Howdy all,

I want to get some machines for the home network, and I want them to be
fully supported by only-free software.

I would be happy to pay some business in Melbourne to build it from
parts and test it, and ideally be available for warranty support.

The big trouble is finding people who can meet the free-software
requirements. Saying “free software only” doesn't ring any bells with
vendors, for the familiar reasons that nobody thinks about software

Saying “only hardware supported by Linux without binary blobs” just gets
boiled down in their head to “Linux”, and reliably leads to
disappointment when they recommend hardware that doesn't meet what I

There are some resources to help with this. But pointing a vendor at
<URL:> and asking them to choose only hardware
that gets an okay in that database is not much of an option; my money is
likely not worth it to the shop to spend their time on that site.

There are also efforts to put together computers and sell them
<URL:>; but they're patchy and poorly-available and
the store interfaces are average-to-terrible. Needless to say none of
them are in Melbourne, so delivery costs are a huge factor.

Worst of all, those well-researched complete machines are almost never
specified in detail, so I can't just say to a Melbourne shop “build me
one of these, test it with this USB stick, sell it to me, and give me
warranty support”. The information just isn't there for me to take to
the shop.

Where can I get satisfaction here? I need some or all of these

* a machine to act as ADSL + wireless router and DNS + DHCP + HTTP proxy
* a machine to act as grunty software development workstation
* a machine to act as thin desktop client
* a machine to act as home theatre for video & audio

It's not 2000 any more; even Debian now has an entirely free-software
kernel. Now all I need is to know exactly what good-quality parts to buy
to have the above functions. Surely I don't have to individually compile
all these specifications myself?

 \            “Human reason is snatching everything to itself, leaving |
  `\           nothing for faith.” —Bernard of Clairvaux, 1090–1153 CE |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney

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