Waste of resources to ship your own OS?

Yes, all of those points you picked. I had more in all the previous posts, for example here: upsteaming etc, GuiXSD.

Also, I would be surprised if the Trisquel, based on Ubuntu 16.04, would support the Librem hardware well.
And if Purism were to improve on that, they would effectively… fork it?

The point is, Purism is here to actively develop FOSS, and to advance it.
It is, of course, simpler to ship outdated hardware with a stable distro and call it a day.

Purism currently heavily contributes to the advancement of Wayland, Gnome and KDE (for everybody, not PureOS specifically).
And that is exactly what Linux hardware companies should do, no just exploiting existing stuff.

… will not work out of the box on the Librem 5. So, they will have to add drivers and stuff. And as upstreaming is slow, they’d end up copying (replicating) Replicant and add their stuff to it and name it PureOS.
So, that’s what they do. Just with a Debian base.

You seem to have a misconception here. They are duplicating Debian, not the effort to create it.
It’s like writing a foreword to an existing book, not like writing a book.
PureOS is 99,9% Debian testing main, plus some patches (most of which will be part of Debian at some point, due to upstreaming).
Explained quite well by Zlatan here: What is PureOS and how is it built?


This whole thread could have been avoided had someone read up a little bit more on Purism. Their intentions are clearly laid out.


This amounts to saying that all Linux hardware companies should also be (userland) software companies. I completely disagree with that.

Let Linux hardware companies do two things and do them well:

  1. tamper-evidently source, assemble and ship hardware that is compatible with Linux without requiring proprietary firmware, and that has hardware features to improve privacy (e.g. effective killswitches; sane chip choices; sane logical separation between chips at the PCB level);
  2. tamper-evidently source, assemble and ship privacy and security-orientated libre firmware to support their hardware (e.g. the way that Purism is working on Heads), and updates to this firmware.

This is sorely needed, and will, itself, help to advance the state of the upper layers in the stack. Why? Because it will enable more people to learn about and to obtain hardware that supports the privacy protections in those upper layers meaningfully. Contrast this with what happens currently: most people - due to lack of availability, lack of affordability, and lack of awareness about security, privacy, and libre hardware - run hardware that undermines those upper layer protections by requiring untrustworthy binaries, by lacking killswitches, and/or by giving modems direct access to RAM or suchlike.

I think you meant to say, “supporting” :wink:

If purism wants to grow big then they need brand recognition. That is people think secure laptops and think purism just as you think high-end cars and think Rolls Royce. part of this is making their own OS, it allows them to set the standard that they need and to ensure that their products are accessible.

Exploiting, as in “reaping what thy neighbor soweth”

as in “only use components that somebody else already added excellent drivers to the kernel and freed the firmware, dramatically limiting choices” ?

And then, how does this new firmware get to the customer? Hoping it finds its way into the one of the upcoming Trisquel releases? Delaying the new laptop line until it lands there?

Do you have any indication that a substantial part (other than settings, defaults) of the modifications to Debian in PureOS are in the upper layers?
My impression is that they focus exactly on the things you expect. Coreboot, deblobbling, firmware, drivers, energy-saving, standby, TPM, Heads, Nitrokey…
And of course it makes sense to integrate all these things, providing an out-of-the-box experience instead of maybe some tutorials how to set it all up.

Wow… where to begin unpicking that?

Code, unlike crops, is indefinitely copy-able, so by using Trisquel, I don’t deprive Trisquel’s developers of the ability to use Trisquel.

I have to wonder what you think free software distro developers want people to do with their code. (Spoiler: typically, they want people to copy it and run it, in accordance with the licenses. They aren’t just building the distro for themselves.)

No. As I explained earlier, hardware vendors should ship hardware that is compatible, and ship libre firmware for it, too, as appropriate.

This does not necessitate relying upon core Linux (or *BSD) devs to have already added that support: the vendor or the manufacturer can do so.

If it is appropriate for inclusion in the Linux kernel, then it would reach Trisquel just as all Linux kernel updates do.

If not, then Purism, like any vendor or manufacturer, can distribute it themselves, just as they are doing here (although ideally, with bettery security than in that example).

Using PureOS, and reading threads on this forum, were the indicators that left me thinking that the PureOS efforts have gone into the sorts of things that new, derivative distros typically spend efforts on: backend infrastructure (repositories, etc), management (figuring out what they want to do and who to assign which tasks to), and unnecessary userland changes such as to look-and-feel.

