Re: [house4hack] Digest for house4hack@googlegroups.com - 2 updates in 1 topic

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Hussain

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Oct 8, 2021, 7:42:41 AM10/8/21
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Great feedback Gert,

> For phones, my issue would be that there are several options of existing
devices that can be repurposed. (And they tend to support Android and its
variants as well, which gives options if the alternative distro does not
work for the user) (Taking a list at the devices with Ubuntu Touch versions
are interesting... A few have it officially available, but many more can be
reflashed - several OnePlus . Google / LG / Xiaomi / Sony devices)

I considered this as well. But Android has many problems:

  • increasingly closed-source
  • too much passive data collection(possibly even at the hardware-levels)
  • not modular, built to last only 2 years or less(the EU forcing support for 7 years will be interesting)
  • very few devices that can be flashed in SA(I checked and there's only a few)
  • the flashing of alternate OSes is 'hacky', whereas a pinephone has first-class Linux support

> Existing devices might also make sense to import, like the Purism Librem
5, Shiftphone, Volla Phone or the Fairphone (and the PinePhone
> Laptops (and possibly tablets) might do better though. It might make sense
to start by importing brands like System76, Pursim, Olimex, Technoethical,
Vikings or ThinkPenguin

This is the goal. Primarily with laptops first, then phones and maybe tablets. Never heard of some of these brands, thanks for that update.

> I do think that smaller companies might have IT departments interested in
buying modular (at least end-user replaceable batteries) laptops that they
can easily maintain. (But they are unlikely to be willing to pay a huge
premium for it though)

Linux-specific laptops? I figured most companies just buy Windows-licensed hardware and very few let their devs use Linux unless specifically requested by the devs themselves.

Thanks again for the feedback.

Much appreciated.

Regards,
H

On 2021/10/08 11:10, house...@googlegroups.com wrote:
Hussain <mhc...@gmail.com>: Oct 07 02:12PM +0200

Hello all,
 
The Google group is very inactive nowadays.
 
If you don't know me, my name is Hussain and I am a Linux enthusiast.
Finding Laptops or even phones in SA that aren't MS/Android/iOS is
near-impossible.
 
I want to create a market for it by seeing if people are interested in
purchasing dedicated Linux hardware.
 
I am very transparent about my goals and the model. My goal is to
develop a model similar to the pinephone where the primary function of
the business is to increase Linux adoption and make Linux a first-class
option in SA(and turn a small profit to keep the company functioning). I
initially want to get a market for laptops and then as it grows, shift
towards bringing in phones and tablets too(through some collab with
existing Linux phone makers)
 
The goal is to get about 1000-2000 respondents, assuming a 10% "serious
intent", which translates to about 10-20 laptops purchased in bulk each
year.
 
If you are interested, please fill the survey here:
 
https://forms.zohopublic.com/virtualoffice21280/form/LinuxHardware/formperma/d7LdLW8URhdWYFjwmaHj8YV7CZ4vadW2MHT8Il176_8
 
If you know of any other places to share this, please let me know.
 
Also, please share this if are you keen to help create this market.
 
On the other hand, if you know any company or org already doing this(I
only know of Wootware) for laptops/tablets/phones, please share it so I
can just buy myself the hardware :D
 
Feedback welcome.
 
Regards,
H
Gert van den Berg <ger...@gmail.com>: Oct 07 02:45PM -0700

On Thursday, October 7, 2021 at 2:12:56 PM UTC+2 Hussain wrote:
 
> Hello all,
 
> The Google group is very inactive nowadays.
 
There is a lot more going on on the Telegram group. (AFAIK the invite link
on the group no longer works and the main method to get added is in person
on a Tuesday at the house)

 
> initially want to get a market for laptops and then as it grows, shift
> towards bringing in phones and tablets too(through some collab with
> existing Linux phone makers)
 
The comments on products are for me, other people might have other opinions.
 
For phones, my issue would be that there are several options of existing
devices that can be repurposed. (And they tend to support Android and its
variants as well, which gives options if the alternative distro does not
work for the user) (Taking a list at the devices with Ubuntu Touch versions
are interesting... A few have it officially available, but many more can be
reflashed - several OnePlus . Google / LG / Xiaomi / Sony devices)
 
(I ordered a f(x)tec Pro 1-X recently though)
 
(What I do care about on phones is serviceability (replacing batteries,
options for replacing screens), open bootloaders and the availability of
alternative Android options)
(I'm unlikely to buy a device that is not available with a Google approved
Android - I don't want to replace all the apps that I built up in the Play
Store over ~13 years of Android use...)
 
