Laptop died, goodbye Purism (Recomended to read if you are considering your first purism laptop)


#1

Well, where shall I start? I have bought Purism Librem v2 less than 2 years ago and a couple of weeks ago the screen started flickering and the laptop was freezing. This made me suspicious that it may be hardware problem (video card). However, I thought to give it a chance and contacted the support (after searching for a solution on this forum).

I must admit that I got a reply from the support fairly quickly. However, they also confirmed after seeing the video that it is most likely the hardware issue. Unfortunately, this is the end of good news. I have seen that some people were offered to buy new version of librem without RAM and HDD, I was offered nothing except something like ‘we are sorry’. Oh sorry, I was offered to ship it back to US for a diagnostics and pay for repairs, which was refused - I see no reason to invest into this brand any more.

I must admit I am very disappointed. I paid a bit more than $1300 for the laptop (including tax) and here is what I have got:

  1. Low quality components. Strange hard drive Biwin (Chinese brand I suspect), never heard of it. Microphone stopped working after around 6 months (very typical problem, read the forum). BT stopped working around the same time. I cannot remember what RAM’s brand was (binned it after I received the laptop) but it was not a popular one. I can only infer this is done to save costs and maximise profits.

  2. If you install second M2 hard drive, the system is trying to boot from it. Guess what? You cannot change it. There is a script on this forum, which never worked for me and nobody explained what to do. So, every time I switch laptop on I have to press ESC and then 2…Great way to exercise fingers for $1300.

Now the laptop is dead. I am now writing it from a new laptop (non Purism of course) and hope my humble donation of $1300 to Purism will help them to develop a better quality laptop. Maybe the current v4 is much better, I do not know and do not want to know it.

Very disappointing because it took me a while to save money to buy it and I was telling everyone about the brand. Anyway, lesson learned.

For the same reason, I am not going to buy the phone from Purism because I do not want to become an alpha tester for $700-$800. In my opinion, all these products should cost at least 30-40% cheaper since they are simply not good enough.

Not sure what to do with the laptop, probably bin it or try to sell for parts.

Good luck everyone and stay safe.


#2

from v2 to v5 there is a significant room for improvement. i will give the v5 a chance when/if it gets released and by then hopefully this lockdown would have subsided enough for me to have a reason to invest in it …


#3

A version 5 laptop? Any info reC?

Thanks in advance

LinuxNew


#4

i can’t speak for Purism if that’s what you were expecting … what is to come and when - that can be answered only by official staff members and so far they haven’t indicated WHEN it will come, only that’s in the works.

if you need a Purism laptop NOW then get the v4 and you’ll trade yours when the v5 is ready and maybe put a little extra down to make up for the difference … others have done it … why don’t you ?


#5

If your GPU is what died on your v2, then it was most likely a heat related death. Heat will eventually kill any electronic device.

The v4 will have a different GPU by virtue of the fact it has a newer generation i7 in it.

However whether the thermal functionality has changed I cannot say. From pictures on the internet, I’d say it hasn’t.

I think the thing that bothers me about your story, is not that your laptop died. I mean it happens and is inevitable. eventually.

What bothers me, is that the repairable nature of the device seems to have helped you zilch. Turns out being able to take the bottom plate off, and replace, the battery, ram, and storage options are all well and good. But not being able to get a replacement board on a 2 year product… well that is disappointing. Especially since my almost 2 year old Librem v2 would be in a similar boat.

Now I get the obstacles that Purism is up against. So we all have to wager for ourselves what we are willing to put on the line for Purism’s vision.

Me, I’ve done it. Bought a L13 and a L5. But honestly while I still support the company, I think my financial input will be stopping until I see some positive developments on the fronts I care about. (Hint: It ain’t FOSS)


#6

This is the real bad news to me. If the only problem is your laptop dead, it’s not a big warning, because no brand can guarantee each and every of their product can work after 2 years, even big brands have DOA and it’s not rare. But… use of Chinese low quality hardware, unacceptable.
Could anyone else having Librem laptop share your components brands?


