1

Topic: Anyone heard of Retrofreedom?

Anyone heard of this https://retrofreedom.com/
It's another great online shop that sells refurbished laptops installed with Libreboot.

The best thing I found about it is that it offers to install security modifications to your laptop such as removing the microphone, webcam, any slots that pose security risks and applying epoxy to RAM slots and screws to make disassembly difficult for anyone whose stolen it.
https://retrofreedom.com/product/security-mods/

Sounds cool, right?

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Re: Anyone heard of Retrofreedom?

Well, I'm glad Leah is back and wish her a good start. But there are some elements in the text to be found under the second link I'm not so sure about. To get a quote:

By doing this, an agent (during shipping) cannot replace your HDD/SSD with another one with the same password, because they don’t know that password. Only you and RetroFreedom knows it, but then you change it after the laptop arrives and only you know it.

Well, that's not so good as only the user should know the passphrase and nobody else. Also I think it is better to flash and build the notebook by yourself instead buying it prebuilt. I did this once years ago with a supplier from canada and had some thoughts back in mind about using the system being trustworthy. Well, the notebook is in fact also today in usage, but all other systems were done by myself. So the absolutely first starting point would be having the people emancipated: Being ready to help yourself, which is a great possibility with free and libre software.

Besides those security modifications are interesting, but they also sound absolutely paranoid at some point and they won't be much of a burden for anybody being willing to crack the system. The only one I see being really important: An encrypted installation and this should be the focus for everybody! So helping others being able to do this. wink

Human being in favor with clear principles and so also for freedom in soft- and hardware!

Certainly anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices: For a life of every being full with peace and kindness, including diversity and freedom. Capitalism is destroying our minds, the planet itself and the universe in the end!

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Re: Anyone heard of Retrofreedom?

throgh wrote:

Also I think it is better to flash and build the notebook by yourself instead buying it prebuilt.

Too late. I already bought one prebuilt but I do plan to audit it once it gets delivered.

Besides those security modifications are interesting, but they also sound absolutely paranoid at some point and they won't be much of a burden for anybody being willing to crack the system. The only one I see being really important: An encrypted installation and this should be the focus for everybody! So helping others being able to do this. wink

Yeah, I do have some doubts about epoxying the screws as there may come a time
when I need to replace the thermal paste and clean dust out of the fan...

Thankfully, you can ask Leah to eschew any mods you don't want.

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Re: Anyone heard of Retrofreedom?

No problem at all as this an individual decision. smile
Just to mention because we need even way more emancipation of users for both: Hard- and software!

Human being in favor with clear principles and so also for freedom in soft- and hardware!

Certainly anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices: For a life of every being full with peace and kindness, including diversity and freedom. Capitalism is destroying our minds, the planet itself and the universe in the end!

5 (edited by burhen42 2020-12-27 09:03:04)

Re: Anyone heard of Retrofreedom?

One more thing that RetroFreedom offers which I'm wondering about is this
USB-SATA Adapter? Okay, so by booting your hard drive or SSD through USB, you are less vulnerable to a cyber attack through SATA.

But will the adapter be placed inside the laptop or do I have to carry the hard drive and
adapter around separately and used up a precious USB slot on the laptops exterior, which I could use for a mouse or another flash drive?

What about any caddy adapter I might put with a second drive?
Can a USB adapter be installed for that too?

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Re: Anyone heard of Retrofreedom?

As said above: I think about some modifications being just more paranoid for the time being. In fact USB can also be used just to destroy the whole system when used with malicious adapters. Okay, that's just not about getting data and more about making the whole computer unusable.

You should ask Leah about the modification itself.

Human being in favor with clear principles and so also for freedom in soft- and hardware!

Certainly anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices: For a life of every being full with peace and kindness, including diversity and freedom. Capitalism is destroying our minds, the planet itself and the universe in the end!

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Re: Anyone heard of Retrofreedom?

burhen42 wrote:

Too late. I already bought one prebuilt but I do plan to audit it once it gets delivered.

