Desired Improvements For The Librem 15v4


#23

Ill chime in for the keyboard section. Having a modular keyboard on the laptop may be the solution. Instead of set into the case be a part that can be easily replaced and moddified. People seem to like to have just the right keyboard.
Also maybe we could use some Kailh's PG1350 switches.


#24

If the new version has thunderbolt 3 capability implemented, there are a few docks available to where you can power the laptop, run multiple screens, and even run an external GPU from one plug. That would be the easiest way to solve that request.


#25

As a potential buyer, 4K is an absolute must-have.

I love what Purism is doing, and want to move away from Apple, but I’ve been spoiled by the density of the rMBP.

It’s amazing for programming; I can fit so much code on the 15" screen that I have absolutely no need for external monitors. 1080p just won’t allow me to make the text small enough.


#26

Just chiming in here with a prospective buyers opinion.

I have a 4K screen in a 15" style laptop. It is not worth it.

Maybe when I was 16 years old and my eyesight was perfect, I might have appreciated it when I leaned in.

However the reason I want to upgrade? I want a 4K monitor. 4K on a 15" screen makes no sense, 4K on a 30" screen is awesome. My current laptop can’t drive an external 4K screen at 60hz. For some reason it’s got HDMI 1.4 on it. It’s stupid.

@darko: You either have eyesight gifted from the gods, you are not working on a 15" screen, or you are constantly hunching in (which is not good for you).

And all this assumes that you are effectively rendering to 4K with your intel integrated graphics. Which means you’re not running gnome, that’s for sure. Openbox, lxde, and xfce for the most part, is OK at 4K with the integrated graphics. PureOS runs Gnome doesn’t it? That will be very bad at 4K in my experience.

On other subjects:

My big blocker is the lack of 32GB of ram to be honest. I run a bunch of virtual machines as part of my job prototyping subsystems for my company. I bump into my current 16GB of headroom every so often and it’s annoying.

I also would like an ethernet port but that’s a mild want.

I think the placement of the kill switches makes sense, having them somewhere you can see them is a good idea. Most manufacturers got rid of kill switches because users became confused as to why their wifi wasn’t working, because they forgot they had hit the switch. It’s a pain point. It needs to be addressed.


#27

I’m running macOS on the macbook pro: It’s scaling to 1920x1200.
I did run awesomeWM on here for a while at native resolution - you’ve just got to bump the font size a little.
It’s perfectly usable for me because I run everything in the terminal or the browser.

15" 1920x1200 doesn’t allow you to scale to font sizes like this though:


View that on a 1920x1200 screen and I guarantee you won’t get clean letters.

I’m nearly 30 and I have no need to hunch in - I’m at a standing desk and there’s always ~40cm between me and the screen.

I know that there are certainly users who don’t want a HiDPI screen. I’m just saying that it is a must-have for me.
Ideally you would be able to pick from a 1920x1200 and 4K screen at purchase on the 15", giving both sets of users what they want.


#28

As a current 15v3 owner, I would not want 4K and I suspect it would be logistically expensive to offer both 1080P and 4K variants. I don’t see a need for 4K on a 15" screen. As a compromise, how about WQHD (2560x1440)?

I’m probably one of very few people who still has a frequent need for Ethernet connectivity. Yet the lack of a built-in Ethernet port doesn’t bother me at all. Bandwidth bottleneck? USB 3.1 supports up to 10Gbps. Even with 10GE becoming more available, I’m not sure you would ever (within the reasonable lifespan of laptop) find a real-world use case for saturating that connection. It’s not like you have storage options that could keep up with that.

A higher memory ceiling would be nice, but multi-channel? Are you just asking for performance for the sake of performance or can you articulate a use case where this is an actual requirement?

There really aren’t any known solutions for this. Yes, there are some known mitigations, but they are expensive and don’t completely solve the problem. We’re probably going to have to just live with Row Hammer through the rest of this decade and most of the next one. Practice defense in depth and it won’t ruin your day. With techniques like ASLR the feasibility of Row Hammer is significantly diminished.

I do not want a Xenon chip in my laptop. I’m not gonna hold my breath for ECC. (Also, Row Hammer has been demonstrated on ECC memory.)


#29

Well I already kind-of decided I don’t really care what they decide in terms of the resolution, which is why I more-or-less left the resolution discussion and let the community bicker about it without me from here on. Higher-resolution options would be nice, but if they don’t want to offer it then I drop it. Less work for the processor anyway.

I too am among people that need an ethernet port. It’s a must-have for people that manage their home network and piddle with their network firmware. Regardless of bottlenecking arguments, I think you can agree that just having a danged ethernet port would be preferred.

Asking for performance for the sake of performance, really. I guess I’m just a bit peeved at the price-to-performance which is what a lot of the post was about to begin with.

Security-wise I think the main thing is to wait for Ice Lake CPUs (Meltdown / Spectre fixed hardware-level).

Well I’m among people who would pay for the mitigations. If I’m already dropping $3K+ for a secure laptop, a few hundred more is peanuts at that point. If you’re gonna bother to do something, go all the way with it.

