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How Librem 5 Solves NSA’s Warning About Cellphone Location Data

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GNU
Linux
Gadgets

The NSA has published new warnings for military and intelligence personnel about the threats from location data that is captured constantly on modern cellphones (originally reported by the Wall Street Journal). While privacy advocates (including us at Purism) have long warned about these risks, having the NSA publish an official document on the subject helps demonstrate that cellphone tracking is a real privacy and security problem for everyone.

We have been thinking about the danger of location data on cellphones for a long time at Purism and have designed the Librem 5 from scratch specifically to address this risk. The NSA document describes and confirms a number of the threats I wrote about almost a year and a half ago when I introduced our “lockdown mode” feature on the Librem 5–a feature that disables all sensors on the Librem 5. In this post I’ll describe the threats the NSA presents in their document and how we address them with the Librem 5.

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Also: Librem 5 Web Apps

Open Hardware and Development Boards: Arduino, Adafruit and More

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Development
Gadgets

  • Researchers develop a simple logger for greenhouse gas flows

    Researchers at Linköping University in Sweden have developed an Arduino-based logger to measure levels of methane and carbon dioxide in greenhouse environments. The device also implements a DHT22 temperature and humidity sensor, data from which can be correlated with gas readings. Figures are stored on an SD card using an Adafruit data logging shield.

    Importantly, the team’s study outlines a procedure for calibrating the methane sensor module at atmospheric concentrations, much lower than its normal use. The entire unit can be made for around €200, or about $235 USD. While an inexpensive method for monitoring CO2 has been available for some time, this fills in the need for a low-cost methane sensor that could be used for distributed measurements.

  • 5 Great IoT starter kits

    The Internet of Things sounded stupid at first, but as you get to know more about it, the more fascinating it is to figure out how it can be used in your toaster. The idea is that you create a small device that collects a small amount of data that it sends to a service that can draw conclusions from it. You can use the same technology for devices at home. Most kits contain a single board computer with sensors and a manual to help you get started. Distributors use a range of devices in these packages; the Raspberry Pi is the most common example.

  • M.2 and Half-size mPCIe Cards Support Real-Time Ethernet and FieldBus Networks

    Hilscher cifX M.2 and half-size mini PCIe cards powered by the company’s NETX 90 network-on-chip multi-protocol Cortex-M4 SoC bring real-time Ethernet and FieldBus to compatible systems. The tiny cards are designed for PC-based devices such as IPC’s, HMI’s and robots, and support various firmware for PROFINET IO-Device, EtherNet/IP Adapter, EtherCAT Slave, or OpenModbus/TCP. The company claims its cifX M.2 (A+E key) and half-size mini PCIe cards are the smallest multiprotocol PC cards on the automation market with a size of 22×30 mm and 30×26.8 mm respectively. The cards also support extended temperature from -20°C to 70°C and offer one hardware platform for all real-time Ethernet slave protocols. Besides PROFINET IO-Device, EtherNet/IP Adapter, EtherCAT Slave, and OpenModbus/TCP, Hilscher will provide support for CC-Link IE Field Basic and Ethernet POWERLINK Slave in new firmware available in Q4 2020, and OPC UA and MQTT functionalities are planned for future releases.

  • EMIT ESP32 IoT Development Board Comes with Temperature & Humidity Sensor, 5A SPST Relay (Crowdfunding)

    ControlBits EMIT (Environmental Monitoring for the Internet of Things) is a baseboard compatible with DOIT ESP32 DevKit V1 development board and equipped with a temperature and humidity sensor, a relay, a 12-pinGPIO connector, and a MicroSD card.

Purism's Librem 5: Dogwood Thermals and Battery Life

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Gadgets

  • Dogwood Thermals and Battery Life

    Flipping the CPU to the other side of the PCB means that under heavy load, Dogwood’s screen heats up a bit more, while Chestnut heats the back cover. The way Dogwood manages heat is much more efficient, resulting in the hottest spot being 4 degrees Celsius cooler than in Chestnut.

  • Purism's Librem 5 "Dogwood" Seeing Improvements In Battery Life

    Purism has revealed more details about their improved "Dogwood" batch that will be soon shipping for their Librem 5 GNU/Linux smartphone. The battery life is longer but still short of what is provided by modern day flagship smartphones.

