FAQ

Find answers to Frequently Asked Questions:

About Purism

How Does an Emerging Company Manufacture a Motherboard?

Through business negotiations we license reference designs and prepay for all the tooling, so that we can do small quantity fabrication, albeit at a higher per-unit price.  It is not inexpensive, but it is possible! Purism’s founder, Todd Weaver, has built up these relationships for over a decade.

Is Purism a non-profit or corporation?

Short answer: Purism is a for profit corporation.

Longer answer: It is harder to form a non-profit organization that by all definitions is a corporation, than it is to form a corporation that has non-profit beliefs.

Where is Purism based?

Short answer: South San Francisco, CA USA

Longer answer: Worldwide. Purism sources component parts from China, Taiwan, Japan, and the United States. Purism builds, assembles, quality control tests, and delivers all our hardware from our South San Francisco facility, USA. Purism has employees, contractors, and volunteers from around the world.

Are you hiring?

Short answer: Yes. See https://puri.sm/jobs/

Longer answer: Purism is hiring for a great number of positions, even more than are listed in our jobs section. If you are interested in any of the listed positions, or have an idea of a position you’d like to create within our organization, please send an email to hr@puri.sm with the following:

  • What you’re good at, or what you would like to help us with.
  • How you got good at it, or how you’d like to help us.
  • Why would you like to be involved with Purism?

We offer various forms of compensation and roles, from volunteer, part-time, paid, or margin share. Please list what forms of compensation you require and are amenable to.

Can I buy shares in your company?

Beginning in mid 2016 Purism will be offering investment opportunities to the community.

How is Purism funded? How does Purism make money?

Purism is 100% owned by the founder and you, however will be offering investment opportunities to backers and the crowd beginning in the middle of 2016.

How can I contribute?

You can help by purchasing a Librem device and benefit from a more secure computing experience. You could also help us out with projects that we are currently working on as we are sometimes stretched thin. Finally, the easiest way would be to help answer questions in our community forums, engage with others that are considering Purism products, spreading the word about Purism, be willing to write in with bug reports or user experiences or donating time and/or money for our project. Another item would be to write a blog post about your experiences in switching to a Librem or to GNU/Linux in general. Send an email to james.rufer(at)puri.sm for questions, additional information or your willingness to be involved.

Do you take Bitcoin?

Yes, we take bitcoin as a payment option.

Can I buy my Librem with cash?

Yes, if you visit our facility in person and pick your laptop up there. Please email support(at)puri.sm ahead of time to make arrangements.

For Beginners

What is FLOSS?

FLOSS stands for Free/Libre Open Source Software and is software with its base code available to the public and allowed to be modified, improved or whatever else users feel like doing do it. It grants you freedom.

What is GNU/Linux?

A “Linux” operating system, properly described as GNU/Linux, is an operating system based upon the Linux kernel. The Linux kernel was created by Linux Torvalds initially for his own use during his years in college. It was used with the GNU operating system. GNU, created by Richard Stallman, is the entire operating system, minus the kernel. So, when people say “Linux operating system” they should be saying “GNU/Linux operating system”, or even a “GNU operating system”.

Both Torvalds and Stallman released their software to the world for free.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linus_Torvalds

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Stallman

What is the difference between free and libre?

English language more often uses word “free” to describe something that is gratis – while it is true that all the software in FLOSS is gratis, it is not mandatory to be like that. The important part of FLOSS is that is has the liberty to be examined, learn about it, modify it to your needs without any restriction of copyright license which forbids you to use it as you want.

Often said it is “free as in freedom”.

Do you have an app store?

Yes! We have an app store called “Software” where many different applications are available giving you many additional gaming, productivity, video, graphics, and office choices.

How do I talk to a real person if I have a problem?

You can write us an email at support(at)puri.sm or post in our forums.

We are known to hang around the #purism IRC channel on Freenode.

Can I watch Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and Amazon Prime?

Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime distribute content with restrictive DRM technologies that Purism does not support natively through PureBrowser or Chromium. However, there are other browsers that you are free to install if you choose to.

Youtube supports HTML5 and will play without additional input.

