New Post: How Purism Funds Free Software

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Free software isn’t free. Free software geeks love to correct people by saying that the “free” in “free software” refers to freedom ( libre ), not cost ( gratis ). We even join in this word play at Purism by naming our laptops Librem– a combination of the words libre (freedom) and librum (book). Whether free software is written as a labor of love in someone’s free time or written as part of someone’s full-time job, even if the developer doesn’t charge for the software the cost to make it is still there. In this post I’ll talk about why Purism funds free software through hardware, and why we didn’t take some of the other popular approaches.

Working for Tips

It took me a couple of years to remodel my bathroom, because I only worked on it on weekends. When you already have a full-time job, you don’t necessarily want to work every weekend too, so there were plenty of weekends where I did other things. Yet I probably could have completed that multi-year project in a couple of weeks if I could have worked on it full time.

A lot of great software has been written in a developer’s free time, and arguably most free software is written this way. Yet if we want free software to progress as quickly as possible (and we do), we must enable more people to pursue their labor of love full-time instead of just on the weekends. That means paying people full-time salaries for their work . Giving tips, patronages, or a percentage of sales is all well-meaning and I’m sure developers appreciate it, but few developers get enough from that route to quit their day jobs.

So how do you fund free software in a sustainable way?

Read the rest of the article here:


I’m strongly considering ordering n more Librem 5 before the end of the month (price bump).
(Receiving my address confirmation mail today surely brought me closer to do so).
In a year, I might use them, sell them, or trade for a coupon instead of have 'em delivered.

Hit like if you consider to do likewise :wink:


Well I will go one step further to help identify a new trend, Freebooks. Your products fall right in line with the concept and definition positioned by the community. Freebooks are a new thing. IDK any other company disallowing Intel ME as a standard across their product line.

@Kyle_Rankin: There is still the old price displayed, isn’t it?

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Thanks for letting me know about that one!

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That is a very persuasive argument for me, leading me to re-evaluate my decision on the Librem 14.

I saw this post when it was released, but didn’t have time to comment on it then. This is my first post in the community - I’m not a business minded person, but I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while.

I still think there has to be room to improve this business model. Surely only making money from hardware sales means that there is no motivation for extending the lifetime of the hardware, because the only way to make more money is to get consumers to purchase the next lot of hardware, instead of maintaining what they have. I know that Purism is intending to provide extra years of support on top of what current phone providers do, but in the end won’t it be a struggle to finance software development for years into the future, with declining sales? The hardware turnover caused by the need for increasing sales also creates environmental problems.

I wonder if Purism would be better off selling hardware + X years software support, with the idea that the support costs could be renewed in the future. The current phone price + support would be the same price as just the hardware now, but would then allow people to decide to continue to fund support if they are still using the device when that expires. There might also be an option to provide support-only packages for other devices, such as the Pinephone, that are currently using Purism’s software already.

Just some (probably useless) thoughts from someone with a Pinephone still waiting for their L5.