    Dogwood is the batch of the Librem 5 smartphone with significant hardware improvements as well as continued software improvements. Librem 5 Dogwood flips the SoC to the other side of the PCB to improve heat dissipation, upgraded to a 3600 mAh battery that is 75~80% larger than what shipped on prior revisions, and more robust build quality of the chassis/device itself.

    [...]

    - The idle battery life is just under five hours with the screen on. On another graph looking at the battery life with the screen off it appears to be just over 35k seconds, or just over nine and a half hours. Still not to get through the day and that's assuming not interacting with the phone at all, but at least better than before where the Chestnut revision got less than six hours of battery life with the screen off.

    - For battery life if just making phone calls, it's just under four hours.

Kevin Fenzi: pinephone: initial thoughts

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Reviews
Gadgets

I ordered one of the ubports editions of the pine64 pinephone and after a small amount of playing around with it, I’d like to share my thoughts.

First a little background. I’m very big on open source for many many reasons. I use Fedora rawhide for my laptop day to day and in general try and use free software wherever else I can. My phone has been a annoyance to me for many years now. Being completely closed source, apple/i-phones are right out for me, which basically just leaves android. Now you might think “Thats great, android is open source”, but it’s really not. While the source is indeed available, development is done by google in secret and dumped into the open after release. This means you don’t get a lot of the advantages of open source for android. Other forks/projects do take that android source and clean it up and make it nice, but they too are at the mercy of upstream that may change things in a new release drastically, leaving them to try and catch up for months after a new release. I’ve been using /e/ on my trusty one plus 3t for the last 3-4 years. They are based off lineageos and ‘de-google’ things from there. I’ve never found myself very excited by it, they too are trapped by the android development all taking place elsewhere. I’ve looked at other possible software, but they all have their issues.

3 or so years ago, Librem announced they were going to make a phone that was as open as they could make it, with high end specs. As far as I know some few batches have been made/distributed, but it’s still not a realized product. As part of this push however, software was created that could run on most normal linux distributions that could handle phone specific workflows. See https://source.puri.sm/Librem5 for a long list.

Fast forward to late last year: The pine64 folks, who have made a number of aarch64 based products successfully announced the pine phone. They produced a prototype like developer version and then, early this year announced the ubports version (some $’s of each phone would go to the ubports folks), cost: $150. The ubports version sold out and they have now announced a postmarketos version, also with a usb-c “dock”, more memory and a circut board fix to allow usb-c to work right. cost: $200 with dock, or $150 without.

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Devices: Raspberry Pi and Beyond

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GNU
Linux
Hardware
Gadgets

This cheap Linux smartphone can replace your PC

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GNU
Linux
Gadgets

  • This cheap Linux smartphone can replace your PC

    Pine64, a maker of Linux smartphones, has introduced its new PinePhone Convergence Package handset that can be used as a PC when plugged to an external display and a keyboard. The device costs just $199 and is aimed primarily at Linux enthusiasts.

    The PinePhone Linux smartphone is based on the Alpine Linux-based PostmarketOS that can be used both in smartphone and desktop modes.

    The smartphone mode works just like one comes to expect from a Linux-based handset, whereas the desktop mode currently acts like the second screen to the device, meaning there could be more features to come soon.

  • Could Pine64's Cheap Linux Smartphone Replace Your PC?
  • May Pine64's Low cost Linux Smartphone Change Your PC?

    TechRadar experiences on Pine64’s new “PinePhone Convergence Package deal” handset, calling it “a Linux desktop you possibly can hold in your pocket” that can be utilized as a PC when plugged into an exterior show and a keyboard.

    The machine prices simply $199 and is aimed primarily at Linux fans. The PinePhone Linux smartphone is predicated on the Alpine Linux-based PostmarketOS that can be utilized each in smartphone and desktop modes… The principle element that transforms the PinePhone right into a PC-like machine is its USB-C docking bar that options an HDMI show output, two USB Sort-A connectors, and a 10/100Mb Ethernet port.

