Librem 5 Mass Production Started Shipping

This comes across like asking someone what his salary is…

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First, I grew up and worked in a country where the salary of the co-workers in my team, or of the secretary or of the professor wasn’t a secret to others, but rather subject of the discussion in the team if the salary matched with someones results of work. This country has a name: GDR. Use Wikipedia if you don’t know this, even if I think what is written in Google or Wikipedia about this country is full of errors.

Second, asking for the amount of items shipped every week has nothing to do with someones salary but, IMHO, and is just a request of someone of the 2000 backers (i.e. me) who spent with good reasons a lot of money in advance to bring some project on track and now is waiting to get some results for more than three years already (which is no critics but just a fact).

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The thing about privacy, is that different people have different standards for what they consider private. Some people consider financial information private, others are fine with sharing it. Some keep personal health issues private, others are fine with sharing it. Some think religious and political views are private, others publish them on social media. Some live in a community where no one wears clothing, others cover almost every inch of their skin. Some share every photo of their children online, others strictly prohibit it. Some are comforted by ubiquitous surveillance cameras in public places, others are unnerved by it.

Given the wide range of sensibilities around privacy, my default stance has always been to respect other people’s desire for privacy, even if I don’t share the same sensibility.

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Yes. But what kind of privacy and to whom has such information: We’ve sent this week 3 devices to our backers, or 30, or 300? Don’t you think that you owe us this information, Kyle_Rankin?

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Corporations do not have privacy, they just have secrets.

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I don’t think it’s useful to get into an argument about why Purism considers its financial information, including its sales numbers, private. Suffice to say we consider our financial information and sales figures private, and extend that to publishing data that people could use to forensically re-assemble sales figures.

Ultimately what people want to know is: “when will I get my phone”. We attempted to explain all the factors around answering that question (in particular what we didn’t know, and when we would know it) in this post. People want us to share weekly shipping data because they think that will somehow answer the question, but it won’t. At least not accurately. We want to tell people when they will get their phone, but we also want to give them good and accurate information.

As we mentioned in the shipping FAQ I just linked, we hope to be able to give people a shipping estimate by the end of the year. By then we hope to have a good idea of our shipping throughput.

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Dear Kyle,

I have long had a lot of love for Purism, even though several months ago I was let down by Purism when joining Librem 1, I still think the companies goals are amazing.

Lifes rarely perfect.

I am very thankful to all the team for the L5, and I cant wait for mote products in the future that give people freedom & choice.

Thanks again :+1:

LinuxNew

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Kyle, It’s not only to get a rough(!) estimation about “when will I get my phone”. It has more to do with transparency. When Purism did the campaign in summer 2017 you publish the amount of money collected every day. Why you don’t like the same transparency when it now comes to the delivery of what we have paid for?

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Do you mean you want a number of daily phones shipped so you can make your own calculations using wayback machine? Otherwise Kyle’s message is clear - they don’t want to give any rough calculations as they are likely to be wrong and hence do more bad than good.

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I said weekly, but you got my idea correctly: The number of devices shipped in the last week, Like a diagram showing this number as a bar for all weeks since start of shipping Evergreen. Nothing more.

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I think it’s more like how people used to FLOSS concepts expect information to be put out there on the table… They, including me, expects a more loyalty/friendship relations with Purism as opposed to a cold customer relationship, because we care.

I don’t care how much money Purism makes, nobody force me to buy their products. I’ll be worry for them if their are in trouble, but that’s it.

I, for one, I’m interested in the number of phones built so far, how many are out there? How many Aspen, Birch, etc… It’s part of history. It’s shows progress and accomplishment, and should be celebrated openly.

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Well, yes, Lukas from mntre is more transparent with his similar effort to drive imx8 openhw laptop.

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Pretty much everyone is more transparent than Purism. Hell, even Apple is more transparent than Purism in some respects (they at least publish quarterly earnings statements, and you know they don’t care about you). We’re still rooting for Purism’s success, despite their truly terrible transparency and hypocrisy about said transparency, but I, for one, look forward to the day my business with them is done and I can shake the dust off my boots on the way out the door.

