I bought a Librem 13 for my 12 year-old daughter and couldn’t be happier about it. She wanted a new computer; and I, like a lot of parents, wanted to get something that is the best for her, but also offers some safety features, security from all these hacking threats, and that would give me peace of mind that my daughter was as safe as possible online.
There are probably a lot of reasons to buy a Librem laptop that are technically good choices, but I am a parent, not a developer. What drew me to the Librem 13 laptop was simple; it allowed me to have a computer that I felt was least likely to fall victim to ransomware, that offered the camera to be disabled, and that had a browser with privacy protection built-in. My daughter could simply open up the laptop, and I knew she was as protected as possible.
I considered numerous laptops from many companies, but making my laptop choice came down to two things, safety, and convenience. After receiving the Librem 13 laptop, my daughter has been happy to have a computer of her own that works for what she needs, I am happy it was easy for her to use, but most importantly I am happy that it gave me peace of mind that she is as safe as can be.
I highly recommend Purism to my family, my friends, and my coworkers, which at the end-of-the-day is probably the best endorsement of them all.
We are happy to announce that we have recently deployed our new forums, running Discourse! The provide a modern, pleasant-to-use dedicated discussion tool. We have tested them out with early adopters over the past few weeks, and they are a real joy to use. You can now participate too, at forums.puri.sm.
What’s special about Discourse? Besides the official list of features, you may want to read this seminal blog post where Jeff Atwood highlights the kind of thinking that went into its functional (and aesthetic) design, making it quite different compared to traditional forum software.
Our migration to a self-hosted Discourse instance brings many benefits:
Improving security by isolating the forums from the rest of our infrastructure;
Much better usability and user experience. The previous forums were cumbersome and frustrating to use, littered with bugs and limitations, and they just looked awful visually. The new ones are much more readable, and full of modern community-enhancing features. Using a forum should be fun, not boring or cumbersome, and I know that Discourse’s design actively encourages a sense of community and self-moderation, so I’m looking forward to seeing the results over time. We hope you’ll love the new discussion tools!
More flexible community management tools;
Better email notifications, and less noise (Discourse will not spam you with mail notifications if you’ve been recently active on the forums website);
Simplifying our main website’s daily management (previously, the forums actually interfered with the rest of the administration UI);
Following up on our status update where we revealed the imminent shipping date and general availability of our laptops this June, we’re happy to let you know today that we’ve recently had a breakthrough in our work to port the new laptops to coreboot, thanks to the fruitful collaboration between our coreboot developer Youness “KaKaRoTo” Alaoui and Matt “Mr. Chromebox” DeVillier (to whom we sent a prototype unit). Our coreboot port is now working for both the Librem 13 v2 and the Librem 15 v3, with all the test cases passing.
We are now pretty confident that we should be able to have coreboot firmware ready in time for factory preloading of the new inventory we’ll be shipping from in June. As we receive the first “production” units, we will ship some of those across the border, so that Youness can re-test and finalize the port on those machines (the results should be the same, but we want to make sure everything is top-notch). I will also seize the opportunity to take good reference images in our photo studio.
In the meantime, Youness is currently busy preparing his code contributions to be upstreamed officially to the coreboot project, after which he will be attending the 2017 edition of the coreboot conference in Denver. You will also soon be able to read his latest technical findings as part of the current round of coreboot ports.
The only model that will remain to be ported to coreboot afterwards will be the Librem 15 v2 (it turns out that the “v1” was an early demonstration unit that was sent out to some reviewers but never made it into large-scale production, so it does not actually need to be ported), thus reaching a milestone and honouring a promise that many of you have been eagerly looking forward to. That remaining port should be fairly straightforward to do, now that Youness has gained a lot of experience with other models. Then, depending on how the timing plays out this summer, our reverse engineering work is expected to resume from where we left off.
Recently, we have updated our Frequently Asked Questions. “Who cares!” you might say. Well, here’s why I think it may be more important than you think. For the longest time we had five FAQ’s. Five. As a small company with little staff, FAQ’s and documentation were initially not as big of a priority as they perhaps should have been. Things that needed to be addressed have often been put on the back burner as we had larger issues to address. But, in recent weeks, we have begun to try and make changes in our approach, changes in our communication with you.
