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July 23rd, 2015

OSCON: Purism Respects Your Rights & Freedom

Your digital rights — do both your hardware and software respect them?

Because if they don’t, Purism might have the answer to this shortcoming.

At OSCON, Purism has on hand the Librem 13 and Librem 15 laptops – the numbers designating the screen size (13-inch and 15-inch, respectively) — which are both designed, chip-by-chip and line-by-line to respect your rights to privacy, security and freedom, which is Purism’s philosophy.

Purism logo“We developed Purism so that users can have access to the highest quality computers without compromising these beliefs,” the Purism website states. “The founder of Purism developed the Philosophical Contract, that we all abide by, which was adopted from the Free Software Foundation, and expanded to include hardware manufacturing as it relates to software.”

Purism founder and CEO Todd Weaver, who is on hand at OSCON to demonstrate the hardware, takes us through the process of producing this hardware.

After determining that the motherboard and processor are ready for completely free software, Purism runs a coreboot BIOS, a completely free GRUB bootloader — “completely free meaning stripped-from-all-binaries Linux kernel,” Weaver said — under a GNU OS with all the free-as-in-freedom software that is included on top of that.

The distro? PureOS, which is a Debian-based distribution altered to be completely free, as in — say it with me once more — freedom.

To the causal observer wondering why having hardware that respects your rights is so important, Weaver provides us with an “obvious answer” to the question.

Librem 13 & Librem 15

The Librem 13, left, and the Librem 15 are on display at OSCON.

“There are many things — the obvious answer is that there are no backdoors put in on the binary level or the hardware level, or any threat models that can exploit the hardware or software that can run in those binaries,” Weaver explained. “So everyone else who manufactures software has a ‘trust us’ model, but we of course take the Free Software Foundation’s approach to ‘trust but verify’ model.”

So far, Purism has sold out of the 15-inch model and the Revision 2 will be available in September. The 13-inch will also be available as early as September and possibly October. For specs on the hardware, visit their products page.

To purchase a Purism Librem 13 or Purism Librem 15 laptop, visit their Crowd Supply page.

This article was updated on July 23, 2015 at 8:30 p.m. to correctly identify the Purism operating system as PureOS.

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Larry Cafiero, a.k.a. Larry the Free Software Guy, is a journalist and a Free/Open Source Software advocate. He is involved in several FOSS projects and serves as the publicity chair for the Southern California Linux Expo. Follow him on Twitter: @lcafiero

18 comments to OSCON: Purism Respects Your Rights & Freedom

  • Mike

    “The distro? CoreOS”

    I think you mean Trisquel GNU/Linux.

    CoreOS is not a Linux-libre distro. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux-libre

    I was a backer for the Librem 15. They gave each backer an option to get the original spec machines right away, or wait for the improved model. I opted for the rev 2 model to get the improvements added during the crowdfunding campaign. It was delayed more than expected (September), but it’s worth it to me. Not only for the improved laptop, but also to be able to back someone who is really trying to make a difference in the hardware market for Linux (Linux-libre to boot!)

  • Larry Cafiero

    Yep, I fumbled the ball on that one. It’s PureOS, which can be found here:

    https://puri.sm/pureos/

    My apologies. Not Core OS, PureOS. Please make a note of it.

  • Randal

    Being that PureOS is listed as a discontinued OS, via Distrowatch, and other non Purism links, seem to not exist, I would be more interested in what modules the kernel needs for this. That gives the end user the option to choose Slackware, Lubuntu, Mint, or any distro they prefer.

  • Larry Cafiero

    That’s interesting, Randal, because for a discontinued OS, you can download here:

    https://puri.sm/pureos/download/

    Thanks for pointing that out, though.

  • Mike

    Interesting: The Librem 15 crowdsupply campaign lists Trisquel, but the Librem 13 lists PureOS.

    At the bottom of their FAQ, I found a statement that PureOS uses Trisqel as a base. https://puri.sm/faq/

  • Mike

    Randal,

    I think you’ll find that this is a different OS, but with the same name. The discontinued one was based on Debian testing, and as I just mentioned, this one is based on Trisquel.

  • Larry Cafiero

    Mike is right — this version of PureOS is based on Trisquel GNU/Linux. Thanks, Mike.

  • Mike

    @Randal

    > ” the option to choose Slackware, Lubuntu, Mint, or any distro they prefer.”

    I don’t think that’s a problem. Taken from the crowdsupply.com campaign for the Librem 13:

    “What About Installing a Different OS?

    Since we are installing PureOS, which is based on the strictest of distributions and strips all binary blobs from the kernel, you can easily install anything less strict, such as Debian and Ubuntu. We have not certified any non-GNU/Linux-based operating system.”

  • Randal

    Then check out what Trisquel is based on!!! Sounds like just a name grab.
    As I said, I couldn’t find a link to the OS outside of the Purism connection. (leaves me wondering about updates and such) The PureOS sites I have found go back to 2007 and are either unupdated (effectively dead), or “down for maintenance” (who knows how long)

  • Mike

    @Randal,

    Trisquel is based on Ubuntu which is in turn based on Debian, so?

    Doesn’t sound at all like the same OS except for the name. How they handle updates remains to be seen, since they are brand new, I think they deserve a chance to prove themselves. Since you can install another distro if you like, I don’t see a downside. It’s not like they include some proprietary driver or hardware you won’t be able to get support for elsewhere…

  • Randal

    We will see how they handle themselves. Hope for the best.

    But I do believe you miss the point being;
    They use the same name and are based on the same as the others name.
    The others name is established.

    It would certainly seem that they aren’t working on being clear and distinctive (whether intentional, or accidental) and that might have some negative side effects.
    They could have done the same thing by calling it:
    Lindows
    Caldera
    PearOS
    Etc.

  • Mike

    I imagine they chose the name because the other distro is no longer developed and the name fits their company name well.

    *shrugs* It’s marketing.

    I don’t really care what they call it, so long as it is well supported. One thing I am looking forward to seeing is the trackpad behavior. The hardware supports multitouch, but they mentioned the existing driver didn’t support that. Supposedly they are working to address the issue. 🙂

  • […] OSCON: Purism Respects Your Rights & Freedom by Larry Cafiero | posted on July 23, 2015 […]

  • David

    there is a lot more too this and I just found another recent follow-up on the matter: https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=Purism-Librem-Still-Blobbed

  • Mike

    @David

    That’s an interesting article. It says the Librem 15 rev 1’s do not come with coreboot.

    This conflicts with the crowdsupply campaign page which says “Though the bootloader, Linux kernel, GNU OS, and all software applications are completely free/libre software without any binary blobs, the BIOS does use coreboot, which includes a binary from Intel, called FSP.”

    So they acknowledge the FSP issue, but claim it does have coreboot. I backed them long after the Nvidia debacle was over and they had switched to a completely open Intel graphics stack. I was also aware of the FSP issue (it is spelled out on the page). If, however, the rev 2 does not come with coreboot then they are going to have a revolt on their hands.

  • David

    R2 will supposedly have a “Coreboot+Intel FSP” basically confirming Purism’s ridiculous claim that it will get intel to open its code as the farse it is. Here is an update: https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=Librem-15-Rev-2-Coreboot

  • David

    @Admin

    I can’t post more than a sentence or two when other commenters are clearly able to post more. Whats the issue? There is a lot missing in this article and I can’t really post about it in anything more than snip-its.

  • @David I’m betting you’re timing out on the captcha. Try writing your comment, then after you’re through refresh the captcha for a new one before entering the captcha code, then post right away. That will most likely fix your issue. 🙂