Author: Jeff

Spring 2017 product design update and operations report

Let’s recap recent progress with a summary of where we stand and where we’re going next on the “operations” front.

We have begun production of the two new revisions of Librem laptops. As we narrowed down on component choices and successfully raised additional funds, we have now made great steps towards our “zero outstanding orders” milestone and our goal of creating our first inventory to ship future orders from.

  • Last month, we ordered a batch of supplies to begin production of the new Librem 13 “v2” units. We have also tested and evaluated three prototype units, the latest of which we will use to extend our coreboot work.
  • Two weeks ago, we also ordered parts for the new Librem 15 “v3” units. So far we have evaluated one prototype unit for this new batch (which will also be used for our coreboot work), and will evaluate a second one soon.
  • We are currently working to leverage investment to make the Librem 11 batch order happen sooner and create an inventory directly; we will let you know of any progress on that front. In the meantime, we thank you for your patience. And please spread the word about the Librem 11 to those around you looking for a nice security-oriented and freedom-respecting convertible tablet with stylus support (especially interesting for visual artists who want to use the plethora of free creative tools such as MyPaint, Krita, Inkscape, GIMP, etc.)! The more people know about it, the sooner we should be able to put it into production.

Revised products specifications

For the upcoming Librem 13 v2 and the Librem 15 v3, we evaluated various prototypes, including different cases and keyboard models, alongside various possible CPU, GPU, RAM and storage combinations. With the newer motherboards, we aimed to keep the same flexibility in terms of storage: one M.2 slot and one standard SATA slot. As usual, the RAM and SSDs are all user-replaceable, not soldered.

The Librem 13 gets a whole slew of improvements for version 2:

  • Intel Core i7An Intel Core i7 processor (one of the most often requested features), using the 14 nanometers lithography of the Skylake generation, bringing additional performance (over our previous i5 processor) and great power savings over previous generations.
  • A backlit keyboard (the other most often requested feature)
  • Newer Intel graphics as part of the Skylake chipset
  • DDR4 memory
  • One USB 3.0 “type C” connector
  • A much better trackpad (sourced from Elantech instead of BYD), which works better out of the box. It supports vertical and horizontal two-finger scrolling, allows changing workspaces with a simple four-finger swipe gesture, has smoother scrolling, and better palm rejection.

Those who have ordered the Librem 15 also get the free update to Skylake, newer graphics, DDR4, and improved trackpad. The Librem 15 already had a backlit keyboard and USB-C.

As you can see, when you pre-order a Purism device, you don’t need to worry about the specs becoming outdated by the time of production & delivery. For all our products, we strike a balance as per our manufacturing & sourcing approach, yet strive to stay close to the latest technology out there. We aim to please our supporters by bundling these updates at no additional cost whenever possible.

Upgrading from the Broadwell microarchitecture for this round, we chose to go with Skylake (rather than Kabylake) in order to service orders more quickly without bringing on delays in supplies or testing. To provide the best user experience, we prefer to test more thoroughly before moving on to a new chipset (for instance, we’ll be able to provide coreboot support more quickly with Skylake as part of our current roadmap). We expect to upgrade the chipsets/microachitecture again for the next production run (planned for the second half of 2017 once we complete this batch), which will involve a revised motherboard design, as we will also be adding new hardware features in prevision of full support for Heads.

The power of the Dark Side comes as a duo

We chose to keep the same overall chassis, although the location of Librem 15’s killswitches will be different this time (all on the hinge cover, like the Librem 13).

A notable aesthetic improvement for the Librem 15 v3 is that it will be anodized black just like the Librem 13. The temptation of the Dark Side was strong! Here you can see an anodized aluminium extrusion sample of the Librem 15 v3, next to an existing Librem 13 v1:

As we are beginning to have quite a bit of hardware revisions and models to keep track of, the laptops will now also feature some subtle branding underneath the backplate for model identification and to show the appropriate certification marks (we are FCC and CE certified). The publicly visible parts such as the screen bezel, palmrests, or the back of the screen lid, all remain unbranded.

Better power connectors

We are now sourcing power supplies with L-shaped coaxial connectors, so they keep a low profile when plugged into the side of your Librem:

This is particularly useful if you like to sit cross-legged with your laptop on a sofa, for example! (or for those who like to meditate with a computer on their lap)

Wrapping up

We are well on our way to provide a great new set of laptops this summer. We should be receiving the final components around the end of May, at which point we will do the final assembly and shipping throughout June. We will then be able to celebrate having cleared all the existing Librem 13 and 15 orders (including the recent big spike in orders). After that point, we will be able to ship within days and weeks (not months), which will be a huge relief for everybody looking to buy a Librem “in a pinch”. We hope you’re as excited as we are about that!

As always, thank you for your support, and feel free to contact us with your thoughts and encouragements, or to spread the good news around you!

