Desired Improvements For The Librem 15v4


#1

I want to start-off by thanking Purism for all their time and hard-work on these projects, and listening to feedback all the while. I don’t write this meaning it to be a huge laundry-list of demands we’re making from our armchairs that we’re throwing on the poor staff at Purism or anything. Seriously, thank you for your hard work and keep it up. Taking user input seriously and going the extra mile for security/privacy is what makes you different, so don’t stop doing that.
 

New revisions of the Librems should be coming soon. Most talk seems focused on the phone, but I don’t want us to forget the laptops and I thought it’d be good to make a new feedback thread for the Librem 15v4.

First of all, this is a discussion for hardware-level changes. Not gonna dive into software-side stuff here. I think we all expect the Librem 15v4 to be compatible with Qubes 4.0 and for the ME to remain at least “neutralized+disabled”, I think that’s the biggie there. Aside from that, just eagar to see how TPM+HEADS and such will play out. It’d be nice to see a totally de-blobbed Coreboot by the time the v4 rolls out, but I know that’s probably expecting too much.
 


I’ve made feedback threads before, and here’s the list of features that I and others seem to want:
 

• Meltdown / Spectre-fixed CPU

Above all else, there’s really no sense in releasing a new Librem version until you can acquire a CPU that isn’t affected by the Meltdown/Spectre exploit. We want these issues fixed at the hardware-level. If no good options exist yet, it’s best to just wait until they do.

• Quad-Core-or-Better CPU Options

It’s fine to have dual-core as a base CPU, but at least have higher models as options.
If having more than one CPU option is difficult to maintain, then just base the system on a quad-core or better.

Sorry if it seems whiney, but in 2018, Dual-Core is seriously minimal. We want some better, more powerful options, especially for a computer that we’re dropping thousands of dollars on.

• 4K 60Hz / 1080P 120Hz+ Capable Monitor

The days of 1080P are pretty well behind the times now I’d say. We want our full-scale laptops to be 4K capable, and preferably capable of higher refresh rates at lower resolutions.

• Improved WiFi

I’ve seen threads complaining of WiFi issues on Librem laptops. I was impressed to see Purism has people that seem to actually know what they’re talking about regarding this.

Needless to say, we’d like to see these WiFi issues fixed.

It’d also be nice to see the laptop be compatible with the latest 802.11 standards (AC & AD).
 

• Ethernet Port

An ethernet port is a pretty popular demand feature and with good reason really. Many people prefer hard-wired connections as they’re certainly the more secure and reliable option when at home, and that aside, one often needs ethernet capability to do basic configuration of their networks.

I get that you can buy a USB ethernet adapter, but that’s certainly not an ideal fix and I figure there’s a considerable bandwidth bottleneck to it as well.
 

• 32GB & Multi-Channel Memory

Pretty straightforward. 16GB is high-performance but still not enough for some. We’d like to see 32GB as an option for those that may need it. Above 32GB is pretty well regarded as unnecessary overkill though.

Additionally, I’d like to bring-up how it’s single-channel, and I’d like to see Purism upgrade it to dual-channel or better - 2x4 for 8GB, 2x8 for 16GB, and 2x16 for 32GB systems. Triple-Channel or Quad-Channel would be amazing but I dunno how realistic that is - I know that’s commonplace for Desktops but not Laptops.
 

• ROWHAMMER Exploit Mitigation

About This: Wikipedia || Google Project Zero

I brought this topic up because it grabbed my attention when reading up about security issues on modern machines.

To my understanding, this is a very old exploit that’s still not fixed on most modern machines, and you need to use a certain type of memory that includes the Target Row Refersh (TRR) mitigation method.

I know that Purism has already had a sizeable thread on this issue in 2016, calling it a proof-of-concept attack unlikely to be used as a vector of attack in any real situation, but that’s also what Meltdown and Spectre are as well, are they not? Doesn’t mean they’re not real threats and we shouldn’t take it seriously and do everything we can to mitigate & eliminate them.
 

• ECC Memory

I’m not going to push this too much as to my knowledge this requires a Xenon CPU and I doubt you intend to put Xenons in your systems (would certainly be nice to have the option), but it’d be nice to see ECC memory as a choice for Librems. It also seems to work towards fixing problems relating to memory vulnerabilities, such as the aforementioned Rowhammer.

