nar Einarsson <bre at pagekite.net>

> On Fri, Mar 4, 2011 at 8:52 PM, Matt Willsher <matt at monki.org.uk> wrote:
>> On 4 March 2011 20:09, Tracy Reed <treed at ultraviolet.org> wrote:
>>> On Fri, Mar 04, 2011 at 10:53:13AM -0800, Tony Godshall spake thusly:
>>> > both the above have a remote sysadmin.
>>> >
>>> > named Apple and Google.
>>> Only in the same sense that my Linux box has a remote sysadmin named
>>> CentOS or
>>> RedHat. Apple/Google never directly ssh into your phone. Although since
>>> you are
>>> running their code they can do whatever they want just like RedHat can
>>> theoretically do whatever they want with my servers.
>> RedHat has no remote kill switch for your apps. Apple does for iOS,
>>  Google does for Android.
> At least in the Android case, replacing the Google firmware with something
> that lacks this backdoor is not terribly hard. Now, I'm not saying we should
> advocate everyone reflash their phones - but the devices themselves are
> quite capable and are being mass produced already. As such, they are a very
> interesting development platform.

My experience with other firmware is that they are unstable and buggy. Even
the vendor firmware's aren't great.

> Cutting a deal with one of the manufacturers would be within the realm of
> possibility for an organization like the FreedomBox foundation.
> A better argument against using phones as a basis for FreedomBox
> development is simply cost. Those big fancy touch screens are not cheap and
> for a server device that is probably wasted money (unless it doubles as a
> clock or picture frame or something). But prototyping on a phone and
> assuming that when mass produced the screen and battery will be replaced
> with a wall socket and charging circuit could be a completely sane strategy
> for this project.

Does debian squeeze even install on this hardware? That is the basis of what
we're doing here. We're not building on Android, or even using Android.

The argument against phones as development platform for a server is that
they are not servers. They are designed to be phones, have all sorts of
functionality we don't need or in some cases  want (GPS in a server? No

Why would we even want to prototype on a device that costs $$$$ when more
appropriate devices are available for $$?

I'm not saying it *should* be, but I really think you are being overly
> negative here. And if we end up with something that *can* run on refurbished
> mobiles (cracked screens are a common failure mode), taking advantage of
> built-in bluetooth and 3G and wifi, then that's not a bad thing, now is it?

No, I'm being practical. Sure, phones are getting powerful, but they are
just not there yet. Maybe in a year or two people will be wandering around
with their main computing unit in their pocket and will dock it at home in
their laptop profile device. Maybe it'd be able to do some serving. But it's
nothing like a server. That future is significantly further off because, as
the original mail on this thread pointed out, the software isn't any where
near ready.

> For most people it goes via a proxy and there is little that can be done
>> about that until there is a wifi mesh and then you've going to want either
>> mobile IPv6, VPNs or dynamic DNS so the clients can find the 'server'.
> All of these problems apply to some degree to other in-the-home consumer
> devices as well.

So the users also need education as to what constitutes a trust
worthy, competent ISP and they need to vote with their feet. If competent
ISPs aren't an option then yes, Freedombox needs to sit on top of that and
augment it. But for the next few years, or decade, or two, ISPs are still
going to be the main access to the Internet for most users. If a user is
quite happy to trust <insert name of crappy, untrustworthy telco here> then
are they really all that interested in their freedoms anyway?

> There are all sorts of ISPs out there and as I've argued on other threads,
> assuming that the FreedomBox will be a router with a routeable, unfiltered
> IP address will exclude a massive number of users (myself included). As the
> IPv4 crunch gets worse it may even exclude most people on the planet - if it
> doesn't already.

I would hope that at least the early adopters would be interested in the
concepts of freedom and decentralisation enough not to be stuck with the
type of ISP I mention above. If they have no choice, Freedombox in it's
early stages should provide techniques to help facilitate access but it
can't be developing new projects or trying to shoe horn current, alpha
quality mesh software onto the end users.

I think there needs to be a bit more realism on this project. There is some
very good mesh software coming along. There are some very interesting
distributed/shared what have you social network and storage products. But
there are none, or few, that are any where near ready for consumer level
production use.
 I think the Sheeva plug platform is the sort of level we're aiming at now.
It'll help his the $29 far quicker than using some ARMv9 based smartphone
without a screen.
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