Lol. He answered you in an hour. I don't think it can get better than that!

Today, the forces which make the rich richer and poor poorer have their roots in computer security. Never has it been more important to work towards abolishing the power of the powerful.

Let's use hyperbola or other libre OSes and strive towards stateless hardware (Rutkowska 2015). Let's use PinePhone and shun Android and iPhone which pretend to be secure.

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Re: Anyone heard of Retrofreedom?

burhen42 wrote:

One more thing that RetroFreedom offers which I'm wondering about is this
USB-SATA Adapter? Okay, so by booting your hard drive or SSD through USB, you are less vulnerable to a cyber attack through SATA.

But will the adapter be placed inside the laptop or do I have to carry the hard drive and
adapter around separately and used up a precious USB slot on the laptops exterior, which I could use for a mouse or another flash drive?

What about any caddy adapter I might put with a second drive?
Can a USB adapter be installed for that too?

she will creat a new usb-sata from fingerprint port but it will be external cause with this mod the adapter cant fit inside the laptop,
i was gonna do this modification alone and then place the ssd on the back of my screen as clean as it can get and then changed my mind cause it may brick my x200, but ask her maybe she's planing something diffrent now this is what she used to do at least

"This life is short Eternity is long, who want good trees plant good seeds."

"quote" taken from sam garrens an english writer and speaker,
Were do you think we live!

9

Re: Anyone heard of Retrofreedom?

burhen42 wrote:

Anyone heard of this https://retrofreedom.com/
It's another great online shop that sells refurbished laptops installed with Libreboot.

The best thing I found about it is that it offers to install security modifications to your laptop such as removing the microphone, webcam, any slots that pose security risks and applying epoxy to RAM slots and screws to make disassembly difficult for anyone whose stolen it.
https://retrofreedom.com/product/security-mods/

Sounds cool, right?

It's cool if its worth the risk for you, but... what if you need to replace the parts? That may be a problem for you then...

That being said, I am not convinced anything is fullproof/worth such things, removing the microphone and webcam, and intel me, putting libreboot equivalent stuff on and encrypting your hard drive is within reasonable security as far as im concerned. Unless mnt reform becomes an option for Hyperbola in the future, then well... yeah... you could supposedly do that eh?  And security would be probably twice as good without having to go to such insane lengths... tongue

That being all said, libreboot, no webcam and no microphone should be sufficient for most people. smile

HyperbolaBSD: The Future of Secure Libre Lightweight Operating Systems!

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Re: Anyone heard of Retrofreedom?

rached wrote:
burhen42 wrote:

One more thing that RetroFreedom offers which I'm wondering about is this
USB-SATA Adapter? Okay, so by booting your hard drive or SSD through USB, you are less vulnerable to a cyber attack through SATA.

But will the adapter be placed inside the laptop or do I have to carry the hard drive and
adapter around separately and used up a precious USB slot on the laptops exterior, which I could use for a mouse or another flash drive?

What about any caddy adapter I might put with a second drive?
Can a USB adapter be installed for that too?

she will creat a new usb-sata from fingerprint port but it will be external cause with this mod the adapter cant fit inside the laptop,
i was gonna do this modification alone and then place the ssd on the back of my screen as clean as it can get and then changed my mind cause it may brick my x200, but ask her maybe she's planing something diffrent now this is what she used to do at least

I emailed Leah, asking about the USB-SATA adapter and she has confirmed it will rely on an external USB port.

Oh well...

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Re: Anyone heard of Retrofreedom?

rached wrote:
burhen42 wrote:

One more thing that RetroFreedom offers which I'm wondering about is this
USB-SATA Adapter? Okay, so by booting your hard drive or SSD through USB, you are less vulnerable to a cyber attack through SATA.

But will the adapter be placed inside the laptop or do I have to carry the hard drive and
adapter around separately and used up a precious USB slot on the laptops exterior, which I could use for a mouse or another flash drive?