Does a Librem support Flash, Silverlight, Java and other plug ins?

No, we do not, as these are major security issues. Most websites are switching to HTML5 due to these security issues.

Can you explain to me in plain English why I should be concerned about security and privacy issues on my computer?

The same reasons you are concerned over unwanted people entering your property, peeping through your windows, or installing cameras in your house. These same physical rights apply directly to digital rights. You should not want unwanted people having access to your digital files, your photos, emails, website history, or your camera or microphone.  Your home is your private life, your digital life should have the same rights and protections.

Isn’t GNU/Linux just for hackers, programmers and developers? Do I have to be a computer expert to use PureOS or a Librem?

No, not at all. There are many people that do in fact use GNU/Linux to program and develop applications for various operating systems (not just for Linux) but GNU/Linux is easily used by many people of all levels of computing skill.

PureOS is designed to be user friendly by utilizing one of the most popular desktop environments available called Gnome 3. Gnome 3 works well with both touch and traditional mouse and keyboard user inputs to allow for easy use. The Librem has well known traditional ports and utilizes off the shelf parts for easy replacement if something needs replaced.

I’ve heard that I have to type in complicated commands to use Linux in something called a terminal.

You don’t have to. There is also a “terminal” in Windows, Apple and Google machines as well but like those operating systems, complicated command lines are going away in favor of graphic user interface (GUI) focus. PureOS does have a terminal just like all Linux distributions but it is not needed in many situations for newer users.

How do I listen to music, watch videos or view my pictures?

PureOS comes pre-installed with applications that allow you to view and edit pictures & video and play your music.

Do I still need antivirus software?

PureOS is based upon the most private and secure foundation in computing, the Linux kernel, that largely eliminates the need for antivirus and malware protection that plague Windows and OSX. In addition to regular security updates, applications are reviewed for security exploits and backdoors, then sandboxed to further protect your files from attack. These services require no user input and just work and work simply. Everything gets updated at once with one simple click. We are additionally evaluating GRsecurity as a proactive defense against some kernel level threats.

Can I browse the internet in the same way as on other computers and devices?

Sure! We pre-install two different internet browsers to allow you the freedom to surf the web and go to the sites you want.

Purism designed PureBrowser is based upon the familiar Firefox that millions know and love. All syncing features work out of the box and it is pre-installed with some of the best safety, privacy and security extensions that the Firefox community has to offer.

We also pre-install Tor. If you аre unfamiliar with Tor, Tor bounces your internet traffic around the world from server to server in an encrypted fashion so that you can truly remain anonymous while being online.

Other common browsers are available for you to install as well if you see fit but without the privacy, security and safety protections our browsers provide. We think that you will like these browsers and the comfort they provide over the other options.

We give you the tools and we make it easy for you to browse as you see fit.

Are there any tutorial videos or additional information on PureOS/Linux?

Often times when we think of an operating system we think of how it looks and feels. This is called the user interface or user experience. PureOS 3 uses a Graphical User Interface (GUI, also sometimes called “Desktop Environment”) called Gnome 3. Information on this user interface can be found here:

https://www.gnome.org/gnome-3/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JU2f_jkPRq4

Can I still print pictures and documents with a Librem?

We include all available drivers in order for your printer to function. Please ensure capability by checking with your printer manufacturer.

I still have favorite programs from my Windows/Mac computer. Can I still use them?

Yes and no. No Windows applications will run natively on PureOS. However, some Windows applications can be run with an application called Wine. Please go to www.winehq.org to check on the availability of your program. Applications designed for Apple products can not run on a GNU/Linux based machine such as a Librem.

Additionally, you can also run Windows or Apple operating systems within our virtual box application, Boxes, which would allow you to run the applications that you need.

Please also note that Windows based programs run as non-free source/proprietary code and Purism can not offer a guarantee that your Librem will continue to be secure if you choose to install. We do not recommend doing this for your own privacy and security but you are welcome to as the Librem is your machine.

I’m used to using an Android phone and a Windows desktop. Will this computer work the same as what I’m used to?

