Questions and Answers - FreedomBox
- GENERAL INTRODUCTION
- Which single board computer (SBC) do you recommend?
- What is a single board computer (SBC)?
- A thing that is new to me is Open Hardware. What makes open hardware open? Anything in particular that I should be aware of?
- Do I need a single board computer like Cubietruck or Raspberry PI to run FreedomBox?
- Having never used such a device before what are your experiences in terms of performance with these small machines (SBC)?
- I'm wondering what wifi adapter to get, preferably one that runs with free firmware, can you recommend one?
DOWNLOAD & INSTALL
- What does "flashing an SD card" mean?
- Do I first have to install Debian on a Cubietruck or is FreedomBox a system in itself?
- What would be the benefit of first installing Debian, then FreedomBox packages?
- What should I know about installing FreedomBox on SBCs?
- SD card is not detected through USB or OTG on a Cubietruck SSD edition. Did I miss something?
- I'm happy to give the LIME2 board a try. It shouldn't be a problem to flash that with FreedomBox image, should it?
- Where can I find some documentation about a Cubietruck first boot?
- The image I downloaded from the website seems to be broken. Can I build an image myself?
- After the installation, I can only login via ssh with the account I had before running the FreedomBox setup script, how to fix it?
- I'm having some problems getting FBX working on a BeagleBone Black. The latest release would boot once, but after the initial reboot it wouldn't boot again.
- I’m trying to install freedom box on my raspberry pi 2 B and the interface plinth does not install correctly.
- http://freedombox.local/ gives "server not found" and Nmap (0 hosts up). What did I miss?
- Why can i not login to my user? i followed the instructions on installing freedombox on debian sid and i'm stucked with a tty login denied permission to my user account
- Is there any reason Raspberry Pi 1 is not listed in https://www.freedombox.org/download/stable/ even though the freedombox images are available for pi1 in FreedomBox ftp server?
- I messed up the installation of an application. Can I reinstall it somehow?
- A FreedomBox application has been removed from testing/stable. How do I manually install it?
USE & APPLICATIONS
- How to connect to FreedomBox from the Internet?
- How to access Plinth from outside the LAN?
- How to have a homepage on https://freedombox.local/ or the public ip?
- I would like to configure my network statically for now. How to do that in the "Networks"-Setting?
- How to change the default IP range and class in FreedomBox?
- How to find IP addresses leased by FreedomBox?
- Command-line interface: Port Forwarding in FreedomBox HowTo?
- SIP Server (repro)
- Chat Server (XMPP)
- ABOUT FREEDOMBOX COMMUNITY
1. GENERAL INTRODUCTION
1.1. What is FreedomBox ?
A: FreedomBox is a personal server that protects your privacy. It is a free software stack, a subset of the Debian universal operating system, that can be installed in many flavors of cheap and power-efficient hardware. The simplicity of setting up and operating a FreedomBox is similar to that of a smart phone. Continue reading on the Introduction page.
1.2. What does it do ?
A: FreedomBox allows you to provide services to your family and friends (files and bookmarks hosting, remote storage, chat, wiki/blog), to protect your private life against advertising companies while surfing on the net, and to stay anonymous on the network. FreedomBox sets and upgrades automatically the security of these services. You can connect to FreedomBox when you are outside your home in a secure manner to access services and reach other personal computers or electronic devices. You can choose to route your mobile phone traffic via your FreedomBox using your internet connection at home. You can also do group audio chats and BitTorrent, even on very simple hardware.
1.3. Does FreedomBox do secure email server?
A: Future applications include secure email server, distributed social networking, password-less single sign on, browser assistant. Active contributors are working on it. They are also working on supporting more hardware.
1.4. Do i need some kind of expertise to start using FreedomBox?
A: You can't get right now a FreedomBox and a device all together to plug in and use. We have already made releases that are useful for people now. You need a little bit of technical expertise to set up. What we are requiring is to buy a device and plug in an SD card. We would like to avoid that by having a finished product soon.
1.5. What is the link between Debian and FreedomBox?
A: FreedomBox is a subset of Debian - available for some boards as a pre-installed image and generally available as a Debian package to be installed on top of a minimal pristine install of Debian.
