As you may know, Dell is one of the few big PC vendors that produce special laptop editions with Linux pre-loaded like Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition that currently runs Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.
Continuing its interest in the Linux community, the PC maker is now preparing to add a new hardware-level privacy driver for its next-gen Linux-powered Dell laptops.
The driver aims to protect users’ privacy by introducing hardware-based “privacy buttons” for turning off the system’s audio or camera.
Instead of using third-party software on your system, you will be able to use hotkeys to disable built-in microphones and webcam support. To make it work, you can press CTRL+F4 hotkey to enable audio privacy and CTRL+F9 hotkey to enable camera privacy.
Once the privacy mode is enabled from the hardware level, no applications will be able to access laptops’ built-in microphones and camera devices as it blocks any audio or video stream.
Though the code proposed by Perry Yuan from Dell to Linux Kernel is still at the initial stage and has yet to be merged into the mainline Linux kernel, it’s great to see such an effort from one of the world’s largest PC manufacturers to bring hardware privacy features to Linux from the start.
However, it’s obviously not the first time that Linux-powered laptops are getting hardware-level privacy support.
A very well-known Linux PC vendor, Purism, has already introduced such privacy mode on its Librem Linux laptops to not only disable the webcam and microphone physically but also Wi-Fi radio and Bluetooth radio via a Hardware Kill Switch (HKS).
Via — ZDNet