Librem 15 Durability


#1

Thoughts on Librem 15’s durability? Thinkpads probably have had the best reputation for durability… And as something we carry, it is a #1 consideration for me. Hopefully some people can reply who have had hands on with the Librem 15. Macbooks used to be pretty durable, but all of the new ones have such quality control issues that that can’t be considered. Thinkpads also aren’t what they used to be.
Thanks!


#2

durable as in military grade ? that’s not the case here. if it’s durability/portability we’re after then a tablet would be the superior choice as it hasn’t a hinge and only has a software keyboard. i think dell had a military grade laptop or was it a tablet ? can’t remember …

or down the line we could have a dockable portable screen for the librem 5. a bigger battery built in (reloadable?anyone?). i believe ASUS had such a gimmick at some point. not sure if it’s still in manufacturing …


#3

Durable as in durable. Not looking for military grade :roll_eyes:

I’m not interested in using my phone as a desktop computer via docks.


#4

It’s Panasonic. And it can survive being ran over by a Hummer H1 :slight_smile:


#5

There are also rugged laptops from Dell, e.g.
https://www.dell.com/en-us/work/shop/dell-laptops-and-notebooks/latitude-5414/spd/latitude-14-5414-laptop/xctol541414us They come even preinstalled with GNU/Linux. I myself own a Panasonic Toughbook CF-C2, which unfortunately has screen issues with Debian GNU/Linux stable running on it (internal screen usually cannot be re-enabled after having been disabled using xrandr, which is unfortunate if you want to move from your desktop to another room without carrying your external screen with you). That might work better with a more recent Xorg version, but buying a laptop with official GNU/Linux support has some advantages.


#6

Anyone with Librem 15 experience?


Schematics for Librem devices
#7

The Librem 15 v3 is a modified Clevo/Topstar U953. Modifications that I can see are an unpopulated dedicated GPU and supporting components, unpopulated USB-C DP MUX chip (could also be USB PD chip, not sure) and custom kill switches in the display bezel.
It’s a pretty solid machine, it feels sturdy (sturdier than low end consumer laptops) due to its aluminum skin (it’s just the outer skin on top of an internal plastic frame) and the keyboard feels and works fine. It’s not on the same high end level as Macbooks though, it’s not what it advertises itself to be.


Feature | Socketed CPU
#8

The pamphlet that ships with the 15 says something like “don’t use it as a riot shield and don’t drop it and you should be good”.

I had been worried about scratches, but it seems resistant to that; however, wear I am noticing is curvature of the thin parts near the ports. I suspect this is from resting it on an uneven surface, so a laptop tray (you can get ones with gel or cloth wrist rests built in) may be recommended.


#9

For their next iteration, they should send the prototype to Louis to get some feedback… He’s taken apart so many laptops and seems expert at critiquing designs:


#10

Louis will always find something to mock them for :slight_smile: Love this guys attitude.
For now it would be great if they could submit their own teardown to a place like iFixit:
https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/new

So that anyone can review the hardware before order / when you need a reference to repair something.
For now it’s a blackbox unless you are a hardware expert, and anything beyond swapping the hard drives
remain undocumented.


#11

Yep the sooner they get some free laptops to various qualified examiners, potentially the more money they could save down the road. It isn’t exactly clear who is a Purism staff on these forums.


#12

I have the 15v3. When it arrived I had to open it up to install a hard drive, and then again later on to replace the battery. The thing that struck me about it opening it was that while it feels pretty solid when it’s all buttoned up, the aluminum panels are actually extremely thin. When the bottom panel is not screwed down and stressed, it’s actually quite flimsy and flexible.

Clearly some clever engineering went into this to make it so thin and to get it to fit like that, such that it feels pretty decent when it’s all screwed together. Given what I know about the construction, I try to be quiet a bit gentler with it than I am with other laptops. In my late teens/early twenties I amassed a collection of old ThinkPads by buying broken ones for cheap and them repairing them. The old ThinkPads were extremely tough and durable machines, maybe the toughest non-mil-spec laptops I’ve ever seen. The T4x line in particular was a work of art.

The 15v3 is not a ThinkPad T4x or even an X300. It’s even less durable than a Dell XPS15. But I’d gladly take it over any of the cheap plastic-bodied laptops from Acer or any of the brands they own.

And of course, durability isn’t the primary selling point of the Librem line. Basically, don’t compare it to a laptop of a similar price point from any of the major manufacturers. In terms of specs and build quality, it will disappoint for it’s price point. From the lackluster screen to the mushy keyboard to the flimsy case to the mis-aligned seams and hacky-looking kill-switches. The fit and finish is merely acceptable, but quite up to par for the price point.

These are the sacrifices we make for our ideological convictions.


#13

I wonder why nobody says openly that the Librem 15v4 has the build quality and specs of a 4 years
old machine? By today’s standards, except the 4k display and the 3 years old 6gen 2-core CPU it will
be classified as a low-mid range machine, but with a $1600 price point.

The build design and thermal design are almost like a 2012 Macbook. Or Dell, or even cheaper Lenovos.
Internal design has many open spaces that cannot be justified by a better service design, there are many
open spaces which has neither thermal nor upgrade parts in mind. Just like the ODM provided.