1.6. How can I ask a question?
A: Feel free to add your question on this page (and answer if you have it) by signing up and using the edit feature. Answers mostly come from the FreedomBox discussion list archives. Please read also live help page.
2. HARDWARE (SBC)
2.1. Which single board computer (SBC) do you recommend?
2.2. What is a single board computer (SBC)?
A: A single board computer (SBC) is a "mini pc" based on a single circuit board that allows a reduction of overall cost. Most of them are cheap with low energy consumption. FreedomBox is developed towards Open Source SBCs providing plug-in cards.
A: You can check Single-board computers page on from the the Free Software Foundation (FSF)'s hardware database.
2.3. A thing that is new to me is Open Hardware. What makes open hardware open? Anything in particular that I should be aware of?
A: Please use the more specific term "Open Source Hardware" or OSHW. OSHW is a definition intended to ensure your ability to "fork" a piece of hardware - i.e. pay a different factory to produce identical or derived hardware. Imagine a certain antenna vendor going bankrupt but you've created a business soldering their very particular antenna onto spaceships - when you have the "source code" for their hardware, you can pay a different vendor to produce identical antennas - and even modify them (e.g. if some particular chip inside has gone out of fashion and you want to replace it with another than requires different wiring). "Open Hardware" is a vague term (ab)used to mean several different things related to openness of hardware. Some hardware vendors promote their boards as "open" and provide a PDF of their board design - which may be good enough to make an identical copy but not enough to fork (it is complex to rewire when you don't have the source for computing the layout of electrical wiring).
A: See discussion on the FreedomBox list.
2.4. Do I need a single board computer like Cubietruck or Raspberry PI to run FreedomBox?
A: No, you can run FreedomBox on any computer that you can install Debian on. The FreedomBox team provides images for some of the more common single board computers and for virtual box to make it easier for people to get up and running. But you can install FreedomBox on any debian computer by installing the freedombox-setup package.
2.5. Having never used such a device before what are your experiences in terms of performance with these small machines (SBC)?
A: On such tiny boxes you may not only want to think about performance. The better-performing boxes may also be the more energy-consuming and therefore more likely to run hot, needing a fan, and therefore be noisier and potentially have a shorter lifespan. Different kinds of ARM devices perform different with same amount of energy - Allwinner-based boards of the same grade (e.g. Cubietruck and LIME2 both built around Allwinner A20) roughly perform the same, whereas Sitara-based ones (like BeagleBone Black) are rumored to do some things more efficiently even if superficial specs may seem lower. Performance may be less important on a server than on a desktop system. I strongly believe the LIME2 is currently the best option, but that's just my subjective balance between performance, memory, openness and other factors. If price matters more then consider OLinuXIno LIME which has some but not all of above benefits but half the memory.
A:if you're looking to compare the LIME and MICRO performance, both being Allwinner A20 board from OLIMEX, see this technical benchmark (it seems to mostly depend on whether you're willing to pay 20 EUR for an extra 512 MB RAM.)
A: In my experience running on a BeagleBone Black, it is capable of running most day to day needs (mail, website, PHP...) except for big PHP applications like Apache+WordPress or ownCloud. They can run but are a bit sluggish. Apache and MySQL will definitely need to be tuned to use less CPU/memory.
A: Although a bit pricer than others, the APU 1D is probably the fastest single board computer I have tested. It has an AMD G series dual core APU, 3 Gigabit Ethernet controllers and the boot firmware is Coreboot.
A: See discussion on the FreedomBox list.
2.6. I'm wondering what wifi adapter to get, preferably one that runs with free firmware, can you recommend one?
A: You can take a look at the wiki page USB WiFi for separate devices that do not require non-free firmware.
A: The MOD-WIFI-R5370-ANT from Olimex works really well, but needs a non-free firmware blob, the antenna is a bit fragile and on the MICRO you probably ought to connect it with some extension cable because the plug is quite big. If you are willing to pay more, take a look at: fsf.org, tehnoetic.com and thinkpenguin.com
A: The MOD-WIFI-AR9271-ANT from Olimex appears to employ a Free Software driver without the need for non-free firmware.
