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FSF: back the Raptor Talos Secure Workstation

A message from Donald Robertson of the Free Software Foundation, quoted verbatim:

Support the Talos Secure Workstation by January 14th Raptor Computing Systems is crowdfunding on Crowd Supply to produce, from the ground up, a high-powered computer with no proprietary software or firmware blobs called the Talos Secure Workstation. The project’s decision to raise funds via [Crowd Supply][0] means that you can support their work with anonymous payments, and without the use of [proprietary JavaScript][1]. We wrote about this project previously, and encouraged people to [voice their support][2]. While there are several companies that offer refurbished computers that have been freed to [Respect Your Freedom][3], the Talos Secure Workstation will be built from its inception with freedom in mind. But in order for that to happen, the project needs your help to meet their fund raising goal. The project has set a crowdfunding goal of $3.7 million and still has a ways to go to reach that mark. It may seem like they are asking for a lot of money, but relative to the scope of what the folks at Raptor Computing are trying to accomplish, it is a small amount. As Raptor Computing Systems Senior Electrical Engineer Timothy Pearson explained:

‘Large, complex systems such as Talos require minimum order quantities to be met for the component parts in use, in addition to R&D expenditure for prototyping, validation, and conformance testing. We have set the goal at the minimum level required to ensure that we can not only design the Talos systems, but also purchase the parts needed to manufacture these complex machines.’

They need every dollar they can get to make this system a reality. It is a difficult goal, but also one that is critical for the future of free computing. As they note in their explanation[4] of the problem:

‘As of this writing, all currently manufactured, low- to mid-range and higher x86 devices, with the exception of two obsolete AMD CPUs, incorporate a security processor that is cryptographically signed, updateable, unauditable, and for which no source code or documentation has been made public. Worse, these security processors must load and continually execute this signed firmware for the system to either be brought online (AMD) or for it to remain operational (Intel).’

If we want a future in which we can continue to have fully free systems that run only free software, we have to build that future ourselves. The Talos Secure Workstation is a proposed system to help secure that future. Their plans are to create a device that will meet the criteria for [Respects Your Freedom][3] certification, but in order for their plans to come to fruition, they need your help. You can support their work by backing the project via their [crowdfunding page][0], or even better, by purchasing a mainboard andaccessory package. Every little bit counts. Will you help support the future of free computing?

[0]: https://www.crowdsupply.com/raptor-computing-systems/talos-secure-workstation
[1]: https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/javascript-trap.en.html
[2]: https://www.fsf.org/blogs/licensing/interested-in-a-powerful-free-software-friendly-workstation
[3]: https://www.fsf.org/resources/hw/endorsement/respects-your-freedom
[4]: https://www.crowdsupply.com/raptor-computing-systems/talos-secure-workstation/updates/a-word-on-lockdown

 

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