Purism was the impetus for my first real serious jaunt with Linux as a daily driver, and not just as a server. It was PureOS that showed me that Linux had advanced in leaps and bounds from the last time I used it. I also learned that for me Ubuntu was a much better fit, which runs perfectly on the Librems.
But one thing which review after review touches on, but doesn’t really expound on or stress enough is the build quality. Now whether you have ever held a Librem laptop before or not, we all have eyes. We can see and read how the Librem is built. Aluminum body with durable hinge that was not an afterthought. From this we think, most likely, well good. Should be strong and then we move on to other features.
Now the specs matter, because they enable your workload or prevent it. So I’m not detracting from that. However, assuming the specs match your needs, then the specs take the backseat and durability comes front and center again.
I remember when I was developing for iOS, I bought an iPad. It was a first gen. I spent a ton of money on a 64gb version and got a nice metal keyboard case for it from Zagg that Apple eventually killed after only 4 updates, not even a year of ownership. It was, however nice. Because of how solid everything felt, I had no qualms stuffing it in a backpack, tossing it on the couch while I grab something to drink, etc. I mean I wouldn’t drop it on the floor, or be unnecessarily rough with it, but I just felt confident it could handle the stresses of normal daily life.
The Librem 13 I have feels the same way, and even more so. When the laptop is closed, it is a solid chunk of aluminum. It could be a home defense weapon in a pinch. Super solid. I can’t say that about all of the thinkpads I have, and I love thinkpads. (Or I used to. It has been painful watching Lenovo suck the life out of them.) With the lid open, I can move the whole laptop by simply grabbing a corner of the bottom half. There is no flex, there is no give. The whole laptop moves as a solid unit. It really feels like it is durable in a way that is not typical of laptops. Apple laptops are kind of approaching this with their uni-bodies, but because they are constantly making their products stupidly thinner, this durability depreciates with it. I would certainly feel more comfortable tossing my Librem on the couch versus a MacBook pro. Heck if the durability there doesn’t hold up, I can’t fix it myself, and even if I tried, can’t get the parts. Apple will charge me so much to repair it that I would seriously entertain just buying another, which is, of course, all part of their master plan.
So the surprise for me is that this road warrior durability is not more highly spoken of. It is important for anyone who needs to travel with their laptop, but should be important for anyone buying a product period. How much is this durability worth?
I just bought another Linux laptop that I REALLY like! And while it is made out of a magnesium alloy, and well constructed, I feel like I could easily bend the case if I am overly handy with it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mishandle my electronics, so I’m not worried, but I notice this stark difference. Even though the newer laptop is better spec’d in everyway, when it comes time to commute to work, I reach for the Librem.
Durability matters and I believe this is because Purism designed their own case, and didn’t use a reference model. This was a cost that has paid off in my eyes, and a cost added to the laptop that is important and worth it.
A Librem really seems like it is made to last as long as you want it to.