As we have begun this process, we are altering our previous method of outreach and communication to focus, quite simply, on these aspects: “more,” “better” and “engagement.” We have heard many of your calls for us to communicate more often and better. We consider important, especially for the free and open source community, to have engagement and a back and forth dialogue between you and us. From here on, this blog will be updated more often with all of us chipping in at times. Our FAQ’s have been updated to address many of the common questions that we get asked and it will continue to be updated as more questions come in to us. With our new communication team, we have also recently changed our approach on social media as well, aiming for more engaging conversations with you and moving away from the previous “privacy news fire hose” approach where we were sharing too many Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt (FUD) articles that overall impaired our credibility. All in all, we’d like to bring some fun back to our social media process and to talk WITH you instead of AT you.
Recently our staff at Purism has grown. We have more, dedicated people in key positions to assist you and provide you with timely answers. Our community forums have undergone a significant improvement moving away from the barren wasteland of spam and unanswered posts to one with zero spam and a much improved response time. We have already begun the process of setting up a viewable shipping queue overview, so that you can see where you are in the ordering process. Finally, we have set up a new email, feedback(at)puri.sm, along with increasing the number of people that the support(at)puri.sm emails go to in another effort to improve communication. No longer will your emails, posts, and questions go unanswered.
The truth is this: we realize that we have made mistakes in our past communications and we are now trying our best to correct many of them with our new team dedicated to this. Certain things on our part have not been addressed, explained correctly – or explained at all – and this has led to several miscommunications between us and you. We realize that we will have to regain some of your trust and respect and we hope that these changes are met with your approval.
So, the FAQ’s have been updated. “Who cares,” you say? We do.
Question? Comment? Send an email to feedback(at)puri.sm
Over the past few months, Purism has made great strides to improve on its hardware and software offering, as well as making your user & customer experience smoother. Besides shipping a hundreds of Librem laptops to backers (we will give you a better overview of this in a separate blog post with interesting data visualizations):
We have been progressively expanding our team to scale our business, infrastructure, and improve our communication.
We have deployed our own integrated store to have better control over sales, connect with our factory’s operations, and reinvest cost savings into our research & development.
We started a petition to help us negotiate with Intel for a “ME-less” chip design, and met the goal early.
Over the past year, we have been offering the option to pre-order the Librem 15 with a 4K (UltraHD/HiDPI) display. Our screen suppliers wanted to move to 4K as their standard offering, and sold us that it would be ready in time for us.
While we have been shipping hundreds of regular (1920×1080) Librem 15″ and Librem 13″ models, those of you who chose to order the 4K variant of the Librem 15″ model had to wait for the 4K displays to become available through our supply chain. A couple of delays happened, and we made it a point to always keep you up to date on the situation (as seen here, here and here). This summer, we were reasonably confident we would still be able to ship these 4K models by October this year.
The bad news
Today’s blog post is painful to write but necessary, as it continues our tradition of accountability towards you. Even as we poured our heart and soul into trying to make 4K happen, external factors made plan A, plan B, and even plan C derail. LG (and its subsidiaries) has now let us down, just like Samsung did, putting us back onto “infinite backorder with no ETA”. The difference, this time, is that there are no more “easily” accessible 4K display panels suppliers left to turn to, bringing us back to square one when it comes to this particular component. Everything else in the supply chain, including our own operations, was aligned and going well, so it’s not for lack of work and efforts on our part. Our mistake was to readily believe Samsung and LG on the future availability of their screens.
At this point, we don’t think having you wait any more is acceptable, so we’re giving up on the 4K variant of the Librem 15 for now; we will be providing the regular Librem 15 instead, along with other models and their upcoming revisions. We are going back to “2K” so that we can confidently ship the goods without introducing any further delays undermining your trust in what we’re doing.
Rest assured this not a decision we are taking lightly. We made heavy investments trying to make this happen, and have spent sums that we cannot recoup: approximately $75,000 in assembly line retooling and deposits for 4K screens to Samsung and LG for orders that will, it seems, never materialize. We are trying to negotiate and recover some of the supplier deposits, but at this point we have to consider this money a net loss. On the other hand, we’ve made other investments early in our campaign that were worth it (for example: $50k to place an initial order for rarer Intel CPUs requested by some backers, $25k to retool the motherboard to 6 layers to support 32GB of RAM, progressively growing our team…).
We will be intensifying our product & service development pace, and we are still working on everything else part of our mission (including the Intel ME issue, achieving FSF endorsement of our software and working toward FSF RYF certification of our hardware in the long term). With your help, we can do this.