Security Researcher Trammell Hudson and Device Maker Purism Join Forces to Set a New Standard for Security-Focused Laptops

Hudson’s security firmware Heads will be built into Purism Librem hardware to further protect users from cybersecurity threats, privacy invasion, identity theft, and more.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — APRIL 12, 2017 — One of the foremost security researchers in the infosec community, Trammell Hudson, is working with secure device maker Purism to integrate his free and open-source “Heads” firmware into the company’s Librem laptop line. Purism will be the first hardware company to integrate Heads into its products, and the partnership will push the industry standard with unprecedented protection for end-user devices. Testing has already begun for the integration of the two platforms. Read more

Purism Warrant Canary Updated April 1st 2017

[Please note: warrant canaries being posted on April 1st are not April Fools’ jokes.]

Before (or on) the first day of each quarter, Purism, following the general rules of warrant canaries, will update its own Warrant Canary page if none of the listed items occurs.

warrant-canary-64x70px

Warrant Canary, April 1st 2017

  1. We have not placed any backdoors into our software or hardware, and we have not complied with any requests to do so.
  2. We have not received, nor complied with any National Security Letters or FISA court orders.
  3. We have not been subject to any gag order by a FISA court.

The next statement will be published on the first day of each quarter (January 1st, April 1st, July 1st, October 1st). Please refer to the Warrant Canary page for details and digital signatures.

Bringing Librem 13 v2 and Librem 15 v3 prototypes back from LibrePlanet for further coreboot porting work

A few days ago we gave you a very quick sneak peek of the Librem 15 v3’s anodized black finish as we were doing final preparations for our LibrePlanet 2017 attendance. We were very happy to support the Free Software Foundation by sponsoring LibrePlanet! On Saturday morning, we started setting up our booth slowly, thinking there would not be much activity going on at the beginning of the day. We were proved wrong:

There was a crowd around our booth at pretty much all times (except lunchtime) throughout the day Saturday, during which it was revealed that Todd is possibly a cyborg, as he stood there answering questions for eight hours straight, without needing to eat, drink, or sit:

Great discussions were had. James was also present, attending talks and officially winning our photobomber of the year award, as you can see him in the lower-right corner of this photo:

New passions bloomed among attendees:

People who saw and touched the Librems found them to be quite impressive. For instance:

Some of the frequent comments we heard were “Wow. They’re even better than on the photos!”, “When can I buy one?” and “I was a Purism skeptic, but I see you are delivering on your promises and making the impossible possible.”

Really encouraging!

Upcoming coreboot work

While we were hard at work answering thousands of questions at LibrePlanet, our coreboot developer Youness was on vacation while waiting for some more testing hardware. This week he will be resuming his work on preparing/packaging coreboot for release, and with the two new prototype units I brought back from Boston he will also be able to begin the coreboot port for these devices. We hope to do that in time to factory-flash them for the next batch of deliveries in May-June, but we’ll see how the development work pans out. If it’s not ready within that short timespan, we will provide coreboot as an update that you can flash yourself.

Youness has also made some additional progress on the Intel ME, thanks to information and data that Igor Skochinsky was able to share with us. Stay tuned for Youness’ next report!

Getting ready for LibrePlanet and the new Librem 15 v3

This year, we’re attending and sponsoring LibrePlanet, which is being held this week-end in Boston. Todd and I arrived one day early, as we wanted to seize the opportunity to spend a full day coworking to align our plans (regarding communications, product design and supply chain management), confirm product specifications, and test some new prototypes we have on hand. Todd recently (yesterday!) received sample parts and prototype units from suppliers, so we spent some time checking the aesthetic and functional aspect of the next revision of the Librem 13 (v2) and Librem 15 (v3), including the chips, killswitches, and removable components.

I also brought with me some older units I had gathered from others, including the Librem 11 prototype (which we bricked during testing) and the previous revision of the Librem 15.

Oh, “But what is that mysterious black plate in the center of the table”, you ask? Well, that’s one of the sample parts our suppliers sent us: the upper aluminium plate of the upcoming Librem 15 v3, which will be anodized black like our lovely Librem 13.

Here you can see Todd’s Librem 13 on the left (which looks brand new even after 2 years of intensive use) and the Librem 15 v3’s anodized aluminium extrusion sample on the right (resting on top of the old Librem 15 production model for comparison).

We chose a matte finish to avoid fingerprints from showing up (disclaimer: if you’re worried about someone lifting your invisible fingerprints from your laptop, you probably want to type with gloves like this guy–except you’ll be way cooler, because you’ll be using a Librem instead of some old plastic junk 😉

We’re still finalizing details when it comes to the final specs, but from the looks of it, those with outstanding orders may benefit from a free upgrade to a newer generation of CPU and graphic chipsets, in addition to the black aluminium chassis.

Today we have placed a batch order through our supply chain for the Librem 15 v3, so we hope to provide you with an update on specifications and estimates soon. In the meantime, if any of you are attending LibrePlanet, we look forward to meeting you this week-end!

