Poll: How much would you be willing to pay for a Neo900 (complete device) with TI DM3730 1GHz/512M-RAM/1GB
Poll Options
How much would you be willing to pay for a Neo900 (complete device) with TI DM3730 1GHz/512M-RAM/1GB

Reply
Thread Tools
joerg_rw's Avatar
Community Council | Posts: 1,749 | Thanked: 9,376 times | Joined on Mar 2010 @ SOL 3
#1501
Originally Posted by wicket View Post
The FSF has quite a large following and their endorsement and publicity could help this project a lot. I'm not asking you to change anything to comply with the FSF. As I see it, you both strive for user privacy and that's why I'm interested in their opinion of the differences. Maybe it's a lack of understanding on their part or maybe they're just being stubborn. Do they realise that the Neo900 is the best we are going to get in terms of user privacy? Maybe they can be swayed - even RMS used computers before the existense of the computer that meets all of his criteria.
Wicket,
Mr Stallman mailed me, asking about all the FSF rules and if they are satisfied by Neo900. I answered that all are met but the modem firmware update that we will offer (according to what the modem module can do: update firmware via USB), that we can't change that since we can't evaluate the hardware internals to make sure whatever we do will reliably forbid manipulations to the firmware (write-enable pins may not have the expected effect, even if they existed), and that I think the firmware must be considered "rogue" by definition (you never know what's in there, even on genuine firmware) and thus we follow another approach of tight monitoring of the modem's activities from very beginning, which will tell us when the modem misbehaves even with genuine firmware.
I received no answer to that from Mr Stallman yet, after one week.

So that's what you might assume is what FSF and Mr Stallman think about Neo900:
They like our project since it's striving for freedom and openness, but they don't want to further care about it and answer to us, when we can't fulfill their requirements, even when those requirements are impossible to fulfill.

Here a complete quote of my 2 original answers to first and second mail from Mr Stallman (I received and answered 2nd mail first, thus my answer to 1st mail refers to my answer to 2nd):
On Sun 08 December 2013 00:50:37 Richard Stallman wrote:
> [[[ To any NSA and FBI agents reading my email: please consider ]]]
> [[[ whether defending the US Constitution against all enemies, ]]]
> [[[ foreign or domestic, requires you to follow Snowden's example. ]]]
>
> If the modem firmware is an installable program, then the fact that
> it is nonfree means the machine is running some nonfree software.
>
> If the modem firmware can't be changed, it is effectively in ROM, so
> it might as well be a circuit. It doesn't need to be considered
> as software. For instance, the FSF can disregard it when judging
> whether to endorse a product.

There are no modem chips that have a write-once or mask programmed ROM for
their firmware. And probably never will be.


> Could you possibly design the machine with a wire which, if cut,
> prevents flashing the modem software? Or some other way a user
> could prevent further reflashing of the modem software?

Since we don't know of the internal configuration of the modem hardware, we
can't ensure we actually forbid all changing of the firmware, no matter by
which means. Even an explicit WriteEnable pin on the modem chipset's flash chip
(if it were a separate chip) is not guaranteed to work the way it's advertised
by the chip manufacturer.

Also see my reasoning in other mail I sent, about program code generally
loaded to RAM before execution, and about initial genuine firmware not approved
for absence of any backdoors or other undesirable functions.

Sorry when I'm less concerned about FSF approval and whether the firmware of
modem is considered software or blackbox - what worries me is user's privacy
and that the user at all times has absolute control over what's going on with
her/his device. Firmware in ROM is an inapt means to ensure that privacy and
control.

best regards
jOERG
--
() ascii ribbon campaign - against html e-mail
/\ www.asciiribbon.org - against proprietary attachments
On Sun 08 December 2013 00:51:37 Richard Stallman wrote:
> [[[ To any NSA and FBI agents reading my email: please consider ]]]
> [[[ whether defending the US Constitution against all enemies, ]]]
> [[[ foreign or domestic, requires you to follow Snowden's example. ]]]
>
> Can the radio modem processor modify its own program?
>
> If so, the universal back door will be able to reload it.

