Waste of resources to ship your own OS?

But why? Debian is probably updated more actively and that’s probably the reason why so many distros are based on Debian. Also, most Purism developers are experienced Debian developers, so it’s a natural (and efficient) choice.

Just because you have some extra packages, doesn’t mean you have to do all the branding differently.

“What OS do you have on your box?”
“Vanilla Debian or Purism Debian?” <- - - That question you’ll never hear
“Purism Debian of course. I want the privacy extensions, but not the binary blobs”
“How do I install it?”
“Oh, simple. Install vanilla Debian, remove some extensions, add Purism repo, install 50 Purism packages. Shouldn’t take you more than an hour if you’ve done it a few times. One time I got a dependency conflict but usually it’s fine”
“Uh… why didn’t they just make a derivative like everybody else?”
“I think they wanted to save the hassle of exchanging some logos”
“Seems legit”


Yeah, perhaps I am overestimating the amount of branding that needs to happen. Is Iceweasel (as an example) trademarked?

Having said all this, I would expect platform support (like the ThinkPad) in the Linux kernel for Purism.

It’s funny that you bring up Iceweasel, which has been just a rebranded bundle due to Trademark issues. According to Wikipedia, that dispute is over. Iceweasel is explicitly not trademarked, and Mozilla probably relaxed some requirements when using their trademarks.

Having said all this, I would expect platform support (like the ThinkPad) in the Linux kernel for Purism.

Purism goes the other way: As far as possible, use components that are already (well) supported by the kernel. If not, of course it’s added upstream.


I definitely agree with the post that started this whole thread. When I was considering whether I should buy it or not, I was kind of thinking “how much of my money will go into funding distro (n+1)”? I still jumped in a bought a Purism laptop, but this was definitely a minus point for me. And for sure, I never even considered using PureOS. I use my laptop for work, I want the OS to be similar (or even a release ahead) of what I use most of the time on my other systems. And I fear like hell “niche” infrastructure software (I’ve got burned a few times with infrastructure software that turned out not to be supported by enough people to be viable on the long term). On the other hand, I understand the point that Purism wants to be able to offer a secure and smooth experience, but I don’t believe for a minute that non-tech users would buy Purism products (non-tech users go to best-buy to get a laptop “like the one they saw on tv”).

Now, I wish that Purism were much more proactive in pushing patches upstream. The touchpad of my Librem15v2 is still not properly supported with the upstream driver (compared to its driver in PureOS) and I have pretty much lost all hopes that this would change one day.


Can you make the same argument with easy to check references (like I did in my post)? Your post is demonstrating exactly the kind of thing I want to avoid funding.

Your post is also a direct contradiction of what @Caliga said.

If both can produce evidence, we might be able to label one of the two as dishonest.

Anyway, I think that because we think the same about this topic, I strongly suspect that there actually is a group with this mindset, because it makes economic sense. It is cheaper for the users to be able to select any Linux distro and so there is more value.

Purism could simply state that any patch will be offered upstream within two months and reasonable efforts to make the code work to the standards expected by the Linux kernel project.

We are living increasingly in a world where consumers get to dictate the products they want. We are clearly telling you what we want.

I am fairly influential with regards to buying laptops even in bulk; if Purism would happen to be selling what I am interested in at the time the next bulk contract gets negotiated, I could advocate in favor of Purism and I am sure there are many others for which this would hold. Your business actions do have a material impact on the decisions made by other economic actors.

Things I would like to see before that happens are:

  • a case-study of existing business users (those that travel a lot) showing how happy they are with their devices comparing it to previous devices they have owned
  • open bulk pricing (so, we don’t both have to waste time on negotiation)
  • metrics displaying amount of code that is not yet in Linux upstream, etc. on a status page, metrics showing shipping time, service time, MTBFs, etc.
  • noise level data comparing to other top of the line laptops (quiet laptops are good for productivity)

I am writing this, because I hope you succeed and you do the right things. If not, the next company trying to do these things already has some requirements to work with.


You can have a look at an older thread where I mentioned several issues, including that although the touchpad works, it does not has the same features between PureOS and upstream: Review of Librem15 v2.

On PureOS, the touchpad has multi-touch (so two fingers scrolling works), but not on other distributions (I am now using the latest Debian). There are quite a bunch of patches floating around, so somebody put a project on github to collect all these patches: https://github.com/kylerankin/psmouse-byd-dkms. And then, a thread on these forums where the developer of the upstream driver jumped in: BYD touchpad multi-touch support?. You can see the mismatch between the features found on PureOS and the upstream…


@bavay it seems to me that the touchpad issue is a perfect counter example. I did not exactly understand whether the problem is that other distros don’t have BYD enabled by default or a patch was not accepted by upstream or both or whatever. But that is exactly the trouble you have to deal with: Push to upstream, hope they accept it, rework it, submit again, beg them, ask them… Then, when it’s in upstream, ask (or wait for) distros to pick it up… That is time consuming, frustrating and not predictable. You easily end up with a situation like:

Today we announce the availability of the Librem 42. It mostly works with Debian. Our drivers did not make it into Fedora 27, but we expect them to be in Fedora 28 so check back in 6 months.
Or download our modified Fedora-kernel. And yes, of course we will release kernel updates for Fedora 27 whenever the original kernel is updated. Promise!

