System76 or Purism?

Hit a pile of cash and looking to get another laptop. System76 or purism? System76 seems to have a good lifespan and higher GPU power and both companies seem to respect self-repair. I like to have more GPU power but I might be able to do with just UHD 620. Currently looking at L14v1. I like privacy and security but sturdiness and power seems to go to system76. I do not know what to sacrifice. I wish there wasn’t all these middle of the road companies and one that just does everything and properly so the price could feel truly justifiable for me. Are products from purism well built, have proper cooling and so on so that their laptops can survive at least 5 years without me even having to think about having to open the laptop unless it is for upgrading purposes?

Side thing but system76 load spooky blobs but if you just flash with pureos rather than popos and use open source drivers for nvidia cards, can’t they be avoided or something? I dunno. Shooting blind here.

If purism is fully freedom respecting, where is RYF? Is it because intel ME has been disabled really badly but not removed fully or is there some other crap as well?

Edit: For my last comment, yes I have used a little digging but purism. Doesn’t seem to specify much. First source I looked at: https://puri.sm/learn/freedom-roadmap/

Edit1: Read a little more and some really don’t like them. https://trisquel.info/en/forum/fsf-has-sold-out-and-endorsed-purism

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Until the Intel ME is completely removed, FSF will not grant RYF. From my understanding, completely getting rid of the ME is Purism’s goal, but not 100% there yet.

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Regarding your question about the open source drivers for nvidia cards - any relatively recent nvidia card is going to cause nightmares with the open source drivers from my limited experience. I’ve tried staying with the open source drivers for an Nvidia GTX 970m in an old laptop, and an Nvidia GTX 1050 in my current laptop, and it is just a disaster, primarily with resuming from suspend. I generally had to hard reboot the laptop every time it would suspend, because everything would get locked up.

Unfortunately, not even the proprietary drivers really seemed to help, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t get things working satisfactorily on either Ubuntu or Fedora. For a year or two, I just decided to completely blacklist the Nvidia card, as most of what I did didn’t need it, and it gave me the most stable system (plus improved battery life).

So I really cannot recommend buying an Nvidia card if you want to keep 100% open-source drivers. And up until this past year, I don’t think I would recommend using an Nvidia card at all under Linux.

That said, I started using Pop!_OS (on a Dell laptop, so not System76 hardware) back in March, and it has the best handling of the proprietary drivers that I have come across. From January up to June or so, I had absolutely no issues. Something seems to have regressed in the past month or so, though, as I am now back to having issues resuming from suspend - my login session will frequently crash, effectively acting as a soft reboot, as all my applications and close and I get logged out.

Nvidia are just complete bastards when it comes to Linux support, even when using their proprietary drivers, but especially when trying the open source drivers.

Pop!_OS probably works better on System76 hardware, though, and so maybe the regression I’ve experienced on my Dell laptop doesn’t exist on System76 laptops. But again, they are more focused on making the proprietary drivers usable, rather than making the open source ones usable (from what I can tell anyway).

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Nvidia open source drivers are pretty crap but they seem like it hit you like a freight train at 60km/h when my issues with their drivers have been like a suv hitting me at 30km/h drifting on a turn. I won’t game or anything on the laptop but I really want power because I need power and I sometimes need it on the go. I want to smoothly transition from my desktop use to a laptop with the small catch being not being able to do heavy hashing or hosting of some services I setup for myself.

Edit: On my power desktop, nvidia drivers that are proprietary are more reliable and perform better than open source and I can’t really get away from it at the moment unless I buy an AMD GPU which I am not sure if I should as my current is working fine and even though I kinda got it as a gift, I am not sure I should change.

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Don’t think it is actually possible for them to literally ever get 100% there yet as the computer will not boot then but okay. Also, I read a little more on trisquel forums and most seem to understand purism has improved over the years but most think a lot of the boot process has a lot of spooky blobs and that their devices have 3 letter agency back doors. A bit biased coming from digital commies but not sure.

could you please paste a link here ?

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'ere: https://trisquel.info/en/forum/fsf-stop-endorsing-purism-start-criticizing-it

Edit: Crap I lost the link I think. Not sure if it is that. If it isn’t, this was my search query if you want to ciphen through https://trisquel.info/en/search/node/purism

I took a glance at the Triquel forums. I agree with some of the comments that Risc-V would be awesome. I think the industry will get there in a few years, with Risc-V in an actual powerful computer. Once those computers become available, especially with free drivers to drive a GPU, I can see a lot of Linux-based computer companies adopting it.

