Would you crowdfund a $500 Ubuntu “open to the core” laptop?

UPDATE 2 (11/28) – We’re 77% of the way to 1000.  I guesstimate we would have raised at least $300,000 if this we’re a live campaign.

UPDATE - I’ve removed the silly US restriction.  I know there are more options in Europe, China, India, etc, but why shouldn’t you get access to the “open to the core” laptop!
This would definitely come with at least 3 USB ports (and at least one USB 3.0 port).

Since Jolla had success with crowdfunding a tablet, it’s a good time to see if we can get some mid-range Ubuntu laptops for sale to consumers in as many places as possible.  I’d like to get some ideas about whether there is enough demand for a very open $500 Ubuntu laptop.

Would you crowdfund this? (Core Goals)

  • 15″ 1080p Matte Screen
  • 720p Webcam with microphone
  • Spill-resistant and nice to type on keyboard
  • Intel i3+ or AMD A6+
  • Built-in Intel or AMD graphics with no proprietary firmware
  • 4 GB Ram
  • 128 GB SSD (this would be the one component that might have to be proprietary as I’m not aware of another option)
  • Ethernet 10/100/1000
  • Wireless up to N
  • HDMI
  • SD card reader
  • CoreBoot (No proprietary BIOS)
  • Ubuntu 14.04 preloaded of course
  • Agreement with manufacturer to continue selling this laptop (or similar one) with Ubuntu preloaded to consumers for at least 3 years.

Stretch Goals? Or should they be core goals?

Will only be added if they don’t push the cost up significantly (or if everyone really wants them) and can be done with 100% open source software/firmware.

  • Touchscreen
  • Convertible to Tablet
  • GPS
  • FM Tuner (and built-in antenna)
  • Digital TV Tuner (and built-in antenna)
  • Ruggedized
  • Direct sunlight readable screen
  • “Frontlight” tech.  (think Amazon PaperWhite)
  • Bluetooth
  • Backlit keyboard
  • USB Power Adapter

Take my quick survey if you want to see this happen.  If at least 1000 people say “Yes,” I’ll approach manufacturers.   The first version might just end up being a Chromebook modified with better specs, but I think that would be fine.

Link to survey – http://goo.gl/forms/bwmBf92O1d

Adobe Flash on Firefox/Linux EOL – Summary

We just ran a session [1] on what to do about the upcoming EOL for Firefox/Linux in 2017.  In short, we’re not planning to diverge from Mozilla’s direction.   The goal is to have Flash work today, and to become irrelevant over time.    Hopefully reaching the point of being irrelevant by 2017.  There are ways for you to help!  See below.

Distributing Firefox and Chrom/ium plugins now possible

A deal was reached with Adobe to distribute NPAPI and PPAPI Flash in Canonical Partners Repo!  (No more grabbing PPAPI from Chrome to get it to work in Chromium. No more “downloader” packages necessary for Firefox either.)  This should help make thin

How can you help make Flash go away?

On any browser, any platform (that has Flash of course)

Use less Flash.  See if you can do step 1.  If you can proceed to step 2, etc.

  1. Make Flash Click to Play.
  2. Disable Flash.
  3. Uninstall Flash.

To do these on Chrome, browse to chrome://plugins/,  On Firefox go to Add-ons -> Plugins.

If their is a site that doesn’t work without Flash, see if you can load their site on a mobile device.   Either way contact them and ask them nicely about removing the Flash content to get more hits, or for enabling at least the mobile site for non Flash users.

Run a Beta browser

Generally both Firefox and Chrome will push new web technologies in their Beta browser.  Many of them have the potential to help make Flash less relevant.   Help make them more stable by testing them!

https://www.google.com/chrome/browser/beta.html

https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/channel/

Run Firefox Nightly

Try running Firefox nightly.   We could always use more testers.  Specifically, we might get a more aggressive Mozilla when MSE is done being implemented (which should make youtube even more HTML5 video friendly).

Of course, there a bunch of other useful features Mozilla is working on to make browsing better.   Help would be welcome there too!  Report bugs on issues you have.

https://nightly.mozilla.org/

[2][3][4]

Other options considered.

  • We default to Chromium  – nope, let’s specifically NOT switch browsers over Flash. 
    • Outcome: That would send the completely wrong message.
  • We default to a compatible Flash alternative (Shumway, Gnash, Lightspark)
    • Outcome: That would just be a stop gap measure.  And we’ll always be playing catchup.
  • We add PPAPI support to Firefox ourselves / Hack it in
    • Outcome:  Non-starter.  Unless Mozilla adds it we don’t want the maintenance burden.

