An Internet-Secure [Laptop] Computer

This document specifies a secure (laptop) computer to replace my aging Macintosh PowerBook. If and when successful, I will also obtain a compatible desktop system, and use this same specification in my recommendations to other people.

1.  The computer must run the majority operating system (WinXP) efficiently and without any indication that it is not the whole system. A dual-boot system is acceptable. A virtual system is acceptable only if it takes over the whole screen and keyboard.

2.  The computer must support a firewall that intercepts and blocks all internet access of any kind (including the system's own) in either direction except as explicitly permitted in real time under my control. This requires software access to the firewall from my own code.

A Windows-only computer can meet this requirement by a rootkit or other driver-level code that sits between the hardware and all net access software, including the system itself.
A Linux or unix system can meet this requirement by a script that allows the kernel to be modified, recompiled and installed.
No commercial or pre-programmed firewall is considered safe unless I can control every transaction from my software.

3.  The system must have a compiler capable of recompiling the firewall and/or whatever software is needed to control it.

4.  The system must have a full (image) backup capability onto removable media, which can be booted up for restoral in the event of a hard disk failure or replacement or system crash, and from which individual files can be extracted and restored without shutting down or restoring the whole system.

5.  The laptop computer must include a video-out port capable of driving standard video projectors.

6.  All administrative functions of the computer must be accessable without typing command lines.

7.  The laptop computer must fit inside a standard briefcase with its backup drive (if not internal), power brick(s), cables and dongles, media, presentation handouts, etc. It must be usable on a standard airline seat tray for at least two hours of reading or editing.

8.  All required components of the system, including utility software necessary for their proper use, must be installed and shown to be working before I take delivery.

9.  The computer should be plain and undistinguished in appearance. If there is a prominent logo on the cover, the delivered system should include a "skin" or permanent sticker that tastefully conceals it.

Tom Pittman