First week in with my Librem 14 (Thoughts from a Casual Linux User)

Hey all,

I’ve gone a week and 3 days now with my Librem 14, and I thought it was worthy of sharing some perspectives. I hope all of you get your laptops sooner rather than later. This post will get lengthy, just a fair warning if you do read through I hope this does shed any light or info.

Just a little preface before I share anymore - I said thoughts from a casual Linux user, because I am certainly not on the level of aptitude as most of the audience here. I’ve used Elementary OS almost since it’s inception and Ubuntu before that. I choose this route, because I like the freedom over the commercial OSes and can do everything I need on Linux. I’m not a coder or engineer, and my Librem 14 will be used more for pleasure than work. Now that I got that ramble out the way back to what I wanted to say.

1. Unboxing Experience
The day arrived, I went to the Fedex office and picked up the most nondescript box I have ever seen for such expensive kit. The joy of knowing what was inside this box made me rush home, only to open it up and find another nondescript box inside. Honestly I thought the packaging was great, with everything else being so branded, it was quite refreshing to have such a minimal experience. Could purism use those air filled bubbles that look like tide pods over Styrofoam? It certainly would have made the experience cleaner, but not a major complaint here. My one gripe, albeit small - is within the box just 1 slip of paper that expresses your order. I purchased my Librem 14 with a warranty. I figured there would be a card for a contact email address, a telephone number to leave a voicemail, something validating that I had a way to communicate back if needed, but nothing. Furthermore after waiting so long for this product and now the hotfix issue (more on that later), you figured you’d see at least some index card thanking us for being part of the journey on making the dream laptop a reality. I can respect the high level of minimalism, but a little customer appreciation can go a long way! The laptop feels incredibly nice, solidly built, it is prone to fingerprints like the older model but I don’t mind.

2. Setting my Libem 14 up.
Once I turned my device on and set up my user name, your next go to is to download the updates right? Pure OS’s store would not let me! What a weird experience to have immediately use the terminal to download all the software updates from a laptop that came from the producer of the OS. I can’t say I experienced this ever on my thinkpad that I installed Elementary on from day 1 of purchase. I was forgiving, and still wanted to give PureOS a shot, before I caved to my beloved Elementary.

a. Upgrading my Librem 14 - I am a believer of maxing out your ram on day 1 so that its not something you worry about in the future. I also have read enough of how underpowered the Atheros wifi card is, and folks for the 2-3 hours I did use my 14 with it the connection dropped often. I can appreciate what Purism as an org is doing there, but I appreciate that I can upgrade even more! So I got my 14 some nice enhancements :slight_smile:

I purchased G-skill Rip Jaws DDR4 2666 64gb ram (2x32gb)<$299.99> memory, and a Intel AX200NGW M.2 card(WiFi 6, BT5.0)<$21.99>. I got both of these items through NewEgg. Another moment of excitement to see what this laptop is capable of. As I tried to unscrew the screws at the bottom, 2 of them would not budge. What agony having these upgrades and unable to unscrew. Here is a pro-tip people, Do not use the tiny screw drivers you twist between your fingers, you may end up balding a screw and crying about not being able to open your pricey laptop! This isn’t like your lenovos and apples that screw open fairly easily with the right screwdriver. Save yourself the headache I almost had and buy yourself a real laptop screwdriver on Amazon (less than $25) and btw if you need a replace screw you can get those on there too (M2.4 is the screw size).

Finally, Amazon delivered these items fairly quickly and 2 days later, I installed both the 64gb and my new Wifi Card. Pure OS had no problems reading the 64gb, and I knew there would be some issues with the Wifi card so I installed the intel wifi drivers from Debian Non-Free repository. For the life of me, even after following steps taken by others on the forum to get their Intel card working I could not suceed! The install of the ram was incredibly easy, the wifi card a little fussy but not too hard. Did I manage to install it wrong? Well if you’re still reading at this point, you can probably guess what I did next. I connected my Librem to my router through ethernet (and here I was thinking I was never going to use that port :smiley:) downloaded the latest Elementary iso to boot in and see if my wifi would work there.

b.My beloved Elementary: Surprise (kinda)! The Wifi card not only worked, but of course the Bluetooth also worked like a charm. This was a moment of truth and I realized I am kidding myself if I expect to use PureOS with the same ease of use that I experience with Elementary. So I wiped my drive of PureOS and installed Elementary OS.

