Librem 14: how to replace a defective keyboard

Hi all,

I recently happened to accidentally pouring tea over the keyboard of my Librem 14, resulting in some keys not being functional anymore. After disassembling the notebook (instruction: pls. see further below) and sponging off the liquid, the keys had still not become functional again.

In case anyone of you would find himself in a similar situation I’d like to share the required repair steps hereafter:

  1. disassemble the notebook (follow the steps of video 1 and 2 until and including the removal of the motherboard -->the last step, i.e. the removal of the screen does not need to be performed at this stage): Disassembly - Purism - Librem products documentation -->IMPORTANT: once the motherboard removed don’t turn the (empty) case upside down, else the 2 hardware switches (to on/off camera, microphone as well as WiFi, Bluetooth) may fall off their fittings and would need to be reinserted/refitted carefully to fit into the respective gaps when reassembling the motherboard (due to the small size of the switches, this can be a painstaking exercise)

  2. you have now gained access to the backside of the keyboard case and can sponge off any potential residues of liquid. Please note however that the keyboard itself is solidly fixed to the notebook case and cannot be disassembled/removed

  3. once everything dry, reassemble everything (instructions: pls. see above under 1) ) and check whether all keys are functioning normally

  4. in my case they did not work properly and I had been advised by Mladen / Support Manager to try and carefully take the faulty keys off their fittings with a plastic spatula (or similar tool) to check any residues (liquid, dirt etc…) underneath. Although I am a Swiss, I am not a Swiss watchmaker, hence it proved very difficult for me to take the keys off without breaking the underlying structure (part of it eventually got damaged): I was not able to correctly fix the keys back onto their fittings, was however able to see that no dirt/liquid remained thereunder and that when pressing on the ‘naked’ sensors beneath the keys, they would still not function / type the requested letter. Even if the sensors had ended up working again: with a damaged fitting structure and the incapability to reconnect/place the keys onto their fittings, the whole approach would have been pointless -->so, in my experience, this is not a step I can recommend (except for people with watchmaker skills :wink: )

  5. I then had no choice than to order for a replacement case (the keyboard itself being solidly fixed onto the case, it cannot be ordered/reassembled as a standalone part) via Support Manager Mladen: (at the time of writing the price was USD 200 + shipping cost)

  6. now disassemble the notebook again (follow the steps of video 1 and 2, this time including the last step, i.e. the removal of the screen) and be particularly cautious about the fitting of the 2 hardware switches (to on/off camera, microphone as well as WiFi, Bluetooth) when placing the motherboard onto the new replacement case

  7. once the notebook fully reassembled and the boot process initiated (for those of you using PureBoot: with the Librem PureBoot-key inserted), I had noticed that part of the keyboard (arrow keys) would still not work. I therefore switched off the Librem 14, opened the notebook case again, removed the notebook battery and readjusted/reconnected the keyboard cable/plug properly (do not insert the cable into the plug too tightly)

  8. when booting your Librem 14 (for PureBoot users: with your Librem PureBoot-key inserted) you will receive an error message (i.e. “key not valid”, “key compromised” or something similar): you will thus need to use the OEM Factory reset option to reset your key: PureBoot Getting Started Guide - Purism - Librem products documentation

  9. following the previous step you should now be able to successfully boot your Librem 14. You might however notice that your system date and time is something like “1 Jan 2070” or similar: in order to fix it: go to “settings” (right upper corner of the screen), select “date and time” and set the correct date and time, then: open a shell/terminal and run this command: sudo hwclock -w in order to set the hardware clock

  10. DONE: enjoy your Librem 14 with a renewed case / keyboard !!!

I trust this helps, wishing you good success and - please do keep cool when opening that notebook case the very first time and seeing all these tiny elements, plugs and cables: with a bit of focus and by sticking exactly to the disassembly/reassembly instructions (pls. see above step 1) it will work out well.

A big thank you to Mladen / Support Manager, who helped me navigating through the above process and was always there with a useful advice and information when needed: thank you for your patience, Mladen!!!

Kind regards


Welcome to Purism.