All operating systems have their differences when comparing, for instance, a mobile operating system like Android to a computer focused one like Windows. Apple has differences from Windows as well. However, each operating system allows you to do the same or similar things – it may just be a different button to push or icon to click.

Web browsers, applications and file managers will all work in PureOS/Librem in ways that you are used to on other devices. They may look a little different than what you’re used to, but they will get you to the same place.

Do I need special propriety hardware, software or cables to use a Librem?

No! We hate those proprietary things! Your Librem will work with industry standards such as HDMI, USB, hardware after market parts and all software is free and libre. RAM, hard drives or solid state drives, batteries and power supplies are all “off the shelf” and available for purchase from online and big box stores.

Will the Librem and PureOS keep me and my family safe online?

Yes. Combined with utilizing the Linux kernel as the base of the operating system along with various enhancements such as GR Security, privacy focused add-ons within PureBrowser and the hardware kill switches give you as the user a lot of safety and security while online.

Librem Devices

Do you ship worldwide?

Short answer: Yes.

Longer answer: We can ship anywhere, but the customer is responsible for customs clearing, shipping, and local taxation. If you can normally order product from the U.S. and have it shipped to you, then you can order from Purism in the same manner.

What are the benefits of using a Librem?

The Librem runs PureOS as it’s operating system. This operating system is based upon the Linux kernel and is viewed by privacy and security experts as being incredibly secure. This is due to it being free software where the source code is available, meaning that people with proper technical skill can easily read, view and understand the language of the operating system. Operating systems that you are used to such as Windows and OS X are non-free and the source code is held by Microsoft and Apple. This non-free software, where the source code is not available in proprietary OSes makes it impossible to fully read and understand the computer language thereby making it impossible to fully know what your Microsoft or Apple based computer is doing or if it is secure.

What is a Librem?

The Librem name originated with the desire to make a truly freedom respecting laptop. Libre is an adjective meaning “free, at liberty” and is used to distinguish it from gratis which means “free of charge”. Libre is used extensively in the GNU/Linux community to show that software is free in the sense that its source code is available as opposed to non-free software where the source code can not be viewed. Libre also translates easily to a variety of languages. The “m” was added to help it roll of the tongue.

Do your computers come with disk encrypting software? If not, what are the best options for disk encryption?

We ship with the option, during setup, to encrypt your home directory. Full disk encryption (as with any GNU/Linux based system) requires you to do it during installation. If you want home directory encryption, we got you covered. If you want full disk encryption, you can install the OS from a USB stick to get that.

What’s the return policy?
  • If, for any reason, you want to cancel your order before it was shipped, we will issue a full refund.
  • If there is a defective hardware component, we’ll send you a replacement part or a new product unit free of charge.
  • If you want to return a product that doesn’t have any issues, we’ll charge a 10% restocking fee.
How long is the warranty and how do I file a claim?

Every Librem comes with a company-backed, two-year parts and labor warranty. We currently have one warranty facility in South San Francisco, however we are also considering and pursuing distribution and warranty repair within certain other countries. Contact support(at)puri.sm for assistance.

Why is it so expensive?

Some users think the Librem is a very good value. Others think it is too expensive. This all depends on where you live, and what you are comparing the Librem to. If you compare the Librem, feature by feature, to other high end PCs, such as a high end Lenovo or a MacBook Pro it is priced comparably, or even lower priced. If you compare the Librem to installing GNU/Linux on a used 2008 Thinkpad, it’s expensive. As sales volume increases we will be able to obtain and source components at a lower price. Economies of scale will bring prices down in the future. The Librem is a solid, hand-built, very high quality, boutique “microbrewed” computer, assembled with care to your specifications in our facility in the USA.

What the Librem’s cases (bodies) made of?

Solid aluminum with a black anodized finish.

Do you make the case yourself, or are they from a third party?

They were custom fabricated for us.

How do the Hardware Kill Switches (HKS) work? Why do they matter?

The HKS physically cut the power going to the microphone/webcam and the wifi/bluetooth radios in the device. There have been several cases where either big government agencies or nearby hackers have remotely accessed these devices to turn on computers or otherwise view or listen in through the microphone or web camera. Software solutions of turning the camera on and off can be easily bypassed. The HKS physically cut the electronic circuit to the accessory. No power, no work. When the switches are thrown the accessory is, quite simply, off, and can not be remotely turned back on.

