Category: Manufacturing Operations and Logistics

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!

Replenishing the inventory — The new Librem 13 to be manufactured and shipped through the spring of 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 April-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

Growing to Ship from Inventory in 2017

Thank you all for supporting Purism, with ordering hardware, donations, volunteering, downloading PureOS, using our products, and of course the kind words. We are excited to finally approach the transition from “build-to-order” (where users have tended to wait months for Librem products) to shipping from inventory, where new users will be waiting merely days for Librem products. This is the most important step we’re taking yet.

To do this, we are leveraging past sales revenue to get investment and a larger line-of-credit, so we can place an even larger order for all the supplies, hardware, and component parts needed to build and house inventory.

The Librem 13 v2 prototype
The Librem 13 v2 prototype

This larger order is expected to be placed in January, and we intend it to include: the Librem 13 v2, the Librem 15 v2, and the Librem 11 v1. There is typically an 8 week lead time for fabrication, which means placing our bulk inventory orders in January will allow us to fulfill the remaining preorders and backorders in March, and ship-from-inventory beginning in April of 2017.

This is a very exciting transition for Purism to grow to meet the demand of users worldwide, and we could not have done this without your support, so thank you again.

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

Android’s Secret Backdoor, and How Purism’s Business Model Avoids This Type of Threat

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Security contractors recently discovered preinstalled software in some Android phones that monitors where users go, whom they talk to and what they write in text messages. Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press

Today we learned once more why utilizing pure free software where the source code is available is critical to protect users’ rights to privacy, security, freedom, and anonymity.

The New York Times points out that this latest security breach “shows how companies throughout the technology supply chain can compromise privacy, with or without the knowledge of manufacturers or customers.”

Let’s examine the problem and see what can be done about it. It’s not too late to stand up for your rights.


The Fundamental Problem

All phones and tablets on the market today suffer from the same problem: the code that operates those devices are a mystery to the users. In this specific case Google’s Android, but the same problem exists with Apple devices and Windows devices, where the operating system, software-updated firmware, and most software that runs on those devices do not have the source code available to verify that there are no backdoors sending your private data to unwanted third parties.

Purism Competitive Privacy Matrix

What this means is there is absolutely no way, for a user of Android, iOS, OSX, Windows, or any operating system that does not release all the source code, to guarantee he/she is not being illegally spied upon for nefarious reasons, corporate surveillance, government spying, and/or private data mining.

The tracking built into mobile devices is at every level imaginable. We need to create a better, digital rights respecting future for computing.

The Future of Computing

If we, as users, continue to morally and financially support Android, iOS, OSX, Windows or any other operating system that strip away the digital rights of users, we continue to advance a future where:

  • users are controlled for profit;
  • private data is mined for advertising revenue;
  • governments spy on people;
  • corporations capitalize on every user interaction;
  • security breaches involve staggering amounts of personal data, with enormous consequences for individuals—even worse than what we’ve been seeing in recent years.

Every time you purchase a device from hardware companies that pre-install Android, iOS, OSX, Windows, and other nonfree operating systems, you are contributing to the erosion of your rights. Buying an HTC device benefits HTC, Google, the carrier, and all software companies that preinstall their privacy-stripping binaries. Similarly, buying Apple benefits Apple, the carrier, and all software apps preinstalled or even later installed.

Current technology purchasing decisions,
Current technology purchasing decisions. Can you smell the smoke?

The Solution

  1. Use a free software operating system, where the source code is released.
  2. Use hardware that allows you to run a completely freed operating system, where there is no mystery binaries, no private data delivered anywhere, and most importantly that you control.
  3. Support companies and organizations like Purism, and know that every penny of a purchase goes to benefit the future of computing and the digital rights for users. Make informed purchasing decisions and support hardware manufacturers that push Free Software’s agenda all the way through the supply chain.

The Upcoming Purism Phone and services infrastructure

Subscribe to our newsletter (simply send an email to announce-join@announce.puri.sm to subscribe automatically) or follow us (see website footer for social links), then you will be notified when Purism launches the first freedom, security, and privacy respecting phone.

