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Research on Fully-Free phone

Added by Trevor Best about 6 years ago

Hi All,
I've been doing research into the viability of manufacturing a fully free phone, and I was wondering where I would find information on parts. Is there some central resource for cell phone parts? Also how do I tell if they are fully free once I find them? Please forgive my naivete :)


Replies (5)

RE: Research on Fully-Free phone - Added by Paul Kocialkowski about 6 years ago

If you're looking for information which parts are good for freedom, here is a good place to ask! Generally speaking, here are some recommendations to do things right:
  • Make sure the full Linux kernel source can be released
  • Pick a platform where all the bootloaders are free software (e.g. iMX, OMAP, Allwinner)
  • Disable any signature check on the bootloaders and kernel
  • Make UART pins available for easier debugging and flashing when
    working on e.g. a free software bootloader
  • Make sure the modem is not part of the SoC and cannot access the
    phone's memory, RAM, GPS and cannot control the audio chip.
  • Make sure it is easy to reflash the phone with free software tools
  • Make sure the chips use standard protocols (Modem would use AT, GPS
    would use NMEA, etc)
  • Make sure the kernel interfaces are standard Linux interfaces (ALSA,
    V4L2, etc)
  • Use the ath9k_htc WiFi chipset, which can be embedded in a phone and
    has a free firmware
  • Use a platform with a Mali or Adreno GPU, for which we are likely to
    see a working free software implementation in the near future

In order to reliable achieve privacy, a way to disconnect the modem from its antenna is the way to go.

RE: Research on Fully-Free phone - Added by Scott Heppler about 6 years ago

"Use a platform with a Mali or Adreno GPU, for which we are likely to
see a working free software implementation in the near future"

http://tech.slashdot.org/story/14/05/27/0531232/mesa-102-will-feature-better-adreno-driver-openmax-cherryview-support

RE: Research on Fully-Free phone - Added by G S almost 6 years ago

Paul Kocialkowski wrote:

In order to reliable achieve privacy, a way to disconnect the modem from its antenna is the way to go.

Hello. I tried the antenna disconnection on some cheap android phone and the result is rather discouraging:
even with antenna disconnected the phone was still able to pick up the wifi signal from nearby wifi routers, just with way poorer strength. I had no sim card to test the signal for GSM channel but being in city with lots of cellular towers I think there is a risk that with GSM signal being strong from the outside - the disconnection of external antenna does not make much difference.

So - anyone having any experience with disabling GSM modem really properly? I just something for pocket note taking without any wifi/call functionality. So I carry it with me, take notes and export them through usb wire. There are lots of cheap Android phones to be potentially converted to such 'PDA' format - but it seems there is no reliable way to fully disable all wireless even if one is ready to cut mainboard wires and solder/un-solder stuff?

Any comments?

RE: Research on Fully-Free phone - Added by Glenn McGrath almost 6 years ago

To "disable" an antenna you could connect it to an earth (or 0v) or transmit noise into it to corrupt what it is receiving.

There is also a thing called a faraday cage, which doesnt sound very practical, but i think its the concept used behind the RFID blocking sleeves used to prevent the theft of credit cards details.

RE: Research on Fully-Free phone - Added by Paul Kocialkowski over 5 years ago

I had no sim card to test the signal for GSM channel but being in city with lots of cellular towers I think there is a risk that with GSM signal being strong from the outside - the disconnection of external antenna does not make much difference.

It would be worth trying with GSM as well, I am uncertain about whether it can still substantially use the GSM network to e.g. transmit data.

So - anyone having any experience with disabling GSM modem really properly? I just something for pocket note taking without any wifi/call functionality. So I carry it with me, take notes and export them through usb wire. There are lots of cheap Android phones to be potentially converted to such 'PDA' format - but it seems there is no reliable way to fully disable all wireless even if one is ready to cut mainboard wires and solder/un-solder stuff?

Well, you could probably just keep it powered off/not booted. I will soon (months) add instructions on how to do that for each device.

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