[Arm-netbook] System 76 - Entering Phase 3

Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton lkcl at lkcl.net
Sun Apr 23 06:07:47 BST 2017

> While someone's at it, perhaps Think Penguin should be contacted.
> Actually, I just checked and they seem to have invited Luke to their
> table at HOPE, so they are well aware of and interested in the project.

 they're the sponsor of the 15.6in libre laptop, tor :)

 zap, john, lyberta: yeah i'm finding it tiring, and frickin hard
work.  but there's something else that occurred to me almost... i
think it was over eight years ago, which spurred this entire project,
which i believe will help.

 i think what you're feeling, especially you lyberta, is a sort of
"futility" of the effectiveness of the free software movement
precisely *because* it's focussed *on* software, exclusively.

 i mentioned this before, but it's worth reiterating: chris from
thinkpenguin told me the story of why he started a hardware selling
company: it's because one of his first jobs was for lindows^Wlinspire
as a QA tester.  unlike many of the other people in the company -
including the other QA testers - he quickly and *comprehensively*
realised that, unlike microsoft whose dominance of hardware forces
peripheral manufacturers to write drivers *BEFORE* releasing the
hardware, linux kernel drivers are written AFTER release... if at all,
making linspire's entire business model a hopelessly optimistic one.

(linspire basically aimed to be a "preinstall" option on hard drives
shipped out to OEMs, just like microsoft has done for decades).

from the ridiculousness of this attempt at the time (it was far too
early basically) and with HDDs going out that comprehensively even
failed to *boot* on OEM's hardware in many cases, chris *clearly* saw
in ways that many other people would never get to see that the only
way to sell working hardware was to *pre-vet the hardware*.

contrast this to linspire's approach which was: "we naively expect all
hardware to just... well... work".  even apple don't do that.  in
their early days they sold pre-approved special hardware: you bought
that, they wrote the drivers themselves, it worked.  and if you didn't
you were on your own.  what they sold was pretty much everything you
needed, and it wasn't long before hardware companies started making
software drivers *BEFORE* releasing hardware for apple products as

so chris *DOES NOT* have the same level of tired hopelessness and
frustrating futility that other people are feeling in the software
libre world.

instead however he has a constant race to find hardware that can be
freed from proprietary drivers: the AR9271 took *TWO YEARS* to
patiently walk the entire company (atheros) through the process of
releasing the source code, justified easily by the increased sales.

the problem there was that when qualcomm bought atheros the entire
management and engineering team left, leaving absolutely nobody for
him to contact for the revision 10 (802.11ac) hardware.

likewise: he could see that time is running out for the thinkpad X.200
older intel processors, and he was getting increasingly concerned at
the lack of hardware companies producing laptop products that he could
endorse (because they keep using AMD or intel with proprietary BIOS

so that's when he contacted me, to sponsor the 15.6in libre laptop.

in summary: we're getting tired because there *are* no good hardware
options.  reverse-engineering is... well it's a nice challenge but you
always get *old hardware*, not designed by you, but designed by
someone else.  that's.... well, i don't have to spell it out.

so for goodness sake: every person who is building open and libre
hardware, back them to the hilt.  the powerpc-notebook team, the
vero-apparatus team (if you can find their contact details that is),
anyone and everyone.


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