Tag: Customer Feedback

Guest Post: Why I Bought a Librem Laptop for my Daughter

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.

— Mike Morgan

Website and forums: Easier, Better, Faster, Stronger.

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);
  • Better performance and resources usage.

Read more

Releasing the beta of PureOS 3

After our alpha release in November, we are today releasing the beta for PureOS 3.0, which we intend to release as a final release in time for our upcoming new laptop batch shipment (more news on that soon).

As PureOS uses a rolling release model, software all across the stack continued to receive updates since our first alpha some months ago, even though the core of our work has been to improve and deploy new infrastructure to support efficient development of this operating system and to make the PureOS experience more pleasant for users, too. The PureOS infrastructure is now better at exposing migration/update issues, which means that we iron out broken or missing package dependencies more quickly (with the goal of preventing them from ever being encountered by users, although such occurrences are already rare). Building this infrastructure for PureOS is some very ambitious—and often invisible—work that we are accomplishing as the foundation for all PureOS development.

We are also in the final stages of preparing proper developer documentation, closely modeled on Debian’s contributors documentation and procedures, but pointing to the right bits and pieces when it comes to PureOS.

FSF endorsement is work in progress: we are working with the FSF and addressing any concerns or requests they may have. As per the FSF’s requests:

  • The new PureOS website is now fully separate and works with LibreJS.
  • Iceweasel/Firefox was removed from the archive (its presence there was actually due to a repository synchronization bug) and we modified the add-ons system to avoid the possibility of installing non-free add-ons by mistake. That said, this is one of the reasons why PureBrowser exists, and PureBrowser will continue to be the default. The forced removal of Firefox/Iceweasel caused some trouble with the PureOS package repositories archive but this will be fixed before the final release.
  • TorBrowser is now torbrowser-launcher, a package that downloads and installs the official Tor browser with updates being applied as soon as the Tor project publishes them.

On the security front:

  • A Wayland-based GNOME 3 experience remains what we ship by default.
  • We have started preparing our Linux kernel to be based on the grsecurity kernel. This is available as a package in the beta’s repositories but is not enabled by default, as we consider it requires more testing (you can help!) so we can use it as the default Linux kernel in the future (for PureOS 3.0’s final release, hopefully!)… so feel free to install and try it out (don’t forget to install paxctld as well)! This will be a huge step forward in terms of security. While most regular GNU/Linux distributions are more secure and privacy-respecting than proprietary OSes, having the grsecurity patchset in PureOS’ Linux kernel by default will bring PureOS far above the norm in terms of desktop GNU/Linux security practices.
  • We look forward to integrating flatpak in the future to benefit from its sandboxing capabilities

As you can see, we’re making some nice progress and PureOS has great plans ahead to achieve a great user experience that balances security and usability. This is quite a bit better than running OSes that work against you or that strip you of control over the applications layer!

A new PureOS website

2017 new pureos websiteI’m happy to announce that I have put together a new website dedicated to PureOS, with its own domain name: https://pureos.net

I created the PureOS website from scratch and made sure that not only is PureOS freedom-and privacy-respecting, its website would be as well.

  • It enforces HTTPS.
  • It is Icecat and Tor friendly.
  • There is no javascript at all—the interactive top menu that is displayed on small screens (mobile / tablets) is only made of CSS (with the checkbox trick)!
  • At the moment it doesn’t use any backend/framework (it is pure HTML), but I am also working on a small PHP backend that would handle very simple freedom-respecting templates as well as translations, following LibreJS rules for JavaScript usage. This backend is not complete yet but it will be released under a GPLv3 license.

Don’t hesitate to download and try PureOS! Your feedback is more than welcome as we want this fully free distribution to be as user-friendly and freedom respecting as possible. Those two goals are compatible.

I believe the world is reaching a point where the lack of freedom is starting to become noticeably less comfortable than the virtual comfort promoted by restrictive software makers. More and more people feel concerned about privacy, freedom and ethics in general. Most of them are beginning to understand why Free Software is so important (I was/am one of them!) The problem is that many people out there are under the impression that they are not “technical” enough to run a free OS like GNU/Linux, and so, they just give up… we must convince them that things are moving forward in the world of software freedom and that PureOS is as respectful of their freedom & privacy as it is modern, full-featured and easy to use by everyone.

Le Capitole du Libre

2016-11-12_capitol-du-libre_2016_by-david-revoy
Illustration by David Revoy

I was at “Le Capitole du Libre” on the 19th and 20th of November. It is a Free Software event that takes place every year in the city of Toulouse, in France. I had a booth there, presenting the Librem 13 to visitors during the whole event. I had a very good time! The organization was great and there was a lot of visitors, especially on the Saturday.

I had a few questions as well as some interesting feedback from the visitors, regarding the Librem line and Purism in general, so I thought I’d write a summary about it.