Not sure if there’s some way to include ECC without Xenons. But all-in-all, it’d seriously be a nice-to-have. One user noted “about the need for pervasive use of ECC memory”.
 

• Killswitch Improvements

This is just a matter of old vs new killswitch design:

I don’t like the new one compared to the old one. The pads at the top look slicker cosemtially, nicer on the hands, and most importantly won’t have the “switches getting pushed into the hinge” issue that the new ones seem to have.

I think it’d be best if you went back to your old switch design, at least cosmetically. It was just plain better.
 

• Casing & Cosmetic Design

I think we’d like to have a metal casing that isn’t such a fingerprint & grease magnet. I’m not sure if you could edit the material slightly or put on a coating or something to help with this, but seeing photos of Librems, it’s strongly apparent.

Also, for design, I think it’d look great if it came in white again, or at least with a white option, and… squared-corners and sharp-edged? From photos it appears to me that the system is a bit too globular / curved.

To give examples, I think this doesn’t look too good, while this by comparison is slick and sexy.

I know, I know, those are from two totally different angles. But looking at other pictures my opinions stay the same. I think it looks better being more “squared” with harder edges and the slick bright metal look.

Is that second one the Librem 15 v2 look? If so, maybe it’d be good to go back to that general look, but with improvements that you want to keep.

I know this is nit-picky stuff though, so you do what you’re gonna do I guess.
 

• Keyboard and Trackpad Layouts

I see various complaints and suggestions regarding keyboard and trackpad, but these come in various forms with various desired changes.

The TL;DR to me seems to be that people want the trackpad in the center and everyone wants their local language / keyboard layout supported, naturally. I know it’s hard to please everyone on this point.
 

• Qubes 4.0 Pre-Install Option

I’d like to see Qubes 4.0 as an option for default OS on the Librem 15. I know that in the past you’ve shipped them out with PureOS installed with Qubes on a USB if the customer orders, but really I’d like Qubes installed fresh with nothing pre-existing on the hard drive before it, though I know that’s a bit nit-picky.
 


I think that’s about it! Just wanted to make a new thread compiling all of these. What do you think?


Processor upgrade
Improvements You'd Like To See in Librem 15v4?
Improvements You'd Like To See in Librem 15v4?
#3

I definitely vouch for quad core, 32GB RAM, and non-grease magnet color (unfortunately, I must admit that I like Apple’s Space Gray). I don’t really need 4k, though, but it wouldn’t hurt


#4

4k is just a nice-to-have for me as well. I like how text looks in 4k, it’s much smoother (on systems that do proper text-scaling - on systems that don’t fonts just become tiny and unreadable…). However, many programs still don’t scale too well with resolutions beyond 1080P and it makes the system work harder.

4k resolution has pros and cons - but a 4k screen gives you all the options, so it’s best to have it. If you don’t like 4K or high refresh rates, there shouldn’t be anything stopping you from just setting it to 1080p60.

Additionally, any system built with being 4K capable in-mind should also be capable of higher refresh rates at lower resolutions, and that’s awesome to have.


#6

Having 4K would be actually deal-breaker for me. 4k takes more graphics power which means:
a) less battery life
b) less gaming performance
And what you actually gain? If you like looking at your screen with a spyglass you might not be able see the subpixels (hooray!). ATM I use 768p monitor on my laptop, which is acceptable for some minor coding and taking notes at lectures for real work I plug in 1080p monitor at home. So my pov is that 1080p is just right.

What I’d love to see what would actually make me seriously consider buying myself a librem would be better battery life what I heard in reviews it’s up to 5 hrs, my current laptop can do more even with it’s 3 yrs old battery. I’d expect 10 hrs and more. I’d even buy recent quad Pentium rather than i3/5/7 if it would mean reaching more time on battery (+passive cooling which I have now on my laptop and it’s just awesome and saves the battery even more). And pentium would perhaps drop the price a few bucks, as a student here in Czech Republic it might take me 2 or 3 years to save up 1500$ dependig on how much time I’ll be able to spend at work and how much I’ll reduce my beer consumption in future.

And I totally agree with the 32gig ram, not that I’d buy it right away but I want my laptop to last more than 6 years so having option to upgrade (after saving up enough money) which I’d surely use would be welcomed.