This matters as a security feature and for your own piece of mind. No longer do you have to worry about private communications being recorded or someone looking back at you through the webcam. Parents can especially enjoy this feature to help protect their children.

The switch for the WiFi can be thrown and along with pulling out the ethernet cord will ensure you the convenience of true off line computing. Then when you want to use either the microphone/web camera or the WiFi/Bluetooth, simply return power to the accessory by turning the switch.

What do I get in the box?

Your Librem and power cord.

Can I install Windows or Mac OSX? Have you tried yet installing a non-GNU/Linux OS (e.g. Windows 7/10)?

The Librem has been designed specifically to optimize GNU/Linux-based operating systems.

The Librem is your computer, so you can do with it whatever you wise, even if that includes installing non-free Windows or other operating systems. We obviously don’t recommend this, but it is your computer to do what you wish with it.

Can I install other distributions of GNU/Linux?

Yes, you can install any “flavor” of GNU/Linux and all should run perfectly. The Librem is pre-installed with PureOS, which is based on Debian.

Can you add upgrades?

Yes, we will customize your Librem to order. You can also unscrew the back and add your own upgrades.

How are the devices shipped?

By FedEx in USA, and USPS for International shipments. Interdiction services are available upon request at support(at)puri.sm

Can I pick up a Librem instead of having it shipped?

Yes you can. We also offer further interdiction options. Please contact support(at)puri.sm to make arrangements.

Are they available in stores or online?

Librems are available on our online store. Getting the product into big box stores is something that is on the Purism road map.

Why does it cost so much? What’s the benefits of paying more?

We are working hard to bring down the price of the Librems. In fact, we were able to reduce the price of the Librem 13 in April 2016 by over $200! In the simplest terms, it is the sheer economics of supply and demand. As there is more demand for privacy respecting and secure computing, the price will come down because as we will be able to order more parts for our wonderful computers.

The truth is that we need capital in order to grow as a business. We are already working with thin margins. The benefits to supporting a privacy and security focused computer manufacturer are vast but the decision to help us is yours.

Do Librem devices use non-ECC RAM or ECC RAM?
Non-ECC. Because ECC RAM takes modifying the motherboard in addition to selecting a CPU that supports ECC.
Will the Librem have replacement and upgrade parts?

Yes, it will be posible to order one of:

  • Motherboard
  • Wireless card
  • RAM
  • SATA drive
  • M.2 drive
  • Power adapter
  • Battery (within the US)

PureOS & Software

Will I be able to install CAD and design software?

Yes, there are plenty of CAD applications, some are listed as ‘professional’ and are quite popular on GNU/Linux systems such as LibreCAD:

LibreCAD is an application for computer aided design (CAD) in two dimensions (2D). With LibreCAD you can create technical drawings such as plans for buildings, interiors, mechanical parts or schematics and diagrams.
Homepage: http://www.librecad.org/

add-remove-programs-cad-results

Can I browse anonymously?

Yes, Purism uses The Onion Router (Tor) and installs it by default.

Tor provides anonymity online, designed to protect your privacy, defending against network surveillance and traffic analysis. Tor prevents people from learning your location or browsing habits.

Tor enabled by default in private browsing

 

How to find alternative programs to common Windows or Mac software?

A lot of users are unaware of what alternative programs are available for certain proprietary Windows or Mac software they would like to use. The easiest way to determine what alternative programs there are is to open up ‘Add/Remove Applications’, where you can type the software you are familiar with by name to see a list of alternatives. You can easily install these, try them out, and remove them right from ‘Add/Remove Applications’. If there is no match for the exact name you’re looking for, you can browse by category, or generalize your search. If you prefer a web search, you can use osalt.com.

Here is an example for ‘Excel’:
purism-add-remove-alternate-programs

Here is an example for ‘Photoshop’:
purism-add-remove-alternative-applications-gimp

Here is an example for ‘Skype’ that is generalized to ‘Video Call’:
purism-add-remove-alternative-applications-video-call

How to play YouTube videos?