What about any caddy adapter I might put with a second drive?
Can a USB adapter be installed for that too?

she will creat a new usb-sata from fingerprint port but it will be external cause with this mod the adapter cant fit inside the laptop,
i was gonna do this modification alone and then place the ssd on the back of my screen as clean as it can get and then changed my mind cause it may brick my x200, but ask her maybe she's planing something diffrent now this is what she used to do at least

I emailed Leah, asking about the USB-SATA adapter and she has confirmed it will rely on an external USB port.

Oh well...

12

Re: Anyone heard of Retrofreedom?

burhen42 wrote:

I emailed Leah, asking about the USB-SATA adapter and she has confirmed it will rely on an external USB port.

Oh well...

did she say it will be soldered to the fingerprint on the mainboard or just using a USB-SATA adapter with the available usb ports

"This life is short Eternity is long, who want good trees plant good seeds."

"quote" taken from sam garrens an english writer and speaker,
Were do you think we live!

13

Re: Anyone heard of Retrofreedom?

burhen42 wrote:

I emailed Leah, asking about the USB-SATA adapter and she has confirmed it will rely on an external USB port.

Oh well...

did she say it will be soldered to the fingerprint on the mainboard or just using a USB-SATA adapter with the available usb ports

"This life is short Eternity is long, who want good trees plant good seeds."

"quote" taken from sam garrens an english writer and speaker,
Were do you think we live!

14

Re: Anyone heard of Retrofreedom?

rached wrote:
burhen42 wrote:

I emailed Leah, asking about the USB-SATA adapter and she has confirmed it will rely on an external USB port.

Oh well...

did she say it will be soldered to the fingerprint on the mainboard or just using a USB-SATA adapter with the available usb ports

She said it has to be plugged to an available USB port.
Leah never mentioned anything about the fingerprint port, but then again I was asking that
concerning the Thinkpad W500.

You could always ask her yourself.

Anyway, I was about to ask something else concerning Thinkpads in general.
If I ordered for my SATA slots to be epoxied, I wonder if I could boot from a hard drive fitted to a miniPCIe to USB adapter (https://tehnoetic.com/adapters/tet-mpcie2usb) - maybe an NVMe SSD.

Anyone ever tried it?

15

Re: Anyone heard of Retrofreedom?

rached wrote:
burhen42 wrote:

I emailed Leah, asking about the USB-SATA adapter and she has confirmed it will rely on an external USB port.

Oh well...

did she say it will be soldered to the fingerprint on the mainboard or just using a USB-SATA adapter with the available usb ports

She said it has to be plugged to an available USB port.
Leah never mentioned anything about the fingerprint port, but then again I was asking that
concerning the Thinkpad W500.

You could always ask her yourself.

Anyway, I was about to ask something else concerning Thinkpads in general.
If I ordered for my SATA slots to be epoxied, I wonder if I could boot from a hard drive fitted to a miniPCIe to USB adapter (https://tehnoetic.com/adapters/tet-mpcie2usb) - maybe an NVMe SSD.

Anyone ever tried it?

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Re: Anyone heard of Retrofreedom?

Do I see double?

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Re: Anyone heard of Retrofreedom?

Do I see double?

18

Re: Anyone heard of Retrofreedom?

ok, you have to go back, not F5?

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Re: Anyone heard of Retrofreedom?

burhen42 wrote:
rached wrote:
burhen42 wrote:

I emailed Leah, asking about the USB-SATA adapter and she has confirmed it will rely on an external USB port.

Oh well...

did she say it will be soldered to the fingerprint on the mainboard or just using a USB-SATA adapter with the available usb ports

She said it has to be plugged to an available USB port.
Leah never mentioned anything about the fingerprint port, but then again I was asking that
concerning the Thinkpad W500.

You could always ask her yourself.

Anyway, I was about to ask something else concerning Thinkpads in general.
If I ordered for my SATA slots to be epoxied, I wonder if I could boot from a hard drive fitted to a miniPCIe to USB adapter (https://tehnoetic.com/adapters/tet-mpcie2usb) - maybe an NVMe SSD.

