Questions on Road Warrior laptop

Is there any chance of a 4K matte upgrade option @ 60 Hz or higher? HDMI ports are great, but there’s just nothing like being able to do 4K on the road.

Secondly, what about the flimsy audio jack that was the subject of so many complaints on Librem 15 v4? It is now firmly bolted into place, or is it still going to crack/bend after a few hundred inserts?

And one other persnickety issue: is there any way to replace the hardware kill switches with something that doesn’t have sharp corners waiting to scratch you? Or perhaps locate them in back or on the bottom, so that the laptop can be stood on either side when lying in bed or lounging on the sofa?

For that matter, fixing the audio jack and upgrading the CPU on Librem 15 v4 would do wonders for your marketing appeal.

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FWIW you have this the wrong way around Librem15v4 runs its own display at 4k 60Hz, it’s the HDMI connection that can only do ~30ish Hz

Screen 0: minimum 16 x 16, current 3840 x 2160, maximum 32767 x 32767
XWAYLAND0 connected 3840x2160+0+0 (normal left inverted right x axis y axis) 340mm x 190mm
   3840x2160     59.98*+

I was referring to the 14" when asking about the 4K 60 Hz upgrade. It’s slated to be FHD.

Ideally, I’d like to see the Librem 15 v5 with more cores, and the Librem 14 v1 with a 4K screen. At least, as optional upgrades for more money. Is this realistic?

Side note: I realize that Purism has removed Intel Management Engine, and for good reason. However, I wonder whether some of the anti-Spectre defenses were in there, and thus no longer in effect. This is especially important since it seems that Hyperthreading is still enabled. It doesn’t mean that it’s all insecure, but it does call for extreme caution in the design.

As the Librem 14 replaced the Librem 13 by fitting a bigger screen into the same footprint, I am expecting a Librem 16 to replace the Librem 15 within a few months. I also expect this would have a 4k screen.

I don’t know if the economics work out well enough to get 4k screens on the Librem 14.

Generally Purism only makes one option in its laptops to save on production costs, since this is low-volume production. I assume that the only option in the Librem 15 v5 will be a 4K screen just like in the Librem 15 v4.

Purism hasn’t said anything about the audio jack, but I bet Purism redesigned that. @MrChromebox said that he would give more info when he gets a production model that he can review.

Spectre and Meltdown are low-level problems that are patched with microcode updates. Zeroing out 92% of the Intel ME code won’t effect Anti-Spectre defenses at all.

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To elaborate on that answer:

Most importantly, as said, the Intel ME doesn’t play a role here at all. It simply isn’t relevant. It is a separate secondary CPU and the known relevant bugs are all in the main CPU. (The Intel ME might have its own bugs but let’s leave that …)

The situation in respect of all the speculative execution etc. bugs is more complicated. There are so many different bugs and they are mitigated (or fixed) in so many different ways. Some are not fixed at all.

One upside of a “v5” laptop is that it will be running a later CPU from the beginning so some bugs may actually be fixed in silico and some bugs will be fixed in the microcode that comes with the CPU (no update needed).

All of the known speculative execution bugs are mostly a concern if you run random untrusted code on your CPU.

That means that high risk environments are:

  • virtualised environments running on shared CPUs
  • multi-user shared execution environments (server environments)

while a personal computer is a low risk environment with the most widely known attack vector being sandboxed code being run inside your browser.

Thanks. Those were all helpful answers.

Can anyone hazard a guess on a timeline for either Librem 14 v1 or Librem 15 v5? I know the former is slated for “early Q4”, but I don’t have a good deployment delay model by which to adjust my expectation. Unfortunately, the errors only move in one direction! And here’s hoping they provide 4K matte, more cores, and a fixed audio jack.

I think I’m mostly persuaded that Spectre patches have been delivered entirely via microcode updates. However, I see no reason why more complicated fixes for certain corner cases could not or would not be addressed in the IME, which has some advantages over microcode in terms of engineering simplicity, unless Intel has explicitly stated that microcode is the exclusive domain of CPU behavior modifications. (That was always the case before IME, but now, I don’t know.)

Again, it may be confusing to readers in terms of whether you are talking about the Librem 13/14 or the Librem 15.

For the Librem 13/14 I think 4K is unlikely as the product upgrade has only just been announced, and they only have a few months to get the finished product out the door.

If you want an official answer from Purism, you will have to ask them.

How many do you want?? Six is pretty good. I don’t know that for a laptop you want more because more cores actually being used will consume more energy and empty the battery more quickly.

For some bugs, Intel just flipped everyone the bird and told the operating system guys or the other software guys to work around it.

