Waste of resources to ship your own OS?


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.


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.


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


@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.


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.