Anyone ever tried it?

I can confirm that for X200, I was able to boot a system from usb stick, using a miniPCIe to USB adapter (a slot for 3g modem). I bought a couple of these adapters pretty cheap and I think that the other one miniPCIe slot (for intel turbo memory) will work as a usb port too (Not tested so far, though). 2.5" HDD with sata-usb adapter works fine, seems like as a regular usb port.
I don't like the idea of external HDD, it's not convenient in terms of mobility,  so I ordered a 1.8" HDD and a FFC cable. And I'm going to place it inside my x200, using a microsata-usb adapter and that miniPCIe to usb adapter. yikes
If someone is interested I can post some photos, when I finish it.
(also I have an idea how to place another one HDD inside a doc station, using a usb port and a flat cable as well)

20

Re: Anyone heard of Retrofreedom?

thinkbad wrote:

I can confirm that for X200, I was able to boot a system from usb stick, using a miniPCIe to USB adapter (a slot for 3g modem). I bought a couple of these adapters pretty cheap and I think that the other one miniPCIe slot (for intel turbo memory) will work as a usb port too (Not tested so far, though). 2.5" HDD with sata-usb adapter works fine, seems like as a regular usb port.
I don't like the idea of external HDD, it's not convenient in terms of mobility,  so I ordered a 1.8" HDD and a FFC cable. And I'm going to place it inside my x200, using a microsata-usb adapter and that miniPCIe to usb adapter. yikes
If someone is interested I can post some photos, when I finish it.
(also I have an idea how to place another one HDD inside a doc station, using a usb port and a flat cable as well)

i would verry much be intrested please do share some pictures it will help others make these security changes

"This life is short Eternity is long, who want good trees plant good seeds."

"quote" taken from sam garrens an english writer and speaker,
Were do you think we live!

21

Re: Anyone heard of Retrofreedom?

well im not living in the country who have nuclear war or had an international bounty put on my head by FBI, so standard software level security & privacy is enough for regular user like me.

plain english: isnt it easier to block nonfree bluetooth driver rather than extensively remove it ? what if silly companies soldered the bluetooth chip under the cpu (lol).

what im gonna say:

i think its better for libre folks to put their effort into creating libre driver/implementation rather than liberating or recreating internal parts of hardware.

cracked proprietaries driver/implementation can be distribute freely across the globe without cost, and can easily be reviewed,  no screw and obvious hairdryer called heat gun needed.

libre hardware is great for indepedence but its very hard to catch up with advancement technology led by proprietaries unless you are an million dollar oil baron.

this is personal though, please dont take it heavily smile

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Re: Anyone heard of Retrofreedom?

do you have any comment, o master throgh big_smile ?

23 (edited by throgh 2021-04-06 01:28:45)

Re: Anyone heard of Retrofreedom?

Same as you on major parts, o master dikasp2. wink
Addendum: Staying as long as possible with hardware as right to repair is the important aspect for me using libre hardware and of course some parts are even not possible to block throughout drivers or they are not even functional without firmware-blobs (for example some graphic hardware especially, mesa-stack could be as libre as possible: without blobs no further functions). And not to speak about "nice presents" being integrated as payloads within the firmware itself and executed from the operating-system. Just to demonstrate this with the "Windows Binary Table", which allows executable files to be stored within UEFI firmware for execution on startup, and is meant to allow critical software to persist even when the operating system has changed or been reinstalled in a 'clean' configuration (quote). For more details just to look for Lenovo Service Engine!

So all in all there are enough arguments for libre hardware, the question is: How many modifications should be integrated? That's the line to draw between Coreboot and others. Nevertheless it is better to have an own compiled firmware without more surprise than needed. I agree, that some special hardware-modifications are not that kind of a goal (major parts mentioned). And of course it is not possible to get running as fast as the manufacturing and producing companies. But the question stays here: What would change if more people lost interest within buying always the newest hardware and components? Could be part of another discussion, perhaps!

Human being in favor with clear principles and so also for freedom in soft- and hardware!

Certainly anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices: For a life of every being full with peace and kindness, including diversity and freedom. Capitalism is destroying our minds, the planet itself and the universe in the end!

24

Re: Anyone heard of Retrofreedom?

thinkbad wrote:
burhen42 wrote:
rached wrote:

did she say it will be soldered to the fingerprint on the mainboard or just using a USB-SATA adapter with the available usb ports

She said it has to be plugged to an available USB port.
Leah never mentioned anything about the fingerprint port, but then again I was asking that
concerning the Thinkpad W500.

You could always ask her yourself.

Anyway, I was about to ask something else concerning Thinkpads in general.
If I ordered for my SATA slots to be epoxied, I wonder if I could boot from a hard drive fitted to a miniPCIe to USB adapter (https://tehnoetic.com/adapters/tet-mpcie2usb) - maybe an NVMe SSD.

Anyone ever tried it?

I can confirm that for X200, I was able to boot a system from usb stick, using a miniPCIe to USB adapter (a slot for 3g modem). I bought a couple of these adapters pretty cheap and I think that the other one miniPCIe slot (for intel turbo memory) will work as a usb port too (Not tested so far, though). 2.5" HDD with sata-usb adapter works fine, seems like as a regular usb port.
I don't like the idea of external HDD, it's not convenient in terms of mobility,  so I ordered a 1.8" HDD and a FFC cable. And I'm going to place it inside my x200, using a microsata-usb adapter and that miniPCIe to usb adapter. yikes
If someone is interested I can post some photos, when I finish it.
(also I have an idea how to place another one HDD inside a doc station, using a usb port and a flat cable as well)

i couldn't wait so i ordered :
MiniPCIe to 2.0 USB adapter, Micro SATA 1.8 Inch to USB 2.0 Adapter, and 64gb ssd 1.8"
waiting for delivery to try it and share pictures if it works wink

Edit: changed 160gb to 64gb...

"This life is short Eternity is long, who want good trees plant good seeds."

"quote" taken from sam garrens an english writer and speaker,
Were do you think we live!

25 (edited by thinkbad 2021-04-13 22:42:00)

Re: Anyone heard of Retrofreedom?

rachad wrote:
thinkbad wrote:
burhen42 wrote:

She said it has to be plugged to an available USB port.
Leah never mentioned anything about the fingerprint port, but then again I was asking that
concerning the Thinkpad W500.

You could always ask her yourself.

Anyway, I was about to ask something else concerning Thinkpads in general.
If I ordered for my SATA slots to be epoxied, I wonder if I could boot from a hard drive fitted to a miniPCIe to USB adapter (https://tehnoetic.com/adapters/tet-mpcie2usb) - maybe an NVMe SSD.

Anyone ever tried it?

I can confirm that for X200, I was able to boot a system from usb stick, using a miniPCIe to USB adapter (a slot for 3g modem). I bought a couple of these adapters pretty cheap and I think that the other one miniPCIe slot (for intel turbo memory) will work as a usb port too (Not tested so far, though). 2.5" HDD with sata-usb adapter works fine, seems like as a regular usb port.
I don't like the idea of external HDD, it's not convenient in terms of mobility,  so I ordered a 1.8" HDD and a FFC cable. And I'm going to place it inside my x200, using a microsata-usb adapter and that miniPCIe to usb adapter. yikes
If someone is interested I can post some photos, when I finish it.
(also I have an idea how to place another one HDD inside a doc station, using a usb port and a flat cable as well)

i couldn't wait so i ordered :
MiniPCIe to 2.0 USB adapter, Micro SATA 1.8 Inch to USB 2.0 Adapter, and 160gb ssd 1.8"
waiting for delivery to try it and share pictures if it works wink

I'm still waiting for it! The international shipping these days lasts forever... But it seems I'll have it this week.
You didn't mention a flat cable, it won't be easy for you with a standard one, maybe you'll need to break a bottom case a little bit.