Meet us at LibrePlanet 2017 from March 24th to March 26th

We are proud to announce that we will be attending and sponsoring the Free Software Foundation’s flagship conference, LibrePlanet, at the MIT on March 25-26th.

We will also be manning a booth there, where you can try out our Librem laptops and discuss latest advancements, including our completed port of the Librem 13 to coreboot. Come and say hi! We’ll be happy to meet old friends and new Free Software enthusiasts, veterans and newcomers, and to answer any questions attendees may have for us. We might also have a few surprises for our visitors.

Todd and Jeff will also be present in Cambridge/Boston on Friday, March 24th, for any business or press inquiries. Should you prefer to meet before the event, please get in touch with us at pr@puri.sm.

New Librem 13 version to be manufactured & shipped through Spring 2017

True to the promise we have made last month, we are thrilled to announce that today, February 15th, 2017, we are placing orders throughout our supply chain for all components needed for the Librem 13 v2 to begin shipping-from-inventory in April-May onwards! This comes after months of efforts to:

  • upgrade parts of our supply chain, case, backlit keyboard, kill switches, and battery;
  • close investment to place a large-enough order that we can have inventory to ship directly from.

This is a critical step. Future Librem 13 orders, from May onwards, will only take days to fulfill. Incrementally throughout 2017, this will become the way we fulfill orders for all our existing products. Read more

Purism Warrant Canary Updated January 1st 2017

Happy GNU year!

Before (or on) the first day of each quarter, Purism, following the general rules of warrant canaries, will update its own Warrant Canary page if none of the listed items occurs.

warrant-canary-64x70px

Warrant Canary, January 1st 2017

  1. We have not placed any backdoors into our software or hardware, and we have not complied with any requests to do so.
  2. We have not received, nor complied with any National Security Letters or FISA court orders.
  3. We have not been subject to any gag order by a FISA court.

The next statement will be published on the first day of each quarter (January 1st, April 1st, July 1st, October 1st). Please refer to the Warrant Canary page for details and digital signatures.

Update from the trenches – operations, research and development for Q4 2016

Since our previous status update on manufacturing & shipping operations in August 2016, we had to tackle a lot of challenges in parallel: changing some of our suppliers, preparing new hardware, processing refunds, preparing PureOS 3, deploying new public infrastructure, seeking additional funds to enable us to ship “from stock” in the future, etc. The puzzle had so many moving parts that we really had to wait for dust to settle at the end of November to know where we stand and to provide you with this report.

In this blog post, we’ll be providing a global shipping status update, a quick update on R&D, and we’ll be sharing some great news for those interested in the Librem 13. Read more

A better-organized website

old website contents summary
A partial overview of some of the contents we’ve revised for the new website

As some of you might have noticed, I have been progressively deploying Purism’s new website over the past few weeks, after some months of small improvements and preparations.

Far from being merely a visual style update, the main goal of this initiative was to reorganize all the contents, to make them easier to find, and more pleasant and interesting to read. Indeed, the existing website had tons of contents, spread everywhere with no clear logic, often buried in obscure parts of the blog that nobody would ever see.

I spent quite a while reading and annotating all the contents of the website, ripping and remixing it into something that makes sense. The screenshot you can see on the right is the summary (without duplicated content) of some of the pages we have reviewed and reworked. And some of the contents are still pending review and improvements.

The new contents organization achieves the following:

  • Introduce a clear structure and hierarchy
    • Clean up the menus, and spread items across menus in a fully thought-out way
    • Clean, human-readable and memorable URLs, based on sections
    • Completely rethought blog taxonomy (categories and tags), and exposed posts structure allowing easy browsing based on your fields of interest
  • Introduce the “Why Purism?” section to explain our business from two perspectives: our philosophy and our methodology. Add new content to cover the most frequent philosophy and methodology questions we get
  • Deduplicating contents
  • Reusing contents dynamically (to avoid inconsistencies)
  • Turn insightful posts into permanent reference pages to prevent them from being lost and forgotten
  • Revise, rewrite, clarify or remove obsolete contents
  • Interlinking related pages, particularly in the educational topics of the “Why Purism?” section
  • Introduce a ton more imagery, graphics, and visuals to give your eyes a rest amidst the big amount of written contents
  • Improved forums notification emails!

A side effect of this: we had to break almost every important hyperlink and URL! However, I put redirects in place everywhere to let you find the contents even if you are accessing them from an old URL.

On top of those content changes, the new visual design I deployed across the website is also fundamentally superior from a typographic standpoint: it made the contents much more legible and readable—not only is it objectively easier to read characters and words all over the place, it is now significantly more pleasant (and thus encouraging) to read anything longer than a few lines. Last but not least, the new design also makes it easier to manage the content layout across pages.

We hope you appreciate these changes as much as we do. Feel free to drop us a line at feedback at puri.sm!