(Existing devices might also make sense to import, like the Purism Librem
5, Shiftphone, Volla Phone or the Fairphone (and the PinePhone))
 
It might be an option amongst the very privacy conscious though...
 
Laptops (and possibly tablets) might do better though. It might make sense
to start by importing brands like System76, Pursim, Olimex, Technoethical,
Vikings or ThinkPenguin
 
I do think that smaller companies might have IT departments interested in
buying modular (at least end-user replaceable batteries) laptops that they
can easily maintain. (But they are unlikely to be willing to pay a huge
premium for it though)
 
(I'm not a huge fan of laptops - I only buy them from my employers when
they are due for replacement. Desktop system provide much better value and
modularity.)
 
Gert
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Gert van den Berg

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Oct 10, 2021, 4:47:13 AM10/10/21
to house...@googlegroups.com
On Fri, Oct 8, 2021 at 1:42 PM Hussain <mhc...@gmail.com> wrote:

Great feedback Gert,

> For phones, my issue would be that there are several options of existing
devices that can be repurposed. (And they tend to support Android and its
variants as well, which gives options if the alternative distro does not
work for the user) (Taking a list at the devices with Ubuntu Touch versions
are interesting... A few have it officially available, but many more can be
reflashed - several OnePlus . Google / LG / Xiaomi / Sony devices)

I considered this as well. But Android has many problems:

  • increasingly closed-source
I'm not sure that is increasing if you stick to AOSP-based versions. (many devices have proprietary firmware blobs, bootloaders and drivers though (The PinePhone has firmware blobs for BT / WiFi) 

There are less reverse-engineered free software drivers for newer devices though (Replicant mainly runs on ~10 year old devices)
  • too much passive data collection(possibly even at the hardware-levels)
A lot of those issues are present in the baseband, not the main OS. The PinePhone has a proprietary baseband/modem and blobs for bluetooth / Wifi drivers (Replicant removes that on some devices that it supports). There are very few smartphones with open basebands - basically ancient OpenMoko devices.
  • not modular, built to last only 2 years or less(the EU forcing support for 7 years will be interesting)
That has nothing to do with the OS. Phones like the Fairphone, etc do a lot better with that... (But it is an issue with the Samsungs, Sonys and LGs of the world)

(Devices like many of the Nokias at least have user-replaceable batteries) (Availability locally can be an issue though - I can get a replacement (internal) battery for my Wileyfox, but I need to import it...)
  • very few devices that can be flashed in SA(I checked and there's only a few)
  • the flashing of alternate OSes is 'hacky', whereas a pinephone has first-class Linux support
It has, but the market is quite limited for a device that can't run many of the apps that people use (e.g. banking, etc), with no option to change the ROM to something that can...

(There is a market for it, just not a large market...) 

(Bringing in unusual devices also has the issue of dealing with ICASA type approval...) (With individual devices it might be possible to get away with ignoring, with larger shipments it might be harder...)

> Existing devices might also make sense to import, like the Purism Librem
5, Shiftphone, Volla Phone or the Fairphone (and the PinePhone
> Laptops (and possibly tablets) might do better though. It might make sense
to start by importing brands like System76, Pursim, Olimex, Technoethical,
Vikings or ThinkPenguin

This is the goal. Primarily with laptops first, then phones and maybe tablets. Never heard of some of these brands, thanks for that update.

> I do think that smaller companies might have IT departments interested in
buying modular (at least end-user replaceable batteries) laptops that they
can easily maintain. (But they are unlikely to be willing to pay a huge
premium for it though)

Linux-specific laptops? I figured most companies just buy Windows-licensed hardware and very few let their devs use Linux unless specifically requested by the devs themselves.

Linux not so much, but the modular hardware might have appeal. (But at least x86 computers have a standardised bootloader - it is not hard to change OSes) (They may want some OEM Windows license - the corporate subscriptions include upgrade licenses) (There would be some places that will buy Linux laptops, for companies it is a very niche market though...)

(Free firmware like coreboot would limit the non-Linux based OS options though...) (Some ventors give you an option to switch, e.g. System76)
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