YouTube uses HTML5 by default as flash is nonfree software. If you happen to be using flash you should change youtube to use html5 by default.

Head on over to YouTube HTML5 Video Player, and click the “Request the HTML5 player”.

This shows the “Request the HTML5 player”:
purism-youtube-default-player

This shows after clicked “The HTML5 player is currently used when possible.”
purism-youtube-html5-player

Can I install Debian, Redhat, Ubuntu on a Librem?

Yes, you have the freedom to remove the default Purism OS (which is Debian Testing based) for another OS, but it important to note installing a non-free distribution will contain mystery software, which you cannot know with certainty what it actually does. So it is our recommendation to use any free GNU/Linux distributions. Debian (main) is also a completely free distribution, but it offers installation from non-free sources as an option.

What is a Binary Blob, and why does it matter?

A binary blob is a file of proprietary binary code provided from a corporation, without source code, that is needed to power certain chips on a computer. Binary blobs are the places in the computer where the computer is doing something secret that you didn’t tell it to do. Where you have no way to know what it is doing, and no way to stop it. It is the place where spyware can and does run and you do not know.

To understand why this matters to your privacy, security, and freedom, let’s first give you some facts:

  1. All computers ship with many thousands of compiled binaries.
  2. Binaries are computer code that cannot be read by humans.
  3. All binaries are compiled from source code.

It is the source code, that is the important part.

If people have access to the source code they can compile their own binaries, but more importantly inspect the code to verify it does what it should. People cannot inspect a binary completely, they need the source code to properly verify that the software protects your privacy, security, and freedom.

MacOS, iOS, Android, and Windows, all ship binaries, without source code so there is no way to verify that the software provided from those corporations truly protects your privacy, security, and freedom.

Binary blobs, are binary files that are included in some free and open source programs and the kernel, they cannot be verified to protect your privacy, security, and freedom.

All proprietary software and operating systems are binaries, without source code. Therefore all proprietary software and operating systems cannot be verified to protect your rights to privacy, security, and freedom.

Purism provides the source code to ALL the software from the bootloader, kernel, operating system, and software, and does not include any binary blobs in any of them. People can safely verify every single line of code.

How is PureOS different from other GNU/Linux distributions?

PureOS is based on another GNU/Linux OS called Debian. Debian believes, as we do, that software should be free/libre and open source. We include our own “spin”, include security features and bundle some of the best applications to provide tremendous productivity and enjoyment. We also include PureBrowser, a privacy and security focused web browser based upon the familiar and well known Firefox. PureBrowser takes all of the guesswork out of having secure and private browsing while maintaining the experience that you are used to.

How often will PureOS receive updates?

PureOS is updated daily with security updates and bug fixes.

Can I run Windows applications.

Yes and no. You can use three available applications, Wine, Play on Linux and Crossover, to run Windows applications on a GNU/Linux based machine. Please check the listings on their websites for compatibility with the particular application that you are interested in running. For the more technically inclined, you can use our included virtual machine application, Boxes, to run a full Windows operating system inside PureOS and run any and all Windows application that you like. As with all virtual machines, there will be a performance decline of your Librem.

Please note that Purism cannot recommend doing any of these methods for privacy or security purposes. Running a .exe or.msi installer can open one’s computer to security holes, malware and other privacy concerns. However, this can be done if you are interested or need to run a certain Windows application.

What are the benefits of using PureOS?

PureOS allows for a more safe and secure use and web browsing experience than non-free operating systems like those found on Apple, Google or Microsoft devices. The Linux Kernel and Linux based operating systems are immune from most viruses and malware.

How do I use PureOS?

Have a question? Ask us and the community in our forums, on Twitter or send us an email at support(at)puri.sm

Can PureOS protect me from viruses, malware and cryptolocker?

By its nature, PureOS is immune from most forms of virus and malware because it is based upon the Linux kernel. In simplest terms, the kernel is the foundation of any operating system. From there, we pre-install further protections in order to help keep you safe, private and secure.

GrSecurity provides added security by hardening the Linux kernel, sealing potential leaks and security holes. It is an approach to secure the kernel by reducing the threats the kernel could see.

