RYF certification L5

basic freedom is the ‘privilege’ to NOT be evicted from the ‘Matrix’ before the end-of-your-natural life span … but the way things are going that might change soon-ish

I must say, I’m very pleased by your answers :relaxed:
And I hope you are able to get your RYF answers that way by directely contacting both sides

Like you, I have a old CPU for my main computer (6cores, 2,8Ghz, 125W TDP)
But in speed comparaison with a much recent CPU (4 cores, 1.9Ghz, 25W TDP) on an other computer, my old one get completely crushed by it
There is more than Cores and Ghz to obtain a better speed (and less power consumption)

What we can hope is that they can bring in futur what you expect, but it is far from an easy way for a small company (the only one doing something like that ?)

I guess they could do some bottom range laptop with the 4256 EE (2011 CPU without PSP, 8cores, 1.6Ghz, 35WTDP), it could be nice ! But I guess the problem facing here is the production of the CPU.
I really not sure that a powerPC CPU is realistic here (even Apple 50% owner abandoned it for Intel because of performances)

I totally agree with you here, but again those are old and probably not produced anymore

Antisemitic stereotypes are not funny but oppressive.
Please delete.


agreed … it’s bad enough that only a few people have so much financial power and they have traditionally been using it to upset the democratic balance of power in each state (the U.S is just the most prominent in the past century) no need to make semitic distinctions …

This thread is heading to reclassification as “round table” topic…

I think you have some valid points there. I also think that most anthropological achievements have not been created suddenly but have been evolutionary developed . In other words they were made step by step, generation by generation.

The development of the L5 looks to me like Purism is taking multiple stairs at once. That is way harder. The risk of failure is higher. So that one big step is harder, larger and longer than an ordinary step but compared to multiple ordinary steps it may still be faster.

Also sometimes a coming development can be anticipated. Knowledge has come to a certain level so that the development of X is the next logical step. It’s lying in the air. It is just not 100% sure that it really can be achieved until someone proofs. We see that in history of science and engineering when there are people competing with each other to do this next step (sometimes unknowingly of each other). Examples are decoding of Egyptian hieroglyphics, discovery of Neptune, built of jet turbine engine and first aircraft flight (Weisshaupt vs Br. Wright). All fascinating stories.

Now there is also a next step lying in the air. The development of free or at least open chips. I am no specialist but that’s the impression I got when reading tech news. Now there are news about upcoming RISC V HW. It seems that development is getting forward and maybe accelerates.

So I see Purism work still as a trade off, while pushing the boundary really forward. I don’t know if there are really 100% chips out there. With such another trade of could be made. Maybe 100% free but maybe with the disadvantage of low performance. Keep in mind that today even websites consume relative many resources. Also we would have to find someone who produces such systems of built them on our own.

So I still hope that the journey will go on to push the boundary even further with 100% free firmware, microcode and chip architectures but that will probably come step by step and we have to be patient. What Purism is doing so far is already pretty much and prety hard anf they deserve every help they can get.


Purism deserved some criticism between 2015 and 2017 because its initial crowdfunding promised that that the L15v1 would have a freed BIOS and it took Purism over 2 years to fulfill that promise. However, Purism was the first company to sell new PCs with the Intel Management Engine neutralized, and its example pushed System76, ThinkPenguin and TUXEDO Computers to start doing the same. Purism was the first company to sell new Linux laptops with Coreboot preinstalled which weren’t locked-down Chromebooks. Its example pushed System76 to start doing the same.

If you want an x86 processor built after 2008, Purism is the best company available in terms of free software. At this point, Purism has managed to replace UEFI with Coreboot, get rid of the proprietary VGA BIOS, and neutralize and zero out 90%-92% of the ME’s code. The only proprietary parts that remain are the Firmware Support Package and microcode, which are impossible to free without help from Intel. Purism was the second commercial company (after Libiquity) to create an FSF-endorsed distro, and PureOS is the highest ranked 100% free distro. DistroWatch ranks PureOS at #51 over the last 6 months compared to Trisquel at #72.

As for RYF certification of the L5, Purism is the first company to ever seek RYF for a mobile device and there is no indication that Purism won’t eventually get it. At this point, Purism still has to demonstrate that it can make the two cameras and the smartcard reader function with 100% free software, but the bug reports for the front (selfie) camera, back camera and the smartcard reader don’t indicate that proprietary code will be needed. It makes sense to me that the FSF will hold off on certifying the L5 until those features are ready. Given that there currently isn’t a single laptop, tablet or phone with RYF certification, the fact that the L5 is so close really is a huge accomplishment.

I don’t see a better path for Purism to pursue if the goal is to produce usable devices that respect user’s freedom.

