I won’t go this far myself – I probably fall somewhere in between amosbatto and @francois-techene on this. I appreciate the aesthetics of Apple, but understand that their aesthetic is sometimes counter to the concept of “form is function” and rather often a vehicle for their planned obsolescence. I would say in addition to the 9:16 screens, I am a fan of the oft imitated, rarely matched use of milled aluminum to make their laptop exteriors. EXCEPT, that they put this very durable and energy-intensive shell around a computer that they will try to make useless to you in 3-5 years! I want to get a new laptop and keep the same shell, not throw away something that could physically last for a century or more.
As I have done TONS of unasked for rooting around inside my Librem 13 v4 recently (on which more later), I also have some choice comments about Purisms design aesthetic, which I don’t think is in line with their FLOSS hardware/software philosophy, or possibly even in line with their social purpose.
However, this is not an unqualified rant. Purism has had to make choices to exist and create products in a very hostile marketplace. Having chosen to focus on hardware/software instead of design was the right choice. Period. Many of their design problems are due to the fact that they have to “play ball” in an industry that only does things at scale. That being said, here are the three main problems, as I see them.
- No spare parts. It’s great to say that you have built a computer that will last 10 years, because you’ve designed something that allows hardware upgrades and runs Linux. I applaud Pursim for this, it’s great. However, without spare parts, no one’s computer will last 10 years. At the very least, provide screens, keyboards and enclosures. I’m guessing that the lack of parts is due to Purism’s scale issues, but cynically, it could also be seen as a way to drive planned obsolescence. Purism, if you need help, look at Pine64’s store. They have everything you need to replace anything on your laptop or phone. If the processor wasn’t so marginal on the PineBook Pro, I’d get one, because at least I could replace anything that broke.
- Proprietary enclosure. I don’t know who designed the enclosure for the Librem 13, but Purism will not share the design, because it’s proprietary. What? Why put a FLOSS computer inside a proprietary enclosure? Well, because of Apple aesthetic and scale issues, I suppose. BUT STILL, WHAT? Purism, please, PLEASE just hold a design contest for your next enclosure. I will design you one and make the CAD files public domain. Sleek may be beautiful, but I’d rather have a chunky laptop where the hinge doesn’t break! If the enclosure wasn’t proprietary and it was possible to order a replacement keyboard (because the keyboard is glued into the enclosure), People could fix their broken hinges with a combination of printed parts and spare parts, instead of tossing their computers.
- Disposable design. The Librem 13 does not have an aluminum-enclosure – it is a plastic enclosure wrapped in aluminum, at least in the main part of the enclosure that contains all the boards, storage and interface. The plastic is all molded as one piece. This means that when part of that plastic enclosure breaks (which is exactly what happens when the hinge breaks), you have to replace the whole thing (but you can’t because of 1). Because the keyboard and aluminum cover are glued into the plastic, those have to be replaced too.
These are the reasons I (probably) won’t buy a Librem 14. I say probably because if they fixed #1, they at least wouldn’t be doing worse than other computer manufacturers. I would also need to see an improved hinge design.
Whew! Anyway, no one’s going to listen to me by myself. Others make noise, please.