And that’s it from me :slight_smile:


#7

Well like I said, you don’t need to have the monitor set to 4k, if you don’t like it. Many of us prefer the look of 4k in general, and I personally run BluRay movies from my computer and such as well.

But if you don’t like it you just run the monitor in 1080p - and you could run it at higher refresh rates if you like. A 4k screen simply gives you more options that you wouldn’t have on a 1080p screen.

I’m personally not obsessed with battery life because I always plug-in my laptops anyway. My main laptop only has 30 minutes on battery because it’s one of those “desktop replacement” laptops that runs on an overclocked i7 Extreme and overclocked high-end mobile GPU. This is because I want power, even if I’m on a laptop, I simply can’t stand any kind of latency or sluggishness.

Different people have different applications. I’m a power-user that uses their computer 15 hours a day and does everything imaginable on it, so I want to have the latest and greatest. I’ve even debated among myself if I should even bother with a laptop or get a desktop this time, but then I wouldn’t have something to carry around, plus I like the privacy/security side of things in these laptops.

I think the 4k monitor should be there. For people that 4k is unnecessary for, they can just dial down the resolution. Like I said, you’ll get higher refresh rate options too, which would be great.


#8

What about the cost then? Buying a 4k high refresh rate display for 720p needs isn’t really efficient (especially for me 4k on 15 inches feels weird but as you wish).

Best would be to be able to choose display, after all this is a part of the laptop that can easily changed.


#9

I’d be fine with being able to choose, but I dunno if it’s feasible for Purism to do that. They’d need to buy the hardware for both, and if they’re buying things in bulk to save money, they’d probably want to only bother stocking the most popular/demanded hardware.

Probably the same reasons why they don’t bother having configurations of more than 16GB of RAM, or more than a dual-core CPU. People usually just buy what’s cheapest, and if you’re running a small business and buying in bulk to save on costs, that means you’re only going to bother stocking those.

My understanding is a 4k laptop screen only costs marginally more than a 1080p screen does anymore anyway. You can find overpriced ones, sure, but those are usually ones that are crazy in other ways like color depth and higher 4k refresh rates and g-sync support and what-not.


#10

Alex:

As Kajika said, purism should sell both or 1080p only. And argument that I should downscale res is just ridiculous. If I get a feature I want to use it so my money isn’t wasted. And by the way you kinda contradict yourself - you said you want “power”, it’s well known that intel gpus just suck. With 4K you might have that sluggish experience you said you really don’t want to have.

Once I watched some review on youtube about some system76 laptop (don’t remember which one), it had 4k display + intel gpu and as expected the reviewer wasn’t so happy about it. Why? Well most DE’s still don’t support upscaling properly, not speaking about people who use just WM like i3, or not even that, there still might be people who spend most of the time in bash with tmux, those people would be just doomed to carry magnifying glass everywhere. Performance was sluggish, that just reality with intel gpus they aren’t made for 4k. it might render desktop but even very light gaming might be challenge. And here you all say, “hey! You don’t buy this laptop for gaming you dumbass!” And I say “I don’t, buf if I travel home from college I want to perhaps play some hearthstone through wine for a while.”

I don’t know how expensive laptop screens are but I know that if you want to buy 4k monitor, you pay at least double. I’d expect it the same for laptop screens but as I said I don’t really know.

And if you don’t care about battery life well, maybe we should remove batteries from laptop and place some liquid nitrogen cooling solution in there instead. Now really, battery life is super important for almost everyone who’d buy laptop with librem 15 specs. And after what I’ve read from you in this and other topics… I don’t really think you want a librem, your idea/vision/…whatever of ideal laptop is so off from where purism is or might be aiming that even that 4k screen wouldn’t make you happy.

Don’t take it personally, you brought up some good ideas up there but 4k… On librem…? No thanks.


#11

Well you could say the same about the rest of any high-performance features as well, such as quad-core CPUs.

I just think that for $2K+ you should be getting a lot more than a dual-core CPU and a 1080p screen. That fact just really turns me off and makes me wanna say “Meh, not worth the money” and build my own PC and just use ME_Cleaner on it myself.

For $2000, I pretty much expect Quad Core + 4k Screen + 16GB RAM + SSD by default. I try to be understanding that Purism doesn’t mass-produce like Dell, HP, Acer, Asus, etc does, and thus really can’t compete with their prices - but still, it’s just so outrageously more expensive that it really puts me off.