I think the more 4K, the merrier. Even though a shrinking minority of people don’t want it, migrating everything to 4K matte would improve pricing power for Purism, not to mention futureproofing. It does take a bit more battery juice, but that problem can be eliminated by working in FHD when higher resolution is not required. I know I’d be a fool to think that they’d bet the farm on 4K, but at least offering the option would be nice, even if it came with a higher price tag. (But 4K glossy is a total nonstarter.)

4K relates to core count in the sense that it would be a shame to provide 60 Hz or better 4K, but not have a CPU that could dish out enough FPS to utilize it, especially since many videos are now 4K @ 60 Hz. The GPU isn’t necessarily helpful in this regard, as various open-source codecs are entirely CPU-bound.

Furthermore, megahertz distinctions within a given architecture are pretty trivial these days. I’d rather stay at the low end and put the savings (in both money and battery) towards a 4K display. Yes, I think 6 cores (12 threads) is a reasonable tradeoff between per-thread diminishing-returns performance and the ability to do 2 hard things at once. For instance, running Zoom conferencing within a virtual machine would be a good benchmark these days, as millions have to depend on it for work while providing rapid video processing and simultaneously shielding the rest of the system from its foul tentacles.

4K displays do not only draw more power because they need more processing power, they also do so because smaller pixels means more more empty space between the pixels which means less brightness going through from the backlight of the LCD even though it outputs the same amount of power. That’s also why high brightness 4K displays are so much more expensive than high brightness 1080p displays.

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First of all, I can only find four 14" laptops which have a 4K screen (Lenovo Yoga C940, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 7th Gen, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga 4th Gen and MSI Prestige 14") and all of these have glossy screens. Purism doesn’t have the volume to make special orders for matte screens, so what you are asking is not possible.

If Purism could manage to get the part, it would probably cost $250 for a matte 4K screen vs $50 for a matte 1080p screen, so that would not improve Purism’s pricing power. It would have to charge more for the laptop, which would lower the volume even more.

If you are saying that Purism should offer lower-clocked 6 core CPU which is cheaper, the 10710U is the cheapest U-series Comet Lake 6-core CPU that Intel offers. To go cheaper, you would need a 4-core CPU, which is fine with me, but a lot of people have commented on this forum and in r/Purism, that they need more CPU cores for things like video rendering and compiling.

Purism only has the volume to offer ONE model in a particular form factor, because Purism has to pay for custom manufacturing of its motherboards, and low-volume custom manufacturing is expensive. (Remember that Purism can’t order base models from Clevo like System76, ThinkPenguin, TUXEDO, Entroware, Juno, Slimbook and do.)

The question is whether what you want is what the majority want in the L14. My observation is that not having a 6-core CPU was a blocker for some people, whereas not having a higher resolution screen is not a blocker for many customers. You can hold a poll on this forum (like people are doing for keyboards) to try and prove otherwise.

Also remember that Purism has to charge a huge markup to pay for its hardware and software engineers, which most laptop companies don’t have. Only two other Linux laptop makers do custom manufacturing (Star Labs and PINE64) and only one other Linux laptop maker maintains its own distro (System76), and Purism does final configuration (RAM & SSD) in the US, so Purism has higher costs than any other laptop maker, so the markup is necessary.

Comet Lake U-series only supports HDMI 1.4 (which is a max of 4K @ 24Hz), but it does support DisplayPort at 4K @ 60Hz, so you need to buy a DisplayPort->HDMI adapter.

The IME is an autonomous subsystem in the Platform Controller Hub. The IME has absolutely nothing to do with how the CPU cores do branch prediction and memory access, which is what Spectre and Meltdown exploit. To fix Spectre vulnerabilities, you have to change the silicon or the microcode.

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I think the idea of a FHD-vs-4K poll is a good one. I can’t seem to find where to create one, though. If anyone else can, please do so, or else tell me how to do it.

4K is not higher power in reality because one would run it in FHD when on battery. Or certainly the customers smart enough to find this vendor in the first place. But thanks for pointing out the DisplayPort requirement, as 24 Hz is definitely a nonstarter.

There’s also no reason that every model has to be one-size-fits all. It’s just that, if not, then all models including the base model get more expensive. How much is the question. It’s also important to think of the total cost of ownership. FHD in 2025 is gonna look pretty sad, whereas 4K will likely be a basic feature checkbox. More years of use, more better. I mean, midrange phones can do 4K/60 now. To have a hulking laptop not be able to keep up is just embarrassing. Purism is selling bulletproof Hummers, not Ford Fiestas. I want my builtin LCD in the back seat, and I’m willing to pay, dammit.

I do tend to side with the majority on 6 cores, though.

Thanks for setting me straight on the IME. I never knew much about it. Knowing that I needed to disable it was enough for me.