At crossroads for the Librem 15″ 4K: lessons learned from supply chain dependencies

The good news

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):

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

football-goal-formations-tactics

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

"The roadmap", courtesy of our creative director François Téchené
“The roadmap”, artwork courtesy of our creative director François TĂ©chenĂ©

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Order enough materials for the Librem 11, 13 and 15, so we can ship from stock (without having long delays discouraging people from buying).
  3. 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.
  4. Release “Purist Services” (our upcoming secure and private telecommunications infrastructure for you to use).
  5. Launch the Purism phone as an invite-only pre-order campaign.
  6. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Upgrade your RAM and/or SSD on your Librem 15 for up to $450 in value.
  3. 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 support@puri.sm 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 feedback@puri.sm — or come have a chat with us on the “#purism” IRC channel on Freenode.

4K At Last! Purism Librem 15 rev2 4K

We have had a long road to get to 4K in our second revision of the Librem 15 units. This has not been without frustration with supply chain delays, but we are finally finished testing a fully functional 4K prototype that is ready for mass production.

librem-15-rev2-4k-full-1920px

The story to get the 4K panel is full of ups, downs, twists, and turns. When we learned from one of our suppliers that we could get Samsung 4K panels in our Librem 15, we jumped at the opportunity. We prepaid for the panels, moved the Librem 15 line from 2K (1920×1080) to 4K (3840×2160), and asked if backers would like to get 2K or 4K, shipping 2K and holding the 4K until they would arrive, which moved most orders to 4K. All this was exciting, until Samsung’s 4K panels were on backorder, then backorder again, and again. We were in a real bind, because there was no alternative 4K screen, until LG entered the scene. We then requested a sample 4K screen from LG, modified the case and front panel to fit the new LG 4K screen. We then hit an additional delay on funding the screen purchase, tooling, and assembly, since we prepaid for the Samsung panels we had to look at how to cover the additional cost of LG screens. After juggling some pieces, such as refunds on the Samsung screens, negotiating lower cost from the delays with the supply chain to cover the screen price increase, and even supply chain funding, we got the LG based Librem 15 rev2 4k prototype approved and ready for mass production.

librem-15-rev2-4k-right-side-1920px

Now that we are approved for mass production on the Librem 15 rev2 4k, we can provide more accurate dates for delivery to backers as we approach receipt of the panels. LG expects to get us the full panel order within 6 to 8 weeks, and we will then assemble and ship through all our back orders within 3 to 4 weeks. Any new orders will be shipping after September.

Thank you for all the support, and patience, as we have worked through an unbelievably painful process working through the supply chain delays. We have learned a lot through this process, and are going to work even harder to avoid this type of delay ever again. We are looking to remove any supply chain delays in the future by raising funds to be able to order enough product to ship from stock.

librem-15-rev2-4k-left-side-1920px

Librem 15 rev2 2k and 4k Status

We’ve written previously about the delays surrounding the 4k screens from Samsung both in this blog and on social media, and we now have more information that we can share.

We have received stock of our Librem 15 rev2 2k, the 1920x1080p screens, and will be fulfilling orders from that stock in the coming weeks. We are finalizing testing and OS loading this week and next.

We have found an alternative to Samsung for the 4k panels, from LG, so have ordered a handful of 4k prototype panels from LG. This allows us to leverage two suppliers to determine which one can provide us the back ordered 4k panels to fulfill the remaining Librem 15 rev2 4k panels.

The decision is up to you if you would like to accept the 1080p screens or continue to wait for the 4k.

Currently, we are reporting that the 4k screens will be made available to us in the “month of May.” However, considering the past supply chain delays, even with having two suppliers, it is safer to assume user delivery in June.

Your options are currently one of these three choices:

If you originally ordered a 1080p display and were then later upgraded to the 4k display, you will be getting the 1080p screen from your original 1080p order unless you specifically want to want for the 4k.

If you originally ordered a 4k display but are willing to downgrade to 1080p, you may do so now and your order will be filled. We will increase your memory, drive size, or drive type to compensate for the screen downgrade.

We appreciate your continued support and patience with this issue. Many of you have been more patient with us than some of us have been with Samsung. Please write us at support@puri.sm with order details and your choice or any other questions that you may have.

Purism Hits First Price Break Tier for Librem 13

We have hit the first price break tier from the supply chain to manufacture our Librem 13 laptops. The price has been reduced from $1,713.00 to $1,499.00 for all new orders.