3. DOWNLOAD & INSTALL
3.1.1. What does "flashing an SD card" mean?
A: In our case, flashing an SD card or a microSD card means writing from your computer screen a binary file on these cards. A binary file will install automatically at boot a system on another machine where the card is inserted. A Secure Digital (SD) card is a portable memory/flash card used for storage and transfer of data. An SD card uses flash memory (NOR and NAND types) that can be erased and reprogrammed.
3.1.2. Do I first have to install Debian on a Cubietruck or is FreedomBox a system in itself?
A: The cubietruck image is a full system.
3.1.3. What would be the benefit of first installing Debian, then FreedomBox packages?
A: A typical use case could be using hardware as a desktop/laptop and having FreedomBox run on the side. In this case, installing FreedomBox on Debian is a good fit. It is recommended that you install FreedomBox on a fresh Debian installation instead of an existing setup.
3.1.4. What should I know about installing FreedomBox on SBCs?
A: You should know that you should gather and read a lot of documentation about a first boot on your hardware. You can find documentation on the FreedomBox wiki or searching the net. Single Board Cards (SBC) have their own booting system, their own BIOS if you like. You should then study pre-requirements in addition to the use of FreedomBox image file. Some SBCs suffer from a lack of official documentation.
3.1.5. SD card is not detected through USB or OTG on a Cubietruck SSD edition. Did I miss something?
A: Cubietruck SSD has a TransFlash (TF) slot meant to insert microSD cards on the device. SD cards will not be detected when inserted into USB based SD card readers. Cubietruck SSD with metal is tricky: please use your finger nail or any sharp object to insert the microSD card that will then latch in and lock. To release it, press again the same way.
3.1.6. I'm happy to give the LIME2 board a try. It shouldn't be a problem to flash that with FreedomBox image, should it?
A: Since mid-October 2015, official FreedomBox images are available for A20 OLinuXino LIME2 and MICRO. Please see discussion and download links.
3.1.7. Where can I find some documentation about a Cubietruck first boot?
A:You can find a document called "Cubieboard/FirstSteps" on linux-sunxi.org. The Linux-sunxi community is "an open source software community dedicated to providing open source operating system support for Allwinner SoC based devices." A system-on-a-chip (SoC) is a microchip that handle computer memory used (like RAM) to store information for immediate use. Allwinner is a particular brand of SoC processors.
3.1.8. The image I downloaded from the website seems to be broken. Can I build an image myself?
A: Yes, you can build your own FreedomBox images using the tool called freedom-maker. Please refer to the README.md file on how to build images yourself. Freedom-maker builds unstable images by default. You can pass your desired distribution by adding the command-line option --distribution (e.g. --distribution=testing).
3.2.1. How to uninstall freedombox?
A: To uninstall FreedomBox, you need to remove freedombox-setup, plinth packages and other programs you have setup using Plinth user interface. Even after that currently, not 100% will go back to normal.
3.2.2. How to configure my router in case of dynamic DNS?
A: 01 - Find out the mac address and current local IP of your device running FreedomBox. 02 - Open your router admistration web interface. 03 - Set Up an exception for your device as a static local IP. 04 - Create a port forwarding for 80 (http server) and 443 (https secure server) ports to your FreedomBox IP (made static). 04 - Leave the router interface, your public IP should now provide a direct access to your FreedomBox (use http://myip.datasystems24.de to find out your public IP).
3.2.3. How to create a DNS name with GnuDIP?
A: Please read the manual and the recap on that question at the end of section.
3.2.4. How do I upgrade my FreedomBox from stable to testing?
A. FreedomBox is a Debian pure blend. The process for upgrading FreedomBox from stable to testing is the same as that for Debian
Login to your FreedomBox via ssh as a user who has administrative privileges.
$ sudo apt edit-sources
$ sudo apt update $ sudo apt dist-upgrade
3.3. Trouble Shooting
3.3.1. After the installation, I can only login via ssh with the account I had before running the FreedomBox setup script, how to fix it?
