Libreboot with Debian on Chromebook C201

libreboot logo
Libreboot logo made by Marcus Moeller (2014) – Creative Commons license CC0 1.0 Universal

A few months back I obtained a Google Chromebook Asus C201. It arrived preinstalled with Chrome OS as default operating system. This laptop was listed as one of the possible laptop models that can use Libreboot. Free Software developer Paul Kocialkowski has ported Libreboot to this Chromebook. Libreboot is a free BIOS or UEFI replacement (free as in freedom); libre boot firmware that initializes the hardware and starts a bootloader for your operating system. It’s also an open source BIOS, but open source fails to promote freedom; please call libreboot free software. Since I know Paul K. from the Internet, he helped me with the guidelines about creating bootable Debian image to be used on this laptop. In my next blog post I plan to describe how to successfully create these bootable Debian images. This laptop has three possibilities about using a secondary operating system.

  • First possibility is to install the system on internal storage and replace the default Chrome OS.
  • Second possibility is to use an external USB key and have it stored there and the
  • third possibility (which I have chosen) was to install Debian on the Micro-SD card.

With my current setup I prefer to keep Chrome OS on internal storage and I can select secondary booting method to boot up Debian from Micro-SD card. I used Debian stable (Jessie) image and afterwards I have upgraded to Debian testing (stretch) to use more recent Debian packages. Just a short info for people that don’t know about Debian. Debian has one of the best designed release methods amongst GNU/Linux distributions, and their “main” software pool contains only free software. The “main” pool is also the only software pool that I will use on this laptop. Currently there are no other suitable FSF authorised distributions that would run on this laptop, next possible ports will include the Guix system distribution and Paul Kocialkowski is working on porting the Parabola GNU/Linux-libre distribution. My goal is to use only free software on this laptop, but there are some limitations. First the BIOS needs to be replaced with Libreboot, and the integrated Wi-Fi chipset would only work with proprietary software. Therefore for this purpose I have purchased a free hardware replacement – Qualcomm Atheros external USB Wi-Fi card, that uses AR9271 chipset, which is known to operate with free software. The model of this access point card is Sophos AP 5 Rev. 1. More about the recommended steps will follow up soon …

GNU is 33 years old

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GNU logo made by Aurelio A. Hackert – Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license

GNU is an operating system and an extensive collection of computer software. GNU is composed wholly of free software, most of which is licensed under GNU’s own GPL.

GNU is a recursive acronym for “GNU’s Not Unix!”, chosen because GNU’s design is Unix-like, but differs from Unix by being free software and containing no Unix code. The GNU project includes an operating system kernel, GNU HURD, which was the original focus of the Free Software Foundation (FSF). However, non-GNU kernels, most famously Linux, can also be used with GNU software; and since the kernel is the least mature part of GNU, this is how it is usually used. The combination of GNU software and the Linux kernel is commonly known as Linux (or less frequently GNU/Linux; see GNU/Linux naming controversy).

Development of the GNU operating system was initiated by Richard Stallman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Artificial Intelligence Laboratory as a project called the GNU Project which was publicly announced on September 27, 1983, on the net.unix-wizards and net.usoft newsgroups by Richard Stallman.

More about GNU in the links below:

I will buy a Lemote Yeeloong laptop

Yeeloong2Chinese company by the name Lemote produced a few batches of FSF endorsed laptops called Lemote Yeeloong back in 2010 – 2012. First Yeeloong was the model 8089B with a 8.9″ screen, followed by 8101B with a 10.1″ screen size. These laptops are now out of sale and only obtainable on a second hand market. If you happen to know the information where these laptops would still be obtainable from or you have one available from second hand yourself and are willing to sell it, please contact me on my e-mail (or just use the comment section in the blog form). I would be interested to order one for my personal use. Regarding the shipping, I live in Slovenia, Europe. Regarding the payment we could discuss various possibilities. Thank you !

