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Next step to fairness is openess - a FP4 with open hardware interfaces?

Hello Fairphone fans (employee and user),
it’s quite early to discuss about the next generation (fp4), but i think better now the to late :wink:.
I hope that the next step is a Fairphone 4 with open hardware interfaces.
As i see at the discussion about the new FP3 and the five year support of the hardware, i think the most limiting factor is the running OS (the android version) for a long time usage of the phone.
How long did the hardware vendor deliver the (binary) blobs and for what OS version did they work?
Driver for open hardware interfaces, once supported from the kernel, most have a lifetime for decades. So then the limited usage is really the hardware and not the OS.
So the benefit is:

  • new kernels (with latest security fixes out of the box).
  • standardise boot loader (would probably allow multiboot).
  • longtime support of the hardware (as long as it could be delivered).
  • and probably running standard Linux with phone apps (with hopefully a better touchscreen interface then the old x11 stuff - :thinking: may be like Sailfish?).
  • no phone hardware must be recycled because of insecure or old software!

I think there are many open source developer around waiting to show what is possible on a phone with open interfaces.
I do not know which parts of the phone need blobs, but in lack of information about the blobs i think also the performance and energy behaviour is worse the on a native driver.

Because i have two working FP2 i think i will skip the FP3 an hopefully get a open hardware phone 2023 :wink:.
Best wishes gabs

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I think Fairphone is well aware of libre hard- and software, but “if” they have to make a decision between libre and conflict-free/sustainable/social they will always choose the latter. And that’s a good thing.

For the FP3 they went a step further away from a libre and privacy-friendly phone to reach more of what they call “light green users”, which are users who care about the planet, but not to the extent that they would pay more for a product that is “just fairer”. Even if that means that for me personally the FP3 is not an option (until an alternative OS is out and the fingerprint sensor can be eliminated) I still think it was a good decision.

I agree that ideally a future Fairphone should be 100% libre (I’d rather have it FSF approved than FCC approved), but I doubt it will be feasible for the FP4.

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Hello Paulakreuzer,
i did not see any point at my statement above that Fairphone must decide between conflict-free/sustainable/social and libre (open hardware interfaces).
What i say is, that a phone who is probably working ten years (my PC’s at home are all older the ten years and working with open source software), is better then a phone which lifetime is limited by the lifetime of the delivered OS.
And (in combination of the security and the usability of a phone) i think it is a fact that the most phones are be replaced because of old OS and not working Apps (e.g. business phones).

The develop and production of an open hardware phone has nothing to do with ethical mining and reusable/recyclable resources.

To get open source Chips (hardware) is more expensive at the moment because you are not bound to the manufacturer for building the chips (you buy the development, not the hardware).
Second is to get chips with open interfaces, this is enough to build open source software (e.g. to be supported directly by a Linux kernel) as i suggested above.
And the cheapest on the first view is to get BlackBox Chips with a piece of closed software (blobs) - because the ‘expiry date’ of the Chip is labeled on it and changes and fixes must be ordered by the Chip manufacturer and are very expensive if required.

So i did not really understand your comment :thinking:

I did not know whether or not Fairphone was or is in contact with a manufacturer to ask how much it will cost to get a Chip with an open interface, but if not i will trigger the idea :slightly_smiling_face:.

But ‘if’ the decision you approached really must be made then i’m with you :wink:.

Best regards
gabs

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No, but that’s just reality.

  • Fairphone has to work with partners that are willing to integrate conflict free minerals in their supply chains and pay workers fairly. Those are not necessarily partners that are also willing to liberate the patents and licenses of their hard- and software.
  • Fairphone has to sell many phones to make an impact and for that they need to create a good and affordable phone. Open hardware is a niche and not what most people care and want to pay for.
  • Fairphone wants to show the big players in the industry that they could build phones just like they do now, only fairer. If they keep making niche products nobody will see them as a competitor or even someone who they want to imitate.
  • It’s hard to combat many things at once. Sometimes you just have to set priorities.
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Put it this way:

if Fairphone could’ve released a FOSS (soft- and hardware) Fairphone 3, they would’ve.

if Purism could’ve released a fair Librem 5, they would’ve.

So they stick to their main priorities (which differ), and release an “iteration” of their product. Are they perfect? No. However, the enemy of good is perfect.

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Sorry the manufacturer (at china) are surely not (or must not be) the licenses and/or patent owner of the used SOC design.
As i know the used ARM technique is a plug-able design. So you can use the various parts of the Chip from various partners (e.g. CPU, GPU, WLan, mobile, other sensor components, …) to enhance the SOC.

The request is not open hardware (sorry if my request was not clear at this point), the request is open interfaces (as most parts of your PC have - especially if you use Linux on it and use open source drivers). And many leading hardware manufacturer support at least a standard interface on there Chips on the PC market.
As an example the huge access of the Raspberry Pi was because of the openness of the interfaces (not open hardware).
You can use it with the delivered (so called standard) android or a Linux but also with many niche OSes :slightly_smiling_face:.

Building an android OS is also possible on an open interface (and also on an open hardware) platform (see above).

I saw at the FP3 introduction, that Fairphone hired some People to represent the connection to other companies (manufacturer, reseller, …).
Thats why i post this now. So the connections to license and/or patent owner could be initiate within the next two years and this is a long time to check if the request is possible for FP4 or not (may be release in 2023).

Best regards
gabs

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