#7

Mine came with a Biwin as well, but also had a Samsung Evo 860 m.2 drive in it, but currently has the Samsung Evo NVME 500gb and the Biwin in it.

The RAM it came with was Kingston, I believe. So only the Biwin is the issue here.


#8

So what are they, the fronts you care about?


#9

Products I own, dependable, built to last, and repairable.


#10

You could even go a step further, but it’s always good to state on the safe side :slight_smile:


#11

Fit for use often comes before fit for purpose. It matters not what features a product has when those features cannot be used because it’s dead.


#12

Biwin, from my cursory internet search, seems to be mid-range at worst, though it is indeed Chinese.

Just to ease some troubled minds.


#13

Honestly, if the issue was JUST the SSD here I wouldn’t even care. I mean it is a user replaceable part. Chances are this SSD will last just as long as a more recognized brand. If it being made in China is an issue, I don’t see how the WHOLE laptop and any laptop you own isn’t an issue for you.


#14

Made in China is totally different from Chinese brand.
Just wait for the USA version…


#15

I understand the frustration with the laptop failure. I do because mine failed too; however, I want to say a few things that may be unpopular.

  1. I don’t think it’s right to disparage components because where in the world they are made. I have seen good and bad quality items made in both countries. Let us please leave the geopolitics out of the conversation.
  2. I would exercise caution when motivating Purism for their choices in hardware. Every business does need to make margin and we don’t know the kind of supplier/buyer relationships Purism has upstream. I believe this cuts both ways - anthropomorphizing the firm either way is mere rhetoric. It does not help passersby make informed decisions. I also believe it undercuts customer advocacy with Purism as well.

I understand the frustration. I really, really do. I, too, have an underpowered desktop due to a premature failure of a component. In my view, Purism is at a crossroads. The marketplace for FOSS is small enough that reputation really impacts business. And the aggregate of customer experience is what yields reputation. How many Purism customers will strongly advocate for buying Purism laptops now as opposed to saying something less convincing like, “I would wait and see”. There has been zero communication on the issues customers have had outside of “contact support”.

It’s my hope that they meet these challenges head on and overcome them. We shall see though, right?


#16

Totally agree @Corbeau!

While a laptop dying is unfortunate, cases reported here don’t mention how it was used. I mean maybe they sat on the couch with it and a blanket for hours on end, with the vents partially blocked and the blanket resonating heat. We just don’t know.

I’m someone who pays attention to the thermals and does my best to encourage ventilation. It could be that my L13v2 lasts for 10 years or more as a result.

I do wish Purism had the capital to procure more replacement parts for their products, but I also understand that it isn’t an easy thing to do.

I would also comment, that their mainboard while possessing a few differences is very similar to other 13" ultrabook like laptops. There is no higher liklihood that the GPU will fail on a Librem then on an XPS, for example.


#17

Pretty much all NAND Flash memory in the world is made by 5 manufacturers, which are Samsung, Toshiba (now split into Kioxia and WDC), Micron, Intel and SK Hynix. There are some differences in the SSD controller chips, since some do better wear leveling, have faster access times and more temporary memory than others. Just because you haven’t heard of Biwin and it is a Chinese company doesn’t mean it isn’t good quality. It is better to look at the type of NAND Flash and the manufacturer of the controller chip, than the brand name of the SSD in my opinion. I usually buy Samsung, Intel or Crucial (Micron) when I build PCs, because I don’t have time to investigate the quality of the underlying components, but Purism has the time to investigate and not waste extra money on a brand name.

For DRAM, the situation is similar with only 5 major manufacturers, although there are some minor manufacturers that you probably want to avoid, and again, the brand name is less important if you have the time to investigate who made the memory chips, which I assume that Purism does.

Crowdfunding the creation of new tech is expensive and takes patience. I believe in free software, I hate the loss of my privacy to surveillance Capitalism, and I worry about environmental cost of planned obsolescence, so I’m willing to preorder the Librem 5 as an investment in the future, but it certainly isn’t for everyone.

