LibreServer Blog / Freedombone on Raspberry Pi

I've avoided supporting Raspberry Pi hardware since the beginning of the Freedombone project and it's a curious thought experiment to imagine if anything would have been different if I hadn't. The main reason is that Raspberry Pi runs a proprietary operating system called ThreadX, with Raspbian being a secondary layer on top of that. It's a bit like the situation with Intel's Management Engine.

But I've now given up on being a curmudgeonly Pi holdout. Thinking about security more holistically, rather than merely focusing on technical attacks, Pis are numerous. If you want to look plain vanilla generic and uncontroversial to blend in with the masses then possessing a Raspberry Pi is up there with having a TV set, microwave oven or any other common electrical appliance. It's sufficiently ubiquitous that you might be able to go to a shop (when there isn't a pandemic) and obtain a Pi with old-fashioned physical cash, relatively anonymously. Similar can't be said for any other type of single board computer.

So I've now made Freedombone images for Raspberry Pi which are available in the downloads. Preferably use the magnet links because they're likely to be faster.

These images are based on Raspbian and have been tested on Raspberry Pi version 4. Set up your Pi to boot from USB, copy the image to a USB3 drive using a command like dd, plug in the drive to one of the USB3 ports, connect ethernet and power then in a browser navigate to http://[local IP address of the Pi]/admin. Initially it will do a factory reset and then the setup process will start (refresh the page if it doesn't). You shouldn't need to use ssh and you don't need to plug in a monitor.

In initial tests the Pi4 hardware looks good. I used the 4GB version, but the 2GB version would also be good enough as a server. Single board computer hardware has become sufficiently capable that almost any recently manufactured hardware would be adequate, or more than adequate, as a home server supporting a few member accounts. On the Pi4 passive cooling with heatsinks seems to be enough. You probably only need fans if you were using it as a desktop and running 3D graphics or HD video.