Btw, I never needed a magnifying glass with 4k, any good OS has text scaling.

All of that aside, you get the gist of what I’m saying. This whole post is really me hoping Purism can bring forth more bang for your buck, or at least higher-end options. Bluntly put - I’m not going to drop thousands of dollars on lower-performance hardware just because I’m a tinfoil hat. If I see that I could easily make an awesome high-end rig with parts bought through PCPartPicker for around the same price as a Librem 15 costs, I’m going to say to heck with the tinfoil hat nonsense and get a Librem at a later date as a secondary computer, maybe.

I may be security/privacy sensitive, but at the end of the day I’m going to weigh the pros and cons, and if Purism is offering only standard laptops that are insanely expensive for what you’re getting in hardware, then I’d rather just save-up some more money and build a beast desktop and just secure it as best I can myself.

Additionally, those systems would surely be compatible with Windows in addition to Linux, giving them yet another plus.

I can realize when I’m sacrificing way too much for the sake of my wild suspicions and paranoia. I want peace of mind, but I’m not going to pay double or triple for the same performance level to get that. I could install multiple OSes.

Perhaps I should get a new gaming and work rig first, then think of getting a Librem on the side later. Gives the project more time to mature as well. I really need that kind of rig first anyway, because mainly what I do at a computer has to do with gaming and encode jobs, things that require strong hardware and unforuntately, usually Windows as well.

I don’t work in an information-sensitive field and the only thing I really have to hide is porn habits and piracy, anyway :stuck_out_tongue: I guess Librems are far bigger a deal for developers, spies, whistleblowers, people on the run, and people who use the deepweb. I’m not in any of those categories really, I’m just a boring guy who’s got a paranoia problem. But I probably shouldn’t let that paranoia problem lead me to making poor financial decisions.

Still, I wanted to influence Purism to up their hardware a bit. I hope that in the future they’ll be a company that I actually want to buy from, but I never will if they don’t offer more powerful hardware for the cost they’re asking, as well as making a few cosmetic improvements that I noted. That’s more or less the point of this post.


#12

By the way, to give perspective of how crazy expensive Purism is for what you’re getting: I helped a friend to choose a computer, and the cost of a 15" laptop with a modern i7 CPU, 4k screen, 12GB ram, some Nvidia 8xx series GPU (forget exactly which), and an SSD was $749 from Dell.

That’s to put things into perspective a little. I could understand spending 50% more for superior build quality (assuming Purism’s builds are such) and the peace-of-mind of privacy. But actually, Purism’s machines right now have just standard ThinkPad-level hardware by default and cost twice as much as a higher-end laptop like I just referenced. You’re paying twice as much, and for half the performance, meaning a grand total of a 4x difference really.

I care about security and privacy, but there’s a point where reasonability starts to break-down, unless you’re a hacker or something and this is super duper important because you could go to prison otherwise or something.

I understand that Purism is pretty niche and stuff, and niche/novelty markets kinda have to keep their prices high to make end’s meet and fund future innovation in their field. They just don’t have enough customers and cashflow to offer things at lower prices…

… but still, I can’t bite for how much it costs right now. I’ll be more than happy to buy a Purism machine if they become more feasible I guess.


#13

Well, I’m not going to evaluate your opinions. But you just basically said that every GNU/Linux distro that doesn’t ship with Gnome/Kde is a bad OS. But I’d say quite the opposite, installing debian or arch or any other GNU/Linux (or perhaps BSD) distro with i3 or maybe without any gui at all doesn’t make it bad OS. And vice versa supporting high dpi doesn’t make Windows good OS it sucks the same way hi-dpi or not… Resolution should somehow match the screen size to make it usable with or without any DE. You might not have had to use magnifying glass with your tiny 4k device but that’s because your DE supported upscaling, not everyone is that lucky… Please just have some empathy.

I can agree with quad core, that’s for sure, even my Celeron N2940 has 4 cores so why my next laptop shouldn’t but it wouldn’t make me stop buying it, i5s and i7s are insanely powerful so I can barely imagine it - even with only two cores


#14

Well I want the option anyway, for all the reasons I stated before. TBH I think any OS without DE should get with the times and it’s hard for me to be empathetic to it, but I’ll set that aside I guess. I don’t use stuff like Arch so I wouldn’t understand.