“What makes the Librem different or better than another laptop?”

librem_80sMany visitors didn’t know about the Librem or even Purism, so this was a very common question.

To make it simple, the Librem is a computer that is designed with user’s respect as a primary goal. Its components have been selected to let the user “own” and control his/her computer through the use of Free Software. Of course, there are other laptops that let you run Free Software, but today’s computer manufacturers are neglecting user’s rights in their specifications.

Ethics and the public interest are part of our hardware and software specifications as well as being part of our business model.

“How can you possibly promote Freedom and Privacy while the BIOS isn’t free yet?”

I had the chance to have a very interesting conversation with a few (very) vocal Freedom Fighters who brought up this question. This is a question that I fully understand as I am myself an active supporter of Software Freedom and users’ rights.

librem_familySome of them said that we should communicate this critical point more clearly and explicitly. I apologize if our communication is confusing anyone in that regard, it is not our intention. We try to be as clear as possible about it (while remaining understandable!) and the changes to our website contents over the past few months are a big step in that direction.

While talking with freedom fighters, I realized that they mostly want to be reassured on the fact that we are not misleading the public, and that we support the same cause as them (which is the case).

This is how I see things :

  • Our ultimate goal is to sell fully Free computers with no mystery code at all. At this time, we are a very young company with limited resources. Freeing a modern CPU is a pretty big task, and existing Free CPUs are quite far from today’s standard in term of speed and software support. This second choice would solve the issue but would also directly affect the user experience of the end user. This, in my humble opinion, would favor the gap between digital freedom and the rest of the industry as it tends to exclude the majority. If the jump from A to B is not straightforward for the majority, let’s find an intermediate step.
  • The average user doesn’t care much about the CPU brand in his computer; they care most about usability. That said, in theory, most people also care about their privacy and the ethics of the companies behind their computers. In that regard, I believe that the average user is currently the one doing the biggest sacrifice: sacrificing their freedom and privacy for the comfort and usability of their computer (without always noticing it… yet).
  • So instead of going in a way that excludes the majority by marginalizing our hardware, we wish to help everyone move consciously to digital freedom by making hardware that is as free as it can be for the speed and usability required by the majority. Wouldn’t it be beautiful to see millions of average users able to easily and comfortably run an FSF certified distribution as their daily driver ? Wouldn’t it be a great intermediate step ?

We are aware that the Librem is not yet perfect and has a weak link in the chain, and we surely don’t want to hide it to our customers (if you look at the advanced topics of our “Why Purism?” section, it’s pretty explicitely stated all over the place). The current situation is a starting point for us (as well has being the end goal as it is also the last ring to be replaced). Anyway, it is still a work in progress with one single goal in mind : Full Freedom for everyone. On that note, as we have said in our latest announcement, we have resumed our work on Coreboot this December. Once we make good progress on the Coreboot side, we will resume our previous work on freeing the Intel ME.

By supporting us, our users are showing that there is demand for the industry to evolve in the direction of the public’s interest. Our long-term plan is to get enough support to free a modern CPU (or even modernize a Free CPU ?)

“Can you justify the price of the Librem?”

This was a commonly asked question during the event and I wish to clarify this point.

The Librems are high-end computers made of fast and modern components. They are designed to give you the best user experience when using a fully free GNU/Linux distribution. This of course has a cost. Using a Librem running PureOS as my main workstation for multimedia creation, I can tell that the user experience is pretty amazing. That being said, there is even more than the hardware to benefit, for the end user, when buying a Librem.

Purism has been funded around a philosophy of user’s respect and ethics and we also wish our business model to be ethical. We have been founded by our users and this is an amazing chance. When you buy a Librem, you support this philosophy of user’s freedom and directly invest in a company that is driven by the public’s interest only.

“When will you be shipping from within Europe?”

Soon, hopefully! Being a French citizen working for such a great project, this is part of my wishlist.

The awakening

There currently is an awakening happening within the population.

  • Many people, not only Free Software users, are fed up with the current (abusive in so many ways) system and economy, and wish to see positive change coming for everyone.
  • Some of them have become so awake and acutely aware of great solutions like software freedom, they can’t stand the rest anymore, and they can’t stand any middleground. Those are the guys who shout at us, in forums or mailing lists, for “not doing enough”. I can understand them. They are just being impatient as they see light in our project and the urgency of the problem we’re trying to solve. We are a company ahead of its time and we have to deal with it. The future is in our hands, I have no doubt about it.

I wish to say a big thank you to the people who organized such a great event, as well as to all the participants and the people I have been talking to. I am a recent switcher to Software Freedom and this was my first event. It was very instructive and I could feel a lot of good, positive energy there. Freedom is a collective effort and I am very proud to contribute to this bright future with you all Freedom makers. See you all again soon! 🙂

Until we meet again, you can send us your comments and feedback on the forum or to feedback(at)puri.sm