One aspect in free software (and its copyleft licensing) is the benefit of releasing software for others to use as long as the same licensing terms are used.
Purism has a long history of giving back and working with upstreams and continues to release everything Purism authors under free software licenses in accordance to Purism’s Social Purpose Corporation Articles of Incorporation.
In light of our Librem One launch, and since we use free software for our clients and services, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we use free software considering our commitment not just to free software but to open standards. There is so much we want to tell you about Librem One over the coming weeks from various design decisions, policies, and upstream software that we couldn’t address all at once on launch day. To start, let’s talk about the free software that we use in Librem One.
It’s no secret to anyone familiar with free software on mobile that Librem One apps are based off of popular existing free software applications. Most people understand why we opted to use existing, high-quality applications instead of reinventing the wheel by writing them from scratch. What may be less clear, however, is why we opted to release rebranded applications.
Before we talk about why we rebranded, let’s highlight the upstream projects our versions are based on:
A major goal with Librem One was to provide people with convenient and easy-to-use alternatives to big tech services that respected their privacy. The key to this was the combination of decentralized services with a centralized brand. With decentralized services that used open standards and ran on free software, users aren’t locked in to any one provider and can even host services themselves (more on that in a future blog post).
By putting services under a centralized brand, we make these decentralized services just as convenient to use as the big tech alternatives. That way an end-user doesn’t have to know what Matrix, ActivityPub, or even IMAP are or try to find all of the applications that work with those services on their particular platform. Instead, they just need to know that they want to chat, join social media, or send email.
Many of the changes we made to existing clients and our server configurations were to make it easy to connect with others on Librem One. The goal is for you to be able to say “you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org” and regardless of the service, your friend should be able to find you. In many cases the clients and servers didn’t allow this kind of feature out of the box because the apps are focused on a single service, not a collection under one brand.
Beyond all of that, convenience is important. We wanted people to be able to switch from existing big tech services without having to fill out a bunch of forms with server information. Instead we wanted them to just type in their email@example.com login and their password and have the client already configured and ready to use, just like they are used to with big tech alternatives. This required some customization in the existing apps so that they defaulted to using Librem One services while still allowing a user who wanted to, to dig into the settings and use any other provider if they wanted.
If you are interested in the changes we’ve made, you can check them out at their temporary location here.
In addition to clients, we are also hosting free software services for Librem One. We will elaborate on our services and our plans to make it easy to host them yourself in a future post but for those that are curious we are using Postfix and Dovecot for Librem Mail, Matrix for Librem Chat, and Mastodon for Librem Social. We are partnering with Private Internet Access for Librem Tunnel.
An non-exhaustive unordered list to summarize our thanks to all the people we’ve been involved with:
While this list is not complete, it highlights the core beliefs behind Purism, its team commitment, and its free software roots. At Purism we will continue to work with, advance, partner, fund, push upstream, and most importantly release all our software under free software licenses.
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