[Company] Weekly Operations Update 3 and 4/2010

Gerald A geraldablists at gmail.com
Fri Jan 29 09:43:38 EST 2010


On Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 3:54 AM, Bas Wijnen <wijnen at debian.org> wrote:

> While I see the use of serial nnumbers for support, I don't see any
> reason to reserve a special piece of software-readable hardware for
> them.  The whole thing is open hardware anyway, user who want to change
> the number can do so.  Why is a software-readable number better than an
> eye-readable number (on a removable sticker)?  I don't think it should
> make a difference for support.

 I'm personally not on one side of this issue or the other, but I'm going to
on a "biz support" hat and be devil's advocate.

As far as sticker vs. software readable, if I have dozens or hundreds of the
devices, the automation aspect is huge. Even a bar-scannable sticker of some
sort has limits in terms of how one can automate it, and users will
mistype and forget digits.
If there is a hardware number available, then it doesn't matter which flash
firmware etc is there, I have some way to peek into and identify the device.

And while it is true that open hardware means that people can change it,
mean that people will change it, or even have the knowledge to do so.

If open hardware is to be used in corporate areas, it has to have some of
these considerations addressed. I wonder if privacy advocates change their
onboard Ethernet address to avoid being "fingerprinted" through that unique

It is completely normal (and reasonable) to void the warrenty by removing
> (or damaging) a
> sticker.

Usually, such stickers are intended as anti-tamper devices. I've had
stickers fall off some devices, or get warn out on others. I think this part
actually argues for a hardware number. :)

Overall, I do think there is a balance between individuals that want
their anonymity and legitamate uses of a unique ID. We are smart, it
should be possible to come up with an easy way to do this without
going to great expense.

(One idea - encode the serial number into the boot blocks of the
device, and provide a set of "non ID'd" blocks for those that want
them. Should be easy to set up, and also easy to modify, and doesn't
require fancy different hardware)

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