Dell is one of the few big PC vendors who produce special laptop editions with pre-installed Linux such as Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition which currently runs on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. According to the latest news, Dell is now preparing to add a new hardware-level privacy driver in its next-generation Linux powered Dell laptops.
According to Dell, these drivers are aimed to protect users’ privacy. Dell said they are looking forward to introducing hardware-based “privacy buttons” for turning off the system’s audio or camera. This means, instead of using any third-party software on your system, from now on, you will be able to use hotkeys to disable these. All you have to do to make it work is simply press CTRL + F4 to enable audio privacy and CTRL + F9 to enable camera privacy.
The best thing is, once the privacy mode is enabled from the hardware, no application will be able to access laptops’ built-in microphones and camera devices.
To make this happen, the code proposed by Perry Yuan from Dell to Linux Kernel is still at the initial stage. It is yet to be merged into the mainline Linux kernel. However, even if it takes some time to make these hotkeys live, it seems to be a great effort.
Note that this is not the first time that Linux powered laptops are getting hardware-level privacy supports because another Linux PC vendor, Purism, has already introduced such privacy mode on its Librem Linux laptops. It can not only disable the webcam and microphone but also Wi-Fi radio and Bluetooth radio via a Hardware Kill Switch (HKS).