I personally would be interested in something adopting the EOMA68 form factor so the cpu part could be easily upgraded. There’s an example on Crowdsupply right now but it’s pretty low powered.
I too would like to see some exploration on the EOMA68 front:
Both project (Purism and EOMA68) seem to be striving for similar goals, at the very least perhaps sharing notes between the two projects will lead to something good
Dropping my own opinion - I want security/privacy as much as anyone here, and have been following Purism for a while and asking questions about development etc.
That being said, I don’t think anyone wants a laptop that’s so slow it’s upsetting.
I’d say, use the ARM chip for devices it makes sense to use the ARM chip on - mobile devices like tablets etc.
The laptops and all probably need the Intel chips, which you’ve already made tons of progress on making as secure/private as possible and it wouldn’t make much sense to just abandon all of that progress now unless the ARM chips become good enough to compete on a performance level.
Many people want to install Qubes or other Linux distros, and actual desktop applications tend to take more horsepower than mobile applications, plus there’s just the psychological expectation of getting more speed out of a laptop than a tablet - when you’re using a tablet, ARM/Atom performance is something you just expect and therefore aren’t as upset about. You’d probably be banging your fists at your actual computer having lag spikes or being unable to run things though.
My own opinion though, has always been just to provide more options. Let people choose using a drop-down whether they want Intel or ARM processor, and let them choose between PureOS and other Linux distros pre-installed. Providing choices is good, unless there’s a manufacturing issue that makes doing so difficult.
That’s just my two-cents.
I don’t really see a way to really complete the project of a fully open source computer without using ARM chips. I’d think you may never completely get rid of the Intel ME garbage, and even if you do manage to completely hack it out on one chip, as soon as the next set of chips come out, you’ll have a lot more work to do. And, a chip with Intel ME hacked out of it will probably never be as stable as one that never had that stuff in the first place. And, sooner or later, Intel will make some change that will make it impossible to hack it out. Kind of seems like building Purism’s house on sand.
And I don’t know that I accept the premise that an ARM-based computer needs to be slow. Is that really true? As far as I know, they top out at low clock speeds like 2 Ghz, but that they come in 8 core and even 16 core versions at fairly reasonable prices. At least that is my impression. Is it really the case that am ARM-based computer couldn’t be designed at a reasonable cost that would have pretty passable performance? Plus, my understanding is that you can design custom ARM chips, so maybe there are options there.
Anyways, my suggestion would be that it is definitely something that should be looked into. If it is technically doable, I think that would really catapult Purism into a category by itself for people interested in free software and security. But, yeah, it would need to feel like a modern laptop in terms of performance, and I don’t know whether that is possible or not.
Yeah I agree with you @funzork.
For me, Intel and AMD have lost all credibility with their refusal to release even a blank signed Intel ME firmware for Google, Purism or any other company. It’s obvious there is dangerous stuff hidden inside their chips.
ARM seems to have a lot more potential, with Rockchip creating some great SoC’s (Look up the Chromebook C201). Although there are still a lot of ARM chips that come with proprietary software (Look up the Samsung Exynos range).
It seems like OpenPOWER have a really good open stack, and might be one of the freest options out there. Unfortunately every single device that uses it seems to cost thousands of pounds and there’s not a lot of information about how to program the things.
For what it’s worth I would definitely buy your top of the range laptop if it used an ARM processor with free bootloader firmware. You could basically name your price.
I am wondering if PureOS is going to support Arm processors prior to v7. for example HP Touchpad.
Any update on an ARM based librem laptop?
Given that Purism is still in the process of shipping the backlog of initial orders for the Librem 14 (x86-based), I wouldn’t have thought that we will see an ARM-based laptop any time soon.
We need a desktop solution, like the mini but with more grunt.
The HoneyComb LX2 is a mini-itx board with an NXP Layerscape LX2160A 16-core Arm Cortex A72 and up to 64GB of memory.
Do you own one? Is it blob-free? What’s the performance like?
Yes I have one. It is not blob-free. It can use both uboot and uefi, runs almost entirely on the mainstream kernel and thus runs any Linux OS.
