1x29: Droning On

Jeremy Garcia, Bryan Lunduke, Jono Bacon, and Stuart Langridge present Bad Voltage, in which we discover that whitehouse.com is not the government. We also discuss:

  • Outernet, Google Loon, Facebook et al's internet.org: all attempts, from small to globally-changing, to help bring internet connectivity to places and people that don't have it, through satellites or balloons or drones or lasers. What's the deal? And will it work? (2.15)
  • We speak to Carl Richell, CEO of Ubuntu laptop, desktop, and server vendors System76, about their new rebrand, the nature of design in hardware, and how they work (17.05)
  • Wrong in 60 Seconds: Jono is extremely annoyed (for a minute) about people (34.32)
  • A while back we were pretty sceptical about the Arubixs Portal, a bendable very powerful upcoming phone being crowdfunded: we are still sceptical, and so Brandon Mears, CEO of Arubixs, takes some time to explain to us how it's not a hoax and the Portal is on its way (36.05)
  • Jeremy reviews the latest model of Amazon's ebook reader, the Kindle Voyage (54.26)

Download the show now!

  • Drones vs. balloons:
    Most epic discussion in a BV show so far :smiley:
  • System76:
    The new website is really nice (although the mobile configurator doesn’t really work well in the Jolla browser).
    I flirt with the Leopard Extreme for few weeks now. I’m happy I didn’t purchase one because now I can get the newer one. Just waiting for the new Maxwell GPU’s to arrive. (Maybe I can do a review on this when I have it. But I also thought that about my Jolla and I didn’t do it :blush: )
  • Right in 60 seconds
  • Arubixs Portal:
    Still sceptic, let’s see what comes.
  • Kindle Voyage:
    I newer ownded an e-book reader and I don’t think I will in foreseeable future because I’m not reading much except online documentation about programming stuff.
1 Like

Take a look at System76’s Sable all-in-one. Wow! iMac, eat your heart out.

This was a fun chat. Its even better that it is reality. Big companies are going to need to be involved as this stuff is anything but cheap.

On the North Korea/heavily censored countries … I wonder what the level of computers or internet connected devices are.

If computer distribution is high enough smuggling USB sticks, with wikipedia and non-propaganda (at least not as much as their current situation) world news, would seem like a good short term step. However this is idea of smuggling stuff into a country seems a little diplomatically dodgy.

If possible… I’m more sceptical… Anyone any idea what mobile phone he was talking about that already has a bendable screen?

Not sure who has donated money to that but hope you enjoy paying in advance for their new car which they will drive off laughing into the sunshine in.

regarding the internet distribution topic, I am surprised no one mentioned net neutrality and the obvious threat to it that is inherent in these attempts. The internet is fundamentally important to people, so much so that it should be provided in a way that is as neutral as possible.

Now, that is tricky, because e.g. the US government is not any closer to the public interest than Google. But we definitely need independence from commercial interest in providing access to the internet.

Some video that went online of the Portal demonstrating that this thing may indeed be real:

It seems to be shot with a fish-eye lens, but I am not sure if that really takes away from the fact that it does indeed seem to bend.

Similar videos has been shown by several companies in the past. I wonder what the durability will be.
Anyway, I hope they succeed. But apple will then claim they built a bendable phone long before :smiley:

One more thing: why didn’t you ask the System76 person about the one thing that would prevent me from buying form them: any piece of gear there, even with similar specs to the laptop I bought 3 years ago, costs twice as much. I understand that as an independent manufacturer/vendor they have smaller margins and volumes, but their prices are just off any scale of affordability.

I don’t think they are too expensive. Sure they are more expensive than many others, but there are lot more expensive manufacturers, just have a look at apple.

Well, I didn’t ask them about it because it doesn’t. Dell XPS 13: $1200. System76 Galago UltraPro: $1049. I think System76’s prices are actually pretty reasonable, because they sell decent equipment. Sure, if what you want is a minimum-spec cheap $300 laptop then they don’t do them, but that’s because they want to make nice things, not cheap shoddy things with no expansion and maxed out at 512MB of RAM :smile:

I am not saying that their prices are unreasonable - I don’t know their manufacturing process, and perhaps they do pay the people building their machines. that would be great, and I would be happy to pay for this if I had the money and wanted one.

