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Secure, open source Linux handheld has an Ethernet port

Dec 11, 2019 — by Eric Brown 3,618 views

XXLSEC’s open-spec “ProteusDevice” handheld runs a security-hardened, Linux 5.4-based PriveOS without binary blobs on an i.MX6 with 1GB RAM, 8GB eMMC, 5-inch touchscreen, 10/100 Ethernet, and optional WiFi.

Helsinki, Finland-based XXLSEC has posted specs for a security focused, i.MX6 Quad based handheld called the ProteusDevice, which is based on its almost identical, but slightly smaller Privecall TX device. The minimalist Twitter and Reddit announcements claim the 5.5-inch touchscreen enabled device is for sale, but there’s no price or shopping page listed.

ProteusDevice (left) and Privecall TX
(click images to enlarge)

This open-spec “mobile secure computing device” is also referred to as a “clean hardware” device in that it’s built from “fully transparent components” with “no known unknowns included.” Schematics and source code will be posted on GitHub.

The device follows other security- and privacy-oriented Linux handhelds and smartphones with open Linux software and in some cases, open source hardware. The latest include Source Parts’ Pocket P.C. handheld and Pine64’s 4G-enabled PinePhone.


The device’s security hardened PriveOS distribution runs on a “vanilla” Linux 5.4 kernel and uses the Message Posting Protocol (MPP) and the Inter-domain Controller (IDC) protocol. It offers end-to-end encryption for file transfers, chat, messaging, and IP voice calls. Other features include multiparty keying and drop-in ciphers.

The ProteusDevice provides full protection against phishing, malware, ransomware, rogue apps, supply chain attack, unauthorized third-party access, and backend infra attacks, says XXLSEC. The company promises to prohibit meta data collection, a practice in which Apple’s iPhone has made some recent, but still insufficient improvements compared to Google’s Android.

(click images to enlarge)

The Privecall TX highlighted on the XXLSEC website runs the same PriveOS stack and although there are fewer detailed specs, it appears to be almost identical. The only difference we could see is that its dimensions are 150 x 78 x 15mm instead of 160 x 78 x 15mm for the ProteusDevice. The devices run on the under-powered, but well known NXP i.MX6 Quad with 4x Cortex-A9 cores typically clocked at 1GHz to 1.2GHz.

The ProteusDevice is equipped with 1GB RAM, 8GB eMMC, and a microSD slot. There’s a 5-inch, 1280 x 720 IPS touchscreen with backlighting and the most singular feature on the phone: a 10/100 Ethernet port. You can also buy an optional TI WiLink WL1801 module with 2.4GHz WiFi and an internal antenna. Other features include a microphone, speaker, LEDs, and user programmable power, home, and volume buttons.

The 276-gram handheld has a 3500mAh battery with a 4.5 to 7.5-hour battery life. It can be charged via a charging-only micro-USB port and monitored via an I2C connected fuel gauge.
Further information
The ProteusDevice should be available soon at an undisclosed price. More information may be found on the Reddit and Twitter announcements, as well as the GitHub page. More on the similar Privecall TX may be found on XXLSEC’s Privecall TX product page.

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