Yes, most likely the modem CPU can write the modem internal flash where the
firmware with the backdoor is stored, so they can replace backdoor A by
backdoor B or any other "malware".

Forbidding rewrite of the firmware doesn't ensure there's no backdoor or other
nasty tings in it from very beginning. Also usually the "firmware" gets loaded
from flash storage to RAM for execution, this opens up an option to load other
executabe code to RAM without even changing "the firmware" as stored to modem
"in an immutable way" at all.

The only thing that helps make sure the modem behaves is tight monitoring of
the modem's behavior ;-) and all applicable means to block behavior we don't
like to see.
In particular: check modem RF output to learn when it's sending though it
shouldn't, monitor modem's power consumption and compare to a sane profile,
make sure the modem is OFF when we expect it to be (trivial), make sure the
modem cannot get a GPS fix when we don't want it to do (also trivial, cut/short
GPS antenna), separate mic from modem audio input so user has full control
over what the modem "hears" (up to the point where you feed it with fake audio
of your choice), monitor the clock of modem's digital audio input which
indicates modem is listening.

If you know further parameters that should get controlled to stay "on top of"
what modem does, please let me know.
I hope to create a device you wuld be willing to at least consider carrying
:-)


Best Regards
jOERG
--
() ascii ribbon campaign - against html e-mail
/\ www.asciiribbon.org - against proprietary attachments
And here as an example a complete quote of my answer to another mail I received at 2013-12-07 03:58 from "anon" user [color and bold added by me for this post]:
Hi!
Though we are not really interested in complying with somebody else's
definition of a good, user friendly, secure and free hardware, we seem to
follow mostly the same rationale in most points.

On Sat 07 December 2013 03:58:13 Anon wrote:
> I wrote an e-mail to Richard Stallman asking about what he thought about
> the Neo900 because I was thinking about backing the project. He asked
> some points about the phone that I couldn't answer but maybe you could.
> The following is what he wrote to me:
>
> This is a big step forward in privacy. Whether it is good enough that
> I would be willing to carry one, I don't know. Nonetheless, I am
> strongly in favor of it, and I am willing to say so. Where and how
> should I say so?
>
> >Neo900 can be used with 100% Free Software stack.
>
> I am not sure exactly what the "stack" includes, and this issue calls
> for precise answers. Could you tell me which parts of the points
> below it will satisfy?
>
> * The radio modem should be on a separate chip.
>
> * The main computer should be able to turn the radio modem on and off.
>
> * The microphone and the GPS should be connected to the main computer,
> not to the radio modem.
>
> * The software on the main computer should be free -- all of it.
>
> * The radio modem should not be able to control the main computer
> or alter its memory.


All of the above points are 100% satisfied.

>
> * It should be designed so that nothing short of physical manipulation
> can alter the radio modem's own software. This program must not be
> updatable through software.


Here we disagree and take pride in announcing that our modem presumably can
receive firmware updates by a process commonly known as "flashing", which is
done exclusively under absolute control of the user. This allows the modem
software to get updated to fix bugs or implement new features (like e.g. done
for the GLONASS functionality).
If the flasher used to do this counts as "updating software" in the sense of
above, or if changing the charge in flash cells is a "physical manipulation"
that would be allowable according to above requirement is beyond our
knowledge.

Anyway we fail to understand the rationale that results in above requirement
spec. We can't see how such a restriction in user's freedom to do whatever
possible with the hardware she owns and controls is a good and beneficial thing
for the device's privacy or freedom or security or whatever. Thus we reject
any change of our product requirement specifications regarding this.


Best Regards
Joerg Reisenweber
--
() ascii ribbon campaign - against html e-mail
/\ www.asciiribbon.org - against proprietary attachments

Last edited by joerg_rw; 12-16-2013 at 05:35 AM.
 

