Security safety guy: "Surely you can't put a price on your families' privacy"
Homer: "You would of thought so but here we are"
Purism, a San Francisco social purpose company that emphasises privacy and free software, today flung out its latest notebook: the Librem 14. This latest device succeeds the previous Librem 13 laptop, which ran for four generations, and includes a slightly bigger display, a hexa-core Ice Lake Intel Core i7 processor, gigabit …
If they really are as fussed about all that as they say they are, why do they still insist on using Intel then? It’s not like alternatives don’t exist.
How can you trust the changes they have made themselves; have the products had full security audits with publicly available results?
Or is it all more of a marketing thing?
You can get a thing like this with an ARM processor at the core. I think there are a few like that, but the one I know about is the Pinebook Pro. It is very open, has hardware designs, firmware source, hardware killswitches. The only downsides are that, using conventionally available ARM SOCs, it is a little limited performance-wise. It maxes out at 4 GB memory, and has six relatively slow CPU cores. If you can handle the reduced performance in a laptop and want a lot of privacy and security, that's probably a good option. Otherwise, we will have to wait for more easily obtained fast SOCs or stick to X64.
This machine also uses Coreboot. Well, to clarify, it can use either Coreboot or the manufacturer's own PureBoot (for an extra charge). System76's machines are nice, but they aren't designed with the physical killswitches or with anti-tampering procedures (also has to be specially requested). It depends of course whether those features are important to you.
The ME has full access to memory (without the owner-controlled CPU cores having any knowledge); has full access to the TCP/IP stack and can send and receive network packets independently of the operating system, thus bypassing its firewall
In the context of criticism of the Intel ME and AMD Secure Technology it has been pointed out that the NSA budget request for 2013 contained a Sigint Enabling Project with the goal to "Insert vulnerabilities into commercial encryption systems, IT systems, …" and it has been conjectured that Intel ME and AMD Secure Technology might be part of that programme.
The Feds have been watching all along.
But once I read through to the bottom line, not as expensive as I'd assumed. I was expecting this to be the Leica of laptops, but for anyone who needs the privacy features it looks a reasonable option (I do like the hardware kill switches - I'm quite paranoid about the corporate Dell that has lived in my bedroom/office for the past several months). As per other respondents.... Bring on ARM. Please!
I checked out their specs page. Base RAM is 8GB. Increasing that to 16 GB costs $79 and to 32 GB costs $219. Base storage is a 250 GB SATA M.2 SSD. They have various larger and faster options.
For those outside the U.S., there are some limitations there. You'll notice I quoted all prices in dollars, because they don't seem to have prices in any other currency. They note that, while they ship, taxes in other countries are the buyer's responsibility so I can't tell you U.K. prices with VAT included. They have power adapters for U.S., U.K., and EU sockets. Not Australia, though it is a USB-PD one so that doesn't have to be a problem. Also, they only seem to have English U.S. keyboard layouts right now. If you can touch type your language on that layout, you're good. If you have an attachment to the U.K. layout, maybe they'll fix that sometime.