Not only do you not save any time by this, you can just hardly release a complete product if you rely on external dependencies.
Also, as a reminder:

  • Purism wants a FSF endorsed distro to ship by default (see my first post)
  • Purism only uses hardware without good mainline kernel support if that brings them closer to the blob-free goal
  • The Librem 5, including desktop convergence, are simply not possible with the above model

Pushing to upstream is not the same as having it accepted by upstream and not the same as being adopted by other distros. Still, if you see a lack of pushing to upstream, then friendly remind Purism that they have an upstream-first philosophy. I think that’s more important than giving up PureOS.

Also, I still think you are greatly overestimating how much resources are needed to take an existing distribution and enrich it with self-developed enhancements (which are part of the security, privacy and freedom philosophy Purism follows). The (outdated) team page lists 3 PureOS developers. Let’s assume one of them does nothing else but maintain PureOS and the other two do the actual development. That makes the cost of maintaining the OS (instead of just developing packages) seven percent of staff cost.
If you assume that the pure hardware cost is 50%, then you pay 3.5% for PureOS to exist. That is $56 for the Librem 15. I think that is a worst-case scenario. $15…$30 seems more realistic to me. But let’s say $56.

Now, you double the order quantity. The effect is very likely that hardware costs are reduced by $100. I can just guess here, but the first Librem was $1899 instead of $1599. Also, of course the PureOS share is cut in half, too. So then it became $28 in my worst case.
Anyway, it should be clear that more orders are a significantly better lever to reduce the cost than giving up PureOS (which I still think is not even a viable idea).

@cinderella, therefore I kind of agree with you that bulk orders are something that needs attention. I would offer bulks up to 10 or 20 items. “Contact us for higher quantities”
If it’s more, I guess most people would want to negotiate anyway, for example off-shore or not plays a role, or if you order 1000, do you need them all at once? I’m almost certain you’ll even get whatever keyboard layout you want if you take 1000 :wink:
Also, for the really big numbers it might be smarter to schedule them for the next batch instead of taking them from stock: By adding 1000 to the next batch, that whole batch would become a lot cheaper, so the discount can be higher.

If you are really serious about a bulk order, do them a favour and directly ask for a quotation, if it’s more than 100 ask if it makes sense to wait for the next batch and request the metrics and stuff you mentioned. They can only afford to invest that time if there will be some outcome, which is very understandable given the size of the company. That way you help them much more than by telling them how to run a business.

Just my two cents :wink:

[EDIT]: Most of the topics touched here, from “why PureOS” to developing BYD touchpad driver and submitting it to the kernel (7:00) to original Librem prices, leverage by ordering bigger quantities are explained in detail by @todd-weaver in the video on https://puri.sm/about/


Screw FSF approval.
Purism is about making a machine that is owned by their owner. This is a much weaker condition than what the FSF wants. E.g. a software with a license that allows reading it but not passing on modified is anathema for the FSF, but for Purism’s goals, it would be fully sufficient.
Of course an FSF-“free” distro would be better, but rolling your own distro is going to be very expensive over time. Collaboration with an existing distro, or just acquiring the critical mass to attract enough people that it gets maintained by a community, those would be smarter moves IMHO.

BTW “pushing upstream” is really easy, at least for drivers. Just submit your patches to the Linux kernel people, distros will soon pick them up.
While waiting for the patch to make the roundtrip Purism -> kernel -> distro -> PureOS, the driver can be written as a loadable kernel module as an interim solution.

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Shh, don’t say things like that too loud or we’ll get the paddle…

But yeah I wasn’t aware that FSF approval essentially meant the device needs to be read-only or anything like that. Is that what you’re implying? Unless I’m reading your comment the wrong way here.

That makes sense for things like devices with free firmware, but I don’t think that’d make sense for a laptop… of course the drive can’t be read-only, that’d be ridiculous. I assume they must mean everything BUT the hard-drive being read-only, like the BIOS / Bootloader and stuff.

I wouldn’t WANT a computer that has a read-only hard drive. At least not as a personal computer. That sounds more like an… “access terminal” than a personal computer.

It actually sounds like a cool idea to me if I ever have the money to have two computers, one for just surfing the web and one that’s airgapped for everything else. But right now I need an all-around machine and something that’s read-only wouldn’t be good for that.

@toolforger, you don’t own a device if you can’t modify it. This goes for the OS as well as a boot loader.
@Alex I think you missunderstood. FSF does not require such a thing.
Not even with the TPM module that is now available is anything read-only. It just means that only you, who has the master key, is allowed to modify it.

Being able to modify firmware: freedom
Others not being able to do so: security

Nonono, I didn’t mean to say that the FSF requires read-only hardware. Quite the opposite actually.
The FSF demands that you can modify the software. I.e. that you get the sources, that you get the tools required to build them, and whatever else it takes to actually build it after modifying it. And that you can redistribute the new sources.
My point is: For the mission of Purism, it would be “just enough” if all software were “shared source”, i.e. if you can read it. In that situation, you could still verify that the software does nothing that restricts the user, and that’s the mission of Purism.
Now I’m evading the paddle by saying that FSF-approved would still be better; it’s just not (currently) practical.