Yeah, the rest of what I said definitely applies. The cost is way too much for what you’re getting, which is essentially standard ThinkPad hardware. I want privacy and security as much as anyone, but it’s hard for me to defend it when I could get twice the performance for half the price.

I’m really torn on it because I really like Purism and what they do and I’d be more than happy to pay more and consider it a donation for the cause if I had the money - But the reality is that I just have a minimum-wage job and can’t afford it. $1500+ is A LOT of money for folks like me, takes a lot of time to build that kind of money up, so of course I’d naturally feel super apprehensive about blowing so much when I could’ve gotten several times better hardware if I would just set-aside my paranoia.


#15

Hard to help you with that. You just want it or you don’t… Price is as expected, all the coreboot porting and intel blob removing and os developing stuff didn’t do itself. You have to see that too. Dell/Lenovo or whatever other brand will give you some generic, metal which doesn’t properly work with GNU/Linux even 2 years after release and put Windows on it. And guess what neither Dell nor Lenovo did develop Windows, maybe few drivers for touchpad to support their device or whatnot… They don’t do reverse engineering that’s why their products are so cheap - reverse engineering takes a lot of manhours. Someone just has to pay it and I’d gladly give Purism that sum (after I manage to make it :D)


#16

I get you on that, I’m just hoping they can make Librems more affordable over time.

But I definitely would want better specs than they’re currently offering, regardless. The CPU especially.


#17

I felt the need to come back and clarify that I’m hoping I’m not coming off as whiney/needy, nor trying to discourage Purism. I love what you guys are doing. It’s just… I’m trying to put in suggestions to make it as good as possible, and I just really saw a big issue in the “cost-to-performance” ratio in the product’s hardware specs.

I still love Purism and I’ll be getting a machine as soon as I can. It’s just an especially difficult pill to swallow when you’re an early 20-something and don’t have the cash to toss around regardless of how much you care about it.

I suppose it doesn’t really matter if the systems can go 4k or not btw. It’d be a nice-to-have, but who’s playing video games or watching 4k movies on their Librem anyway? I guess I just wanted it because for so much money I kinda expected it. But really, from a security / privacy perspective, it’s better for making your canvas fingerprint the most common possible anyway… though that’s a miniscule privacy difference.


#18

Too many threads for Librem 15v4 wishes. Lets keep only one and get any response from Purism team: did you heard from them any plans, response on these?

And my portion of wishes from similar thread:

  1. Yes, more modern processor with Meltdown / Spectre-fixed CPU would be good: i7 with 4 cores 8 threads, some i7 HQ if possible

  2. Much bigger battery capacity, for example like Lenovo Yoga 920 has, which allows to work

    • 10,8 h on 4k monitor variant and
    • 15,5 h with FullHD monitor
  3. Please add English-Russian keyboard option - many people will want to buy it from Russia or Ukraine.

  4. Good to have the touchpad centered on the screen (not space bar). Mac Book 15" layout is good for example (this one not critical so)


#19

Yeah I know, I made that one ages ago and I don’t know why people are still necroing it. The old ones can be locked now, they’re not as relevant anymore and I worded this one better with feedback from the older ones.

No Purism doesn’t respond to these really. I just like to discuss it and basically cross my fingers that they’re seeing / listening to it. I’m sure that in the end they’re just gonna do what they’re gonna do, though.

Just added “Qubes OS Pre-Installed” to the list, as I’d like to see that and I have friends that agree that they’d be more interested in pre-installed Qubes as well.


#20

I’d like to see more laptops move away from 16:9 (16:10 looking at you mac) and go to the 3:2 aspect ratio. I much prefer the extra height. As far as I know only surface devices and google pixel chromebooks have it but having used a first gen chromebook pixel I find I much prefer that aspect ratio. I don’t have a need for 4K but something along the lines of the surface or pixel resolution would be great 2560x1700. I know this would require a complete chassis redesign but if we are being picking and wishing there is one my wishes.


#21

Please invest more money into a better keyboard (the current one is omitting key presses sometimes if you don’t hit the key at center but on the edge - this makes it difficult to use for programmers :wink:


#22

Please offer a docking station to improve mobility and desktop-alike working without plugging in and out many connections. Currently I am using an AUKEY 4-port USB 3.0 hub with HDMI output over USB 3.0 but this has limitations (like the maximum screen solution and refresh rate)