[Tinkerphones] "We don't control our lives" - smartphones - tinkerphones - debian on smartphones

rhn opcomali.rhn at porcupinefactory.org
Fri Jul 31 09:51:16 CEST 2020


Regarding both emails, I think there's a shared concept that we have, but it's never explicitly stated, making it really hard to argue for it.

The value of having an explicit goal is that it can be talked about: different aspects are visible when spelled out, as well as tradeoffs, and people talk past each other less when they have the same idea in front of them.

We seem to understand that "smartphone" is worrisome, and "laptop" is better. But each of those is made of a large number of technologies. What differences really matter? Let me pose a few questions that can hopefully help find the important aspects.

1. Would a phone without a mobile modem be free of the control issues?
2. Would a phone where the modem can't access RAM be free of the control issues?
3. Would a phone without Android?
4. Would a phone without binary blobs?
5. Would a phone with a mobile modem but one that can't be carried outside of home?
6. Would a phone with a mobile modem but using a SIP account?
7. Would a laptop with a modem have the same issues?
8. Would a laptop with un-emulated Android have the same issues?

All in all, both a phone and a laptop are computers, and I don't really see much difference between them, apart from size (and how close the modem is to CPU, although that's not universal). Using the words as a catch-all can be useful, but it obscures the actual important things that people care about.

Maybe another way to consider it is to imagine a tablet, given that they come from both camps, and saying what's good/bad about it.

Cheers,
rhn

On Thu, 30 Jul 2020 12:54:34 +0000
Naqiao <naqiao at naqiao.hk> wrote:

> The idea of being able to run Debian on a phone is nice, but I think it misses
> the main point of the problem, this is, that mobile networks and phones are
> basically designed to control people, it's a political issue more than a
> technical one.
> 
> I think the way to go is just stop using them, at least for a while: "no phone"
> can be better than a "bad phone".
> 
> It may sound crazy at first, but technically is much easier than most people
> imagine, you can do it yourself in a few days:
> 
> - Get some virtual SIP numbers, both mobile and land-line, according to your needs.
> 
> - Redirect the SMS to your email and voice calls to your SIP account.
> 
> - Get Android emulator configured on your desktop/laptop computers, for the
>   occasional app not available for PC.
> 
> - Switch off your mobile phone and forget about it.
> 
> That's all, it just works, if enough people do that phone makers and politicians 
> will begin to change their policies, it's just a matter of how many people will
> stop using their phones.
> 
> You may think very few people will stop using them, but I'm not so sure, there
> are many people that would like to stop using their mobile phones for very
> different reasons if they had a good, socially acceptable, reason/excuse to do so.
> 
> The fact is that trying to make a current smartphone "free and non controlling"
> is a lost battle, you can get better than average, but still very far from real
> freedom, it's an asymmetric "war" where a few weak people try to defeat a few
> very powerful ones, and the outcome is clear.
> 
> But the other way around, stop using mobile phones until makers provide the
> means to use them in a free and non-controlling way, is much more easy to do and
> more likely to be successful, eventually they will prefer to lose some control
> over people and devices than to lose too many users, it's just a matter of
> numbers.
> 
> In the near future it could well become fashionable to stop using mobile phones,
> if you look around you, there are much more crazy "fashionable" things happening 
> all the time, and anyway you look at it most people could live without a mobile 
> phone, it's just a matter of changing your way of life and/or thinking ;-)
> 
> 
> On Thu, Jul 30, 2020 at 02:12:30AM +1000, Zenaan Harkness wrote:
> > With respect to "smart" phones, it can be reasonably claimed that we don't control our lives.
> > 
> > At the hardware level, the baseband (radio) computer in almost all cases has access to RAM, thus access to your passwords and keys for any open wallet or encrypted filesystem, etc.
> > 
> > Notwithstanding, we owe it to ourselves to run an operating system which at least does not deny to us, our right to install and run any software of our choosing.
> > 
> > The average Android and iOS Apple phone, is a strict walled garden into which only authorised software may be installed.
> > 
> > Software "Apps" which are not authorised (or have been banned) by either Google or Apple respectively, are not available in the respective "Play Store".
> > 
> > This is abhorrent, a centralisation of power, a blatant censorship vector, financially burdensome to those of meagre means, and fundamentally unethical in principle wrt the suppression of the basic rights of the end user (refer to Richard Stallman's GNU General Public License for details of fundamental human rights in relation to software/ apps/ computing).
> >   
> 
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