New Post: The General Purpose Computer In Your Pocket

Computers have us surrounded. Just about every piece of consumer electronics these days puts “smart” in front of the name, which means they embedded a computer that runs specialized software. The “smart” trend started with “smartphones” which marketers started calling cellular phones once they got powerful enough processors to run a general-purpose operating system and applications. The name “smartphone” was intended to differentiate them from “feature phones” which had a limited set of additional applications (calculator, SMS application, possibly a music player or a limited web browser). Feature phones were designed to make phone calls and send text messages, but smartphones were actually general-purpose computers that happened to have a phone and SMS application on them.

Today, a majority of people hardly ever use their smartphone as a phone and instead use it to chat, browse the web, and run applications–the same things they do on their desktop or laptop computers. Your smartphone is a pocket-sized general-purpose computer that’s more powerful than desktop computers from not that long ago, yet smartphones are prevented from realizing their full potential, are still marketed as special-purpose computers, and most people think of them that way. Why?

One of the neatest tricks Big Tech ever pulled was convincing people that phones weren’t general-purpose computers and should have different rules than laptops or desktops. These rules conveniently give the vendor more control so that you don’t own a smartphone so much as you rent it. Now that the public has accepted these new rules for phones, vendors are starting to apply the same rules to laptops and desktops.

Read more below:

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When plugged into an external monitor, the L5 itself needs to act as a touch-pad with a pop-up keyboard in landscape orientation. IMO, this would be an extremely useful addition for convergence.

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Software You Can’t Remove

The fact that I can’t uninstall Facebook and some other apps I never use from my Android phone is infuriating. You only have the option to “Disable” them, whatever that means.

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Great post. The only thing that I would add is that phones often have a locked bootloader that can’t be unlocked by the user, so it is impossible to install another operating system on the phone. Huawei and Apple, which are the second and third largest phone makers in the world, lock the bootloaders on all their phones. For other phone makers, it depends on the particular model and the policies of the cellular provider whether the user is allowed to unlock the bootloader. For most phones, the user has to ask the phone maker for a special code to unlock the bootloader so they can revoke the right to unlock the bootloader (as Huawei did in 2018). Most phone makers have a policy saying that unlocking the bootloader may void the phone’s warranty. What this means is that many phones prevent their users from replacing the pre-installed software of the phone maker.

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It’s a good point. That could have been an additional section in my article, because that’s also a unique rule for phones that is starting to trickle over into laptops and desktops. Imagine if Microsoft in the `90s actively prohibited you from installing Linux on a computer? I was a bit reluctant to get into the weeds of unlocking and rooting, although I guess on the other hand, the fact that “rooting” is even a thing, points again to the different rules if a computer is in a phone form-factor versus a laptop or desktop. It almost makes me want to post an addendum to the article…

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I have read a ton of articles talking about the wonders of ARM-based laptops in the future, but I haven’t seen a single article warning about how ARM-based laptops in the future are likely to prevent the user from rooting/jailbreaking the device and how the user probably won’t be able to unlock the bootloader. Nobody seems to be talking about the downsides of these evil practices for PCs. It would be great if Purism posted something on this.

Here is my cautionary tale about what happened to me trying to unlock the bootloader on my phone:

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it means that if you mark it as ‘disabled’ the snoople-os marks you as an ‘outlier’ … this issue is basically treated as a ‘burn-the-books’ type of thing … as if faceborg had anything to do with books …

Today, a majority of people hardly ever use their smartphone as a phone and instead use it to chat, browse the web, and run applications–the same things they do on their desktop or laptop computers. Your smartphone is a pocket-sized general-purpose computer that’s more powerful than desktop computers from not that long ago, yet smartphones are prevented from realizing their full potential, are still marketed as special-purpose computers, and most people think of them that way. Why?

good question. any black-box modem present in any ‘phone’ without a way of isolation is basically a non-stop IOT device. if we can’t prove that it is NOT let’s just convene that it IS and formulate our strategy from this idea.

if it wasn’t a black-box you still would have to trust but verify so i would think that the situation for the majority of users is to treat it with caution, otherwise …

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Seems to be available already (L5 as touchpad). Video: Librem 5 media (photos and videos)

However, if you look at something like the Nexdock, or the external monitor that I have, then the external display itself has touch functionality. Hopefully that works (too) - as I think that may be more intuitive.

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And you know what? Since we can’t verify the source code, you may well be right!

Well our in house magicians also thought about that:

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They would have if not for the antitrust case, but they still effectively managed to keep PCs preloaded with Linux (or any other alternative OSes) out of stores. (Pre-internet shopping days.) Apple and Google could follow their lead to keep Linux phones out of major cell service carrier choices.

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We are looking into nextdock

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Where else are you looking…? :eye:

Is the term now portable, pocket or purism general purpose computer (PGPC)?

In this case:

  • the Holy Grail of true convergence across devices as a general principle

In general:

  • software freedom
  • user respecting software (and by that include privacy respecting)
  • Ethical services and service providers that use only Free Software and open standards that can federate
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I think you chose the right cup
(looking at the skeletons around you… :wink: )

Is that a Indiana Jones movie reference :wink:

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Why yes it is. I was considering going Monty Python but that came to mind first :slight_smile:

If you go monthy python you have a fan here :smiley:

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I can’t really blame them. After all, Linux is Cancer

(ɯsɐɔɹɐs sᴉ sᴉɥʇ)

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