Well I’ve just seen other issues where ECC memory prevented certain issues that could be security risks, such as even just naturally occurring memory errors. Unfortunately I figure the Xenon issue is the problem.

Aside from cost, why wouldn’t you want a Xenon? My understanding is that they’re pretty much the i-series chips but designed to be more reliable for server use. Do you just mean cost-wise?


#30

I’m not worried about cost. I think the price to value ratio is just fine. Maybe it’s because I’m a lot more critical of laptops than most, but aside from some minor fit and finish issues the Librem already has better design and equal performance to other laptops I would consider buying. Laptops which pack in a lot more performance for the price tend to be crap in other categories, like size, weight, cooling, keyboard feel/layout, or Linux-friendliness.

The Librem already makes all the right hardware choices I would make in terms of using quality components with good Linux drivers, and they go the extra mile by making sure everything is as open/secure as possible. The ongoing with they’re doing on coreboot/heads, the improvements to the drivers for the chips they ship, the neutralization of Intel ME, and more is worth a little price overhead to me.

Competing on spec sheets is a trap, and I wish more companies would recognize that like Purism has and compete on design instead. This is what Razer did with the Blade, and despite people crying about the price they have been selling well because many people like me care about more than just the specs.

Not wanting an Ethernet port is really down to not wanting to make the body any thicker to fit one, nor adding a flimsy pop up door. With USB3, you can connect a whole dock, including Ethernet port, with one plug. No more fiddling with a bunch of separate cables. Or you can keep a small dongle in your bag, or attached to and device you frequency need to plug into. The dongles themselves are cheap enough to have several strewn about your network.


#31

Wait, I thought coreboot was already totally deblobbed on the librem. What’s remaining?

sorry to go off-topic…


#32

I think we just have totally different approaches to computers and what we want out of them. I mean, I use a big-ass desktop-replacement laptop and am pretty happy with it. Stuff like Razer Blade and Macbooks I would scoff at. I’d be buying a desktop machine if Purism offered one.

I guess I branch-off from the norm when it comes to lots of things. Smartphones for example - keep getting bigger and bigger. I never wanted it to go beyond the size of the iPhone 5S or so, and now I make snide remarks about how big people’s phones are all the time because I find it crazy. I mean, when does a phone essentially become a tablet? Jesus F. Christ…

I want my computers big and high-performance, and my phones small and portable. I guess I’m one of the fringe.

As for Linux compatability, I made all my suggestions under the assumption they can maintain 100% Linux compatibility with them. If they couldn’t, that’d be a different matter. I don’t know what is or isn’t Linux-compatible.

Not wanting an Ethernet port is really down to not wanting to make the body any thicker to fit one

Well I want the body to be thicker, and have better fans, and I wanted the ethernet port because I don’t want to have to carry around a dock or usb hubs etc.

I like having high-powered fans, even in laptops. This laptop I’m using I’ve overclocked the CPU and GPU. But hey, that’s just me. I guess I should just get a desktop since that’s the vein I come from. Looks and portability aren’t even terribly important to me since I rarely work away from home anyway. In fact if I have one of these secure laptops, I’d refuse to ever expose it to any network other than my secured home network.

Libreboot is blobless but there’s issues and a lot of drama at Libreboot. I think Purism has decided to make their own version of a blobless Coreboot in lieu of all that.

But no, Coreboot does contain binary blobs, by what I understand.


#33

Coreboot can contain binary blobs, if you install them. Libreboot is literally just rebranded coreboot which doesn’t give you the option to install them- that’s it. If you installed coreboot on a thinkpad x200/other “libreboot” laptop, it would also be blob-free if you configured it correctly.

There is no reason why coreboot should contain blobs on the librem, unless the librem happened to be designed with hardware that requires blobs.


#34

If you want a desktop, you don’t need Purism to make one for you. You can make a desktop yourself, the hardware you want is out there waiting for you to assemble it.

The whole point of a laptop is to be portable. If it’s too cumbersome to travel with you, it has failed in it’s fundamental purpose. This is the problem that Razer was able to identify and correct. Gaming laptops were getting ridiculous, to the point where the Alienware M18x was basically a small form-factor media center PC with a display and keyboard bolted on. There really was very little point to buying a M18x versus buying a rolling suitcase for your gaming desktop.

This is also something that Apple has been getting right for years. When the design new hardware they aren’t trying to compete on specs. They don’t care about the numbers. They look at how the device will be used, and what they want the user experience to be like. Then they build in just enough performance, battery, screen resolution, etc. to meet those design objectives. They don’t put in more just because they can, or just to have higher numbers on a spec sheet. They put in the right amount and then they talk about what use cases the machine is designed to enable rather than how many gigaflops it can compute per nanosecond.

In my world, I need back-breaking performance out of my workstation. I’m mostly dealing with text files, websites, and relatively light weight virtual machines. When I need heavy lifting, I farm that out to servers on the network.

