Category Archives: technology

Trying to decide between the PinePhone and the Librem 5

Most of the articles in the tech press just refer to the Purism Librem 5 and the PINE64 PinePhone as upcoming Linux phones, but they don’t delve into their differences. These two phones were designed with very different goals, and the focus of the two companies behind them is quite different. Just looking at the list of specs for the two phones doesn’t tell the whole story. In order to help people decide which Linux phone they should buy, I made a list of what are the major reasons to buy the two phones.

Continue reading

Reflections about buying a new mobile phone

For several years I have been giving talks about the environmental impact of planned obsolescence in electronics and the need to avoid the endless upgrade cycles of modern electronics. I tell people that they should install Linux in their PCs and LineageOS in their phones to extend the lifespan of their devices, since the manufacturing phase of personal computers, tablets and mobile phones consumes roughly 80% of their total energy. I have tried to practice what I preach by buying used phones off eBay to avoid creating new electronics and to lower my carbon footprint.

The last new phone I bought was back in 2006. Since then, I have only bought used phones. Nonetheless, I decided last year to cause the manufacture of a new phone by crowdfunding the Purism Librem 5. I decided to increase my carbon footprint because I wanted to support the development of the first phone that would run on 100% free/open source software because the world desperately needs an alternative to the Android and iOS duopoly. I justified this decision, because Purism promised to make a phone that wasn’t designed around planned obsolescence. Continue reading

Lo que yo hago para resistir el capitalismo de la vigilancia

Necesitamos regular las empresas que recolectan los datos personales para construir perfiles de cada persona y promover progaganda personalizada que es basada en las preferencias, habitos y amistades de cada persona. Nuestros deseos y pensamientos son colonializados por esta propaganda personalizada, pero el problema mas grande es que los gobiernos pueden utilizar los datos recolectados por empresas como Alphabet (que es el padre de Google), Facebook, Verizon (Yahoo), Amazon, Microsoft, Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent y Yandex para vigilar nuestras acciones y reprimir los movimientos disidentes. Continue reading

Adding kill switches to protect your privacy is not as simple as you might think

The use of modern electronic devices such as laptops, tablets, smart phones, smart watches, smart speakers and autonomous vehicles are a growing threat to people’s privacy and security because these devices not only have the ability to collect massive amounts of very personal data, but they rely on a whole host of services from companies such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Tencent, Alibaba and Yandex which mine that personal data for profit, or companies like Samsung, Apple or Tesla, which are collecting that data to better train their AIs.

Governmental agencies like the US’s National Security Agency (NSA), Britain’s Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ), China’s Ministry of Public Security and India’s Central Monitoring System (CMS) love to get their hands on this information, as was shown by Edward Snowden’s revelations. The “five eyes” nations, which include the US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand, agreed in August 2018 to establish a mutual framework for dealing with the fact that the internet is “growing dark” because so much much of its traffic is being encrypted. As part of this framework, Australia passed an Assistance and Access Bill in December 2018, requiring tech companies to provide the government access to communication services under a warrant. The other “five eye” nations probably decided that they would face too much of a public backlash if they tried to pass similar laws, so instead they convened a two day meeting with Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Roblox, Snap and Twitter in late July to pressure them to provide back doors to their encrypted messaging services.

Continue reading

La importancia del Purism Librem 5

El Purism Librem 5 será el primer celular en el mundo que funcionará con 100% software libre, que es una bandera proclamando nuestros derechos digitales. El diseño de la placa tiene una licencia de GPL 3.0+, entonces la placa es hardware libre también y es disponible en:

Purism Librem 5 Dev Kit visualizado en KiCAD 5.0:

Continue reading

Aventuras en la actualización al Debian 10 (buster)

Quise ver las esquemas del Librem 5, que sera el primer celular de 100% software libre. Para abrir los archivos de circuitos del Librem 5, necesito la versión 5.0 de KiCAD, que no esta disponible en los repositorios de Debian 9 (stretch). En el mundo aburrido de Windows, puedo descargar la nueva versión sin tocar el sistema operativo, pero en Linux es mas fácil instalar todo un sistema operativo nuevo para conseguir la última versión de un programa que jugar con la configuración de repositorios y pinning.

Entonces, yo entregué el comando apt upgrade en mi compu y ahora estoy instalando Debian 10 (buster). Sólo tengo 1,7 GB más para descargar y ver que puedo romper en mi compu. ¡Software libre es mucho mas divertido!
Continue reading

Why IBM buying Red Hat doesn’t matter

I found myself yawning as I read the news that IBM will be buying Red Hat for $34 billion and dumping a lot of its proprietary software on HCL, an Indian company. I stopped caring about Red Hat and IBM years ago. The fact that the fourth largest server company in the world is buying the leading Linux company should be big news, but I stopped caring in a personal way about these two companies years ago.

IBM in the 1950s – 1970s used to be the evil Goliath of the computer industry, but in my lifetime, IBM was the first tech giant to embrace free/open source software in a major way and help legitimize Linux. It was also the company that provided AMD and then Global Foundries with process tech to compete with Intel, and it was the company promoting the POWER architecture, which was the freest of the major CPU architectures (before RISC-V appeared on the scene and MIPS was recently open sourced). I should be celebrating that Big Blue is getting rid of lots of proprietary software and embracing open source in a major way, but IBM stopped being relevant to me years ago, when it sold its PC and then later its x86 server lines to Lenovo. IBM was the company which made Thinkpads into a durable line of laptops that was compatible with Linux and helped establish Linux as the OS for servers, but Big Blue has become largely irrelevant to me as the company sold off its hardware production to Lenovo and Global Foundries, and retreated into the niches of supercomputers, corporate middleware and data analysis.
Continue reading