    The thought of utilizing a smartphone with an exterior show and keyboard to run sure purposes has not gained a lot traction neither with HP’s Elite x3 Home windows Telephone 10 handset nor with Samsung’s smartphones with its DeX software program. Maybe, since Linux group is mostly extra inclined to experiment with their devices (and their time), Pine64’s PinePhone Convergence has a greater probability to be really used as a desktop by its homeowners.

PinePhone CE available for pre-order

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Linux
Gadgets

This is a follow-up to last month's PinePhone: postmarketOS community edition announcement. PINE64 and postmarketOS are teaming up to bring you the next version of this remarkable, hacker-friendly smartphone. Pre-orders are open now. Keep in mind, that you should only buy this device if you consider yourself a Linux enthusiast.

We are happy to share that in addition to the standard PinePhone CE hardware configuration, the postmarketOS CE can be ordered in an all-new Convergence Package. It comes with increased RAM (3 GB instead of 2 GB), eMMC (32 GB instead of 16 GB) and price ($199.99 instead of $149.99), as well as the nice USB-C dock seen in the picture.

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Also: New PinePhone with 3GB RAM and USB Dock Goes on Sale

Gadgets and Devices: MemGlove/Arduino, Starburst and Axiomtek

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Hardware
Gadgets
  • The MemGlove detects hand poses and recognizes objects

    Hand movements have long been used as a computer interface method, but as reported here, the MemGlove from a team of MIT CSAIL researchers takes things several steps further. This augmented glove can sense hand poses and how it’s applying pressure to an object.

    The wearable uses a novel arrangement of 16 electrodes to detect hand position based on resistance, and six fluid filled tubes that transmit pressure depending on how an item is gripped.

    An Arduino Due is used to sense these interactions, which pass information on to a computer for processing. Pose verification is accomplished with a Leap Motion sensor. By training neural networks with TensorFlow, the glove is able to identify various hand poses, as well as distinguish between 30 different household things that are grasped.

  • Startups Push Aerospace Innovation

    Entrepreneurs developing lightweight propulsion systems for satellites, cybersecurity for Linux, wireless power and a blockchain application for secure part procurement, among other emerging technologies, presented their technologies to investors, the military and industry. In 10-minute intervals, the company representatives pitched their early stage, aerospace-related technologies at Starburst Accelerator’s third U.S. Virtual Selection Committee meeting on July 9th, which was held virtually. Headquartered in Paris, Starburst's U.S. team brought in the eight hopeful companies, all vying for partnership agreements, venture capitalist funding and a chance to join Starburst's Accelerator Program. The startups’ prospective products range in level of technical readiness and prototyping stages.
    As an aerospace technology incubator, Starburst has been operating for almost 7 years. Initially, the accelerator held specific events targeted at specific stakeholder groups, such as Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Air Force or certain investor groups, explained Van Espahbodi, co-founder and managing partner at Starburst.

    Today, Espahbodi said, they are constantly scouting emerging technology solutions for 50 clients in eight countries across 21 aerospace markets, from quantum sensors, to cybersecurity, to new energy sources and propulsion, he said.

  • Quad-GbE Apollo Lake appliance has dual mini-PCIe slots

    Axiomtek’s Linux-ready “NA346” networking appliance is equipped with a Celeron N3350, 4x GbE ports with optional bypass, 2x USB 3.0, HDMI, and 2x mini-PCIe slots with mSATA and wireless support.

    Axiomtek has launched an entry-level “SD-WAN, VPN and security gateway for industrial IoT security applications.” The 146 x 118.2 x 33.5mm NA346 runs Yocto-based Linux or Win 10 on a dual-core, up to 2.4GHz Celeron N3350 with a 6W TDP from Intel’s Apollo Lake generation. The quad-GbE port networking appliance follows Axiomtek’s earlier, Apollo Lake based, 6-port NA345 and other Apollo Lake based networking gateways such as Acrosser’s 6-port AND-APL1N1FL.

How to access Samsung DeX mode on Linux and Chrome OS

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GNU
Linux
Ubuntu
Gadgets

Google has yet to offer a full-fledged desktop interface in Android, but you can access the hidden barebones version of it on some devices running Android 10. A handful of OEMs, on the other hand, offer their own implementations of the desktop mode, and Samsung’s DeX is inarguably the most polished and feature-rich option among them. The latest version of Samsung DeX can even seamlessly integrate itself with Macs and Windows PCs.