Another point why one could ignore the FSF: It disapproves of all distros that merely allow the user to choose non-free software. However, that would be a non-issue for Purism: Just don’t install the non-free repositories. And, maybe, actively look for free alternatives. Though that’s hard to do in a world of patented Videocodecs - a distro that cannot play videos may be free, but it’s not useful for all tasks.
Here again a non-free codec would be against the FSF’s endorsement, but it would fit with Purism: Just code the thing up, cough up the licensing fees, publish the sources, people can validate the sources and experiment with them. They could even modify the code for experiments - they wouldn’t be allowed to publish the modified code, but they could publish the patches.

If you cannot build it how can you be sure what’s running on your phone corresponds to what has been shared as source?


Here are some interesting thoughts by “competition” (Pop!) why it makes perfect sense to create their own OS. These are just in addition to the reasons I stated earlier (also, I take back what I said on Pop! before :wink: )


@ruff I didn’t say that you need not be able to build; in fact it is necessary for exactly the reason you state.
However, you do not need the ability to redistribute if you want to validate.

@Caliga sorry, no time to hear a full hour of video just to guess which of their points you want to make.

You do realize that you wasted more than an hour of combined time of other users trying to convince them that Purism should be… less pure?
And then you can’t even realize that I elegantly crafted the link in a way that let’s you skip all the other intersting stuff they talk about, for your convenience?

But as you do understand the concept of the value of time, you might also understand why Purism staff did not participate in this thread.
It’s pointless to try to convince people that the goals of Purism are (not) exactly right, just the way they are.


@Caliga feel free to ignore me if you can’t stand running out of arguments - because that’s the usual reason why meta-arguments start.
Oh, and you’ve been misunderstanding my position anyway, but I’m not going to waste my time arguing that. If you want to put FSF above everything else, that’s fine by me, I can respect that - provided you can respect my position that the FSF’s arguments aren’t always the only thing to consider.

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Doing the FSF dance to get endorsed by the FSF might mean something, but I think the Purism brand has received a lot of exposure, so there is no need for Purism to go for FSF endorsement, although one could consider it a nice milestone.

After the milestone has been reached, one could simply have two distro images. One that is FSF endorsed and another which isn’t and meets @toolforger’s requirements (and 95% of users).

I can seen some value for a completely clean FSF approved system for highly critical systems, but at this point we are talking about a niche of a niche.

My point is based on experience in dealing with some ‘exposed sources’ to qualify with GPL requirements but which are completely non-buildable. After receiving complain about license violation they publish something. But that something is completely useless, some relict linux tree snapshot with fragments of patches and no toolchain to build it whatsoever. So that kind of approach with “here, take your sources” is really meaningless.


waste of resources to ship your own OS ?

by “your own OS” i assume you refer to PureOS.

PureOS is a GNU+Linux distribution that strives to obtain the FSF blessing.

Once obtained the FSF recognition is the highest standard of ethics in computing meaning Libre Hardware+Software.

How can any FSF philosophy loving GNU+Linux distribution be considered “your own” ? as if Purism owns PureOS.

FSF endorsed GNU+Linux Libre distributions concern the PUBLIC DOMAIN and cannot be called “your own” as you @cinderella have stated in the title.

PureOS beeing in the PUBLIC DOMAIN can only be called “OUR OWN” thus what is the nature of your question ?

what i consider a WASTE of RESOURCES is having close to 8 billion (ONLY) mobile devices that run proprietary hardware and software designed to ENSLAVE and OPRESS FREEDOM and manipulate REAL PROGRESS


All of those points are easily addressed, with one word: Trisquel.

Trisquel is an FSF-endorsed distro that is:

  • 100% free;
  • actively developed;
  • privacy-conscious;
  • intended to be usable by non-technical people.

It is the distro offered by MiniFree on their FSF RYF-certified laptops (at the time of writing).

So, clearly, Purism does not need to spend resources on PureOS in order to achieve RYF certification.

Again, there does not seem to be a need for this. Replicant is a mobile operating system that is fully free and actively developed by privacy-conscious people.

Purism is commendable in working to ship as-free-as-possible hardware, with hardware privacy protections (e.g. killswitches that actually work) and with libre, privacy-protecting firmware, that supports existing fully free OSes. But wouldn’t it be great if it focused on that exclusively, instead of spreading itself thin on userland software? PureOS development necessarily involves duplicating efforts of existing OS developers (e.g. in skinning) and requires Purism staff time to be spent deciding unimportant issues. Making genuinely privacy-protecting hardware and firmware is already a lot for a small company to do, especially when customer service is taken into account. Purism’s progress - although impressive - could be faster and more robust without PureOS as a distraction.

Here is a great example of something that Purism staff would not be wastingspending their time or Purism users’ time considering, if they were just shipping Trisquel as the OS with a Librem-focused Heads/Coreboot version underneath.

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