[coreboot] Best Supported Laptop

Denis 'GNUtoo' Carikli GNUtoo at no-log.org
Mon Jun 3 16:03:02 CEST 2013


On Sun, 2 Jun 2013 20:54:04 -0500
slhac tivist <slhactivist at gmail.com> wrote:

> Which supported laptop is the most free?
The Lenovo X60.
> According to the laptop section of:
> http://www.coreboot.org/Supported_Motherboards#Laptops
That should probably be updated...

> The the status of the Roda and Getac board (both "OK") doesn't link to
> anything. Is the implication that coreboot works flawlessly on these
> boards? And how bad is the proprietary code? Can Getac and Roda still
> spy on me with it?
I don't know about theses, I haven't looked yet and don't own them.

> I'd like to get a chromebook. The status is "OK" but links to a page
> that says there are proprietary components.
> What is microcode?
The microcode is like a "firmware" sent to the CPU.
we don't think it's code but we don't really know.
It seem signed according to what people say on the internet, and its
purpose is to workarround hardware bugs in the CPU, by disabling paths
of executions etc...
> What is MRC.bin 
It's the memory intialization blob. it runs on the main CPU during
coreboot initalization and is proprietary.
Its size is big and we don't know what it does exactly.
> and ME.bin?
it's the Management engine, see AMT on wikipedia:
That is really really problematic.
On the X201 there are full versions of that,
on the chromebooks there are light versions, but we don't know what
theses light version do.

> Again, can google control my laptop with this code?
ME.bin and MRC.bin and the microcode are from Intel, I don't know if
google modified them or not.

> Finally, if the above options don't pan out, I could get a Lenovo. The
> X60[s] and T60[p] made no mention of proprietary code. :) Can anyone
> confirm this? That would be pretty sweet!
Theses have microcode.

Prefer the X60[s] for now because it has native graphic initialization
that will be submited for review really soon.
The T60 is very similar though, so once the code will be submited, and
if you're skilled enough you could port that code to the T60.

Note that some T60 have an ATI graphic card, that won't work with the
native graphics initialization becasue it's made for intel GPUs.

Currently native graphics initialization gives graphics in grub as a
payload. Peter Stuge has code on top of my code and I'm waiting for him
to submit it. Then I'll test it even more but I was able to load
parabola and trisquel distributions trough this method...

Without native graphics init or the non-free option rom(which the
native graphics init tries to replace) you will have no graphics during
boot and probably some memory corruption issues with lastest parabola
kernels. also nvramtool will need an extra parameter to work and cbmem
-c will not work.

Parabola is based on arch, Trisquel is based on ubuntu, both are 100%
free software.

> The Lenovo X201 supports a faster cpu, but the status links to a page
> that says it has proprietary components too...anyone know anything
> about these proprietary components? I don't want Lenovo sending my
> laptop secret messages!
It has only the ME, however you probably don't want that, especially
because it's a full one...

> Any advice would be greatly appreciated. My goal is to build a laptop
> that is 100% free of proprietary code...
Right now there are some options:
*) The Lemote netbook(not the notebook which has an ATI option rom).
*) The Lenovo X60
*) The Lenovo T60

If you also plan to run a 100% free distribution on the Lenovo X60 or
T60, you will probably need an internal or external wifi card that is
not intel(because it requires a non-free firmware).
Thinkpenguin sells some ( https://www.thinkpenguin.com/ ) that are
supported by 100% free software.

Also you probably want the dock for having serial(that's where coreboot
logs are sent). it's the best way to get logs.

The other way that would work is spkmodem, which only require an audio
cable, however it's way slower, is receive only and only works in
coreboot and grub2.

cbmem is not a really good way to obtain reliable logs because:
* it require a booted computer(up to grub or GNU/Linux).
* it truncate logs when writing is slower than the flow of execution...


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