ClamAV is an anti-virus and malware protection tool.

Uncomplicated Fire Wall helps to keep you secure by not allowing connections to your computer.

These services are provided free of cost and with little necessary input from the user.

Further, our Hardware Kill Switches allow for you to physically cut the connection to Bluetooth and WiFi allowing you true offline computing.

Do you put up ads or steal and sell my data?

No. Quite simply, we will not show you advertisements nor do we care about mining your data. Your data, your pictures, your browsing history – that’s for you and you alone. We exist as a company because we personally wanted to have better control of our own data. And we think you do to.

Will the Librem help me avoid data breaches?

Properly used, Librem will make it by magnitudes harder to have data breaches compared to Windows and Mac OS X. It has integrated full disk encryption, all of the best GNU/Linux security practices, sand boxed applications, and hardened security features.

What kind of cyberthreats can be prevented with a Librem?

All threats are bonded a lot to user interaction with their device. Librem by default doesn’t track or log your keypresses, location, software usage. Also it has preinstalled Tor browser, will have app isolation (with Wayland), hardened kernel probably too (grsecurity).

How often do other installed applications receive updates?

There are frequent updates, new features and bug fixes (when needed) by the writers and maintainers of the application. A set time frame can not be provided as this is largely based upon their own plans.

What makes PureBrowser so special? How will it protect me?

PureBrowser is based upon the familiar Firefox web browser by Mozilla. We install several of the best available add-ons to offer protections not found in the standard Firefox installation. We take the worries and concerns away from you and install only the best.

Technical & Advanced

Does the Qualcomm Atheros AR9485 wireless adapter use a free driver?

Short answer: Yes.

Longer answer, Purism is using Debian main as our base distribution, which by definition strips any non-free software as well as any binary blobs from all software. Debian’s Linux kernel is strips of all non-free components from mainline Linux kernel and puts them into separate package. The driver that the Qualcomm Atheros AR9485 Wireless Network Adapter uses is the ath9k.

Does the Realtek RTL8111/8168/8411 ethernet adapter use a free driver?

Short answer: Yes.

Longer answer, Purism is using Debian main as our base distribution, which by definition strips any non-free software as well as any binary blobs from all software. Debian’s Linux kernel is strips of all non-free components from mainline Linux kernel and puts them into separate package. The driver that the Realtek RTL8111/8168/8411 Ethernet Adapter uses is the deblobbed r8169.

What component options you are offering for the primary storage?

SATA III SSD, and the M.2 is PCIe SSD.

What about potential issues with a couple of components still requiring binary blobs to run being present in Purism laptops?

There are no parts requiring binary blobs from the bootloader, kernel, through the OS, nor any software applications. Which leaves the BIOS, and the Intel binaries. The BIOS will be Coreboot in future, which will then leave the Intel BIOS binaries included in Coreboot.

We are inching our way toward solving that, as you can see here:

https://puri.sm/road-to-fsf-ryf-endorsement-and-beyond/

So we are “as close to free software foundations respects your freedom as possible with current Intel CPUs.” but are spending real money to advance that toward BIOS binary freedom.

Would I be able to install (myself) my own choice of second HDD/SSD and M.2 SSD?

Yes.

If I buy my Librem now and you add Coreboot support in the future will I be able to get it?

Yes, all drivers for firmware will be supplied to Librem owners on an ongoing basis as soon as they are available.

Do you support QubesOS?

Yes! In fact, we are the only approved hardware vendor for Qubes. We are also beginning to work with QubesOS to see about including some of those features within PureOS. Also of note, we give you the choice of having PureOS, QubesOS or no OS pre-installed upon purchase.

When a website states that a software (like a hardware driver) is designed to run on GNU/Linux will that software (driver) also run on an operating system like PureOS?

PureOS is GNU/Linux, all websites work with PureBrowser, which is based on Firefox. There are some websites that require Flash, and we do not recommend Flash, due to its binary, proprietary, non-free status. But of course you are free to do with the computer what you will.

Does every software application designed for GNU/Linux run on PureOS?

Every software packaged in Debian should run on PureOS.