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

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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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  • 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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  • 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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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 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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This cheap Linux smartphone can replace your PC

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  • 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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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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  • 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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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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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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SUSE/OpenSUSE: Tumbleweed, YaST and Corporate Stuff

  • Skopeo, xxHash, GCC 10.2 are Among Updates in Tumbleweed

    openSUSE Tumbleweed had continuous daily snapshots with a handful of software package updates this week. Many minor-version updates and one major-version update became available to Tumbleweed users and the newest snapshot, 20200804, updated the iso-codes package, which lists country, language and currency names; the new 4.5.0 version updated translations and the subdivision names for Belarus. The Greybird Geeko theme was updated to improve contrast of gtk2 selection background color. The desktop calculator qalculate was updated to version 3.12.0 and improved exact simplification of roots. The fast hash algorithm xxhash 0.8.0 stablized the XXH3. Both libyui-ncurses and ncurses had minor updates. The snapshot is trending stable with a rating of 97, according to the Tumbleweed snapshot reviewer.

  • Digest of YaST Development Sprint 105

    Although a significant part of the YaST Team is enjoying their well deserved summer vacations, the development wheel keeps turning. During the latest two weeks we have fixed quite some bugs in several parts of (Auto)YaST. But listing fixed bugs it’s quite boring, so let’s focus on more interesting stuff we have also achieved.

  • Open Source for the Edge at IoT World

    As technologies converge to drive new innovation at the edge, organizations are working together more than ever to pave the road forward by combining the likes of 5G, AI/ML, Embedded Systems, High Performance Computing, Kubernetes, private/public environments and more. Companies are bringing specific domain expertise to the table, and SUSE is uniquely positioned with 28 years of Linux and open source expertise to serve as the foundation for developing, distributing and managing edge systems and the critical workloads they will support.

  • SUSE Partner Summit – Coming to a digital platform in mid-September!

Linux 5.9: Seccomp Notifier, RISC-V and DebugFS

  • The Seccomp Notifier - Cranking up the crazy with bpf()

    The 2. feature just landed in the merge window for v5.9. So what better time than now to boot a v5.9 pre-rc1 kernel and play with the new features. I said that these features make it possible to intercept syscalls that return file descriptors or that pass file descriptors to the kernel. Syscalls that come to mind are open(), connect(), dup2(), but also bpf(). People that read the first blogpost might not have realized how crazy^serious one can get with these two new features so I thought it be a good exercise to illustrate it. And what better victim than bpf(). As we know, bpf() and unprivileged containers don't get along too well. But that doesn't need to be the case. For the demo you're about to see I enabled LXD to supervise the bpf() syscalls for tasks running in unprivileged containers. We will intercept the bpf() syscalls for the BPF_PROG_LOAD command for BPF_PROG_TYPE_CGROUP_DEVICE program types and the BPF_PROG_ATTACH, and BPF_PROG_DETACH commands for the BPF_CGROUP_DEVICE attach type. This allows a nested unprivileged container to load its own device profile in the cgroup2 hierarchy.

  • RISC-V Software Support Adds More Features With Linux 5.9

    More kernel architecture features continue to be supported by the RISC-V code with Linux 5.9. Each kernel cycle we have been seeing more RISC-V code get squared away and over the past year has begun running nicely on the likes of SiFive's HiFive Unleashed.

  • Linux 5.9 Exposes Device Link Details Via Sysfs, Allows Hiding DebugFS From User-Space

    There are a few driver core changes for the Linux 5.9 kernel worth mentioning. Exciting changes to the core driver infrastructure for the mainline Linux kernel are rare though this time around are a few alterations worth pointing out: - The recently covered work by Sony on being able to allow restricting user-space access to DebugFS while keeping the debug feature enabled is in Linux 5.9. While most distributions / Linux configurations already restrict DebugFS access to root / admin privileges, as this file-system often exposes sensitive system information, the change by Sony allows for it to be initialized but not accessible from user-space. Sony's focus on this effort appears to be in line of further securing their Android smartphones.

Graphics: Mesa 20.2 RC, NVIDIA HPC SDK and Mike Blumenkrantz on Shader Testing

  • mesa 20.2.0-rc1
    Hi list,
    The mesa 20.2 release cycle is officially underway! A new staging/20.2 and 20.2
    branch have been pushed, and 20.2.0-rc1 is now officially available for your
    consumption. Please enjoy responsibly.
    I'm still planning to have a normal -rc cadence on wednesdays. I do apologize if
    I'm a bit slow to respond, especially to email. Please ping me on matrix or irc
    if I've missed something from you.
  • Mesa 20.2 Development Ends After Many New Features Land

    Feature work on Mesa 20.2 is now over with the code having been branched today and Mesa 20.2-RC1 subsequently issued. There will now be weekly release candidates until this quarter's release is ready, which is likely to happen at some point in September depending upon how many blocker bugs are discovered and in turn how long it takes to get those issues resolved. Ideally the Mesa 20.2.0 release will happen in early September.

  • NVIDIA Releases Their Previously Announced HPC SDK

    Earlier this year at GTC Digital was the announcement of the NVIDIA High Performance Computing Software Development Kit while this week they have finally released this HPC SDK for developers at large. The NVIDIA HPC SDK aims to make it easy to deploy HPC workloads not only on NVIDIA GPUs but also CPUs. The HPC SDK features LLVM-based C++ and Fortran compilers, including support for automatic GPU acceleration of C++17 code using parallel algorithms and Fortran intrinsics.

  • Mike Blumenkrantz: Shader Testing

    I’m back, and today’s topic is testing. Again. But this time is different. This time I’m going to be looking into a specific test format, namely piglit shader tests. Shader tests in piglit are tests which are passed through piglit’s undocumented shader_runner binary, which parses *.shader_test files at runtime to automatically produce tests based on GLSL without requiring any actual GL code and only minimal boilerplate. This makes writing tests easy, and, more importantly for my own use case, it makes debugging them easier.

Screencasts and Audiocasts: GeckoLinux, Linux Headlines and Python

  • GeckoLinux 999.200729.0 "Rolling" overview | Linux for Detail Oriented Geckos

    In this video, I am going to show an overview of GeckoLinux 999.200729.0 and some of the applications pre-installed.

  • 2020-08-07 | Linux Headlines

    The Free Software Foundation elects a new president, security researchers warn of an attack related to Spectre and Meltdown that affects even more processor types, Ubuntu 20.04.1 is out, a new tool aims to automatically optimize laptop power without sacrificing battery life, and just two candidates are running for the vacant openSUSE board seat.

  • Test and Code: 125: pytest 6 - Anthony Sottile

    pytest 6 is out. Specifically, 6.0.1, as of July 31. And there's lots to be excited about. Anthony Sottile joins the show to discuss features, improvements, documentation updates and more.

  • Real Python: The Real Python Podcast – Episode #21: Exploring K-means Clustering and Building a Gradebook With Pandas

    Do you want to learn the how and when of implementing K-means clustering in Python? Would you like to practice your pandas skills with a real-world project? This week on the show, David Amos is back with another batch of PyCoder’s Weekly articles and projects. David talks about a Real Python article about how to perform K-means clustering in Python. We also talk about a new project based article on the site about how to create a gradebook using pandas, practicing the skills of importing, merging, and calculating across groups of data. We cover several other articles and projects from the Python community including: JPEG image decoding, object-oriented development with interfaces and mixins, sparking joy with Python, five package picks from Real Python authors, and more.