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[liberationtech] NYT: Eben Moglen Is Reshaping Internet

Eben Moglen moglen at
Wed Feb 16 17:10:41 PST 2011

On Wednesday, 16 February 2011, Jacob Appelbaum wrote:

  With the right hardware, I could easily imagine this as an Openmesh
  capable, Tor friendly, Debian Gnu/Linux system. It would allow for
  anyone to have end to end authenticated, encrypted services (web,
  ssh, jabber, etc) hosting. It would work anywhere there was a
  network connection - even behind a NAT as long as they have any
  internet connection at all:
  What are the different possible hardware platforms that are
  currently under consideration?

We're on the same page, precisely, Jacob.  That encourages me very
much.  My idea is to develop the software stack, including the rather
challenging and unprecedented UI (there are not many headless consumer
products in the world so far, and this is a headless appliance often
resembling a dustball that wants to communicate with people over a
secure link to their mobiles, if possible) in Debian, aiming generally
at the armel architecture but getting all the others mostly for free.
I see the stack degrading gracefully by removing services which the
individual target system's hardware doesn't support.  I'd like to
design a software stack that could run in all sorts of unexpected or
at least unanticipated hardware, with less than optimal peripherals,
because in some countries those may be the only readily available
devices.  (I already have been given some ideas about set-top boxes
and other ARM-based consumer electronics that are available or will
soon be available in some quite repressive societies.) Radios and
other things can be attached as USB devices, and are already somewhat
to widely available in that form.
  Whatever the platform, I suppose it will need a good hardware random
  number generator, perhaps hardware support for AES as well. 

I'd put it the other way: if they're there, we want to use them, but
this is technology we want to have be as functional as possible under
hostile conditions, which include under-capable hardware.  I would be
interested if you know of any USB strong random generating devices
(USB geiger counter, anyone?).  We should spec one and get some
factory in China to build us a bunch, perhaps.

  friendly wireless radios also sound like they would be required - is
  there a good lead on wireless hardware that isn't stuck with a
  binary blob and is actually functional today?
I'm looking forward to getting the technical leads in place who will
handle these issues.  A couple of people who would have been on my
global short list have already conditionally volunteered (did so back
at DebConf) if I can get the resources they think the job needs.
That's the process beginning now.  I hope to name those guys real
soon, and I hope everyone will say, "Yeah, HE's the right guy to deal
with the implementation issues, and SHE's got the cred Eben don't got
on the tech," and I'll joyfully go completely back to being some
lawyer or something.


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