This price break is on the next batch of Librem 13 parts we will be receiving into our South San Francisco facility, allowing us to ship from stock starting sometime in May of 2016.

As we grow in volume, our leverage grows in the supply chain, ushering in two very important pieces of negotiation:

  1. Volume discounts to be able to pass on the savings to users.
  2. Increased pressure on suppliers to provide us documentation, source code, and to respect the rights of end users.

We thank each and every one who has purchased a Librem laptop, it is with the community’s support that we can offer a reduced price for the Librem 13, and we can improve our leverage with the supply chain promoting our goals of creating a completely secure, private, and freedom respecting computer.

Purism Librem Shipping Status, December 2015

Thank you all for supporting our worthy cause, it is with your support that we can continue to push for positive change with regard to security, privacy, and freedom in the industry. We have been shipping Purism Librem 13 and Purism Librem 15 rev2 units, slowly incrementing through the order queue. Here is how we are doing it, so you know your rough place in line:

LaptopScreenCPUHKS LocationKeyboardShipping
Librem 131080pi5-5thHinge Clutch CoverAmerican (US) or British (UK)Shipping Now
Librem 15 rev11080pi7-4thN/AAmerican (US)Shipped June 2015, Sold Out
Librem 15 rev21080pi7-5thHinge Clutch CoverAmerican (US) Shipping now
Librem 15 rev21080pi7-5thCase EdgeAmerican (US)Shipping January 2016
Librem 15 rev2 4k4ki7-5thCase EdgeAmerican (US) or British (UK)Shipping February 2016
Librem 131080pi5-5thHinge Clutch Cover"Other" e.g. German, French, DanishShipping February 2016
Librem 15 rev2 4k4ki7-5thCase Edge"Other" e.g. German, French, DanishShipping March 2016

Librem 13

If you ordered your Librem 13 during the original campaign and your order requested an American (US) or British (UK) keyboard layout, it has either shipped or should ship before the end of January 2016. If you ordered your Librem 13 after the campaign finished and requested an American (US) or British (UK) keyboard layout, it should ship before the end of Febuary 2016.

Librem 13s with a non-US or non-UK keyboard selection should ship by the end of March 2016. Since this is a rather long delay, we will offer to ship you a Librem 13 with US or UK keycaps, and, once we get the keycaps printed for your language selection, ship you the keycaps. The reason for this delay is we are waiting on the keycap supplier quote before we decide how to handle the non-US and non-UK keycaps.

Librem 15 Rev2

When you can expect to receive your Librem 15 rev2 is highly dependent on your laptop’s configuration.

If your Librem 15 rev2 order had a 1080p screen and an American (US) keyboard, it has been bumped to the front of the queue, and most will ship before the end of December with hardware kill switches on the hinge cover.

After we exhaust the stock of 1080p laptops, we move to the second batch of 1080p with American (US) keyboards, but these will have the hardware kill switches on the case’s side.  Those will ship in January of 2016.

Next, we will ship the 4k configuration. Unfortunitly Samsung has delayed the 4K panel shipments until mid February of 2016.  This means that if you ordered a Librem 15 Rev 2 with:

  • A 4K screen and an American (US) or British (UK) keyboard layouts, or,
  • A 1080p orders that are bumped to 4k with an American (US) or British (UK) keyboard layouts

Your order should ship at the end of February or the beginning of March 2016.

Finally, if you ordered a Librem 15 Rev 2 with a non-US or non-UK keyboard, it will be bumped up to a 4k display and should ship by the end of March 2016.

 

The last thing you should know about is that these dates are not fixed and may have to change again. A lot can happen to speed up or delay the shipments, and most are out of our control. For instance,  many of the laptop’s components, like the keyboard,  are manufactured in China, and the Chinese New Year starts the first week of February.  For those unfamiliar with this celebration, the Chinese New Year in China is similar to August in Europe. Just about everyone has an entire month off and nothing gets done. Thus, from the manufacturing point of view, we lose the entire month of February because all the production lines shut down.

The Chinese New Year is not the only problem we face, but it gives you a small taste of the tremendous challenges pushing our strict beliefs into the manufacturing process.  While we never want to see delays, hiccups, or have to triage, these things happen, and we are doing our absolute best to continue to fight for what we believe in. Your support by purchasing a Librem laptop ensures we will have a future where users can have control of their computing.