While Samsung did backport DeX for PC support to older flagships, they still don’t provide an official Linux (and Chrome OS) companion app corresponding to this handy feature. From the perspective of a regular Samsung user who uses Linux, it means that you could only access the DeX mode if you had an external display. There is no OS level limitation per se, so XDA Senior Member KMyers has decided to create a proof-of-concept technique that ultimately works as a Linux client for Samsung DeX.

[...]

Typical features like clipboard sharing and drag-and-drop installation of APK files are working without issue in this method, but sound routing is a bit messy. You might have to compile scrcpy from source, though, because the available build on the default package repository of Debian based operating systems (e.g., Ubuntu and the Crostini environment on Chrome OS) is usually outdated. This step can be particularly problematic on ARM-powered Chrome OS devices, so opt for cross-compiling instead.

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PinePhone: Community Edition (CE) Review

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GNU
Linux
Reviews
Gadgets

Following hot on the heels of my Pinebook Pro review come my impressions of the PinePhone: Community Edition (CE); a phone made by the same company, Pine64. This particular edition of the PinePhone is an updated version of their 1.1 Braveheart Edition phone, while still carrying the same $150 price tag.

Why did I decide to buy this even though I’ve already got one? Well, this new CE PinePhone has some enhancements to the printed circuit board (PCB). I wanted to see if, after buying this, I can use it as my day-to-day driver.

I ordered both the PBP and the PinePhone on the same day. Both devices suffered from delivery delay due to the COVID-19 crisis, so I upgraded my PinePhone shipping from Ascendia to DHL. I then got the phone in the mail a week after my PBP (the PBP already had DHL shipping). In all the shipping costed $30…a bit uglier than I expected, but if anything it’s probably because of the pandemic we’re in.

Before I go on ahead with my review, you may want to first skim through my original Braveheart Edition review from four months ago, as I will be skipping some of the details of the unit I’m reviewing here, since it is almost exactly the same, at least in terms of hardware.

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More in Tux Machines

5 tips for making documentation a priority in open source projects

Open source software is now mainstream; long gone are the days when open source projects attracted developers alone. Nowadays, users across numerous industries are active consumers of open source software, and you can't expect everyone to know how to use the software just by reading the code. Even for developers (including those with plenty of experience in other open source projects), good documentation serves as a valuable onboarding tool when people join a community. People who are interested in contributing to a project often start by working on documentation to get familiar with the project, the community, and the community workflow. Read more

5 reasons to run Kubernetes on your Raspberry Pi homelab

There's a saying about the cloud, and it goes something like this: The cloud is just somebody else's computer. While the cloud is actually more complex than that (it's a lot of computers), there's a lot of truth to the sentiment. When you move to the cloud, you're moving data and services and computing power to an entity you don't own or fully control. On the one hand, this frees you from having to perform administrative tasks you don't want to do, but, on the other hand, it could mean you no longer control your own computer. This is why the open source world likes to talk about an open hybrid cloud, a model that allows you to choose your own infrastructure, select your own OS, and orchestrate your workloads as you see fit. However, if you don't happen to have an open hybrid cloud available to you, you can create your own—either to help you learn how the cloud works or to serve your local network. Read more

today's howtos and leftovers

  • Linux commands for user management
  • CONSOOM All Your PODCASTS From Your Terminal With Castero
  • Install Blender 3D on Debian 10 (Buster)
  • Things To Do After Installing openSUSE Leap 15.2
  • GSoC Reports: Fuzzing Rumpkernel Syscalls, Part 2

    I have been working on Fuzzing Rumpkernel Syscalls. This blogpost details the work I have done during my second coding period.

