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Re: [Fsuk-manchester] Gaming and hardware

From: Michael Dorrington
Subject: Re: [Fsuk-manchester] Gaming and hardware
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2017 20:59:48 +0000
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On 22/03/17 15:10, Rob Johnson wrote:
> Hi all
> Firstly, I'm sorry I've not been along to MFS meetings for a little
> while, but I should be coming to more again soon.

Hope to see you soon.

> I've been meaning to chat to people after a meeting, but it's been a
> while, so I hope it's ok to pick your brains here!
> I was wondering whether to replace the laptop, or invest in some kind
> of mini-PC, but it seems that everything is a pretty big compromise,
> in freedom terms.
> Does anyone bother with gaming, and what are you experiences, what
> hardware do you use?  I know people have used Intels NUCs - is anyone
> still using one, and how is that working out?

The following is AFAIK and IMO. :)
The good news is that Intel processors in the last few years, Haswell
onwards, have had blob-free integrated graphics such that they can play
advanced free software 3D games well (enough), certainly to have fun and
able to reasonably compete online.  Blob-free meaning you can install a
completely free OS (such as Debian main) and don't require any non-free
firmware.  Though you have to be careful to get the correct model of
processor because each generation has a large range of processors with a
big range in their graphics power.  You'll get used to looking through
tables of processors to compare them:

The bad news is that the "BIOS" is non-free and there is no Free
Software replacement nor is there ever likely to be due to locking down
by Intel.  Other bad news is that they have the Intel Management Engine
coprocessor (and related Intel Active Management Technology) in them,
which is not only not free software, it can potentially do lots of nasty
things.  Some of "features" you can turn off in the "BIOS" menu but are
they really turned off?  The bad news continues with things like
non-free microcode, Secure Boot and so on.

> On a slightly related note, I've been following progress on the
> EOMA68 computer card, which someone said they had backed (I'm
> assuming the Libre Tea version).  If you don't mind me asking, what
> do you see yourself using it for?

I firstly supported the project because it was free hardware!  I can
imagine using it for presenting talks, for anything else I'll have to
see how it performs.  A large part of the point of the project is to
provide a common standard so that when more powerful boards are
developed then you can replace board but keep everything else.  And this
initial board starts this ball rolling.


FSF member #9429
"The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a nonprofit with a worldwide
mission to promote computer user freedom and to defend the rights of all
free software users."

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