Purism Aims To Build A Philosophically Pure Laptop

Purism Librem 15 is a laptop that is not free as in beer but it is instead free as in “absolutely free and open and uncontrolled by outside forces ensures complete control of every aspect of the hardware at all times.” And that’s a good thing.

Created by Todd Weaver, the laptop is being funded on CrowdSupply and has already hit $270,000, surpassing its $250,000 goal. An early bird unit costs $1,849 and comes with 4GB memory and 500GB hard drive space. Essentially it’s a solid laptop running, according to Weaver, “fully free/libre, no mystery software Trisquel GNU/Linux operating system.”

“Painstakingly selecting every single component that goes into the Librem 15 laptop, Purism ensures they all will operate with free/libre and open source software within the kernel, the operating system, and all software applications,” he wrote.

Why did Weaver build this?

“First, I’ve never been satisfied with free software laptops. Second, the cryptographic bond between hardware and software is growing stronger (especially within mobile computing), the days of ‘buy hardware, strip it, load free software’ are dwindling, so I believed in the need to go upstream into the manufacturing process with the free software agenda was needed.”

Weaver and his team will assemble and load the software in San Francisco but source the motherboard and most other components from Asia. They have already negotiated a small run and are working with users to add improvements to the system.

“After a decade of wanting high quality hardware that respects my rights, and never finding one, I knew I couldn’t be the only one that believed what I believed. I met with Richard Stallman to discuss the idea of a sort-of Free Software Foundation equivalent for hardware, then started forming a team where we specified the hardware we needed to manufacture and began sourcing/fabricating it all. Once I had prototypes together, we decided to crowdfund, so we can keep our strong beliefs untainted by outside funding,” he said.

The campaign ends in eight days and is fully funded. Weaver has sold 500 laptops so far and it looks like a very fun and secure way to use free/libre software on a specific set of hardware. It’s a fascinating product and should be really cool when it all comes together.