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GNU is Not Unix Graphics Open Source Privacy Hardware

Talos Secure Workstation Is Free-Software Centric — and $3100 [Updated] 117

jones_supa writes: These days, the motivation to use open source software for many people is to avoid backdoors placed by intelligence organizations and to avoid software that has hidden privacy-intruding characteristics. For the operating system and userspace software, open choices are already available. The last remaining island has been the firmware included in various ROM chips in a computer. Libreboot has introduced an open BIOS, but it is not available for newer systems featuring the Intel ME or AMD PSP management features. Talos' Secure Workstation fills this need, providing a modern system with 8-core POWER8 CPU, 132 GB RAM, and open firmware. The product is currently in a pre-release phase where Raptor Engineering is trying to understand if it's possible to do a production run of the machine. If you are interested, it's worth visiting the official website. Adds an anonymous reader about the new system, which rings in at a steep $3100: "While the engineers found solace in the POWER8 architecture with being more open than AMD/Intel CPUs, they still are searching for a graphics card that is open enough to receive the FSF Respect Your Freedom certification." Update: 02/08 18:44 GMT by T : See also Linux hacker and IBM employee Stewart Smith's talk from the just-completed on, in which he walks through "all of the firmware components and what they do, including the boot sequence from power being applied up to booting an operating system." Update: 02/08 23:30 GMT by T :FSF Licensing & Compliance Manager Joshua Gay wrote to correct the headline originally appeared with this story, which said that the Talos workstation described was "FSF Certified"; that claim was an error I introduced. "The FSF has not certified this hardware," says Gay, "nor is it currently reviewing the hardware for FSF certification." Sorry for the confusion.
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Talos Secure Workstation Is Free-Software Centric — and $3100 [Updated]

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  • if you want an open enough GPU card. It won't have much for GPU performance but it could be all open. Oh and don't forget to only use the fully open FPGA tools or kittens may die.

  • Does it run Microsoft Windows?

    • It wouldn't be secure any more if it did...
      • Woosh!

        • Sorry, I wasn't sure if you were setting up for a joke or if you were actually asking a question because you wanted to know the answer. You just never know around here any more...
          • We had someone earlier who asked what a DLL was [] just a bit earlier today.

            Even more incredibly, he got modded +5, Informative.

            O tempores, O mores... *weeps*

            • Okay. I guess the community's dumbed down enough that asking whether an open hardware system (running on a POWER chip could run the security nightmare which is Microsoft Windows 10) could run MS Windows could conceivably be a valid question.

              My, how this community has slid. :-(

              I'm just going to go back into lurking mode and tend to my lawn, I guess.

              • by KGIII ( 973947 )

                Don't let it get you down. It seems to be improving enough that I actually remarked on it in my journal earlier. I've noticed a bunch of familiar faces coming back and posting again (though some of them seem a bit sheepish at first). I've noticed a LOT more lower ID numbers in the threads. The quality of conversation and comments has gone up, quite a bit actually, in just the past week and a half. I'm not sure what that says about the person asking about a DLL but it does mean that there *might* be good thi

                • The signal-to-noise ratio has definitely improved; spamming and clickbait seem to be down quite a lot. Article selection has got heaps better IMNSHO.

      • It wouldn't be secure any more if it did...

        OH MAN BURN!!!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      No, and this is a strong selling point, given how much Windows 10 spies on its users, even when you ask it not to report to Redmond.
      Maybe you can emulate it, with suitable filtering on the network packets.

    • What about.

      Mac os X?

      Amiga os 4.X?

  • Does the purchase price come with some sort of bond or insurance if the system doesnt live up to the claim?
    • Advertising must be "legal, decent honest and truthful" (at least, it does in this country), so if you read what is actually said in the advertising, and carefully understand it, then you have redress through standard consumer law if you have an issue.

      Of course, part of the skill of advertising is to say one thing which readers will interpret to mean something else. But that is the fault of advert readers hearing what they want to hear for whatever reason.

      I don't have to write advertising. But I do have t

  • Certainly it can be done, but I'm not sure why one would want to do that. Did they mean 128GB? Or 32GB?

    I've clicked through the links and I can't find anything that actually says how much RAM you get on this system.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      According to the prerelease specs [] page, it's actually 256GB.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        According to the prerelease specs [] page, it's actually 256GB.