Yes, but Purism is using an LSPCON chip (or something equivalent). So you end up with HDMI 2.0 output from the HDMI port for the external monitor.

It is claimed, I think, that the Librem 14 will be able to drive two external monitors, 4K UHD @ 60Hz (one via HDMI and one via alt mode DisplayPort over USB-C). So that is actually pretty good, and a pretty good increase over the Librem 13.

To be honest, that is more than I myself would need, but that’s OK. However it is less than @whistler wants because s/he wants 4K UHD on the road i.e. for the built-in display. And that’s OK too. We are all different in our requirements.

So for Purism it is a matter of finding the sweet spot that satisfies the maximum number of actual customers.

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Oh, I posted about that and then totally forgot about it. :thinking:

When you create a new post, go to the gear icon in the menu, and you will see an option in the submenu “Build a poll”. You only have 5 minutes to edit it after you post, so make sure you have the right options when posting.

I did a search for a matte 2160x3840 14.0" screen and I found one model by BOE. When I do a web search, I can find no devices using this kind of screen, so BOE can make it, but it is highly unlikely that BOE is currently making it. Purism is talking about a couple thousand units per year, and I doubt BOE will do a production run for a reasonable price per unit. In other words, you can forget about it.

Then I did a search for matte 1440x2560 14" displays and found there are 7 models made by 2 companies (LG Display and AUO). If one of the big laptop companies (like Lenovo) is using this part, Purism might actually be able to get it for a reasonable price, but you are still talking about double or triple the price of a matte 1080x1920 14" screen, because there are 50 models available for that part from nearly every major screen manufacturer.

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Still can’t get that poll fired up. For the life of me, I can’t seem to find any gear icon on the screen after clicking the “New Topic” button, apart from the one that just says “Hide Details”. And of course I would point back to this thread from the poll because you all have surfaced so many relevant considerations.

2560x1440 is new to me. Nice find! Might just be the compromise we’re all looking for. But where’d I put that copy of “Polls for Dummies”?

Forgot to mention: I hope the Librem 16 doesn’t replace the Librem 15. I have nothing against a larger form factor, but we’re running up against backpack size issues and travel weight constraints at that point. Maybe just keep the 15 and offer a 17 separately? Anyways that’s for another thread.

Here’s my proposal for the poll:

  1. What LCD panel type do you most want on the new Librem 14? Glossy is of course tougher, but it’s also annoying unless you’re a narcissist.

a. glossy
b. matte

  1. More resolution is always good, but it does cost money to build and energy to run. (Using lower resolutions while on battery can be helpful, but requires conscious effort.) If we define the 1920x1080 (FHD) as having a $0 price premium, then how much more would you pay to have 2560x1440, assuming at least 60 Hz refresh rate?

a. $0
b. $50
c. $100
d. $150
e. $200
f. $250
g. $300
h. $350
i. $400
j. $450
k. $500

  1. Same question as #2, but with 3840x2560 (4K).

a. $0
b. $50
c. $100
d. $150
e. $200
f. $250
g. $300
h. $350
i. $400
j. $450
k. $500

In the following image (captured from the screen during the writing of this reply) I have underlined in red the “gear icon”. Click on it and one of the options is “Build Poll”.

Do you see that icon?? (when you write a post)

The Librem 14 supersedes the Librem 13 while retaining

  • the same form factor (footprint or area)
  • the same weight.

So it’s an extra inch of screen diagonal while retaining the same area and mass. It can do this, in part, because there is a smaller bezel (frame around the screen). So if your concerns are around the physical properties of area and mass, I don’t think you should be worried.

If they can do the same with the Librem 15, wouldn’t that be OK? NB: I have seen no announcement about any upgrade or replacement for the Librem 15, hence this is a hypothetical discussion.

Adding: Actual details of size

Librem 13: 325mm x 18mm x 219mm
Librem 14: 322mm x 17mm x 220mm

PS The specs say that both the Librem 13 and the Librem 14 are “matte”.

Thanks kieran, but when I click that gear icon it just says “Hide details”. Nothing about a poll. Perhaps the issue is one of the anonymizing tools I’m using.

Yes, the specs for the Librem 14 already indicate matte and FHD. It’s not so much that I’m trying to force Purism to reconsider (although perhaps they should). It’s more that I want to prove to them that there’s an unappreciated demand (and willingness to pay) for higher resolution. Maybe I’m wrong, but this is the only way to find out.

If what you said about bezel minimization also applies to Librem 15 as well (thereby resulting in 16), then I guess it’s no more of a challenge to backpack it. That would be nice.

Are you (or anyone else) willing to post the poll?


Or maybe some “new user” restriction.