Librem 14- First Thoughts from a buyer

Hey guys,

So my Librem 14 just arrived and I figured it would be wise to throw in my opinions on the (finally) shipping Librem 14.

The Goods:

  • The device runs an Open Source Firmware as promised
  • Contrary to many critics the keyboard isn’t actually garbage, and trounces that of Apple products- though it’s still nothing compared the old school Thinkpad keyboards from the good old days.
  • The device is incredibly easy to open (just a phillips head screwdriver) and the RAM + SSD bays are user-servicable as promised.
  • Port selection is great, I seem to be able to charge via USB-C and don’t need to carry the stock charger around. Great since I pack 2 laptops for work.
  • Everything JUST WORKS in Linux and the killswitches are exactly what i need.

The Bads:

  • Shipping time is so bad that it actually violates FTC small business guidelines, whereby if the company is unable to ship the product within 30 days regardless of the Terms of Service they are compelled to refund the customer. I stuck with my order and got mine in a year. I understand the chip shortage and it being hard to manufacture these devices and all, but I can’t help but ask if Purism is operating on a hamstrung financial budget and thus struggles to refund it’s users.
  • Customer support is virtually nonexistent in the sense that all hired reps seem to actually be Engineers or technical staff and ill-prepared for the stresses of customer interaction, not faulting Purism here but it’s worth investigating.
  • The privacy screen I ordered was low enough quality that I wound up buying a second one for an entirely different device and cutting it to size.
  • Upgrading to a bigger SSD or more RAM is extremely overpriced, to the point where it makes more sense to buy a barebones unit and upgrade it yourself.

In all I recommend the Librem 14, with the caveats that you don’t mind waiting for your device to arrive and that you buy RAM sticks and an SSD of your own if you intend for it to have higher specs because the higher-tier options are simply too expensive.

To Purism Staffers:
Good job on creating this device, the massive undertaking of the design of this laptop cannot be understated. Here’s a couple suggestions as a small business owner that might help streamline this process.

  • If you intend to sustain production of the Librem 14 and wish to avoid lawsuits it may be wise to prep extra stock of the device or to outsource manufacture to a trusted entity.
  • Consider lowering the price to spec out the units a smidge, because people will (like me) just buy barebones units and upgrade the Librem 14’s themselves for much less of a price tag. This could be a way to maximize earnings on the Librem 14.
  • If I was correct about Customer Support, do seriously consider either contacting an agency to train your staff or contract out this expense somewhere else so you can focus on product development (what you do best).

For all potential customers, I hope I helped sway your decision.
For Purism employees, I love your products and only want to see you guys thrive and become a massive success, for which there’s a long road ahead. Good luck!



Not to start a huge legal argument here but that might not apply to a product that is being developed. Sure, if unable to supply a stocked item in a reasonable timeframe, the customer should have the option of a refund. But if you are paying for an as yet non-existent product and paying for the development of said product from scratch, it is difficult to see how a hard 30 day deadline makes any sense.

As a digressive example, if you buy a house or apartment “off the plan”, you should be very very worried if the developer is able to put it up in 30 days.

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I certainly appreciate your feedback on a product I was considering buying. I am reluctantly leaving Purism for a number of reasons:

  1. my experience of the hinge issue is at variance with Purism’s statements on the problem. I don’t want to deal with broken hinges on the Librem 14.
  2. still no Bluetooth driver
  3. calls for investment from current owners shows that Purism’s funding problems are chronic
  4. the phone needs service, which costs $99 per month
    I hope Purism can power through their difficulties. We certainly need them. Open source laptops and non-GoogApple phones are vital to fending off hostile technology.

Not a fault of Purism, you can blame the closed specs of the hardware.

This is not necessary for the phone to work.

A few people here were saying the the hinge design is improved in Librem 14. It would be strange if Purism did not take that into account while designing the new model from scratch.

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One of the big things I wanted to stress is that since Purism’s such a small company, I’m amazed they got this far- PCB manufacture at scale is a massive undertaking.

I’m just trying to improve my own experience (and others) by suggesting ways that Purism can improve their brand and product line, such as using better privacy filters for screens or contracting out a company who can handle customer support on their behalf much better and more reliably.

And just to add to what @fsflover said, sure a lot of these things may not put Purism at fault or have already been addressed. For example the lack of a bluetooth driver isn’t Purism’s fault since they’re aiming for FSF certification and the drivers are closed source. On one hand it’s self-imposed; on the other it’s great for open source hardware. But either way (obviously) more work needs to be done to crack this nut and make it useful for customers- and that’s what I’ve been trying to get at.

What I find strange is their inability to address these issues publicly.

Another way of looking at that is that if Purism (or any other company) were to reverse engineer open source drivers then that potentially takes a lot of time and hence money … so by financially supporting companies working in the open source arena things can get better.

Alternatively, just occasionally a company will open source a previously black box software product. So that is another way that things can get better.

(There is also Bluetooth available out-of-the-box on the Librem 5. I assume that meets the standards that Purism has set for itself. So that is a third way in which things might get better.)

The Bluetooth on Librem 5 still contains proprietary firmware, just not in the Linux kernel but on the M2 card. It meets the FSF standards for Respects Your Freedom certification, but it’s not the best openness.


Yes, I know - but the bottom line is that it works out-of-the-box, while still meeting Purism’s self-imposed standards. Working out-of-the-box will be a good thing for customers who don’t want to stuff around with third party repos and installing the firmware manually.