        With ECC! Which makes it look not cheap, but decent. Intel charge an arm (not an ARM) and a leg for ECC capable processors.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          No they don't. i3 and most Pentiums support ECC.

          • by fnj ( 64210 )

            No they don't. i3 and most Pentiums support ECC.

            Ignoramus. It's the e3 and e5 server/workstation chips that support ECC, not the i3. That said, there are some e3's that are pretty good buys and work in the same socket 1150 and 1151 motherboards as the i3/i5/i7, but it's pretty hard to find MOTHERBOARDS that support ECC RAM for anything less than a king's ransom. Hard but not impossible. There are a couple of excellent Asrock "workstation" socket 1150 ATX motherboards at well under $200, and with excellent s

    • Go to page 2 of the link ... 131073MB of RAM (1024x128) ... which, as you point out, is probably 128GB in terms of being 1024x1024x128.

      It is listed, but the interpretation of how much that actually is might be sketchy.

    • You didn't drill down deep enough. They're not specifying an amount of RAM (it hasn't been released yet; when released they'll probably sell varying configurations), but the specs say "8 DDR3 RDIMM slots w/ ECC support (2 memory controllers, 256GB maximum)".

      • I made it down to that point, which is why I was wondering how the slashdot summary came to

        8-core POWER8 CPU, 132 GB RAM, and open firmware.

        Your interpretation of the website matches my own and for essentially the same reasons.

    • by bug1 ( 96678 )

      With four 33GB.
      They where originally 32GB, but the manufacturer was having a sale and was giving an extra GB free !


  • But ... but ... didn't the Empire outlaw Talos worship []?

  • Can it run Crysis at a reasonable framerate?
  • by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Monday February 08, 2016 @03:21PM (#51464345) Homepage Journal

    Making some observations from recent events, I've noticed:

    1) You can order a computer, and the delivery can be intercepted [] so that spyware can be installed. Especially laptops, which are difficult for the end user to peek inside.

    2) The Intel management engine is essentially an attached microprocessor with complete and total remote control [] of your system, including access to all peripherals, the network, the disk data, and the ability to wake up and run while the main computer is off.

    3) The Intel built-in programmable number generator was built in a way to be unverifiable []. Essentially, the system reads physically generated random data and puts it through a hashing algorithm before giving it to the user. If the random number generator section is damaged (say, if someone modified the chip mask films before fab), you will get much less than the advertized 256-bits of entropy, but because the data is hashed there is no way to tell.

    Buy American!

    • One day a guy told in Reddit [] that he was able to access his parents' laptop through Intel ME even though the Ethernet chip was supposedly disabled. Creeepyyy.
      • The thing I find most funny about this is that most people pay extra for a motherboard with these features.

    • Buy American!

      Given the myriad (and I'm not using that term in jest here) of ways that a computer could be compromised, I am not the least bit worried about 1 and 3. Number 2 is a bit more interesting but so far it's nothing that can't be blocked at a firewall and as always restricting physical access should be a priority.

  • Probably not.

    There is firmware in the BMC - the hard drives, several other places - are they making the claim that ALL of these have open source code? Open microcode?

    I didn't see any mention of Linux Bios.. hate getting information via videos.. You really don't need a separate processor to start up the main one - and it provides huge security holes when you do.

    I've wondered what systems the spooks use for their security - there are hints about power 8 - not sure.

    • (Disclosure: IBMer working in Power Systems, opinions my own)

      For the BMC, it appears that they're looking to use OpenBMC [], a project started by Facebook and now being continued by IBM.

      They're also going to use the OpenPOWER firmware stack - Hostboot [] for system initialisation, Skiboot [] for runtime firmware/BIOS and the OCC [] firmware for on-chip thermal and power management. All of this is Apache-licensed.

      POWER8 processors do require an external CPU to boot them - either an IBM Flexible Service Processor or a th

  • I still have Mac Mini (Freescale PowerPC G4) which I used for Debian development for half a decade, and which is now idle with a FreeBSD 10.2 install at present, and while I went to Intel and AMD for my last two systems, I'd certainly welcome a return to an affordable POWER system. I've been pretty disappointed in the state of open hardware for a good while.

    I was looking at the offer for an OpenPOWER system from Tyan ( but I'd prefer a workstation rather than a rackm

  • I'm waiting for the Talos IV. I hear it'll be killer.

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.