Debian is already blob-free (fully-free “main” repo and Linux kernel since “Squeeze” around January 2011), so de-blobbing parts of Debian seems unlikely to be part of PureOS development.

(If, OTOH, you mean that the PureOS developers are deblobbing things from outside Debian for inclusion into Debian, that’s great, but it does not require PureOS to exist.)

Coreboot is not part of Debian, so Coreboot work seems unlikely to be part of PureOS development. Ditto Heads, and ditto, to some extent, firmware more generally, standby, and energy-saving. So, this work doesn’t require PureOS to exist, either.

That doesn’t leave much from your list. TPM? Nitrokey? Not sure that PureOS is doing, or needs to do, much in relation to these at the OS level. But here’s the point: whatever they might be doing in these respects, it is not something that requires the creation and maintenance of a whole new distro. It is the latter that I am arguing against, not the former.

This would be entirely possible by shipping the Librems with an OS pre-installed and minimally configured. It does not require a whole new distro.

  1. “waste of resources to ship you own OS” - completely missed the point.
    PureOS is based on Debian Testing - it is as such a PUBLIC DOMAIN not a private venture in OS development.
  2. Debian is one of the few GNU/Linux Distributions that is more than 20 years old. stable and proven as a reliable OS. Debian,RedHat and Suse are THE 3 MAIN pillars of open code. Purism has done a great decission to derive from one of those 3 great branches unlinke many distributions that chose ubuntu which is a based on Debian(as such it is a tertiary branch more prone to break and be forgotten)
  3. Debian has two flavors one that IS RYF compatible in that it doesn’t ship any non-freedom respecting code and one that allows such code to run by DEFAULT. PureOS is based on the first.
  4. Purism has chose Debian as a development-back-bone for PureOS because it need to make SURE that this OS will have a ROCK solid and assured future and not be some overnight sensation that has yet to stand the test of time. we see many come-and-go Linux-distributions simply because they can’t stand the test of time.
  5. PureOS runs by default the default vanilla GNOME shell. Fedora,RedHat,CentOS also ship by default with GNOME so it is good to have a comon BASE.
    overall more is gained than what is beeing lost so this IS A GOOD CALL !
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Unfortunately, there are some false premises in this part of your post.

First, I don’t think anyone here is seriously suggesting that PureOS is a “private venture in OS development” or that this is the reason why it is a waste of resources. Those of us here who are arguing that PureOS is a waste of resources are doing so for other reasons than that. (To see our reasons, please read our posts above.)

Secondly, most of Debian is not public domain. Rather, its constituent parts are published under various free software or free documentation licenses. (I.e. Debian is a free cultural work.)

As long as Ubuntu remains in existence and highly popular, this isn’t really a compelling argument not to use Trisquel.

Alternatively, if Ubuntu ceased to exist, Trisquel would likely just revert to using Debian directly as its upstream.

So, this part of your argument does not convince me that creating/maintaining PureOS is a better use of resources than just using Trisquel would be.

As you probably know, though, even though Debian does not ship any proprietary code by default, it is nevertheless not an FSF-endorsed distro and sadly it will not become one any time soon, despite the longstanding and laudable efforts of Stefano Zacchiroli et al.

Trisquel, by contrast, is already FSF-endorsed.

So, again, just using Trisquel directly would seem to be a much more efficient use of resources than developing/maintaining PureOS.

Trisquel is also a Debian-derived distro, for much the same reason. So, again, PureOS seems unnecessary.

Trisquel offers Gnome. There is nothing to stop Purism shipping Librems with Trisquel installed and pre-configured to use Gnome by default. This would by much less work than creating and maintaining an entire distro.

Is it? It seems to me that more is being lost, in terms of developer resources available for other, more urgent matters, than is being gained, given that Trisquel exists, already satisfies the FSF, and could be a drop-in replacement for PureOS.

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Yes, but what part of Purism’s reasoning for developing their products, which include PureOS, as publicly stated don’t answer this question?

Developing your own software from software that fits their ethics for use on their own hardware is the best way to tightly integrate the two. In general it leaves them beholden to no one. No part of their business model is left at the mercy of a 3rd party on the software front. This is important. It mitigates threats in expansion as well as ensuring their products adhere to the standards they set.

I don’t know of another company that is trying to do what they are doing. From my perspective they are making the right choices. The right choice has nothing to do with the most cost effective choice.

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Boy this thread looks like it sure got complicated for no real reason.