Also, I didn’t see any board schematics nor boardviews. So good luck repairing it or servicing it outside
warranty. I would give this laptop a score of 7/10 in terms of ease of repairs, where 9/10 is a 2019 Macbook
that is sitting along my desk and 5/10 a Lenovo x230 just on the other side of it. Higher->Harder.
As a “freedom” company and social purpose and all that fluff, we didn’t see even the schematics or any
motherboard design. It’s more blackbox than a Dell or an Apple, at least even with them you will have the
board schematics after about a month of RTM, whether official or reverse engineered. We will probably
see Louis Rossman fixing 2019 Macbooks before we see Librem’s schematics or iFixit teardown.


#14

I was thinking the same thing earlier. It would certainly fit with the idea of transparency.


#15

I’m not really convinced of the value of board schematics for servicing laptops in this era. Serviceable problems with printed circuit boards are rarely uncovered outside the warranty period, and even when they are it is rarely worth the cost to service rather than replace.

On the other hand, it’s almost a guarantee that if the released their boards to the public there would be Chinese knock-offs undercutting them on price, and a lot of potential customers would take their dollars elsewhere. It’s an uncomfortable truth that people don’t like to acknowledge, but I’ve seen open hardware companies die this way.

I consider it a miracle that Purism managed to pull of the Librem laptops with the resources they had. Not only did they design what they promised and get it to market, but they kept it going and are on the cusp of delivering a mobile device which has the potential to succeed where even larger competitors have notably failed in the past.

The only way to get better Librem hardware is to keep supporting Purism with our business while also being honest about what we want to see from them and how much we will realistically pay for it.

If a more durable enclosure would have increased the price by 10%, I probably wouldn’t have paid it. It’s “good enough” as it is. But I’d have paid 10% more for a better display panel or a better keyboard.


#16

Because if you are looking to Purism to have the bleeding edge, you’ve clearly missed the intent of their products. They are trying to give customers a current machine, that respects the FOSS ideology. This is hardware and software.


#17

I have a V3. I don’t travel with mine. It’s on a desk all the time. I didn’t buy one of these for speed and knock around durability. I bought t because i think it is more secure from a privacy standpoint. Since I don’t make my living programming or as an IT guy and know very little about the inner workings of a computer I have no way of really knowing just how “secure” it is as far as someone hacking into it while I’m on line or keeping track of every key stroke.
Considering those of you that are on here who clearly know a lot about computers, hardware and software that just reinforces my thought that Purism does make a laptop that is more private and secure or many of you that actually know what you are doing wouldn’t have bought one.
Considering how I feel about tech companies stealing my info when I’m online and tracking me I was surprised when the FSF put their stamp of approval on Pure OS. After listening to Richard Stallman in a few interviews I figured that as paranoid as he is if these laptops are OK with him then I guess they are OK with me. He and I are pretty much on the same page though.
I like the keyboard on mine. It “clacks”. I did travel with it once and took it out of the back of the pickup when it was about 10 degrees and into a warm motel room and fired it up. Didn’t seem to affect anything though. I was worried about condensation.


#18

Allow me to be the bad uncle that tells you that Santa is a lie.
First of all, if you bought this laptop for a personal, i.e. never traveling outside, never getting it anywhere
machine, it’s just a waste of money if we speak seriously. Who would tamper your machine if it never leaves
your safest 127.0.0.1 /home? So all the secure verified boot, the kill-switches, it’s just a nice gimmick that you
will never use - since they are not part of your threat model anyway.

FSF approval has nothing to do with security, and if anyone from Purism tries to censor me on this I can
be more loud on communities they don’t control. FSF approval means free software. Free software doesn’t
mean better security, not before, not now, not ever. This is just as it sounds - free software.
The security some people might automatically imply is that - it’s so nice and free, all open source, so must
be totally backdoor free right? Yes, maybe, but software backdoors are not the security attack vector in many
cases. Exploitation of software is the attack vector. And here both free and non-free systems have the same
type of vulnerabilities. Most of them are low hanging fruits, phishing attacks, user manipulations and so on.
Targeted ones are actually using the same techniques again, which are classic type of vulnerabilities (memory
corruption, programming errors, side-channel via CPU, etc).
Don’t think you are more secure just because Stallman agreed PureOS is free from blobs. This basically means
nothing. Read about how systems like QubesOS and OpenBSD actually take it to an actionable level.

//Santa flies


#19

Well? Thank you for the info s3nsOr. Because I don’t travel with it now and don’t store anything on it that is super top secret doesn’t mean I won’t have the need in the future. I didn’t intend to infer that I’m now immune from everything. My point being that I don’t think that every time I turn this thing on it’s “phoning home” to Microsoft or tracking everything I do like my Dell with Windows 10 is doing. Back doors can be in anything as you say but I doubt Purism engineered them into this OS.
By the way. I don’t think your “the bad uncle”. I’ve got no problem at all with the truth from those that know far more than I on a given subject.


#20

You got most of the things I said correctly except some parts.
There is no phoning home if you install Linux.
Why to even bring Microsoft here? Don’t derail your own reply.

What I do say, is that even if you get the Lenovo X1 Cabron, a much better machine,
you will get better than Librem on almost every aspect, except the gimmicky
kill-switches and the Heads boot (according to my non-scientific study, most users
will rather speak Chinese than understanding this process).

Many people prefer the X230 or the Cabron over the Librem. And I understand why.
You actually bought something you would probably never use, because marketing told
you it’s better. Ah, well isn’t it like the fruit company. Librem must pat their back for such users.

Just enjoy your laptop man. In the end it doesn’t really matters if it’s powerful and secure, it’s about
how you feel around them. Same applies to girls, but again this comment will get me censored.