Side Note: A couple of things before I talk about the Elementary experience on this laptop. When you screw back those godforsaken m2.4 screws back in your laptop, make sure you take your time and line up right, as easy as it was to remove (with the right screw driver) and install my upgrades, placing the screws was a bit difficult. I tried about 3 times and I got them in fairly well but not quite like day 1. I also added just a tiny bit of bluethreader on each screw as some have suggested to make sure they lock tight(no pun intened). I feel confident that they aren’t going anywhere even if they aren’t perfectly screwed. Purism, I do feel you can use better screw mechanism for your laptops IMO and hopefully your future models can address this one day. As far as the hotfix, I was just curious as everyone else! Yes, my laptop has the ugly hotfix on the board, but I do trust the team at Purism that this should not be an issue (Fingers Crossed). I did purchase the 3 year warranty, even before the hotfix was known to me, so I do have some peace of mind around it. It’s not on my mind at all really, and ultimately with a boutique vendor, we just have to accept things like this are possible.

3. Using Elementary OS with my Librem 14
Well, I can lead by first saying the experience has been nothing but GREAT. A Librem 14 with the right wifi card, running on 64 gb ram that has Elementary OS has been a dream laptop. Important things less technical people may wonder about: The Kill switches and keyboard lighting work flawlessly in Elementary. UI wise they dont have a 3 finger swipe for multitasking view (yet), but it is coming in their next major update (6.0)! Applications just scream fast on this device. Just to get a taste - I had Hulu running on Firefox on one workspace and recorded how quickly GIMP loads up and is ready to go on another - It really is absurdly fast! The one thing I have noticed, and this was true of PureOS too is that the usb PD port does not work for displaying straight to a monitor. I connected my 14 via usb-c directly to my monitor and it would not recognize it. Maybe it can’t? when I used my usb-c hub that has an HDMI port on it an connected via that route it did work.

Final Thoughts

I was almost a day 1 purchaser of the Librem 14. I purchased mine the day after it was announced. This is my first product I’ve purchased from them an I can assure you I am no Purism fanboy, before that I had Thinkpads (Ubuntu>Elementary) , and welp before that I was a Mac user. Like many of you, I totally feel the wait time was annoying and the pandemic certainly didn’t help. Now that I have my laptop, I do not regret my decision at all. Does the laptop feel like what it’s worth? IMO yes,it has a nice weight, solid build field and wonderful keyboard. Could it be a little better? Yes, and I believe as Purism continues on they will get better. If I had an improvement wishlist from what this laptop is now, it boils down to 2 things: 1 Better upgrading experience(m2.4 screw set up not so fun) and 2. At least a UHD screen (Don’t get me wrong the 1080p screen on 14 inches is just fine), I don’t think a full out 4k screen is necessary but a bump up would have been nice! Although PureOS is clearly not intended for users like me – it’s super easy to install the distro of your choice and keep it moving. I hope my Librem 14 has many good years ahead of it. If it does, without a doubt I will buy from Purism again when it’s time to upgrade. Of course I have other options (System76, Tuxedo,Starlab,etc) but I love the lack of branding, the kill switches, and that they choose to build their laptops from the ground up. Godspeed on the deliveries, and I hope you all will enjoy your laptop as much as I am once you get it and set it up to your liking.


i used an iFixit Pro tool-kit to ‘operate’ on my LMinis but i would definitely NOT mind if Purism decided to include in the L14 package a screw-driver with a pressure sensitive mechanism that would allow me to more easily ‘feel’ how MUCH i have to press/turn/twist the individual screws in order to screw/unscrew properly.

i would give as an example the TORX-key included with the high-end CPUs from AMD (the Threadripper’s have that included) but i know that is a SPECIAL tool that is more fringe but it WORKS by making a sound when you’ve twisted enough and the contact surface area of the ‘indent’ in the screw-head allows for greater ability to maintain a stable and firm twist (unlike the standard Philips screw)

what i’m saying is is that IF Purism ultimately decides to include a proper tool with the L14 it should also make sure that the screws are on par and not easily ‘BALD-able’ :wink:


Intel AX200 WiFi/Bluetooth requires kernel version equal or above to 5.1 and non-free drivers/firmware to work properly. There are backports for 4.19 etc. but those would have to be installed from backports repo (Debian 10, which PureOS is bases on).