As it is right now, I see weaker arm-based machines (Raspberry Pi, Pinebook Pro) which are cool, or more powerful Intel or AMD based machines, with as much mitigation as companies like Purism or the community can come up with.

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Hi user1 how are you?

These backdoors you speak of please can your provide more info as I am a little lost?

Thanks

LinuxNew

Not me so much but their forums. Go through to see if you can get specifics because I am not intelligible enough to comprehend it. They say a lot of the boot process requires proprietary blobs and there may possibly be a window for a backdoor to be used with maybe keyboard logger or something for password to decrypt? Not sure.

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a lot of the boot process requires proprietary blobs and there may possibly be a window for a backdoor

That’s true of any computer manufactured in the last 10+ years, other than custom toy/experimental systems built around special, non-mainstream CPUs.
Both Purism’s and System76’s computers use Coreboot (or a Coreboot derivative, depending on the model) as their boot firmware. Coreboot has reduced proprietary, closed-source binary blobs as much as they can, but Intel has only been semi-cooperative, so proprietary blobs remain. The same would be true of any high-end CPU manufacturer.
From https://www.coreboot.org :
"coreboot is an extended firmware platform that delivers a lightning fast and secure boot experience on modern computers and embedded systems. As an Open Source project it provides auditability and maximum control over technology. "

First of all, if you want to buy an x86 Linux laptop, the two best companies are Purism and System76, because you are helping to pay for real development which is the only way that we will get long-term change in the industry.

Purism will never be able to make a RYF laptop using an x86 processor, but it has eliminated 2.5 of the 5 proprietary bits (BIOS/UEFI, VGA BIOS, Intel Management Engine, Firmware Support Package (FSP) and Core microcode). Purism has pushed the rest of the Linux laptop industry to do better:

  • First to ship a new x86 Linux laptop (that wasn’t a Chromebook) with Coreboot preinstalled in July 2017. System76 was the second in early February 2020.
  • First to sell a laptop with Intel Management Engine neutralized in October 2017 and the only one (AFAIK) to replace 92% of its code with zeros. S76 was the second company to do this a month and a half later.
  • Got rid of the proprietary VGA BIOS (I’m not sure if System76 has also done this or not).
  • First to sell a new laptop with Heads preinstalled.
  • Second company (after Lubiquity) to create a 100% free software distro endorsed by the FSF and PureOS is currently the highest ranked FSF-endorsed distro according to DistroWatch.org.
  • First company to sell a server and mini-PC (NUC) with Coreboot preinstalled.

If you buy one of S76’s Coreboot laptops, then you are basically getting a similar level of software freedom as buying a Librem laptop, but the question is what do you think is more important. With S76 you get open firmware for the Embedded Controller (EC) that controls the keyboard, battery charging and LED lights, but you get proprietary firmware for the Intel WiFi/BT which is stored in the /lib/firmware directory.

In contrast, with the Librem laptops, you get 92% of the IME code replaced by zeros rather than just neutralizing it, you get an Atheros ath9k WiFi card that has poor performance but it uses no firmware, and you get a 100% free software distro.

If you want the freest x86 system possible, buy one of the S76 Coreboot models and then install a ThinkPenguin Atheros ath9k WiFi miniPCIe card. (The ThinkPenguin Atheros card reportedly has a newer chip that works better than the one in the Librem 13/15. I wonder if the Librem 14 has upgraded the Atheros chip.)

Historically Purism was better and pushed System76, but System76 is now doing important development work. The question is what development work do you want to support and what is more important to you.

With System76, you are supporting:

  • Open hardware for the I/O card in Thelios desktop and an open hardware case.
  • Custom manufacturing of desktop PCs in the US,
  • Open firmware for the Embedded Controller in some laptop models,
  • Porting Coreboot to the AMD Matisse and Renoir platforms.