But as it stands, getting a laptop like the one I have (Asus, i5 2,4gh cpu, 4gb ram, 620 gb hdd) would be a lot more expensive there than when I bought it years ago (about 800 vs 500 $ in current money respectively).

Then again, lots of people at my uni walk about with macs, so that money would be better spent at System76.

From the System76 About page:

“System76 has manufactured Ubuntu preinstalled laptops, desktops, and servers since 2005. We believe that each one of our products define System76 as a company. We carefully craft our product line to demanding standards using only the highest quality materials and components. We then backup our products with leading support and customer service to provide an experience unlike any other.”

My impression has always been that they do the R&D to make sure that the components they use are of very good quality and they make sure that they, the components, work well with each other. To order a device, one notices that there isn’t options for, as an example, motherboards, brand of memory, or brands of gpu. These have been carefully selected to insure proper function, especially to work with Ubuntu.

All of the above would increase overhead. I am so glad that they are succeeding.



That’s where they must have come up with the idea. :smiley:

I have a kitted out System76 Gazelle laptop that was a pretty decent deal when I got it. I only wish they has something in the netbook (10-12", cheap) form factor which is what my other computer is. I’m happy with their stuff and will probably buy again.

Tho maybe on their schedule. It does seem that a similarly specced laptop is about the same price now as it was 2 years ago… weird.

Hahaha the Portal bit was amazing.
So he wants to play the launch just like Apple…
Except a) Apple is the biggest well establishest in the game and no one’s heard of them… and b) they are doing a kickstarter… which… is the opposite of Apple. and already preleaking loads of into…
Also love that he tried to justify the kickstarter in showing interest to VCs cus they totally “already have all the money they need” except again, it’s actually showing dismal interest and market distrust and Cannonical, an actual known company wasn’t fully happy with the the $millions they got in interest. So yeah
thanks for the warning guys!

That was an interesting interview and you can feel Mr. Richell is passionate about what he’s doing, so that’s a great thing. Moreover, I really liked his take on the laptop as a creative device (compared to the phone/tablet as devices to consume information)

I was curious to know more about the manufacturing process.

System76 is an American company but I’m sure they have their computers assembled in Asia. On System76 website there is no mention of any offices in Asia, only one in Denver, Colorado. How do they keep in touch with manufacturers? Do they get exactly what they want out of it? Is there a lot of misunderstandings or awkward situations?

I ask because my girlfriend works for an American company producing tablets and they have an office in Asia to keep in touch with the manufacturers located in China, simply because (1) most manufacturers feels better speaking Chinese and (2) 15 hours of time difference makes it impossible to organize any meetings or reviews.

I’m afraid this is not going to change any sooner, with more and more devices becoming only devices to consume data rather that to create.

Damn, I already didn’t feel good about this device, but that guy made everything even worse! I just feel he dodged every questions with a “no worry I can’t tell you” just because he wants to be like Steve Jobs. Well if you want to be like Steve Jobs, don’t start leaking information 5 years before releasing a product, because by doing that you are certain than everyone will be disappointed when it finally comes out.

It sounds like you guys only used Kindle e-readers. Did anyone use a Kobo or another brand in comparison? I bought a Kobo touch in 2012, and it was pretty nice but quite slow and freezing at time, but a recent software update completely updated the user interface and the underlying system and now it’s pretty good (although I tested a more recent version of a Kobo device and it was much faster at switching pages and turning on/off)!

I’ve personally never used a Kobo. I’ve never owned a Nook, but have used a couple.


a newer kobo model, the h20 or something like that, was reviewed very favourably in linux voice issue 9, cf

I have the opposite problem, I’ve only owned a Kobo touch and now a Kobo Aura HD. I tried the first model Kobo’s excitedly when they hit stores but they seemed just too slugish to me so I waited a few years, The Touch was the first one that seemed responsive enough, and now with wifi and touch screen, so I got it and was pleased. The Aura HD has been an amazing upgrade with faster page turn, bigger denser higher contrast screen and the backlight. Between them Reading Life tells me I’ve read 74 books in 706 hours. So I’m quite pleased with it.
But I have no comparison point to the Kindle line

Same here. I’ve only used Kobo products. I won’t use Kindle any soon since they don’t support ePub files (which are 100% of my library). I use it to catch up all the classical French litterature I never had time to read, and that’s awesome!

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