On Fri, 16 Sep 2016 10:58:10 +0200 (CEST)
Maarten van Druten <m.vandru...@smoose.nl> wrote:

I've CC-ed the mailing list again, since the questions and the answers
are probably interesting to a broad audience.

> I have one other question, what do think what the chances are to get
> Libreboot , or maybe an Replicant Desktop port? on this laptop?
> Links:
> http://shop.lenovo.com/gb/en/tablets/lenovo/yoga/yoga-book-android/
> The laptop is shipped with Android 6.0 and the processor is an Intel®
> Atomâ„¢ x5-Z8550 Processor the bios is unknown, Lenovo sales couldn't
> give an answer yet.

== Intel Atom: ==
Since Atom is a marketing term that applies to a very wide range of
Intel processors, I have no idea if it's a good laptop freedom wise.

If it's recent enough, it probably has have a management engine.
This is really problematic, In some aspects, it's even worse than a
smartphone with shared memory between the modem and the processor
running Android or Replicant.
More information on that can be found on Wikipedia.

The management engine is a chip that runs only proprietary software, and
will refuse to run software not signed by Intel.
It usually has access to:
- The computer RAM
- Some network interfaces (WiFi, Ethernet)
It is more privileged than any software running on the x86 processor.

It can run several firmwares with different applications inside.
One of the applications is AMT. Looking at what AMT can do will give
you a taste of what that chip (the management engine) can do.

Here's the link about it:

On recent Intel hardware, this chip is required to boot your computer,
and no one found how to deactivate it yet, and, if someone does, the
devices that you buy today will probably not be relevant anymore, given
the huge amount of work required to do that.

On some old laptops supported by libreboot, it can be deactivated.
Theses laptops are fast enough for most computing tasks.

== Replicant laptop: ==

Most laptops don't have:
- A touchscreen
- A data modem
- Accelerometers
- etc

They however usually have:
- a mouse
- a keyboard
- Some network connection (WiFi, Ethernet)

Running Replicant on such laptop would not be very convenient.

The main uses cases that I see are:
- Running Android applications: F-droid has lots of applications that
  have no desktop counterpart in GNU/Linux.
  The advantage here is that probably less work is required to port
  Replicant on common laptops/desktops than finding a way to run
  Android applications under GNU/Linux, with fully free software.
  Running directly on the laptop would also offer better performances
  than using the emulator of the SDK which lacks 3D acceleration.
- When writing Android applications, the applications being written
  need to be tested. Testing on real hardware might be more appealing
  to students learning how to write Android applications.

However if there was a port for x86 laptops, that port would also work
in virtual machines with very few effort.
Since there is now a way to have virtual machines use the 3D
acceleration of the host(with virgl), fully free software, this might be
interesting too.

That said, laptops with touchscreens, accelerometers, GPS, data
modem and so on do exist.

Some Lenovo Thinkpad can have all the above. Theses are:
- The Lenovo Thinkpad X60 Tablet.
- The Lenovo Thinkpad X200 Tablet.

The former can have a free software BIOS replacement, I'm unsure of the
status of the later in libreboot, but the X200 Tablet is very hard to

Some ARM chromebooks also have free bootloaders, and some of the ones
that do, also have touchscreens and can be used as a tablet.
The "ASUS Chromebook Flip C100 (Veyron_Minnie)" is an example of that.

Note that Free software BIOS replacement on x86 and Free software
bootloader on ARM are mostly equivalent freedom wise.

Common laptops with a touchscreen would also benefit of such port.

Port requirements:
Replicant is being ported to Android 6 by Wolfgang. While doing it he
is or will also be also upstreaming the Galaxy S3 (i9300) to Linux.

The idea is that Replicant will probably work with upstream kernels
with very minor patching.

When Replicant 6 will be ready, and when it will work with upstream
kernels, it will probably be very easy to port it to some specific ARM
laptops such as the Chromebook flip.

Some time ago I tried Android x86 on a Lenovo Thinkpad X200 Tablet, and
the features commonly found on smartphones such as the touchscreen, the
data modem, the GPS weren't working.

If all x86 machines were to be targeted at once, a solution should be
found to address similar issues.

We would then need some way to probe the hardware that is not fully
driven by Linux drivers such as the modems or even some touchscreens.
This would have to scale well.

Using ACPI or at worse /sys/class/dmi/id/ may work.


Attachment: pgpCESUo2Pwy5.pgp
Description: OpenPGP digital signature

Replicant mailing list

Reply via email to