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[liberationtech] Chromebooks for Risky Situations?

Griffin Boyce griffinboyce at
Thu Feb 7 08:59:03 PST 2013

On Wed, Feb 6, 2013 at 5:16 PM, Jacob Appelbaum <jacob at>wrote:

> A persistent backdoor on your Chromebook is not actually impossible.

  As Nate (?) pointed out, hardware backdoors wouldn't be all that
difficult to implement, especially for someone who travels a lot. A ten
minute delay in releasing checked luggage, and the secure boot could be lot
less secure.

> Most of arguments I've heard here boil down to privileged wealthy people
> complaining that learning and mutual aid or solidarity is simply too
> hard. The worst is when people who train people in risky situations make
> those kinds of statements.

  As someone who is neither privileged nor wealthy, and who enjoys teaching
people tech, I'm gonna chime in.

  It's untrue and assumes a LOT about motivation for both users and people
training them. Chrome is not right for everyone. I don't use a chromebook
and don't recommend it for most people. It's a vast improvement over
Windows, particularly for people who wind up with backdoored bootleg
XP-like operating systems.

  Jake, you absolutely cannot equivocate your situation with most at-risk
people for several reasons. You're at a high risk, moreso than most at-risk
users. You're also highly intelligent and self-educated (and have the
resources to educate yourself). You exist in a milieu where there are many
who can give guidance on technology and security. You also have the
economic advantage of being able to jettison software if you suspect it's
been tampered with.  There are many different types of privilege at play,
and not everyone is in the same situation.  It's important (IMO) to
customize recommendations rather than make broad statements.

  Would it be great if we could move everyone using malware-riddled Windows
setups to Ubuntu, Debian, or BSD? Absolutely. If I could convince everyone
I know to switch to Ubuntu, that would be fucking amazing.  But I've tried
to convince numerous people to make the switch, and only a few were willing
to try the USB stick. I think two have committed to dual-booting. And
that's just the reality.

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