Let 'em do what they wanna do. PureOS is fine, and they need to make something new to support their phone anyway - I don’t think there’s any good fully open version of Linux that works smoothly as a phone interface right now. This thread made a tad more sense when it was made (still not a ton) but now with the Librem 5 being made they actually do have a reason for needing to make their own OS.

As for getting popular and “brand recognition” and all that, people keep opening discussions about Purism as if it’s a traditional-definition for-profit capitalist company but it’s not. It’s a social-purpose company and all they really want to do is achieve their vision rather than a focus on making money and expanding. I’m sure they’d be a nonprofit if they felt they could achieve their goals purely on donations or something, but that’s not realistic. Of course they need money to achieve their vision, but people keep acting like they think Purism is trying to be the next tech giant and that just makes me “haha lol”. I doubt Purism will ever be a household name, and frankly that’s fine.

I’m not trying to suggest that it’s wrong to be ambitious, but I’m just saying that I think Purism is just locked onto their visionary goals and whether or not that garners them fame and fortune isn’t as relevant to them. They’re moving forward with their plans and their attitude is probably something along the lines of “We will achieve what we set-out to do - as for all else, what will be will be”.

Just saying that all this “Okay, here’s what you gotta do to compete with Apple!!!” threads and comments are just hilariously silly. Purism isn’t thinking of competition and fighting for market dominance or anything, they’re thinking of making a fully FOSS machine because it was founded by people that want to do that.

A social purpose company. A company that exists to achieve a social purpose. Anyone going on about them trying to compete with big companies needs to read the thing I linked and understand that Purism is not a profit-driven company looking to “compete” with anyone. If that makes you lose faith in them for some weird reason you can go back to whatever company gets your stock-trading capitalistic dick hard. /endrant

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@Alex, it seems to me you are arguing that it’s fine for Purism to be managing their company as they are because they are a social purpose company. Is that correct? If not, please clarify what you meant.

I think that more efficient business management would allow them to achieve their stated purpose more effectively. The document you have linked to says:

The Corporation will prioritize privacy, security, and freedom for its customers.

As you have acknowledged, it is not realistic for them to expect to meet their goals solely on donations. They are providing their Librem laptops and phone in order to fund their R&D to perpetuate their stated goal. The more demand there is for their devices, the less resources Purism will need to produce one unit and the more they can put into their R&D towards their purpose. If there isn’t enough demand, Purism will eventually run out of funds and its purpose will reach a stand-still.

The result of the first few years of this cycle is the Librem 5, which I’m guessing would not have come to where it is now as quickly if they had not effectively marketed both it and the laptops. Effective marketing is key.

In October 2017, Purism was able to neutralize and disable the Intel management Engine because they had the funds to perpetuate their attempts to crack it – I doubt the process was cheap. If they were merely hobbyists or ran exclusively on donations, they would likely have taken much longer.

If Purism was run less efficiently, they would not have had as much funding for these milestones. The more efficiently Purism is run, the more resources they can put into R&D.

That brings me to the topic at hand. Is it inefficient to put resources into PureOS? In my opinion, it is not. Managing a distro does cost some resources, but it also allows them to push their hardware support to their customers at the cutting-edge level. Suppose they shipped with a pre-configured Trisquel. How long would it take for one of their patches to make its way into the Trisquel packages? If it’s a patch to the kernel, the kernel manager first has to approve and integrate it, then it needs to move up the line until Trisquel approves and integrates it. It seems this latency is something Purism wants to avoid. This goes back to its requirement to “prioritize privacy, security, and freedom for its customers.” If a patch fixes issues involving one of these priorities, doesn’t it follow that it should be integrated as quickly as possible? Furthermore, if for some reason Trisquel or the other OSes go in a direction contrary to Purism’s purpose, maintaining a separate OS will allow Purism to quickly avoid it. Finally, it is more efficient on the user end to install a custom OS built for the hardware than to configure a different OS to use the hardware if the user decides to do a complete re-install. More options grants the user more freedom than few; do I need to point to Purism’s purpose again?


I also think it makes a lot of sense to ship their own distro so that they have more input over the quality and consistency of their products. Regardless of what you think of Apple, they obviously know how to sell things, and I think a lot of people who buy Macs appreciate the combo of running MacOS on a Mac, and iOS on an iPhone. It’s a unified brand image that people like. So I think running PureOS on a Purism laptop will sell well. System76 recently switched to shipping their own Pop! OS as well. They’ve been around a bit longer and for a long time just shipped Ubuntu, but if they’ve decided to switch to shipping their own, I think it says something about the effectiveness.

