Linux-Libre and Trechearous Computing

Ted Smith teddks at
Wed Feb 17 06:02:10 UTC 2010

On Wed, 2010-02-17 at 02:21 -0200, Alexandre Oliva wrote:
> On Feb 16, 2010, Ted Smith <teddks at> wrote:

> I heard or read somewhere that Tivo's modified version of Linux and GNU
> libc do this to prevent you from modifying any of the components of the
> system.
> Since their (non-Free) boot loader will refuse to boot up the kernel if
> the boot partition isn't signed, Tivo prevents any unauthorized changes
> to the system, without requiring a fully-frozen root filesystem.

To maintain my point: if the non-free boot loader was replaced by a free
one, we could strip out the other code that uses the TPM. Non-free
software is the problem, not the TPM.

> > But the point of free software is that users can modify it; such
> > software would probably not exist for long.
> Tivo has been around for several years, unfortunately.  And most cell
> phones that use GNU/Linux, Android, and even Darwin, are tivoized in
> similar ways, rendering the software effectively non-Free, even if you
> actually got the source code under a Free Software license (not the case
> of phones with Darwin, like the iPhone)
> So we can't count on its going away on its own.  We have to take a stand
> against it.  But it's not disabling TPM in the kernel that will make any
> difference.  When the system reaches the kernel, it's too late for the
> TPM modules, or their absence, to save us.  We ought to somehow
> intercept the *sale* of these devices, or even their very development.

I feel that TPMs could still be very useful as a security device, if
their owners had full control over them - as such, the enemy behind both
treacherous computing and many other societal ills is non-free software,
and the best thing we can do is fight it.

But for things already contaminated with TPMs and non-free software, you
are right: the best thing we can do is refuse to condone the
distribution of these technologies and fight to keep them from becoming
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