We cover a lot of topics on Pyre Phone, and there may be some terms you haven’t come across before. This article is here to help.
Free and Open Source Software (FOSS)
Open Source is a philosophy of software development that enables open access to solutions to problems that have already been solved. An open source program is one where the source code is laid bare for all to see, and do with as they wish. This means that anyone can download the code and work on it themselves, pointing out issues or even fixing it and improving the project for others. This community-driven development can often lead to faster identification of issues, as well as solutions to them.
Operating System (OS)
This is the software or set of programs that you interact with as the end-user of a computer. It manages all of the hardware and resources available to the computer, and provides the ability to more easily tell the computer what to do.
Computers work with 1s and 0s, or “Machine Code”, which is very difficult for a human to understand and work with, so operating systems are used to make people more efficient when interacting with their computer.
Phones, Tablets, Smart Watches, Gaming Consoles, and Smart TVs can be classified as computers, and all will use some kind of operating system.
Common operating systems include: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android.
Basic Input / Output System, is software that is installed on a small memory chip on a device. The BIOS handles the operation of hardware components at the most basic level, giving instructions and enabling settings changes. The BIOS is responsible for procedures such as powering on or booting the device, and hardware monitoring.
An abreviated term for the various “Flavours” or versions of Linux. They are all based on the same underlying code, taking different design decisions with various specific applications and users in mind.
Read Only Memory (ROM)
A type of storage that allows for quick reading of the data that is already there. Suitable for holding Operating Systems. Also used in place of the term “Operating System” by certain communities.
Method of writing to Read Only Memory. In our use it means installing an operating system or software onto a device. Devices could include smart phones, USBs and SD Cards.
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Put simply, this software securely connects your computer to another computer (which is called a server). Traditionally this means extending a private network to allow connection from outside an organisation. This is useful for members of an orginisation that need to access resources within the private network, such as students or employees working from home.
New commercial VPN products have been released that allow use of the internet through the server’s internet connection. This means you will appear to be browsing from the server’s location instead of your own. The benefits of this include access to region-locked content, safer use of untrusted networks, and hiding the content you are viewing from your Internet Service Provider.
Tor, or The Onion Router, is a completely free service that offers most of the benefits of a VPN, while also adding the ability to be as close to anonymous online as possible right now. Basically, Tor uses three separate servers to route your traffic, each with its own layer of encryption, and each only knowing the bare minimum about the data being processed.
The first server, or “hop”, knows your IP, but not where you’re going. The second hop knows the first hop, and the third hop. The third hop knows the final destination and the second server, but not where the traffic originated from. In this design, there is no way to de-anonymise the user, as at every step along the way, the servers only get what is necessary for them to function.
This is not a perfect solution, organisations with enough resources and motivation can target specific people over Tor, but mass surveillance is not economically viable over Tor.
Bloat + Software = Bloatware. The unnecessary apps that are installed on an operating system by default. Often not removable, and may include features that are not good for the consumer, or the battery life and performance of the device.
Come across a tech term you don’t see here? Send us a question, we’ll get back to you with an answer, and update this page for others.