Bluetooth Keyboard

Just ordered a Librem 15 and will be using it sometimes on a laptop stand that elevates the screen closer to eye level. So typing on the laptop keyboard won’t be practical and I’d like to get a Bluetooth keyboard and trackpad. Any recommendations?

I had this setup for my MacBook Pro and it was nice. The keyboard was roughly similar to that of my MBP, so the transition isn’t so bad.

Would like to replicate the setup for my Librem 15. I don’t suppose it’ll work with my old Mac Bluetooth keyboard and trackpad?

Just a note: Bluetooth will not work in PureOS out of the box, as it requires non-free driver installation. If you get past it, my bet is your Mac bluetooth keyboard will work just fine.

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If you wish to install the drivers mentioned by @Dwaff, I think the easiest way is to do the following:

  1. Open a terminal and use a text editor like nano to open /etc/apt/sources.list using the command
    sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list
  2. Add the line
    deb stable main contrib non-free
  3. Save the file. If using nano, save the file with CTRL+O, then exit with CTRL+X
  4. Run sudo apt update
  5. Then you can run sudo apt install firmware-atheros

I think that should then allow Bluetooth to work (possibly after a restart). I haven’t tested it though.


Thanks. Appreciated.

For the Purism team:
Please note that this is the kind of usability issue that causes normies to flee. It needs to “just work.” I don’t know how you’re going to do it, but you need to find a way to improve usability. Please.

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Well, in this case, I don’t think Purism is inclined to make installing non-free software “just work”, because that is against their mission.

As the user, you have the option (if you know what you’re doing), but Purism doesn’t need to facilitate users doing things outside of Purism’s goals. They need to facilitate things within their goals. I don’t think they claim Bluetooth functionality anywhere either, except perhaps mentioning that the wireless killswitch also kills Bluetooth (since the wireless card does both Wifi and Bluetooth) might lead one to think it is enabled by default.

They were once advertising a job opening for Bluetooth driver development, but that disappeared a while ago, so I’m not sure what the status there is.

Then they can kiss goodbye to normies buying their gear. I’m tempted to cancel my purchase. It’s all just too darn hard. I’m busy. Need to be able to get things done.

But, I appreciate your taking the time to add some further context.

This may be why.

So hopefully they will be able to get approval from the FSF. Then it will just work. :slight_smile:

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I think Purism products are currently good enough for basic normies who just want to browse the web and send email and the like.

Certain professions and activities are harder to serve at the moment, but I know that all these things are part of Purism’s goal - it just takes time. Doe Purism care about supporting non-free software? No, but that’s because they hope to see free alternatives to everything, and where those alternatives don’t exist, I believe they hope to make them. It does look like they have a Bluetooth solution in the works (see post above).

I commend your interest in FLOSS photography stacks and general desire to ditch Apple and others - that’s why most of us are here :slightly_smiling_face:
But Purism is fighting giants with billions of dollars at their disposal, so they can’t really compete on everything. Personally, I’m just impressed with how much they have accomplished in their relatively short existence.


i can tell you for sure that on a ubuntu 19.04 install with an external bluetooth dongle (just-pop-it-in-a-usb-port-it-just-works). tested myself some time ago the new ‘Magic’ Apple bt keyboard before i got my uhk.

the only problem was that from time to time i got random disconnects. i had to pull the dongle out put it back in then restart the service so even the open-source non-deblobed parts have their quirks.

no need to make it ALL free-softwares fault. it just needs some TLC (tender-loving-care)

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I just canceled my purchase of a Librem 15, Librem 5, and Librem Key.

Instead, I’ll go through another upgrade cycle with Apple. Will check in on Purism and review its usability/practicality when I’m next ready to upgrade - perhaps 3 years from now.

I really respect what Purism is doing, but I don’t have the time or expertise required to hack these devices to make them usable for my purposes.

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Purism and Librem is a way of life - you do something you believe in.
Like all Linux stuff.
It is not Apple nor Google but in time everything turns out fine.
I use Librem because I support them
I have many frustrations with things but the goal is more important than my immediate minor needs.


Sad to see you go. But then again, 3 years is not so long a time. See you soon.


one is leaving and another is coming. I just asked for Librem 5 very excited about the project. At the moment Librem One complete on iOS.

Thanks & saludos,


I have (perhaps naively) sidestepped this problem on my Librem 13 by using a Bluetooth USB dongle. It definitely does not have a FLOSS driver, but it works for file transfer, keyboard, mouse, headphones, etc., and can plug/unplug it on the fly without any trouble. My only real question with regards to this stop-gap solution is what non-FLOSS it may be leaving on my Librem when it is not in use. Can anyone clue me in on how to find out?

A Bluetooth USB dongle shouldn’t put any proprietary software on the Librem 13. Your Bluetooth devices talk to the dongle, and the dongle translates the information to communicate regularly through the USB interface.

So the dongle acts like a translator :slightly_smiling_face:


Well, that’s what I had thought initially – but if that’s the case, why aren’t more people using a Bluetooth dongle? I’ll grant you, it would be better if the onboard Bluetooth just worked and was FLOSS, but the dongle is cheap (mine was US $12) and doesn’t even mess much with the physical profile of the computer (sticks out ~1 cm). Because it’s plug and play, it’s essentially the same as having a physical kill switch. If it’s not leaving bloatware in its wake or anything, where’s the downside?

Can you please post a link to the dongle and advise if there were other setup steps beside just plugging it in?

I am definitely not completely sure about this, but I think in principle, the Bluetooth dongle has some non-free firmware, etc, but which runs on the dongle. In an ideal world, that non-free-ness is contained to the dongle, and at least your PureOS system doesn’t include it. But in a non-ideal world, there may be security exploits that allow that non-free dongle to do malicious things.

But take all of that with a large grain of salt, because I’m speaking from vague memory of things I’ve seen discussed on these forums rather than from innate experience/knowledge.

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the way free-software is supposed to be from a gnu/fsf perspective is 100 % free of software blobs.
the way a linux kernel driver module works is it talks to the hardware firmware. now even if that “talking” part is non-blobed maybe the firmware itself is or it partially is so it’s refused by the RYF certification thus it can’t get into the linux-libre kernel but it can get into the linux kernel that ships with regular debian,ubuntu,linux-mint,fedora,suse,gentoo,arch, etc gnu/linux distributions that are non-veted by the FSF.

if you are not concerned with free-software and just want things to work no-matter-the-cost then use those distributions on ANY hardware …

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This was the product.
I am sorry to say that I can’t remember the setup steps, but they were potentially as simple as plugging in the device and typing in the name you wanted to use to identify the computer over Bluetooth (this is only done initially, not each time you plug it in). I don’t remember any complications, but do remember being actively surprised (suspicious?) at how easy it was. I have a Librem 13 v4, results could vary on other computers. Anyone with a different product care to give it a try?

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