True but that does not really depart from just about every peripheral in a modern computer e.g. disk, WiFi, … They all need firmware to run and that firmware has to come from somewhere.

One of the fastest and most alarmingly growing packages is linux-firmware. (Admittedly that growth could reflect an ever increasing number of different supported devices, which for any individual user may not be directly helpful. That is, there is more choice of supported e.g. WiFi dongles but any given user probably doesn’t own one of each of ‘25’ models of WiFi dongle.)

By the way, Bluetooth and WiFi are special in this regard, because they are responsible for external wireless connections. This is a big source of attacks. Not so much for a hard drive.

Nah, that is the reality of pretending simply because you want something (all software open source and FOSS) that is extreme, it should be. There are places where FOSS makes sense, but to pretend it can be applied to everything is ignoring the realities of life and every other industry out there.

If you want to use Bluetooth on the Librem 14 (or 13 and 15), then you need to use proprietary drivers. That simple. Because despite what FOSS thinks, there just aren’t qualified experts just lining up to do hard work for free.

There is nothing extreme in wanting freedom for everyone. The fact that it’s not achievable now changes nothing. Purism and FSF choose not to use any proprietary software and I fully agree. If you want to use it, nobody stops you.

The “realities” of our surveillance capitalism and disrespect of human rights to privacy and ownership do not make it normal in general.

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Don’t conflate the issue. Surveillance capitalism has nothing to do with whether or not closed source is bad. All through out the 80s and early 90s, when you bought software, it was yours. It didn’t report back to anyone. When talking about trust between open and closed software we are talking about an analogous thing for MOST people who use software. That is to say, they cannot authenticate or confirm the source. They will trust someone else. This is the same for open or closed source.

So then the issue is with the people and ethics behind the software. That is a realistic goal.

One that Apple tries to exploit for their own gain. It is doing them wonders financially.

My point is, customers should demand companies support their freedoms, by not locking into rental paradigms for software, and supporting them. Companies like Framework, for example, are doing that very thing. Linux is especially poised to do similar things, but it wont get there, EVER, under the FOSS banner. Purism’s struggles are evidence of that.


You should trust as few people as possible. Instead you should verify. The more people you trust, the higher probability that you will be deceived. It’s a fact of life. Apple is doing it all the time, which makes them huge profits. For this reason this is not realistic:

This is why FLOSS is essential: you don’t need to trust anyone. You can verify, pay someone to verify, or rely on community of independent actors.

I strongly disagree. The difference in the trust is huge. See also: See also:

I don’t see how “open-source” banner is much different from “FOSS” banner here. If we are talking about trust. And it works flawlessly for Linux.

There are examples of FOSS projects, that are developed by paid experts, the biggest one of those is Linux kernel. Therefore your argument about lack of qualified experts does not stand.

What really is in the way of FOSS bluetooth drivers then? My answer to that is patents and trade secrets.

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All that FOSS Linux does NOT have is my answer back. I can make up whatever ridiculous requirements i want for my software, and that doesn’t mean anyone is going to honor them. FOSS has always been about throwing the bath water out with the baby. Take a good idea and go to the extremes with it.

We don’t need to argue about this though, and I really should know better to poke the topic like that around these parts.

For the record I think what Valve is doing with the Steam Deck, Steam OS, and Proton will do more for Linux than anything FOSS will.

My first takes as I am still evaluating the product:

  • I first bought into Purism w/ the Librem 15 several years ago and overall very pleased to move to a Linux environment. However because of various bugs w/ the Purism OS, I ended up wipping the Librem 15 and installing Debian Buster. That worked. After 3-4 years the hinges broke so I ordered a Librem 14 4Q/2020 with the initial ship date of March/2021. Since my Librem 15 hinges went south faster than the Librem 14 ship date, I needed to find a Linux laptop and ordered a Linux System 76, ( AND I LOVE IT. I tried to cancel my Librem 14 because I really don’t need 2 laptops, I was told since I bought w/ crypto, there was no capability to cancel the order, so I just accepted the delivery whenever.
    Now when the Librem 14 showed up in July 2021, 4 months late, my initial take, is it’s about a pound heavier than the System 76, Lemur 14" laptop. When I went to setup the initial passwords, I missed typed the passwords only to find out the right SHIFT key is NON STANDARD. So, for 30 years I’ve been typing proficiently and now I have to relearn the RIGHT SHIFT KEY. Ahhhhh. Well the good is that Purism listened to the Librem 15 users and added a light for the Caps Lock key but they buggered up the Right Shift key. Aweful. So it’s HEAVIER and has a NON STANDARD KEYBOARD and is 4 months late.
    I think I’ll dedicate it to watching remote movies via HDMI. Sorry, I’m moving away from Purism. I love the concept of open source/ privacy however the customer service and product is not what its advertised.

I also bought into the Librem 5 phone, waited 3 years and it’s essentially an anchor for me. I don’t use it primarily because the CAMERA doesn’t work. Sorry a great try but no way will I pay 99$/m for a product that doesn’t even have a camera.
That’s my rant.

That information is somewhat out of date. The camera hardware probably always worked. The camera software is coming along. It is actually possible to take photos but there is a fair bit of work to do in the software before it is reliable and easy to use.

That (99$/m) is a separate and independent product. The phone service (only in the US anyway, 99$/m) can presumably be used with any phone and conversely you can use the Librem 5 but with your existing SIM or a new SIM from a source completely unrelated to Purism. (In my case I just moved my existing SIM from an iPhone to the Librem 5, no drama.)

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