  • Holger Levsen: DebConf7

    DebConf7 was also special because it had a very special night venue, which was in an ex-church in a rather normal building, operated as sort of community center or some such, while the old church interior was still very much visible as in everything new was build around the old stuff. And while the night venue was cool, it also ment we (video team) had no access to our machines over night (or for much of the evening), because we had to leave the university over night and the networking situation didn't allow remote access with the bandwidth needed to do anything video. The night venue had some very simple house rules, like don't rearrange stuff, don't break stuff, don't fix stuff and just a few little more and of course we broke them in the best possible way: Toresbe with the help of people I don't remember fixed the organ, which was broken for decades. And so the house sounded in some very nice new old tune and I think everybody was happy we broke that rule.

Programming Leftovers

  • Podcast: COBOL development on the mainframe

    Nic reached out when COBOL hit the news this spring to get some background on what COBOL is good for historically, and where it lives in the modern infrastructure stack. I was able to talk about the basics of COBOL and the COBOL standard, strengths today in concert with the latest mainframes, and how COBOL back-end code is now being integrated into front ends via intermediary databases and data-interchange formats like JSON, which COBOL natively supports.

  • What I learned while teaching C programming on YouTube

    The act of breaking something down in order to teach it to others can be a great way to reacquaint yourself with some old concepts and, in many cases, gain new insights. I have a YouTube channel where I demonstrate FreeDOS programs and show off classic DOS applications and games. The channel has a small following, so I tend to explore the topics directly suggested by my audience. When several subscribers asked if I could do more videos about programming, I decided to launch a new video series to teach C programming. I learned a lot from teaching C, and in the process, I came across some meaningful takeaways I think others will appreciate. Make a plan For my day job, I lead training and workshops to help new and emerging IT leaders develop new skills. Outside of regular work, I also enjoy teaching as an adjunct professor. So I'm very comfortable constructing a course outline and designing a curriculum. That's where I started. If you want to teach a subject effectively, you can't just wing it. Start by writing an outline of what topics you want to cover and figure out how each new topic will build on the previous ones. The "building block" method of adding new knowledge is key to an effective training program.

  • Google's Flutter 1.20 framework is out: VS Code extension and mobile autofill support
  • Google Engineers Propose "Machine Function Splitter" For Faster Performance

    Google engineers have been working on the Machine Function Splitter as their means of making binaries up to a few percent faster thanks to this compiler-based approach. They are now seeking to upstream the Machine Function Splitter into LLVM. The Machine Function Splitter is a code generation optimization pass for splitting code functions into hot and cold parts. They are doing this stemming from research that in roughly half of code functions that more than 50% of the code bytes are never executed but generally loaded into the CPU's data cache.

  • Modernize network function development with this Rust-based framework

    The world of networking has undergone monumental shifts over the past decade, particularly in the ongoing move from specialized hardware into software defined network functions (NFV) for data plane1 and packet processing. While the transition to software has fashioned the rise of SDN (Software-defined networking) and programmable networks, new challenges have arisen in making these functions flexible, efficient, easier to use, and fast (i.e. little to no performance overhead). Our team at Comcast wanted to both leverage what the network does best, especially with regards to its transport capacity and routing mechanisms, while also being able to develop network programs through a modern software lens—stressing testing, swift iteration, and deployment. So, with these goals in mind, we developed Capsule, a new framework for network function development, written in Rust, inspired by Berkeley's NetBricks research, and built-on Intel's Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK).

  • This Week in Rust 350
  • Firefox extended tracking protection

    This Mozilla Security Blog entry describes the new redirect-tracking protections soon to be provided by the Firefox browser.

  • Karl Dubost: Browser developer tools timeline

    I was reading In a Land Before Dev Tools by Amber, and I thought, Oh here missing in the history the beautifully chiseled Opera Dragonfly and F12 for Internet Explorer. So let's see what are all the things I myself didn't know.

  • Daniel Stenberg: Upcoming Webinar: curl: How to Make Your First Code Contribution

    Abstract: curl is a wildly popular and well-used open source tool and library, and is the result of more than 2,200 named contributors helping out. Over 800 individuals wrote at least one commit so far. In this presentation, curl’s lead developer Daniel Stenberg talks about how any developer can proceed in order to get their first code contribution submitted and ultimately landed in the curl git repository. Approach to code and commits, style, editing, pull-requests, using github etc. After you’ve seen this, you’ll know how to easily submit your improvement to curl and potentially end up running in ten billion installations world-wide.