A: You will need to edit /etc/security/access.conf either remove or comment out the line with "-:ALL EXCEPT root fbx (admin):ALL".
3.3.2. I'm having some problems getting FBX working on a BeagleBone Black. The latest release would boot once, but after the initial reboot it wouldn't boot again.
A: If first boot setup is causing the further boots to fail then most likely the flash-kernel script in freedombox-setup is the reason. You can create a fresh SD card, mount it then disable by the flash-kernel script by creating a empty file in /var/freedombox/dont-tweak-kernel. Once the flash-kernel is disabled, the image should be usable and should give better chance to debug the issue for future kernel upgrades.
3.3.3. I’m trying to install freedom box on my raspberry pi 2 B and the interface plinth does not install correctly.
A: You are running on Debian oldstable (jessie) which is too old to support FreedomBox. Also no one has tested FreedomBox on Raspbian yet. You have two options to run FreedomBox: Use the FreedomBox image for Raspberry Pi 2 or Upgrade your existing image to Debian testing or unstable and then follow the FreedomBox installation process for Debian.
3.3.4. http://freedombox.local/ gives "server not found" and Nmap (0 hosts up). What did I miss?
A: If you are logged into FreedomBox machine, you can find out the IP address directly by typing 'ip addr list'. Then connect to http://<ipaddress>/. Further more, I hope you have followed the instructions in https://wiki.debian.org/FreedomBox/Hardware/Debian. Pay particular attention to the troubleshooting item 2.
3.3.5. Why can i not login to my user? i followed the instructions on installing freedombox on debian sid and i'm stucked with a tty login denied permission to my user account
A: After running freedombox setup, it will lock out all users except: root, sudo users (in latest version), and users belonging to admin user. You can remove this restriction by removing the last line of /etc/security/access.conf No nee to run some update command after editing /etc/security/access.conf
3.3.6. Is there any reason Raspberry Pi 1 is not listed in https://www.freedombox.org/download/stable/ even though the freedombox images are available for pi1 in FreedomBox ftp server?
A. We could list the RPi1 image. But there are a few problems to be aware of.
- There isn't a Debian-packaged kernel for RPi1. Users would need to run the rpi-firmware-update script on a regular basis.
- It's armel, so it's slow compared to e.g. Raspbian.
- Snapshots won't be usable. So it is recommended to use rasbian for running freedombox instead of freedombox image for Raspberry Pi 1
3.3.7. I messed up the installation of an application. Can I reinstall it somehow?
A. There are two parts to uninstalling an application.
- Removing the application.
Convincing FreedomBox that the application is not installed.
An example with ejabberd
Remove the application first.
$ sudo apt remove ejabberd
You can add a --purge before the ejabberd argument if you want to drop the database.
Then install the utility sqlite3 to edit Plinth database file.
$ sudo apt install sqlite3
Remove the application's record from FreedomBox's database.
$ sudo echo "delete from plinth_module where name='ejabberd';" | sudo sqlite3 /var/lib/plinth/plinth.sqlite3
Now, go back to the FreedomBox web interface and install the application.
3.3.8. A FreedomBox application has been removed from testing/stable. How do I manually install it?
A. You can temporarily switch to Debian unstable, install your application and go back to your previous Debian version.
SSH into your FreedomBox and run the following command to edit apt configuration.
$ sudo apt edit-sources
Replace testing or stable in the file with unstable. Comment out the lines containing testing-updates or stretch-backports.
$ sudo apt update
Now install the application from FreedomBox web interface. Going back
$ sudo apt edit-sources
Replace unstable with whatever Debian version you had before. Don't forget to uncomment the updates or backports lines that were commented earlier.
$ sudo apt updateDone.
4. USE & APPLICATIONS
4.1.1. How to display FreedomBox version through the User Interface?
A: Click "?" (Help), then About.