My Todo List

  • Investigate why Youtube Live videos sometimes don’t work without Flash. (Even in Chromium).
  • Figure out why my Nightly install doesn’t have working H264..
    UPDATE – because it’s not designed to yet!  See here – http://andreasgal.com/2014/10/14/openh264-now-in-firefox/
    If you have H264 working in Firefox it’s likely due to GStreamer support included in the Ubuntu (and many other distros) builds.  Upstream Gst1.0 support is waiting on infrastructure [3].

Hopefully I captured everything right.. but if I didn’t please let me know!

[1] http://summit.ubuntu.com/uos-1411/meeting/22354/adobe-flash-on-firefoxlinux-eol/
[2] https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1083588 testers wanted, run Firefox nightly
[3] https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=973274  Have RHEL 6.2 experience?  Might be useful there..
  – thread discussing how Firefox can be more aggressive against Flash.

32 bit usage – survey results

Running 32 bit Ubuntu when the hardware technically can do 64 bit
32 bit running on 64 bit capable hardware

  • hardware issues varied from EUFI 32 bit only, to printer and driver issues
  • application included wine (try building wine on 64 bit…)  and virtualization
    • some 64 bit users use 32 bit images for virtualization to use less RAM
    • Not in survey but I know of others who use 32 bit specifically to work with Android.

Arch vs Desktop Environment vs Release

Desktop environments vs arch vs release

Please do not use this to really compare desktop environments!  If multiple answers I took the least resource intensive one! (Next time I do this.. I should just require users to pick a primary one)

 Impacts over Releases

Impact

  • Switch from Ubuntu – also includes plans to stay on old unsupported version until hardware dies
  • Moderate is somewhat a catch all
  • If I do this again, I should just have a 1-5 sliding scale, in addition to a text field.
  • Users are concerned about having to throw out old machines, not having an upgrade path to go from 32-> 64 bits, and the cost to upgrade.
  • Select Comments (many more in the raw data of course!)
    • As an aspiring software developer, phasing out 32 bit support would be great for me as it means one less build to maintain.
    • I plan on reinstalling Ubuntu on this laptop as a 64bit install at some point anyway.
    • Unless the schedule changes, no impact. We’re planning to do the switch late 2015 / early 2016.
    • I will have to stay on 16.04 forever on that machine. The needed drivers are not going to be available in an open-source form.
    • My parents + my children have no PC
    • we have old PC’s in the hospital and i don’t think this hardware would be upgraded.
    • If the majority of freely given computers we receive are still 32-bit by then, we’d have to respin another distro. But, like PowerPC; all good things must come to an end.
    • Just need to figure out how to make the switch. If it means re-installing, bah.
    • It is terrible, because my eeePC only has 1GB in it.
    • One more reason to decommission the hardware.

I think the original plan can still work, but like any good survey we know have more questions to ask!

  • Lubuntu/Xubuntu support for 14.04 LTS is 3 years not 5.   It’s going to be a LOT higher impact if they don’t have support in 2019/2020 (which would be the case if 16.04 is 3 years too).   This could obviously be mitigated by moving 32 bit to ports and having it be opt in.  Lubuntu/Xubuntu 18.04 with 3 years would get us to 2021.
  • What can we do to make virt use less RAM?  (Lots of Virtualbox)
  • What can we do to make bare metal use less RAM?
  • Building Wine on 64 bit? (The two easiest methods are defunct if we remove 32 bit images I think… http://wiki.winehq.org/WineOn64bit)
  • Can we do an actual upgrade path?  Or at least start officially testing 32->64 “upgrade” re-installs?

Just to complete the application compatibility story (not from survey), Games are starting to be 64-bit only:

Raw Data can be found here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1iA062pCR1ayAMEKveUToEhq–9awyDXTEaL4fhsj8TU/edit?pli=1#gid=0

Still running 32 bit Ubuntu?

I’m considering a proposal to have 16.04 LTS be the last release of Ubuntu with 32 bit images to run on 32 bit only machines (on x86 aka Intel/AMD only – this has no bearing on ARM). You would still be able to run 32 bit applications on 64 bit Ubuntu.

Please answer my survey on how this would affect you or your organization.

Please only answer if you are running 32-bit (x86) Ubuntu! Thanks!

If you can’t see the form below click here.