Thursday, May 21, 2020 @ 7:00pm

This meeting will be held online via the Zoom web conferencing service.
Meeting ID: 876 0225 4357

If joining a meeting from a Windows PC, the Zoom client will automagically download and attempt to install. For those using Linux, you can download the free (not Free) Zoom client from this page. It’s available for a variety of distributions.


Marc Abel will preview a talk called “Security-hardened minicomputers from fungible components,” where he will suggest relocating the complexity and functionality of central processing units from purchased microprocessors to printed circuit boards containing simpler devices.

The microprocessors which have appeared since the 1970s brought an era of heightened computational power, low cost, small size, and fast, reliable manufacturing. Over time, these CPUs have become encumbered with human failings: faulty designs, vendor lock-in, planned obsolescence, erosion of repair capabilities, withheld documentation, closed-source firmware, myriad use restrictions, mandatory updates, devastating landfill-class vulnerabilities, and manufacturer spin control.

In 2020, we should be asking whether the upside of building computers with microprocessors is still worth the price that society now bears. In his talk, Marc will show that for many applications, numerous technological and societal improvements of the last 40 years can offer us a better deal than the one we continue to select out of ignorance. It turns out we don’t need microprocessors–or any other high-complexity, proprietary integrated circuits–to build computers that are powerful, reasonably priced, compact, and easy to construct.

Other news, discussions, and questions about Linux / Open Source topics are welcome as well.

Leave a Reply