4.2. Network Admin
4.2.1. How to connect to FreedomBox from the Internet?
A: You can access your FreedomBox from the Internet after activating Tor application. Use the given .onion address and a Tor browser for computer or a Tor app for mobile phones. You can also access your box outside Tor network using a standard IP address (http). To configure the access from a regular http address, you need some additional setup. From your FreedomBox administration interface, go to "System Configuration" page, then "Configure" page to enter a "Domain Name". Your domain name has to be a static IP address. If your ISP does not provide you a static IP address, activate and configure "Dynamic DNS Client" in FreedomBox apps. Read the Q&A related to setting up your router and a DNS name.
4.2.2. How to access Plinth from outside the LAN?
Access to Plinth is restricted to LAN IP addresses by default. (Note: This restriction does not apply when using a Pagekite or .onion address.) The list of restricted addresses can be found in /etc/apache2/sites-available/plinth.conf. If needed, you can add an IP address block to the <RequireAny> section, and then reload the apache2 service for it to take effect.
4.2.3. How to have a homepage on https://freedombox.local/ or the public ip?
A: The default page is set on your machine in /etc/apache2/conf-available/freedombox.conf (the ?RedirectMatch). You can can configure this file to make freedombox.local direct to a specific landing page. It will redirect any connections that don't specify a /path.
4.2.4. I would like to configure my network statically for now. How to do that in the "Networks"-Setting?
A: If you want LAN side to be configured statically, you can add a connection and choose: 1 IPv4 Addressing Method, see the manual. 2 If you want WAN side to be configured statically, you can do same but settings for default gateway and DNS Server are missing.
A: A page showing the current network-settings will be available in the future, see here.
4.2.5. How to change the default IP range and class in FreedomBox?
A: Give the following command to the network device which is configured as 'shared'. #nmcli connection modify $CONNECTION_ID ipv4.addresses "192.168.1.0/16". $CONNECTION_ID is the id allocated to the device and to check the ID give this command. #nmcli con. IP range is determined by first IP that we allocate to the device and one can adjust the subnet too.
4.2.6. How to find IP addresses leased by FreedomBox?
A: /var/lib/misc/dnsmasq.leases is the location to find all the IP addresses leased by FreedomBox.
4.2.7. Command-line interface: Port Forwarding in FreedomBox HowTo?
A: The two steps which are required for enabling port forward in FreedomBox. [To make these changes permanent add --permanent to the end of both the commands.]
firewall-cmd --zone=external --add-port=2233/tcp firewall-cmd --zone=external --add-forward-port=port=2233:proto=tcp:toport=22:toaddr=192.168.1.4
For a detailed described check this link: "Configure Port Forwarding using the CLI".
4.3. SIP Server (repro)
4.3.1. Does anyone know the port that the SIP should be configured on?
A: 5060 and 5061, both TCP and UDP.
4.4. Chat Server (XMPP)
4.4.1. How to add a new XMPP user?
A: Entering a standard user in plinth (not part of wiki nor admin group) makes the user ready to use his username@domain and password to start in any XMPP client.
4.4.2. How to change the password of a XMPP user?
A: That is done through Plinth interface (Users -> select user -> Change Password form). Users will be able to connect to Plinth for an external IP address from FreedomBox version 1.0.
5. ABOUT FREEDOMBOX COMMUNITY
5.1. If somebody can connect me with the people inside FreedomBox I need to talk to, it would be great.
A: By writing to the mailing list or connecting to the IRC channel, you are addressing all the people contributing to FreedomBox. If you wish to talk to the active contributors, I suggest joining the monthly VOIP progress calls.
5.2. What is the difference between progress calls and hack calls?
A: The original idea was that the hack call would be less formal than progress calls. So we might have a topic of interest during hack calls, but it doesn't need to follow a set agenda.
5.3. Where can i go to help FreedomBox get translated into my language?
A: Please visit Localization landing page for newcomers.
A: FreedomBox's user interface (UI) translation process is held on Weblate platform. The manual is created on english wiki pages and you can translate it from these documents creating local pages linked to these global pages.
6.1. Can I use the FreedomBox logo?
A: Certification by the Foundation to distribute FreedomBox software is not ready yet. Please ask your question on discussion list or attending team calls. Technically speaking, you can read the documentation "FreedomBox-Identity-Manual.pdf".
Next call: Sunday, April 28th at 17:00 UTC
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