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[liberationtech] Chromebooks for Risky Situations?

Andreas Bader noergelpizza at
Tue Feb 12 00:01:37 PST 2013

On 02/12/2013 12:46 AM, Rich Kulawiec wrote:
> On Mon, Feb 11, 2013 at 05:54:19PM +0100, Andreas Bader wrote:
>> Don't you think that e.g. DSL (Damn Small Linux) has less code than Android?
> I don't know.  While I'm somewhat familiar with DSL, I don't use
> Android and know very little about it.  I just did a little searching
> and see various figures cited for both, but nothing that seems to
> be recent/comprehensive/accurate.
> I suspect that my reaction to both, though, would be "too many". ;-)
DSL has a size of 50 MB, Puppy is also small. Chrome OS seems to be much
bigger (maybe Jake can tell us details).
I think that if you compile your own small kernel and kick out all the
needless stuff you can create a much smaller (and more secure?) kernel.
>> I mean you can't simplify that by saying "This System is the most
>> secure" if you mean "this system is the smallest.".
> You're right.  We can't.  But if we accept as a starting premise
> that to a first approximation "the number of security holes" is
> roughly proportional to "the size of the system" -- and that usually
> seems to be true -- then smaller is probably better.
So why not create a own OS that is really small because of its security?
Chrome OS is small because it's cheap. If you were right then Android
was the most secure system. Aren't there any Android viruses? RedHat
seems to have less security holes than Chrome OS.
>> I think you have to achieve a good compromise between security and
>> simplicity.
> I don't think so: I think the best way to achieve security IS simplicity.
> That's why, for example, I suggest having *no* update mechanism other
> than a complete reinstall of everything -- or more likely, a 1-for-1 swap
> of the readonly device holding the OS.  If there is no update mechanism,
> then it can't be broken.  It can't be used to feed in malware.  It can't
> be used to figure out who's running the OS.  It doesn't exist, so all
> of the possible things that could go wrong with it don't exist either.
> I contend that this is simpler than trying to build one and then solve
> all the problems that its existence creates.
Chrome OS is not an OS optimized for security.
An OS optimized for security is an own OS. What if users want to use
stuff like FDE, PGP, different certificates, all the software you use
for secure information and communication. They depend on Google. They
have to release it and allow you to use it on their OS. And we have to
respect that, because it is a requirement for their working security.


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