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Apple is a publicly listed company and they legally have to produce financial reports. Purism has always said they don’t release financial information. They have to produce financial reports for the state like every other business, but it does not have to be public.

They are transparent about a lot of other aspects that are important for you to trust their produces are secure and FLOSS compliant, but financials and staffing is not part of it. They are also not a community group, they are a company.

I would like to know the size of the Librem 5 community, but we don’t know the size of most Linux communities. When Ubuntu tried to get metrics about their size, people complained. But people complain when Purism do not release their metrics.

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This is nothing that hasn’t been brought up before, but it goes beyond simply being quiet about staffing. They are registered in Washington as an SPC, which includes requirements about reporting, including the instruction to provide that report on their website. Unfortunately, customers of an SPC do not have standing to force compliance (at least probably not, SPCs are new, so case law is lacking), so they get away with marketing themselves as an SPC without publishing the required legal reports.

They have gotten better about giving progress updates on the phone development process, but considering the nadir of that… it’s really not saying much. (Seriously, anyone who placed an order when they announced they shipped Aspen could probably make a fraud charge stick. Purism made a positive statement which was materially false, knowing it was false. Anyone who relied on that statement in deciding to place an order with them has what looks like a pretty darn strong case).

There have been other issues to come and go from the discourse here, but the bottom line is it very much appears the upper management of Purism is either terribly incompetent or malicious. That is offset by a small number of dedicated, intelligent, and competent engineers “on the ground” trying to get product out the door. Fortunately, this is the kind of project that relies far more on engineering prowess than competent marketing and leadership, but it doesn’t change the leadership issues.

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Every time someone mentions “marketing is misleading and management is terrible” they do so without producing any kind of example. Then they say “I should know things because I want to know things. Other companies show things. Purism should show things.” Then someone points out that they are transparent, just not in the way that saitisfies impatience but in ways that no other phone makers are, and then that statement is ignored.

Then, finally, Kyle comes along and says “Look, that information is private and we have our reasons. Please respect our privacy the same way we respect yours” and he gets shit on for no other reason than people are impatient and want their phones righteffingnow. True transparency is ignored because, dammit, this phone should be in our hands yesterday.

I looked and could not find it, but they don’t have to provide it until February.. Not having it on their site doesn’t bother me. If it bothers you, then you should report them.

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When I boarded the Librem Express it was my intention to someday get a Linux phone. I just found out that it’s looking to be that I will indeed be getting one toward the end of Dec or early Jan. And that is very cool. In the beginning I figured the $599 was a good investment in possibly a future phone. And it looks like it will be.
I’ve thrown away a lot more than $599 on very bad decisions in the past , so this experience has been refreshing. I don’t critisize what I don’t know or care about.
I’m getting a Linux phone! That’s what I care about.

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Until February… of 2018. They became a SPC in 2017, but have never posted the SPC report. They are now 2 years, 9 months past due. FWIW, at least one person has reported this breach to the relevant powers in Washington State, and were basically told they have no standing (as they are not a shareholder, and it is only the shareholders who can actually do anything about it). This is all well and fine, I wouldn’t report them even were that not the case, as hitting them with a fine (or even just the compliance costs) would be counterproductive. My issue is with them using their SPC status in their marketing. The marketing is misleading on the face of it, as it claims the SPC charter requires them to take some (unspecified) social purpose into account, but that is not what a Washington State SPC charter does (it provides protection for the CEO and board of a corporation against complaints by other shareholders if they can show the complaint pertains to some purpose covered by their SPC charter. Given that Purism is not publicly traded, that does basically nothing).

In short, their SPC status is, itself, an example of misleading marketing.

I must reiterate that I think their engineers are doing a superb job, and I certainly include Kyle in that group. He is in an unenviable position of having to deal with us while his upper management pulls “cruft” out of thin air (like expecting to ship 5000 units by Q1 2020). My primary concern is that someone (or a group of someones) decide they’ve had enough of the extremely dubious claims by the marketing or upper management folks and start legal action, bankrupting the company before the engineers finish their work.

