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?