Performance is stellar due to the 16 cores, 32GB (in my case) of memory, and an Intel Optane nvme drive.
I mostly bought it because I was totally amazed that such a powerfull ARM cpu exists, and because it would mean I can natively compile software for the Librem 5. It is currently sitting in a corner unused, waiting for spare time to repurpose it (and for my Librem 5).
Hmmm, depends on the nature of your workload. Sometimes you just can’t beat a couple of really fast cores, rather than lots of fast cores.
Also depends on the clock speed.
That then is a showstopper for Purism.
It does sound like a nice computer though. A pity it is not doing anything.
That isn’t needed though. It is possible to cross-compile working software for the Librem 5 on an x86 computer. Whether there are some difficult cases where that falls down I don’t know.
Isn’t the future be to wait for RISC-V processors? Some companies seem to have interesting prototypes. I know there’s still quite a long way to go, but to me (with my very limited knowledge in that area) it’s seem the best choice in the long term.
There are a number of existing topics on that.
It depends on when you need it, and what your requirements are.
The CPU is only one part of a whole system, if you require blob-free throughout.
For lowish performance yes (phone, tablet).
It will be much slower than a Cortex-X2, so for now a Cortex-X2 be a better options for a laptop.
Every time I’ve been in the market for new hardware over the past decade or so, I have checked to see whether there was anything suitable running an ARM processor, just for the energy efficiency. I won’t promise I’ll buy it if Purism makes it, but it is certainly something that would catch my attention if it showed up.
But I figure a fully “Free” ARM laptop won’t come within the next 3-5 years.
The MNT Reform is now shipping to the crowdfunders and its almost entirely blob free except for a tiny blob to train the LPDDR4 timing during boot. However it is limited to 4 GB of RAM and uses the same i.MX 8M Quad processor and RS9116 WiFi/BT as the Librem 5.
PINE64 is already making its Quartz64 SBC based on the Rockchip RK3566, but I haven’t been able to find out if it can boot without blobs. PINE64 is planning on making the PinePhone 2 and probably the PineTab 2 based on the RK3566.
I guess it depends on what you define as a “laptop” and how much processing power you need, but for me a tablet with a detachable keyboard is a “laptop”. However, what I really want is a laptop based on the RK3588 or the Alibaba XuanTie 910, but we will have to see whether they can be run without blobs.
This is true, and I don’t think the products you mentioned would fulfil all of my expectations about what a laptop is, but I am grateful that you brought them up, because I had not been aware of those specific products.
One constraint that I probably should have specified is that I do not see much value in an ARM laptop that does not significantly exceed the computing performance of my Librem 5 phone. I might as well spend the money on a laptop dock for the phone instead. This would be less of a concern for someone who had no intention of owning a Librem 5. A laptop-form-factor device using the same CPU could be made objectively better than a Librem 5 connected to a dock, in various small ways (e.g. thermal design, expose more IO directly rather than via a single USB C port) but not better enough for me to justify owning both.
But, on top of that, what I really meant when I said “laptop” was “desktop replacement”. Which, of course, is not the same thing as “laptop”, but subconsciously I was conflating the two concepts. So, I was inadvertently excluding a whole range of perfectly valid laptops that other people would buy, but which I probably wouldn’t.
“Desktop replacement” is itself a vague and widely-interpretable concept. For me it means that the CPU performs similarly to a contemporary mid-range PC. There should be a minimum of 16GB of RAM, space for 1 speed-optimised SSD and 1 capacity-optimised storage device, and a large screen. These are not my complete requirements for a laptop, which are more specific, but this is roughly the unreasonable baseline I had in mind when I said “laptop”. That is the kind of fully “Free” ARM laptop I don’t expect to see within 3-5 years.
The RK3588 might well be in the performance category I was thinking of, but my perception is that Rockchip has a track-record of producing chips with poor long-term software support and a requirement for blob drivers.
And if it can’t boot without blobs then you can also get a Raspberry Pi in a laptop enclosure (or in a keyboard enclosure!).