With Purism, you are supporting:

  • More Coreboot development. Purism’s Matt DeVillier has been involved in 593 Coreboot commits, whereas System76’s Jeremy Soller has been involved in 40 Coreboot commits.
  • Use of hardware kill switches. Purism was the first company to offer a microphone/camera kill switch and will be the first to offer a BIOS protection switch in the Librem 14.
  • Makes about a dozen commits in every Linux kernel release to support new hardware, especially the i.MX 8M processor.
  • Making GTK/GNOME a mobile operating system with the development of phosh, phoc, libhandy, Calls, Chatty, haegtesse and wys and a future camera app, plus adapting many GNOME desktop apps like Contacts to work in mobile devices.
  • Creation of an phone with free/open schematics for the circuit boards.
  • Offering paid web services based on free software which protect user privacy.

For me, the development work being done by Purism is more important than the work being done by System76 for three reasons:

  • I want mobile Linux to be a viable alternative to iOS and Android, and Purism needs cash right now to continue its development work on mobile Linux, so ordering the Librem 14 will help support the company.
  • Purism’s work on the i.MX 8M is our best hope for ever getting a RYF laptop. The MNT Reform depends on the Linux kernel work being done by Purism. If the MNT Reform gets decent power management, good video out over USB-C, and support for cameras over the MIPI CSI-2 interface, it will be because Purism worked with NXP to get those features added to the i.MX 8M driver in the mainline Linux kernel. The best hope that we have to get RISC-V devices is the i.MX 8M + RISC-V chips being developed by NXP and Purism is the company is best positioned to make those devices, because it already uses the i.MX 8M platform and it is one of only 3 mobile Linux device makers (Purism, PINE64 and Star Labs) that uses custom manufacturing.
  • Purism’s stance against surveillance Capitalism and its Librem One services are vital to protecting human freedom in the future.

On the other hand, I think that System76 porting Coreboot is strategically important because it will pressure the other Linux laptop sellers who also use Clevo base models to start offering Coreboot ports. Offering AMD Coreboot laptops in the future is very important as the industry shifts to more use of AMD processors. Now that System76 has set the precedent of open firmware for the EC, it is pressuring Purism to do something similar in its laptops.

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I broadly endorse what is said here. I have a laptop with an nVidia card. It is running Ubuntu.

It is an ongoing juggle of: open source drivers, proprietary drivers, which version even supports my somewhat old nVidia card (!), breakage after distribution upgrade, battery life, …

I mostly have the skills to keep it working but that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t prefer to be doing other things. Just sayin’

So honestly I would press the point with @user1 … do you really need a dedicated GPU?

I would lean towards … if you need a dedicated GPU, leave it on the desktop.

That was thorough and detailed but you make it seem like it is a simple choice. Not everyone can vote with their money and certainly not me. You failed to mention anything about build quality. Many people talk about the crap hinge they seem to never fix with the librem laptops and refurbs being sold on the purism site make me feel nervous with the laptops possibly not having easily repairable small parts that fail. Makes me think their products are cheaply built.

I think something (not that I am saying you are) about hardened purism supporters that they seem to kind of ignore in some awkward way is that I am not just giving money to an idea but that I am putting hard earned money down for a product and I expect that product to be functional. I am buying technology and not just a thought that came past someone’s mind.

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I took your opening 5 words to mean that you can. Maybe it was a hypothetical?

I kinda do so it is kind of hard to go without. I will feel the same amount of pain you feel for dealing with crap drivers for nvidia cards but instead for my system’s bottleneck being the GPU on UHD.

Edit: I can’t always be on my desktop and that is the main problem. I am on trains, on a plain, in a car and I sometimes need that extra boost. I have to go abroad a decent amount so I can’t just be home on my thicc boy desktop when I need it most unless I leave it running 24/7 and control with VNC but power bill won’t be so fun so not sure and also the lag and also requirement of an internet connection which isn’t always available/secure.

Not hypothetical sorry. I just got some money back after paying majority on some family matters back to me as someone else covered. It is a few thousand but I got more crap to deal with in life so have to use wisely.

I thought the same, which is why I bought a laptop with a dedicated GPU in the first place.

Integrated graphics are getting more powerful year after year.

Regardless, unless you are a tinkerer, I would stick with the manufacturer’s OS (PopOS if you buy System76, PureOS if you buy Purism). That’s where you can expect the best software support, and the best chance of things working out-of-the-box.

Both companies are doing something to make the world a less-surveilled place.

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Both are poopy. This post was made by arch gang.

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Arch is not a freedom-respecting distro endorsed by the FSF. I highly recommend defecting to the Parabola GNU/Gang.

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