Captain's log, stardate <- 1564800237.752 ->

I asked for leads/contacts at businesses that might be interested in collaborating, particularly on the hardware part, say Purism and Pine64. lkcl was named for EOMA68 (no response from him yet; I wonder if he even received my email about it...); other mentions were GnuBee (lovely name) NAS, RaptorCS (POWER for handsets?!? yeah, probably not).

One interesting thought was to separate the requirements for (development and) validation from the actual goal. Like, even a freedombox without screen or WiFi could work for validation of the basic networking infrastructure. An SBC plus a touchscreen, and WiFi (builtin or dongle) would get us closer to the target environment.

Some conversation about CPUs concludes that x86 is out (ME, PSP), POWER is too power-intensive, RISC-V is coming but the only PC with it is too costly, and ARM performance is on par with that of our old and beloved Librebooted Thinkpads. But we're not aiming at a PC, but at a mobile, ultraportable communicator. So ARM surely can do, and RISC-V is a decent bet for the not-so-distant future.

GNUnet was brought up again, and we wondered if it offers de-localization like Tor. Having two separate calling addresses and separate infrastructures might be a plus or very very confusing. But it seems that GNUnet already has anonimized calls, whereas getting GNU jami to work behind Tor would require significant effort. Would GNUnet work behind Tor?, I wondered. Would that even make sense? Nobody in the channel had an answer handy. Asking on the gnunet channel is added to the todo list. Gotta get in touch with them anyway. It's looking like a promising avenue to explore for 0G.

Conversation returned to readily available boards. Orange Pi (not using its blob-ridden WiFi) might work for validation, but for the real thing we'd want something more like EOMA68's LibreTea, or an OLinuXino (that's what's in Olimex's freedombox, and Olimex has touchscreens and WiFi for sale as well. Gotta check that their WiFi dongles are freedom-respecting, and whether the touchscreens could be connected to the freedombox, or just to the barebones boards). Golden Delicious, if still active, might help with the design of custom boards.

Mentioning Freedombox in the lecture got us a mention at

Adding a touchscreen to a freedombox would get us something pretty close to a minimalist 0G device (as in, no camera, no speaker or microphones, no GPS, no WiFi), but possibly something to use for development, testing, and even to enable users to enter a full-disk-encryption passphrase. Come to think of it, any reason not to run a freedombox on your own 0G uPoC? Rather than having it only at home, have one in your pocket as well! Surely you'd rather have full-disk encryption for the latter, and I'm pretty sure you'd then have a touchscreen to enter the passphrase too!

(Alternate way for networked machines to get boot-up passphrases: (a) initrd https server for a client to supply the passphrase, (b) a free hardware serial interface, (c) a pluggable USB keyboard (if you know it's prompting for one; or... keyboards with screens anyone?), or (d) extend DHCP to supply the boot-time passphrases, and extend GRUB to ask for them before prompting the user. Then as long as any of the DHCP servers on the network remains up, the rest of the network can be brought back up without manual intervention. But if all of them are brought down and taken elsewhere, someone would have to enter a passphrase to bring any of them back up. Something to implement one of these days, when my todo list is empty... :-)

I saw links about related news elsewhere that I shared with the channel.

A conversation on the short range of WiFi ensued, and a pet project named Wing was disclosed: a libre 900MHz radio modem for GNUnet. We immediately adjusted the acronym to Wing Is Nil G. Though I can't really imagine something without WiFi would fly, the addition of longer-range Wings could enable uPoCs to get connectivity in less dense areas. Why not have both?

A question I answered in the DebConf19 Spectre&Meltdown speech was brought up: I mentioned there something to the effect that I didn't know enough about CPUs to promise that any of the Freer ones we hope to use didn't have software blobs hiding deep in the hardware, playing the "indistinguishable from a hardware circuit" role, but it was pointed out that maybe the questioner was looking for an answer along the lines of "indistinguishable from hardware", even though the topic of the speech was security, and with that framing, indistinguishable from hardware hardly cuts it given that even hardware may exhibit malicious features and vulnerabilities. Anyhow, among ARM and RISC-V I should probably have mentioned OpenPOWER.

Speaking of RISC-V, a rumor was mentioned that some (early?) vendors had licensed DRAM controllers that required non-Free init blobs. None of the community-oriented designs had taken that path, but it's something to be watchful for to avoid later headaches. Apparently Sifive's PC had it (now fixed). Phew!

Time is ripe is a phrase I have often written and spoken WRT 0G, and that's what I felt when I read this post by the Purism CEO, about getting phone service over WiFi or a cell data link. Looks like is getting a competitor in Librem Dial, which may mean 0G is getting another alternative for phone service. The post had the GPG fingerprint for CEO Todd Weaver's keys, so I fetched them and sent him email, at last. Let's see whether they're interested in some form of cooperation, or even in just building on the 0G ideas or software that could make Librem 5 an even more privacy-oriented device. I'm looking forward to his answer.

The pt_BR launch of the 0G project is scheduled to 16:25 UTC-3 on 20190803, in São Paulo, at Linux Dev Conf Br. I've translated the slides and improved them a little, so as to not forget to make fun of idIoTic devices again.

Caninos Loucos folks are going to be at the conference this weekend, I'm told, so I'm getting a chance to ask them F2F about the choices for WiFi, and about the possibility of adding Wing to their upcoming run of OpenMoko Freerunner-like devices, that we might be able to piggyback on for 0G uPoCs.

Many interesting thoughts and developments over the past week, despite my having been brought down by bug that was making the rounds at DebConf19, and taken the entire family down with it. Keep them coming! No, the ideas for 0G, not the bugs ;-)

So blong...