Free hardware designs

Yeeloong2In the recent years the Free Software Foundation has encouraged (computer) hardware manufacturers to start producing free (free as in freedom) hardware. Most hardware produced and sold today has proprietary design (Apple, Intel, etc.) and is therefore restricted/encrypted and hard to use with free software, requiring programmers to use reverse engineering methods and write the code to free up parts of the hardware and optimize it for the use with free software. Free Software Foundation maintains a list of the high priority reverse engineering projects. Free hardware would be optimized for the use with free user respecting GNU+Linux software and should be released under the GNU General Public License (GPL), version 3 or later. Currently there are few alternatives around free hardware designs. In 2012 the Free Software Foundation started a project with the Chinese manufacturer Jiangsu Lemote Technology Corporation Limited for the production of the Lemote Yeeloong netbook. Yeeloong’s used the early Loongson 2F, a single core MIPS3-compatible 64-bit CPU with some custom ISA extensions (not all used in software), therefore a lot of customized software still had to be written for it. For that purpose a special customized GNU+Linux distribution gNewSense has seen the light of day. Since then we have seen other alternatives to free up parts of the hardware. The project Libreboot has written replacements for the standard BIOS using reverse engineering on Lenovo Thinkpad models, such as X60, T60 and X200 which are all obtainable from the U.K. store Gluglug. Another crowd funding initiative called Purism has raised funds and started with the production of the free modern laptops. Michał Tomasz Masłowski has written about Laptops and free software in 2013. There are also Replicant, a free operating system that works as a replacement for Android based devices and libreCMC a free replacement operating system for wireless routers. There are videos (with Slovene translations) from the Libreplanet 2013 conference, where Dr. Richard Stallman talks about the free hardware designs (video part 1) (video part 2) and also explains the idea in his recent articles “Why we need free digital hardware designs” and “How to make hardware designs free“.

International Human Rights Day reminds us about Free Software

Free_Software4The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a nonprofit organisation with a worldwide mission to promote computer user freedom and to defend the rights of all free software users.

As our society grows more dependent on computers, the software we run is of critical importance to securing the future of a free society. Free software is about having control over the technology we use in our homes, schools and businesses, where computers work for our individual and communal benefit, not for proprietary software companies who might seek to restrict us.

The Free Software Foundation is working to secure freedom for computer users by promoting the development and use of free (as in freedom) software and documentation — particularly the GNU operating system — and by campaigning against threats to computer user freedom like Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) and software patents.

FSF has sister organisations in Europe , France , Latin America and India.

Do a good thing TODAY ! Help the FSFE reach their 2015 budget goal of €420,000 by donating until December 31.

 

 

Self-organised European Citizens Initiative against TTIP, CETA & TISA

stop-ttip-generic-fbEuropean Union member states are under increasing pressure from North American business groups to open their borders to imports of genetically modified food as part of negotiations for a new Transatlantic trade deal, environmental campaigners have warned.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is being negotiated among European governments, the US and Canada, with the active participation of dozens of large businesses. It has already attracted strong criticism from democracy campaigners, who say it could mean the European Union could have to open the National Health Service further to private companies, and complaints against large companies could be treated in secret without proper legal recourse.

The potential impacts on food safety are less apparent as the negotiations are being conducted without public consultation. Progress on signing the partnership is expected to be hastened later this year when new EU commissioners are appointed.

The European commission has strongly denied that the partnership would allow North American companies to circumvent EU food standards, particularly with regard to genetic modification. A spokesman for the commission told the Guardian: “TTIP will not change the way we regulate GMOs [genetically modified organisms] in Europe. EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht stressed that publically many times. The EU has its red lines in the negotitations and the GMOs is one of them.”

However, documents from various US and Canadian government agencies and business trade bodies suggest strong pressure is being brought to bear from US industries to allow GM products and other foods into EU markets that would violate the EU’s current standards, in the name of free trade. The US Department of Agriculture and Foreign Agricultural Service has explicitly identified “the EU’s non-tariff barriers to US agricultural products”, specifying in particular “long delays in reviews of biotech products [that] create barriers to US exports of grain and oil seed products”. The term biotech is generally used to refer to GM products.

The European commission says that the EU would not be forced to allow imports of GM foods under the TTIP deal. “Will the EU be forced to change its laws on GMOs? No, it will not. Basic laws, like those relating to GMOs or which are there to protect human life and health, animal health and welfare, or environment and consumer interests will not be part of the negotiations,” according to a Q&A on the EU’s website. (Source: The Guardian)

You can sign the petitions against TTIP here:

More informations regarding these topics can be found at:

V slovenskem jeziku :