In my early days I used to be obsessed with performance. As I’ve grown older, I appreciate that less is more, and the freedom that portability and battery life can grant you. I mostly work remotely now, a space-efficient laptop enables me to pack everything on my motorcycle and spend a couple weeks riding across the country without having to take any time off. My old Alienware M17x would never have made that journey with me.


#35

If you want a desktop, you don’t need Purism to make one for you. You can make a desktop yourself, the hardware you want is out there waiting for you to assemble it.

Yeah I get you there, I mean I honestly wouldn’t even be looking at Purism if I knew anything about building my own machine and installing Coreboot and cleaning the ME myself. I’m only into Purism because I don’t know how to do these things, nor know where to get the “trustworthy” components that they use.

Basically, I’m going to Purism because I trust their professionalism and judgement better than myself. I’m just a kid that dabbles in this stuff, I’ve never been to college or really know what the heck I’m talking about in all honesty. I’m afraid that if I start working on the kinda things they do, I’ll end up getting the wrong parts, drivers, or bricking the machine. I’m afraid if I get arrogant and try to DIY I’m gonna cock it up.

I need performance myself though. I use a lot of productivity software that needs rendering components, I like to make game servers, and yes of course video games and stuff of that nature - meaning I have a valid reason to want a supercomputer for all of that.

Maybe unnecessary for the Purism machine though, seeing as all that productivity software is proprietary (Adobe, AutoDesk, Cyberlink, encoding tools, etc) and games mostly don’t exist for Linux anyway. My WINDOWS machine needs to be a behemoth, since that’s what I’m going to be doing most of my work on.

It really falls back on me needing to get two different machines for the two different digital lives I live. One for my games and creative works, and the other for my communication purposes and deepweb stuff.

I get that the Purism machine needs to have mobility. I just hope they can find a healthy compromise on performance too though. Nothing annoys me more than system lag.


I hope they wait for Ice Lake which will have Meltdown/Spectre fixed at the hardware-level, and more efficient and have a batter graphics processor. I don’t care if that means we have to wait until late 2018 or early 2019 to get it - I mean there’s no sense in making a new revision unless it’ll have significant changes anyway.

I think waiting for Ice Lake is the most important bit. The rest are just desirable upgrades.


#36

Has anyone from Purism responded to this or any of the other improvement threads? I’ve been excitedly following their progress for years, but haven’t pulled the purchase trigger because it would be such a step backward from my tricked-out 15" MacBook Pro. A very, very big step.

I recently tried using a 2 core, 1080p system for a day, and it was painful. My eyesight isn’t great, so I had to jack up the font size, which meant I couldn’t really have split ide/tmux views. Alt-tabbing a diff? Total productivity killer.

I also need 4 cores. I often run multiple instances of VMs/containers, an IDE (with linter/completion often using its own thread), browsers, slack (a beast), background processing jobs, productivity apps, etc. I keep all cylinders firing.

I don’t care that much about battery life or cost (I’ve been paying $3k+ for high-end Apple laptops since the powerbook days, after all). I’d happily pay 150% for HiDPI and more cores. If there’s a enough battery power to give me a few hours in a coffee shop or on a plane great, but honestly I can plug into AC pretty much everywhere I go.

Seriously, Purism’s prices are freaking great, especially considering the unspeakable complexities of the problems they’ve solved, both technical and manufacturing/sourcing. There’s room there for more options.

Purism, please don’t ignore the high-end market. Many of us are willing to pay for quality tools, because it’s how we make our living. I’m also willing to pay a premium for security and privacy, understanding that you’ll never have the purchasing power of Lenovo or Apple.

My grandfather was a master carpenter, and never bought cheap tools; that’s why some of them are still on my workbench, 80+ years later. That’s my philosophy, too.


#37

This will answer few of your questions.


#38

Thanks! Sounds like more cores might be coming with v4 later this year or early next year, which is great. I didn’t see anything about HiDPI, though.


#39

I’m glad that Purism is advancing and I want to take a part as a customer.

Overall, Librem 13/15 specs is awesome as I’ve read. But, I’m waiting for an HiDPI version, fair enough to replace Macbook Pro. It doesn’t need to be 4K (real 4k wide pixel), as long as the pixel grid is invisible that makes pleasant on eyes (I’ve compare non-HiDPI screen with HiDPI, it just… way different on eyes!).

Hope you hear me Purism :slight_smile:!

Anyone here whose have Librem, how do you describe the current screen?


#40

For what it’s worth, Purism tried to include 4k in previous revisions, but I think they were unsuccessful in meeting the minimum order quantity the supplier required. Or maybe they were able to do a limited batch, but it wasn’t worth the cost.

Either way, I think 4k is on Purism’s radar, and as they grow and get more customers, their ability to get the components they need increases. I think 4k on a future revision is very likely.


#41

Ryzen would allow for ECC memory (though unregistered I believe, though maybe Ryzen Pro is more compatible with reg ECC). And it would also help with Spectre/Meltdown.


#42

My 1st gen Librem 15 laptop already got this taken care of :+1: