Let me start by saying I’m a customer of both Purism and Private Internet Access. I support both companies and I want both to do well! But there are aspects of the recent PIA-Purism announcement that could be really concerning. I hope this post can promote discussion, give feedback to Purism, and get answers to some specific questions.
How will PIA be involved with Librem hardware? Will they be involved in design or manufacture of the phone or laptop hardware? Will these products be including PIA hardware components?
I think this question is extremely important to all Purism customers. The announcement makes it sound like the answer is yes.
What is the thought process for PureOS involving pre-bundling software from for-profit companies? At what point between PIA and Candy Crush do we draw the line? Can we expect more bundling?
To me, it would be much better if the software was not bundled. I’d be fine if the first-time user is presented with a prompt or suggestion to install the software. I am curious to hear the rest of the community’s reactions.
Will all PIA software bundled with PureOS be 100% libre?
How do we ensure that these kinds of partnerships don’t become anti-competitive, for example, putting pressure on PureOS not to develop OpenVPN apps?
Thanks very much for any consideration of these questions. Like I said, I really want the best for Purism here and I really appreciate the goals it is working toward.
Unreasonable fear, IMHO. If you buy a Windows laptop with bundled anti-virus, did you ever ask if Norton is involved in the hardware development?
2: What is the reason for such a deal? Answer: Cross-Promotion!
PIA can tell their customers: Look, buy from Purism, it makes using PIA even simpler, and adds a lot of extra privacy on top.
Purism gets some money for pre-configuring PIA on their devices. Most likely, every customers will be offered a few free months of usage. In an ideal world, this is a win-win-win. PIA gets customers, Purism some money, and the customer a free trial.
Additionally, Purism add another piece to their portfolio of making privacy and security easy to use.
It’s not even clear how it will actually work. Could be nothing is preinstalled, but rather you get a welcome screen saying “Would you like to install PIA and get 3 months free?”, or the same thing as a paper coupon. The latter would be the most freedom respecting and the simplest to implement. But I think until we see how they’ll do it, it does not make too much sense to speculate about future partnerships.
I’m rather confident that they, being a social purpose company, will not sacrifice their principles for a few extra bucks.
a) As you said, all this is speculation and I am asking whether there are concrete answers yet, so I won’t get into speculation, just clarify my questions. I love Purism and give them all the benefit of the doubt, but things can still go wrong. At least I hope these questions will help them do good public relations around this.
b) Might not be a good idea to agree to any sort of bundling deal as long as it’s libre software. For example I mentioned anti-competitiveness. So it would be nice to know more about that thought process.
The term “FLOSS,” meaning “Free/Libre and Open Source Software,” was coined as a way to be neutral between free software and open source. If neutrality is your goal, “FLOSS” is the best way to be neutral. But if you want to show you stand for freedom, don’t use a neutral term.
I think that’s just a marketing headline, trying to convey, that if you buy a device, it will be ready for PIA. Not because some chip does something weird, but because that hardware comes with the necessary software (or just settings, or links) preinstalled.
I could not even think of a piece of hardware that, at the same time, would be somehow beneficial for VPN, and would not be way to complicated/expensive to develop that the investment would be worthwile.
One thing could be something like “if you insert the Librem key, it will unlock/authenticate your PIA, so you don’t have to store a password on the laptop”. From a customer perspective, this is hardware (=device) integration, just like all iThings play well together. But actually, it’s just software that makes it happen.