Demons: Intel ME/AMT/FSP , AMD PSP/IMC/SMU/AGESA , Firmware/Microcode/BIOS, HDD/SSD/USB
grarpamp at gmail.com
Thu Jun 8 22:46:54 PDT 2017
In Short... You're Fucked, Intentionally, By Design, By Demons...
Why is the latest Intel hardware unsupported in libreboot?
It is unlikely that any post-2008 Intel hardware will ever be
supported in libreboot, due to severe security and freedom issues; so
severe, that the libreboot project recommends avoiding all modern
Intel hardware. If you have an Intel based system affected by the
problems described below, then you should get rid of it as soon as
possible. The main issues are as follows...
Why is the latest AMD hardware unsupported in libreboot?
It is extremely unlikely that any post-2013 AMD hardware will ever be
supported in libreboot, due to severe security and freedom issues; so
severe, that the libreboot project recommends avoiding all modern AMD
hardware. If you have an AMD based system affected by the problems
described below, then you should get rid of it as soon as possible.
The main issues are as follows...
HDDs and SSDs are quite complex, and these days contain quite complex
hardware which is even capable of running an entire operating system
(by this, we mean that the drive itself is capable of running its own
embedded OS), even GNU+Linux or BusyBox/Linux.
SSDs and HDDs are a special case, since they are persistent storage
devices as well as computers.
Example attack that malicious firmware could do: substitute your SSH
keys, allowing unauthorized remote access by an unknown adversary. Or
maybe substitute your GPG keys. SATA drives can also have DMA (through
the controller), which means that they could read from system memory;
the drive can have its own hidden storage, theoretically, where it
could read your LUKS keys and store them unencrypted for future
retrieval by an adversary.
Billions of undocumented transistors...
Given the current state of Intel hardware with the Management Engine,
it is our opinion that all performant x86 hardware newer than the AMD
Family 15h CPUs (on AMD’s side) or anything post-2009 on Intel’s side
is defective by design and cannot safely be used to store, transmit,
or process sensitive data. Sensitive data is any data in which a data
breach would cause significant economic harm to the entity which
created or was responsible for storing said data, so this would
include banks, credit card companies, or retailers (customer account
records), in addition to the “usual” engineering and software
development firms. This also affects whistleblowers, or anyone who
needs actual privacy and security.
Unless you do something about it......
We call on AMD to release source code and specs for Ryzen platform
Recently in the Libreboot project, we’ve been informed about the new
Ryzen platforms being released and sold by AMD. They are currently
taking input from the community. Here are ways you can contact AMD to
tell them that you demand libre hardware:
https://www.amd.com/en-us/who-we-are/contact (has contact links for
AMD’s CEO, Lisa Su, can be contacted directly via email. Tell her that
you demand libre hardware: lisa.su at amd.com
Libreboot aims to provide fully free software initialization firmware
on Intel, AMD, ARM, POWER and RISC-V platforms, and already does so on
some older platforms.
As documented in the Libreboot FAQ section, AMD is currently
uncooperative in the libre software movement. Specifically, it
releases non-free binary-only firmware for its platforms, along with
tyrant technologies like the AMD Platform Security Processor.
We in the Libreboot project call on AMD to release source code and
start cooperating with our upstream, coreboot (and librecore) for its
new Ryzen platform and existing Zen platforms. This includes source
code for all initialization firmware (typically referred to as the
BIOS or UEFI firmware, by some members of the community), and in
particular, the AMD Platform Security Processor, to allow the
free/libre software community to use AMD hardware that is entirely
freedom-respecting. If it’s not too much to ask, we also would like
source code and signing keys, including for the PSP and microcode for
We would also like to have board design guides, datasheets and
footprints for CPUs/southbridges and so on.
We especially need the signing keys to be released, for those
components which are signed (PSP, CPU microcode, SMU, etc). This will
make utilising any released source code possible (at present, some
components will not run unless the firmware is signed by a certain
signature, usually under lock and key by the hardware manufacturer).
We in the community need freedom-respecting hardware! We call on AMD
to work with us in the Libreboot, Coreboot and Librecore projects on
bringing about a world where computing technology is no longer under
lock and key from the manufacturer, and instead in the control and
ownership of users.
This has several benefits for AMD. There is currently a huge demand in
the market for libre hardware. At present, the only companies
providing it are ones like libreboot suppliers where systems are sold
with entirely free software, including the boot firmware and operating
system, without any signed firmware for which no keys are available to
The problem? These companies are selling much older systems that are
made libre mostly through reverse engineering. At present, the systems
sold by such companies are using older hardware designs from 5-10
years ago, which means that most people who wish to use all libre
software cannot do so, due to practicality concerns. There are some
people who will use these older systems, but that is not without a
huge sacrifice to their convenience since they end up using older,
obsolete hardware and certain tasks (especially serious software
development) becomes impractical for a lot of people.
AMD has the power to reverse this trend, and there is a potential for
a great amount of profit to be made. The free/libre and open source
software communities would jump head over heels to support such a
move. In other words, AMD can make money from investing in the libre
There is even a precedent already set. AMD previously did release
source code for all of their newer platforms, to the coreboot project,
but then they stopped. We’re calling for this to resume, and to expand
further than before.
Here are some examples of popular campaigns, some of which were successful:
In all of these cases, the campaigns were popular and this was despite
the hardware either being low-end and unsuitable for most people, or
too expensive for most people to afford.
Then look at the popularity of the Libreboot project.
Just imagine what would happen if AMD started to produce cheap,
affordable libre hardware, to the point where Libreboot could start
supporting newer systems from AMD. The possibilities are endless!
People would jump towards AMD and AMD’s sales would go through the
roof, while we in the libre hardware community would finally have
systems from a manufacturer that cares for our freedoms to use our
computers without proprietary software.
Even low-end hardware like the BeagleBone or Raspberry Pi (which can
be liberated) shows that libre technology is profitable, and desired
by the community.
Then look at the Google Chromebooks. These devices come with coreboot
preinstalled by default! There are even some ARM chromebooks that we
support in Libreboot, which are still produced and sold brand new by
resellers (e.g. Amazon, Newegg, etc). These devices are sold in the
millions! This just shows that it’s not only possible, but profitable,
for AMD to start releasing systems which respect the freedom of users.
It’s not just commercial benefits that are made possible. There are
all kinds of possibilities for scientific research if systems are
libre at the hardware/firmware level. For instance, at present,
universities do not teach BIOS / boot firmware development in their
computer science courses, because this technology is currently
restricted by manufacturers and available only to a privileged few.
AMD has the power to do the right thing. We in Libreboot call on AMD
to work with us in building a world where users of technology can use
their computers without relying on any proprietary software. We want -
need - a world of highly secure, libre, owner-controlled hardware,
from companies that care about software freedom.
We in the Libreboot project are available to contact, using the
details on the homepage. We look forward to working with AMD :)
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