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Thank you very much for sharing your experience! It sounds like a wonderful device. I got the same opinion as you regarding the customer experience. A thank you note may go a long way.

I have got a question regarding the wifi card.
Is there are a privacy related reason why purism uses these underpowered WIFI cards? Some closed/open-source fimware thing?

I need wifi a lot (I mean who doesn’t. You are purchasing a portable device) so if I’ll decide to upgrade. What would I need to be looking for regarding privacy/firmware related and technically related?
I would very much appreciate the help. I am no expert regarding hardware stuff. Maybe someone can recommend a good privacy friendly card :slight_smile:

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Yes, we are shipping - as far as I know - the most powerful WiFi card that exists that runs without having to load closed firmware onto it.

You could upgrade to a more powerful card that requires loading external firmware, but PureOS does not provide such firmware, so you’ll be on your own there.


Thank you very much for the explanation. I prefer the open one. It is the reason why I am supporting purism. Everything has its pros and cons :slight_smile:


the OP stated that he wanted to give PureOS a chance in the beginning to see if it would run WITH the black-box hardware but that would ENTAIL using an imPureOS as a first choice … NOT why i’m here …

Thanks for the write up. Can you comment on the touchpad, is it glass material and frictionless? Also is there any flex in keyboard mainly towards the middle?


Glass and frictionless like the ones you find on a MacBook? I don’t think the touchpad is glass, but as far as frictionless I’d say it’s close IMO. It’s smooth enough for my liking without roughing up your fingers and responsive, but if I needed serious precision work I’d still use a mouse.

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Thanks. How about flex in keyboard?

So the wifi card it ships with is bad and we should just plan now to swap it out?
Is that what you are saying?

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not at all. The WiFi card we ship with the L14 is the same used in the L13/L15 and Minis. It supports 802.11 ABGN, but not -AC, -AX or MIMO. We ship with the best module possible that doesn’t require closed source firmware blobs, which are not allowed in PureOS.


I haven’t found any flex in the keyboard and it sincerely feels pretty solid built. Is it a better typing experience than my old thinkpad? No, but it is by far better than my 2016 MacBook Keyboard I use at my job.

I agree with Mr. Chromebox the wifi card isn’t bad and probably for most people who aren’t far from their router, or will use with a hotspot it will be just fine. I did notice that it did drop often at a distance but for seconds at a time.

IMO and I’m saying this as a someone who is not a foss-purist here, The cards with the best signal and newest tech are going to have closed source firmware. You have to determine what’s best for you and what you’re willing to give up. I respect Purism’s mission but it’s nice you can buy the right card for your needs and install it fairly easily.


Thanks. Looking forward to more updates with your experiences. I am seriously considering this one. I have pure OS in a VM so far I can do most activates with the exception of some specialty software. If the build quality is on par with current models and decent battery life, I will pick it up.

Looking at the video and pictures, the bottom feet to the back seems excessively raised. Is that accurate or just the perception in photos?

In the video I have my 14 sitting on a moft carry case -, thats why it has an excessive tilt (which is my preference when using my laptop anyway).The hind legs do provide a tiny tilt, but not anything more than any other laptop out on the market.

Referring to this video. Looks like they would be susceptible to falling off given how high they are. The middle one looks solid

WTF, that was insanely fast – 2 seconds. GIMP takes almost 15 seconds on my idle 2020 Macbook, which cost about the same.

I think the 64gb of ram I have under the hood certainly makes a difference :smiley:. Most of the filters and image edits move instantly with no lag.