Debian's Freedombox

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Debian's Freedombox

Postby kedaha » 2019-08-19 16:03

I was a bit behind the times until I installed Buster but a few days ago I stumbled on Freedombox, which I was able to successfully install on a Model 2 Raspberrypi connected to my router.
So far so good; I'm pretty impressed. It makes it look very easy to set up a pesonal, home server with https. The only snag I can see at the moment is setting up a domain using a dynamic IP address, but it seems a free solution is available to do this too. Webmail can be enabled by using Roundcube but of course, a static IP address is to be preferred. For a demo see: freedombox.org/demo/).
I've already set up a few applications including searx, the free search engine, and MediaWiki.
I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this topic.
Thanks for reading.
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Re: Debian's Freedombox

Postby Head_on_a_Stick » 2019-08-19 16:11

Ooh, nice project, thanks for sharing. Persuading friends and family to abandon FB & co. for the open alternatives might be tricky though. When I ask my family about privacy concerns they tend not to care very much, sadly.

Slightly OT:
kedaha wrote:I was able to successfully install on a Model 2 Raspberrypi connected to my router.

Erm, isn't the Pi a bad choice for fans of freedom? It needs a blob to boot :(
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Re: Debian's Freedombox

Postby kedaha » 2019-08-19 18:00

Head_on_a_Stick wrote:Ooh, nice project, thanks for sharing.

It is definitely a nice project. I specially like running the searx engine off my own network at 192.168.0.11 and it's pretty snappy too.
Head_on_a_Stick wrote: Persuading friends and family to abandon FB & co. for the open alternatives might be tricky though. When I ask my family about privacy concerns they tend not to care very much, sadly.

A few of my friends and family members run a desktop environment, namely Mate, because I choose that for them, which, once set up, properly configured and regularly updated is simplicity itself. But it's evident that just running a free Debian desktop system isn't enough; freedom on the server side is important as summarised by the Freedombox Foundation here. From what I've seen of it so far, it seems very user-friendly and I think it is this, perhaps more than any privacy concerns people may or may not have about being "surveilled, data-mined, and controlled", which give it great potential.
Head_on_a_Stick wrote:Slightly OT:
kedaha wrote:I was able to successfully install on a Model 2 Raspberrypi connected to my router.

Erm, isn't the Pi a bad choice for fans of freedom? It needs a blob to boot :(

I agree the Pi is a bad choice from this point of view but I bought the Raspberry Pi because it was the cheapest device for learning about email and webserver software. Naturally I hope that progress in making the so-called "rpi-open-firmware" GPU driver to replace the VPU firmware blob resumes when there can be an official Debian installation image for the Pi. It's a bit much that the Raspbian has taken so much from Debian but not helped out with this; however, concerning the newest Pi, Model 4, I see in the wiki here:
We understand this computer no longer boots from the GPU, so it is probable it will no longer require a binary blob to boot.

This is good news but unless I get confirmation of that, if and when I decide to buy a similar device, I'll buy a "Pioneer FreedomBox Home Server Kit", even if it is more expensive, without any ugly binary blobs.
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Re: Debian's Freedombox

Postby n_hologram » 2019-08-20 11:56

kedaha wrote:I bought the Raspberry Pi because it was the cheapest device for learning about email and webserver software.

Has anyone looked into the Rock64 boards yet?
https://www.pine64.org/devices/single-b ... rs/rock64/
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Re: Debian's Freedombox

Postby kedaha » 2019-08-21 00:29

n_hologram wrote:Has anyone looked into the Rock64 boards yet?

They look OK. I see it's not in the wiki.debian.org/FreedomBox/Hardware yet although the Pine A64+ is. I note that in Hardware#Also_Working_Hardware someone's said about the Raspberry Pi 2, Pi 3 Model B & B+:
This hardware works but is not recommended because the hardware can't run entirely on free software.

If it's impossible to run it, then I for one won't be recommending the Pi to anyone; it's about time they got rid of their hideous blobs which interfere with proper booting of such devices.
I've made some progress with the Debian Freedombox: I've configured a free DNS name with GnuDIP with a dynamic IP as detailed FreedomBox/Manual/DynamicDNS but I'll have to wait to see what happens when my ISP changes the IP to find out if it's working OK. Also, it's now dead easy to configure a Letsencrypt https certificate or revoke it via the user interface.
One other thing that I found interesting is that Freedombox uses Exim4 for email which I was wholly unfamiliar with.

Finally, I tried the excellent ready-made installation iso image for my Model 2 Pi downloadable here but I was unable to use my usual way of transferring the root file system to an external usb drive as detailed at raspberrypi.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=44177 because it has changed somewhat. When i get round to it I'll post how it differs. Something I noticed was that, with the exception of the FAT blob and ext 2 boot, the image creates a btrfs file system. So I had to install good old Debian following the method given in the wiki here.
The configuration I've used boots OK but I can improve it a little. The two relevant files are the cmdline.txt and fstab:
Code: Select all
# cat cmdline.txt
console=tty0 console=ttyS1,115200 root=/dev/sda1 rw elevator=deadline fsck.repair=yes net.ifnames=0 cma=64M rootwait

Code: Select all
# cat /etc/fstab
# The root file system has fs_passno=1 as per fstab(5) for automatic fsck.
LABEL=rootfs / ext4 rw 0 1
# All other file systems have fs_passno=2 as per fstab(5) for automatic fsck.
LABEL=RASPIFIRM /boot/firmware vfat rw 0 2
proc /proc proc defaults 0 0
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Re: Debian's Freedombox

Postby kedaha » 2019-08-25 08:30

Just another "update" to my previous posts; I'm trying to drum up a bit of interest in the topic from anyone who might like to run their own home server in spite of not having a domain or a static IP address, as detailed at Dynamic_DNS_Client on Debian wiki.
By the way, there's an Eben Moglen video about, "The Story of FreedomBox(2019)" from the FreedomBox Foundation. (For some background, see also Bulkley's topic: Why Freedom of Thought Requires Attention):
This is a story a bout a group of dedicated citizens who created a software tool that empowers people to reclaim the internet.
The story begins at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, February 5th, 2010 in a lecture hall at New York University in Lower Manhatten.
Edward Moglen was invited to speak about "the cloud," an emerging network of centralised servers controlled by big tech companies.

With no cost at all, you get to use a subdomain with an address like example.freedombox.rocks which you can then obtain a Letsencrypt certificate for, if you so wish, and the server address, even though it's hosted at a dynamic IP address, gets updated using an update URL.
I've got everything up and running but I did have a few glitches on the way. Amost any old computer running Debian Buster connected to the router would work too with the caveat that it is recommended to install the software on a fresh Debian installation but, as I mentioned, before I'm using the Raspberry Pi 2.
I moved the files system over to the external disk to avoid using the tiny 8 Giga SD card in the Pi.
Here's the what my present "proof-of-concept" Freedom Box looks like:
Image
What can you do with this home server? All sorts of wonderful things:
FreedomBox is a private server system that empowers regular people to host their own internet services, like a VPN, a personal website, file sharing, encrypted messengers, a VoIP server, a metasearch engine, and much more. It is designed to be secure, flexible, and simple. FreedomBox builds freedom into the internet by putting you in control of your activity and data on the net.

Quote from: here
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