The updated operations roadmap
We may revisit the switch to 4K later, when we can get absolute certainty about it (no more preorders, we’ll only believe display manufacturers when they have the 4K panels in stock and ready to ship for us immediately), but for now we must regroup our forces to win this war.
Our plans (for the next 12-24 months) are now:
Begin shipping the 1920×1080 version of the Librem 15 in September and into October (instead of the 4K variant), as per the options provided to you further below.
Order enough materials for the Librem 11, 13 and 15, so we can ship from stock (without having long delays discouraging people from buying).
Plan/design our upcoming Purism phone (we will be posting a survey about this soon, stay tuned!).
In mid-2017, redesign the Librem 13 and Librem 15, including ways to meet the hardware selection criteria to qualify for “RYF” certification by the Free Software Foundation.
Release “Purist Services” (our upcoming secure and private telecommunications infrastructure for you to use).
Launch the Purism phone as an invite-only pre-order campaign.
Launch the new Librem 13 and Librem 15, ship from stock for all orders.
What are my options if I pre-ordered a Librem 15 “4K”?
Should you choose to get the Librem 15 with the 1920×1080 IPS screen as originally planned, which we do have in stock (a bit over 50 units that we can assemble and ship quickly; we will re-stock soon to meet the demand and ship the remainder during September-October), you have the following compensation options:
Maintaining the configuration and pricetag you paid, and getting 150% of the difference in credit for our future products (including our upcoming Purism phone). Therefore, the ~$300 price difference of the 4K screen would become $450 in credit that you can reinvest in any of our future products and services. Besides being a pretty interesting “early bird” opportunity for you from a pricing standpoint, this will help us get faster to the goal of providing the Purism phone and Purist Services infrastructure. You will also get an invitation to be among the first ones to try our Purist Services.
Upgrade your RAM and/or SSD on your Librem 15 for up to $450 in value.
Normal refund of the price difference.
You can, of course, decide to switch to a different product of ours, such as the Librem 11 or 13, but that means you will have to wait a few more weeks than if you were to choose the original Librem 15.
Please contact us at email@example.com to let us know what you would prefer us to do with your order.
We’ll need your help to continue this journey.
As always, your patronage is an investment that helps us deliver on our promise and make the case for privacy-respecting Free Software computers. We are very grateful to all of you who are supporting us (through purchases, word-of-mouth, feedback, etc.) and making it possible for us to fulfill our mission. If you have any comments, suggestions or encouragements you would like to share, feel free to send us your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org — or come have a chat with us on the “#purism” IRC channel on Freenode.
We have added a support forum to our website. This community support forum, that is also backed by Purism staff, is just in its infancy stages, and we plan to expand upon the tools available this as usage grows.
The forum has two categories right now, one for Librem hardware, and a second one for PureOS and software.
As more and more Librem laptops are making it into the wild, we wanted a place where users could ask questions and have those questions (and hopefully answers) searchable by other users.
We are making progress on our Librem 15 rev2 roll out, albeit slower than we all hoped. We are still very excited to be making what essentially is a backer-designed laptop from the motherboard fabrication on up. Although we didn’t anticipate some of the delays, we are now days away from posting the Librem 15 rev2 prototype images and detailed specifications. In contrast, our Librem 13 prototype was approved 3 months ago and is ready for mass fabrication already–so the Librem 15 rev2, with the innovative features requested by our amazing backers, necessitated a longer R&D phase than anticipated.
Once we get this second prototype approved, we will “green light” the mass production. The fabrication of the motherboards will take 3 to 4 weeks, after which time it will take 1 to 2 weeks to assemble the simpler configurations in our South San Francisco facility.
As we approach the final stages of the manufacturing process, the timeline to ship our Librem 15 rev2 units is as follows:
July 28th — Receive second prototype
August 4th — Approve prototype, “green light” fabrication
September 15th — Receive hardware for assembly
September 24th — Ship first orders of Librem 15 rev2
We fully realize that these delays, while unexpected, are frustrating, and we appreciate immensely the support you all have provided through emails, IRC, IM, and even in person (as I’ve met a few of you recently).
We know you will be happy with the product upon receiving it, since a backer who received a Librem 15 rev1 said: “Woo! This laptop kicks ass — JM”, he went on to state “By the way, I’ve also had the old RMS MIPS machine I don’t recall the name, various System76s and ThinkPenguin workstations/laptops (like over 100 of them), the RYF Thinkpad, and on & on, and this one is way better. :)” And that was from our Librem 15 rev1!