Especially also given Purism’s goal of convergence with the Librem 5, I think a consistent and thematically coherent presentation across the phone and the laptops will go a long way towards selling units. To achieve that consistency, you need to control the defaults.

Of course then users will then have much more control over what they end up doing with it than on Apple devices, so they can make it look however they want once it’s in their hands.

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I don’t think the majority goes this far. Besides that Apples specifically blocks using another OS on their mobile devices, and don’t provide adequate drivers to allow other OSes to take advantage of Apple hardware. It’s their walled garden philosophy. You don’t buy an apple product, you buy the ability to use it, but it’s not really yours.

The beautiful thing about Purism products (to date) is that they will run whatever you want on them, and they are making no efforts to prevent that.

Purism using their own OS, is a way to give fuel to the FLOSS cause. As the number of Purism customers increases so to will the market space for that software. It gives developers a reason to target the platform, and not just the ones who have been here the longest and wearing tin-foil hats. It encourages other developers who have maybe never given the FLOSS idea a second though, an opportunity to see it under a completely functional light, with promise for continued growth.

At the same time, they don’t limit what you can install PureOS on.

Everything they do illuminates how serious they take their foundation guiding principles. It is refreshing to say the least.


on a more subjective note - i do like the vanilla gnome more than i like how trisquel wm feels like.

why should trisquel and pureos merge and become one when you can have both their strengths and weakneses. the linux ecosistem is strong and is what it is today because of how it naturally weaves into each part of it’s ecosistem and holds it in place. Purism is just a part of that ecosistem and it doesn’t need to be more but if one day it becomes more then that is OK and we will see how that looks when the time comes.


Entertaining discussion. As a less technical buyer than those who have responded here, let me say that Purism’s defeat of the Intel Mgmt Engine was the first thing that attracted me to their laptops. The FSF endorsement swayed me to Purism over System76. The PureOS was a concern, as was their browser, but I was comfortable that their mods were minimal and would not overly lengthen the support chain and that they could afford to fork. In other words, PureOS and PureBrowser are of minimal concern to me. I’m more concerned about where an open Bluetooth driver will come from and whether I will someday have a truly tamper-proof laptop with a hardware key. (I expect so.)

OTOH, I won’t touch the phone, although I want a free phone more than a free laptop. I don’t know if Purism intends to become a phone company and that is a problem. Who and where is the phone company behind the phone? Until that issue is addressed, the phone makes no sense to me.

Why and how would that be a problem? How would a big, profit oriented company behind it make it better? Purism will turn into a phone company to the extent people buy phones from them. In general, they are a privacy/freedom computing company with laptops, phones, security tokens and possibly some network equipment (NAS, routers).

To be successful, Purism doesn’t need to sell millions of phones. It’s sustainable if they can sell a few hundred per month. 1,000 would be great, 10,000 would be sheer awesomeness.

If you want to see change, don’t be a skeptic. Skeptics don’t change the world :sunglasses:


We can hope right? A NAS would be great!

Also, a phone without a carrier company behind it will drive carriers towards using standards. If people buy that phone, that is. So buy it :slight_smile:


To be honest, I wasn’t even sure if by “phone company” they meant a carrier pushing it in their stores (T-Mobile) or more like a hardware partner (Samsung). IMO, both are completely irrelevant.
On the hardware side, all they need is growth, so they can be (even more) innovative.
On the carrier side: The baseband chip is already treated like a leper:

  • It’s a 3rd party module with certified 3rd party code on it, so not trustworthy, without access to the system. So, whether or not it complies with standards is not much of (our) concern, and I doubt carriers give a ****, unless you mess with their infrastructure, which is why it’s certified 3rd party code…
  • This will likely not change (soon), as Todd Weaver, speaking of a “no carrier phone”, rather envisions a future where classic phone numbers are an relic of the past. Nowadays, all traffic is IP-based, phone is now on top of it, with classic numbers for backwards compatibility (and because it’s profitable to sell the same copper line twice…). Most likely, we’ll still have classic phone numbers in two decades, but I could imagine that popularity declines.

(I feel like this thread has been derailed :sunglasses:)

You can’t have a phone without a phone service to translate phone numbers into IP connections and provide gateway service to plain old telephone service. Even if it is to be all VoIP, there needs to be a service to interconnect everything on the IP network.