The Following 20 Users Say Thank You to joerg_rw For This Useful Post:
Posts: 120 | Thanked: 94 times | Joined on Jul 2010
#1502
Wouldn't the simplest way to satisfty the paranoid be to have a hardware switch for gsm modem (and maybe gps chip/antenna also)?

The appeal of such a unique feature might result in extra sales also..
 
joerg_rw's Avatar
Community Council | Posts: 1,749 | Thanked: 9,376 times | Joined on Mar 2010 @ SOL 3
#1503
Originally Posted by nman View Post
Wouldn't the simplest way to satisfty the paranoid be to have a hardware switch for gsm modem (and maybe gps chip/antenna also)?

The appeal of such a unique feature might result in extra sales also..
Please read all the past posts regarding that, or my mails to RMS as quoted in prev post, or wait for our paper to get published one of the next few days. That's basically exactly what we will do
... make sure the modem is OFF when we expect it to be (trivial), make sure the
modem cannot get a GPS fix when we don't want it to do (also trivial, cut/short
GPS antenna) ...
. And more

Last edited by joerg_rw; 12-15-2013 at 11:40 PM.
 

The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to joerg_rw For This Useful Post:
Posts: 9 | Thanked: 9 times | Joined on Sep 2013
#1504
Originally Posted by lancewex View Post
I have a decent, fully-functioning N900 I could potentially part with for the cause. If I do, can I get a discount on a NeoN900?
:-)
I'm interested in this too. If I donate my N900, would I be able to get a discount on full device Neo900 that's >= just selling my N900?

Another note, what's the solution for the display connector at the moment. Are you guys planning on designing your own? Can people who plan on manually upgrading their old N900s use the display connector that's already there? What's up?
 
joerg_rw's Avatar
Community Council | Posts: 1,749 | Thanked: 9,376 times | Joined on Mar 2010 @ SOL 3
#1505
Originally Posted by fridgecow View Post
I'm interested in this too. If I donate my N900, would I be able to get a discount on full device Neo900 that's >= just selling my N900?

Another note, what's the solution for the display connector at the moment. Are you guys planning on designing your own? Can people who plan on manually upgrading their old N900s use the display connector that's already there? What's up?
We are not planning to accept "donations" of hardware for refund. What we probably will offer is a mounting service where you send in the N900, purchase a GTA04-NeoN motherboard and mounting service, and we mount the new motherboard to your N900 and send it back to you.

Regarding display connector we are still searching suppliers and checking our options. We won't "design our own connector" since that wouldn't fit to the display. Makes no sense. The whole concept is based on N900 display half aka the ribbon cable end plugging in to Neo900 motherboard - for that we need the matching connector.

BR
jOERG

Last edited by joerg_rw; 12-16-2013 at 03:06 AM.
 

The Following 6 Users Say Thank You to joerg_rw For This Useful Post:
Posts: 20 | Thanked: 44 times | Joined on Feb 2009 @ UK
#1506
The multi-touch is a nice add on, I recall reading somewhere about a design like the N900 that used a capacitive touch sensor under the keyboard. This allowed the keyboard to be used as a touch pad. It has to be said there would be serious usability questions with this if focus moves as you type.

Another idea for the feature list?
 
Posts: 639 | Thanked: 727 times | Joined on Jan 2011 @ Touring
#1507
Richard Stallman got back to me with permission to quote our email. so read below:

ME:
I frequent the Neo900 discussion over at maemo.org. I was thinking
that including an old style one way paging network receiver into
mobile phone designs as a way of receiving incoming contact and
with a bit of software making fast callbacks very possible even
user friendly while keeping anonymity in position and movement as
well as saving battery by leaving the GSM radio turned off most
of the time. This seems to be in line with your privacy
principles.Being a community project it is more open to influence than a large
company.
I thought you would like this.

"Richard Stallman" <rms@gnu.org>:
What a good idea! I am delighted. This might even result in making
portable phones acceptable for me to use.

Can you point me at a page describing the proposal?

What is the Neo900? Is it trying to develop a cell phone
that treats its users ethically? If so, I'd like to see how close
it comes to satisfying these criteria.

* The radio modem should be on a separate chip.

* The main computer should be able to turn the radio modem on and off.

* The microphone and the GPS should be connected to the main computer,
not to the radio modem.

* The software on the main computer should be free -- all of it.

* The radio modem should not be able to control the main computer
or alter its memory.

* It should be designed so that the nothing can alter the radio
modem's own software. This program must not be updatable.

Ideally you should be able to locate cell towers with a directional
antenna and use that antenna to talk with just one tower, so that the
phone network cannot triangulate to find you. But I don't know
whether this is really feasible at all.

in a later email asking form premission to quote..
RMS:
Also please tell them I think the idea of having a one-way pager
system so you know when to make it connect is a very very good idea.
/quote

I will send him the Neo900 update email where he was mentioned.

Last edited by biketool; 12-16-2013 at 03:35 PM.
 

The Following 9 Users Say Thank You to biketool For This Useful Post:
dos1's Avatar
Posts: 224 | Thanked: 1,825 times | Joined on Sep 2010 @ Poznań, Poland
#1508
Originally Posted by biketool View Post
* The radio modem should be on a separate chip.

* The main computer should be able to turn the radio modem on and off.

* The microphone and the GPS should be connected to the main computer,
not to the radio modem.

* The software on the main computer should be free -- all of it.

* The radio modem should not be able to control the main computer
or alter its memory.

* It should be designed so that the nothing can alter the radio
modem's own software. This program must not be updatable
For the reference: all those criterias are satisfied except one: "It should be designed so that the nothing can alter the radio
modem's own software. This program must not be updatable."

It is upgradable and we fail to see any reason why it shouldn't. Every possible threat about backdooring the device will be still present even if upgrading is somehow blocked. What's more, if the modem manufacturer would give us some way to block flashing the ROM, how would we know that he's didn't put any backdoor there as well?

We believe that it's better for user freedom to give him/her the ability to upgrade the firmware. We're convinced that any effort to make sure that "nothing can alter the radio modem's own software" is futile, because it would need us to trust the manufacturer anyway - and if we would trust the manufacturer, we wouldn't have to block it at all. We're proposing tight monitoring of what modem does instead. More about that in the article

(there's also GPS integrated with the modem, but it can be blocked from software and odds are that we'll also provide an option with second GPS chip - see http://projects.goldelico.com/p/neo900/issues/526/ )

PS. Even if I won't use the pager at all, I find it really great idea!
__________________
Sebastian Krzyszkowiak - http://dosowisko.net/
Long term Openmoko supporter. Owner of two Neo Freerunners and two N900s (without USB).
Future owner of the Neo900

Last edited by dos1; 12-16-2013 at 02:20 PM.
 

The Following 6 Users Say Thank You to dos1 For This Useful Post:
Posts: 639 | Thanked: 727 times | Joined on Jan 2011 @ Touring
#1509
DOS1, sent that answer to RMS. thanks
 
pichlo's Avatar
Posts: 1,562 | Thanked: 2,963 times | Joined on Sep 2012 @ UK
#1510
Since we have descended to the level of rant anyway...

Isn't the main idea*) of "free" software a freedom of choice? Doesn't seeking the approval of one führer man, however charismatic, go directly against that idea?

Some people like calling the users of certain commercial operating systems "sheep". I am sorry but if you are not grown up enough to make up your own mind about which [software | OS | computer | mobile phone | pair of underpants] is "acceptable" but need Mr Stallman or anyone else to tell you then I think we have someone better suitable to carry the title.

*) Alright, maybe not main, but at least one of the ideas.

EDIT: The above is by no means meant to diminish Mr Stallman's or anyone else's contributions and achievemnts. It is aimed squarely at those who say, "I don't know if I like it, I need to go and ask XY's opinion first."

Last edited by pichlo; 12-16-2013 at 06:04 PM.
 

The Following 10 Users Say Thank You to pichlo For This Useful Post:
Reply

Tags
neo900, thank you!

Thread Tools

 
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 03:45 PM.