Ironically, maintaining radio silence would actually have helped in this regard, at least if it were Weaver and friends who had maintained it. Instead, they kept talking while the engineers were strangely silent.

As for the technical transparency, I think they would have been well served by a weekly git log with about a 1 paragraph attached note, just so that the spectators who can’t use git have something indicating work is continuing, but the past 9 months or so they’ve been reasonably diligent with their updates.

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There are plenty of examples… Initially I wanted to write some of them here, but that would do no good for Purism (and I’m still supporting them)… Instead I would lie a little bit to myself and consider those to be just mistakes made by Purism nothing more… And I’m hoping for a better Purism in the future.

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The cynicism and conspiracy in this thread is disappointing (and frankly, personally discouraging). The idea that we incorporated as an SPC and embedded our ethics into our articles of incorporation not because we truly believe in those ethics, but instead for marketing reasons just doesn’t make any sense. Did anyone even know that social purpose corporations were a thing before Purism?

We incorporated as an SPC precisely because of how strongly and deeply we believe in free software and privacy. There are a lot of unethical investors out there and we wanted extra protection in case one day someone invested in us or tried to acquire us and then pressured us to violate our free software ethics (or customer privacy) to get them extra profits. You see this kind of bait-and-switch in the open core world all the time and we wanted to protect ourselves. This designation actually makes us pretty poisonous to a whole class of investors who don’t care about our values. I consider that a feature.

Something these conspiracies and cynicism never seem to factor in is just how much more difficult our free software ethics makes things for us. At each step in the company’s history we would have had a much easier path if we had compromised like so many others have. Instead we have consistency chosen the longer and more difficult road because we believe in free software to our core.

Discussions like this remind of me when we first launched the Librem 15 and the conspiracy theory started that we never actually intended on replacing the boot firmware with coreboot–it was just marketing to trick FOSS fans into buying our laptop. This conspiracy continued even though we had an open job for a coreboot developer and even continued after we hired that position. It only really ended after we finished the difficult task of porting coreboot to our first laptop. Of course those who started the conspiracy, and those that believed it, never apologized or recanted–Internet conspiracies don’t work like that.

It would have been a lot easier to rebrand an off-the-shelf laptop, slap a Linux distro on it, use proprietary drivers for everything, not care about coreboot support.

It was a lot harder to design our own laptop not just so it had kill switches to protect privacy, but design it so that all the hardware worked out of the box with free software drivers and the CPU supported coreboot. It was also extra work to maintain our own Linux distro that only had free software, so we could qualify for FSF endorsement.

It would have been a lot easier to take an off-the-shelf ARM phone that already had kernel support with proprietary drivers, and use some pre-existing mobile-only OS. It would have been easier (and thinner!) to discard modularity and just have everything on one chip.

It was a lot harder to design a phone from the ground up so that it would qualify for RYF (a designation only we and a subset of the FOSS community cares about), that separated the cellular modem from the CPU, and made it possible to disable it with a hardware kill switch. It was also harder to invest the software engineering time to have our phone supported in the mainline Linux kernel and write (and upstream!) phosh/phoc/libhandy/squeekboard so that the current Linux desktop ecosystem could work on a mobile platform not just in PureOS, but Debian (and any other distro that wanted to package it) as well.

I get it, people are impatient to get their phone. What I don’t get is anyone saying we don’t believe in free software or user privacy, and that it’s all just marketing, when every single person at Purism has invested so much of ourselves into precisely that, knowing that it’s a harder and longer road.

My experience with the Librem 15 and coreboot has taught me that ultimately the only thing that silences critics and conspiracies, is delivery. So that’s what I’m going to try to continue to focus on. It will be nice when everyone has their phones and we can spend less of our focus on things like this, and more on the long and hard path ahead. Shipping the Librem 5 is only the beginning.

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