As I see it, the Power ISA architecture is a dead end. IBM has demonstrated that it is only interested in making making high-powered chips for servers that cost an arm and a leg and suck huge amounts of power and NXP stopped designing new Power ISA chips back in 2012. RaptorCS has done the best that it can with IBM’s over-priced POWER9 chips, but I don’t see it as ever being a viable solution for normal people. At some point, powerpc-notebook.org may actually manage to finally start selling a laptop that runs on NXP’s antiquated PowerPC e6500 chip from 2012, but there is zero chance that NXP will ever produce another PowerPC chip, so I don’t see much point in pursuing a dead end that has no future.

As I see it, Allwinner is also a dead end, because of the company’s attitude toward the community. Amlogic doesn’t have any decent chips in the offing. Snapdragon and Exynos do eventually get mainline Linux support, but they will always require proprietary blobs for the WiFi, Bluetooth, cellular modem and GNSS. MediaTek has no interest in collaborating with the community. Rockchip and NXP’s i.MX 8M are the only realistic paths forward in the near future for mobile chips, and nobody has any idea when the ARM “Natty” GPU will be supported by Mesa, so you can’t plan on doing anything with the RK35xx in the future. Basically you are stuck with the RK3399 which can only barely boot with 100% free software or pouring tons of time and labor into making the i.MX 8M Quad work, which is what Purism is doing.

The only other viable strategy is create an FPGA that uses some experimental RISC-V core which is going to have horrible performance for the price or to pray that Alibaba or NXP produces something in the next year or two that you can use. SiFive seems to have no interest in running on 100% free software.

Installing free software in ancient hardware is a waste of time in my opinion. The first problem is that nobody is maintaining the Libreboot code and nobody is working on making Libreboot code work better on the X200, T400, T500 and W500, so it is always going to be a suboptimal solution. In order to be able to pay people to work on the code, you need to charge a significant markup, and none of the half dozen companies that sell old Thinkpads with Libreboot are able to charge enough to pay for programming work. Nobody is going to pay more than $500-$600 for laptops that are 13 years old, so there is no way to pay developers to work on Libreboot.

The second major problem is that buying used hardware from 2008 and installed free software does nothing to actually change the hardware industry. Tiny companies like Purism, OLIMEX or PINE64 that design NEW hardware have some hope of actually getting component manufacturers like NXP, Silicon Labs, Thales, BroadMobi, etc. to listen to them, so their hardware becomes more compatible with free software. Nonetheless, companies like Libiquity, RetroFreedom, TechnoEthical, Vikings, Zerocat and Nitrokey that sell old hardware with free software have zero influence over the component suppliers, so there is no chance of ever improving the situation in the long term.

Given the choices, it seems to me that Purism is already pursuing the best available path. If Alibaba or NXP actually start producing RISC-V chips that Purism can use, Purism should jump on them, but Purism can’t be in the business of doing chip design. Likewise, if Luke Leighton’s libre-soc.org ever produces anything, Purism should make a device based on it. However, Purism doesn’t have the resources to do original CPU design, so it is unrealistic to expect it to do cuttting-edge work with RISC-V.


i see Amos is as concise as ever … :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Next time I’ll try a short, cryptic response like @reC: “there is no better RYF path for il cinque!”


the assumption here is that OpenPOWER === IBM. IBM is only one of many implementors of the OpenPOWER ISA. The OpenPOWER Foundation is being very supportive of Libre-SOC’s efforts to add modern Vectorisation to OpenPOWER.

they don’t have to. we are putting an experienced business team together, to commercialise LibreSOC, and that means that multiple customers all together get what they want, where just one customer on their own could not.

we have two customers already: ideally we need three more. Purism would be a great 3rd.


That sounds very interesting. Who is “we” here?


It is not the microcode that is broken, it’s the essential design of the processor. All out-of-order chips have this issue to some extent. Microcode updates make certain certain software mitigations easier, but don’t fix the problem on their own. Microcode is quite limited in what it can do.



There already is some relationship with Purism: see section 3 " Our sponsors and partners" on https://libre-soc.org/, although as a funder rather than a customer. @amosbatto’s original point is a good one IMHO:

if Luke Leighton’s libre-soc.org ever produces anything, Purism should make a device based on it.

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LibreSOC business team.

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I am a Free Software user since early 2000s and I’m wondering if we’ll ever get there to have fully liberated hardware on demand. Seems like its been a game of catch up since forever. Maybe by the time fully free PC systems become a viable option, that (ancient) platform will be obsoleted by whichever new technology (quantum computing as a platform, etc …)

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Actually it all started with HW that was fully controlled by the owner. Moreover in de beginning the software came free with the HW. Problem was that the average Joe could not afford the HW (or did not have enough electric power to operate). Later every PC was more or less “open”, everybody could build one with standardized parts (mainly from Taiwan). After a while the big companies got gradually more control starting with Intel/MS - EFI/EUFI. All for your protection …

Conclusion: New technology starts mostly free, commercial control comes when things get mainstream and is a strong force (with lots of propaganda as “for your own good”)