L14 after MacBook

After a day usage i want to post my first impressions about Librem14.
Previously, I used only a mac, so for me, a high-quality (glass would be the best) trackpad and a responsive keyboard were a valuable indicator, but the most important thing is full compatibility with Qubes. I wanted to buy this laptop and be able to use it at work, and probably set up something like Ubuntu as a daily driver.

  • I will install Qubes lately and it should just work, but when i plugged in qubes memory stick and changed boot priority, the installation interface was limited by 800 x 600 resolution.
  • Had the same with tails and debian: low-res picture in the top-left corner and the same after installation. In addition, the touchpad worked only with PureOS (the preinstalled one).
  • I tried Ubuntu and everything is fire, seems like because of non-free drivers preinstalled.

Can i find somewhere in purism docs how to beat the resolution and not working trackpad problem on Debian? If not, that would be cool if purism added faq for dummies with no Linux knowledge at all.

The thing i noticed immediately was Librem’s metal body. I thought i has many cheap plastic parts, but the body is really good.

On the other hand, the trackpad is lousy.
Unlike the trackpad in a macbook, here you do not initially slide your finger on the surface, but cling to it, which makes it impossible to use it for the first time. After a while, this effect almost disappears.
You can’t click on any point on the trackpad, it’s barely doable at the bottom only, as in old laptops from 2008, the surface itself looks solid, the buttons are under it and are not visible.
If you want to make a click, but your finger is on spacebar, either move it down and make a click (3-4 times stronger than in the mac), or make a tap. However, there are problems here too. Have you started a quick scroll and want to stop it at the right moment with the same tap? The system will detect this as a click, which is very annoying in the browser, when instead of stopping scrolling, we click on the link.
In order for the laptop to distinguish one action from another, you first need to raise your finger, then tap and raise it again, and hope for luck. And so every click. Once again: it is impossible to use the buttons, you need to point your finger at them and squeeze the trackpad hard, and the taps themselves are inconvenient. Also, left side of it is slightly higher than the right one. I understand that it is probably impossible to make such a trackpad as in the mac, but I do not urge the company to look for such options, here is something that can help a potential buyer understand what disadvantages are immediately evident.

The keyboard.
The keyboard seemed to be quite good both on renders and in reality. Unfortunately, this only applies to the appearance. The keys have different elasticity (for example, my L feels three times heavier than most other keys). The fact is that no matter what key you press, you need to get exactly into its center at a right angle for it to work, otherwise incorrectly entered passwords will become your endless companion.
Also, I did not immediately understand the problem of the reduced right shift button. The real consequences are that since the arrows and the shift are the same, it is extremely inconvenient to feel a dot or a slash tactilely, which is why you have to look at the keyboard.

Unlike the trackpad, it was possible to change the keyboard: design it differently (with small arrows), and order a better model as in general.

The display.
It’s not bad, i wouldn’t be surprised if it was a dell or asus laptop with this screen for 1.5k usd+. And, of course, 144 hz isn’t needed in LINUX LAPTOP.

I don’t know why, but they worked loudly around only a minute while using ubuntu today. I will update the post after testing qubes.

The hinge
It seems pretty solid now. I hope the situation will not change after years.

To sum up, big disadvantages after moving from mac are the bad keyboard and awful trackpad. Please, if you are not ready to use usb mouse with this laptop, think twice about changing your computer. Let’s see if i could adapt to Librem and linux in general.

I have a 2016 MacBook Pro, and an Librem 14, so am able to do the comparisons as well.

Honestly, I’ve never seen anyone do a trackpad better than Apple. It is big, responsive, and feels nice to use.

The small shift key on the right of the Librem 14 does take some getting used to. My fingers are trained now to make use of it. I don’t like Apple’s small up and down arrows… for me they are harder to hit.

I don’t know what version of the MacBook Pro you have, but the late-2016 MacBook Pro has the butterfly keyboard. Ugh! I won’t go into the drawbacks of that… they are well documented, and hated by many (including me). I actually much prefer the L-14’s keyboard :slight_smile:

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I have a 2012 MacBook Pro that I am moving away from as I settle in with the Librem 14, which overall I am quite happy with.

I just can’t seem to get used to the right shift key so far to the right and would swap it with the page up arrow key in a heartbeat if I could. I almost never need the arrow keys to begin with, so they wouldn’t be a loss. The only other key that doesn’t seem to function properly is the A key, it seems to possess the need to be pressed harder than any other key to function properly, so I constantly miss “a’s” when typing.

As for the track pad, no where near as good or consistent as apple’s, so I use a USB mouse so that’s a non issue and I’m ok with that.

Should be noted I’m a newbie to Linux so I may not have the same issues more experienced users have or would encounter but I can always see the software getting better over time and I have an OS that doesn’t spy on me so I’m happy!


I had a MB Pro 16’. Sold it to buy L14.
There is no comparation between keyboard and trackpad between them. MB it is years far away regarding keyboard and trackpad in my opinion

But still, L14 gives me a much better feeling (because of qubes, privacy, security …)

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