It took 5 years (Oct 2003 - Sep 2008) of development to get Android to its first commercial phone, the HTC Dream. iOS (formerly called iPhone OS) took over 2 years (2005 - Jun 2007) of development before the release of the first iPhone. Canonical developed Ubuntu Touch for 3+ years from 2011 to 2015-02-09 before the release of the BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition. All of those companies had a lot more resources to throw at the problem than Purism

Purism’s laptops will always be a generation or two behind the latest tech curve, because it has to wait until there are FOSS drivers/firmware in mainline Linux for the hardware and it has to port Coreboot to that hardware, which takes time.

Doing small-scale custom manufacturing is expensive and it is hard to get replacement parts, which is why only Purism, Star Labs and PINE64 do it among all the Linux laptop sellers. Everyone else uses Clevo base models.

In order to get replacement parts, Purism has to either order extra parts when it does the initial manufacturing, or wait until it has a large enough quantity to order another manufacturing batch be made. Having extra replacement parts on hand, means that Purism has to order extra of all the custom parts during the initial manufacturing, which raises the price of the product, because Purism can’t guarantee that it will ever use those extra parts.

Another problem with being a smaller seller is that Purism has to sell one product to everyone. I personally think that paying the premium for a Core i7 CPU is not worth it, when it only gives you 10%-15% better performance, but some people only want the best, so Purism has to price its laptops for the people who want the best, because it only has the volume to make one model and Intel no longer makes mobile socketed CPUs, so Purism can’t customize the CPU without doing a separate manufacturing run.

The final thing to keep in mind is that Purism has the highest costs of any Linux laptop seller:

  1. Only Purism, Star Labs and PINE64 have to pay for small-scale custom manufacturing,
  2. Only Purism and System76 maintain their own Linux distro,
  3. Purism operates in San Francisco which has a very high cost of living and has 47 employees (although many work remotely).

According to Purism’s Team page, Purism has 3 developers working on PureOS, 1 Coreboot developer, 4 people providing tech support to customers, 3 hardware engineers, plus a security specialist. Purism has to charge a very high markup per unit to pay for their salaries, because it only sells a couple thousand laptops per year.

The question for the consumer is whether these extra costs are worth paying for, and that depends on what you value in a laptop.

Please do sell it for parts, since it is hard for people to get replacement parts.


#18

@jukebox: Actually I have been waiting for a new sound card for almost 4 months now but still haven`t received any news from Purism if they will ever get them again for a Librem 15 v3.

I am not sure if one from a v2 would work but it may be worth the try.

Otherwise, sooner or later I will be looking for a new laptop and I am unsure if it will be a Librem one again…


#19

Even with my hp pavilion, I’ve had to pull it apart from time to time and fix a few things. Have had to replace dvd drive and keyboard. One usb port is flakey now unless I push plug all the way in. And I’ve also had to spend lots of time learning things in Linux to keep it working properly. Previous hp laptop my girlfriend wacked and broke one side of hinge, and I had to take that apart and repair it as best as I could. Things break. My advise to you, is to try and fix it or have it fixed. At least on my box, the video is hooked up with a cable and a connector. If that connector were to get loose or corrode I can imagine that would be the first place I would look. But if you do take it apart, go slow, very slow if you don’t know what you’re doing at first. Make a list of the screws you take out and where they go back to. In my hp there are literally 100+ screws to get it apart and back together. I was amazed at how many tiny screws. Also get yourself a good magnifying glass and light. Most problems can be found with your eyes. Chances are that a connector is loose or something obvious like that, both with the screen and microphone. what have you got to loose. take it apart and learn. and chances are you might fix it. Good luck. (My dad said, the harder you work, the luckier you get.)


#20

Mine came with a Biwin SSD as well even though they advertised using Samsung SSDs for their laptops on the forum at the time. I emailed them and told them to ship me a descent SSD, which they did. It’s a good example of how trying to save a few bucks can come back to hit you back in the ass and hurt your reputation in the process. Very sneaky of them. I wonder if they cut corners with other parts?