A Linux laptop with security at its core: Purism's Librem PCs now widely available

Fans of the Librem 13 and Librem 15 no longer need to wait months before receiving orders.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

The free software Purism Librem laptop.

Image: Purism

US laptop maker Purism has announced the general availability of its privacy-focused Librem 13 and Librem 15 laptops.

The company ran two crowd-funding campaigns to launch its high-end Librem 15 in 2015, and, later that year, the slightly cheaper and smaller Librem 13.

The laptops prioritize privacy, security, and open-source software, offering features such as dedicated camera and microphone kill switches, as well as its own Debian-based PureOS.

Purism says it's raised $2.5m through crowdfunding and seed funding since 2015. It's now ready to invest in inventory to enable it to deliver orders faster. Until now, all laptops were made-to-order and took months to deliver, whereas orders can now be delivered within a "few weeks after purchase".

The decision to stock the laptops was taken to satisfy accelerating demand, according to Pursim, which claims its been "experiencing 38% and 35% average monthly growth over the last 12 months for its Librem 13" and 15" laptops, respectively".

"Going from made-to-order to holding inventory is proof positive that there is a growing demand for products like the Librem," said Todd Weaver, CEO and Founder at Purism.

"Users are starting to realize that security features are no longer a 'nice to have' but a necessity to protect their increasingly precious digital identity."

To boost its security credentials, Purism has also teamed up with security researcher Trammell Hudson to bring his Heads firmware to Librem laptops. Hudson's work includes the discovery of a bug in the Mac's Thunderbolt port, called Thunderstrike, that could be used to install malware.

Purism's claim that it would only run free software right down to the kernel was treated with skepticism from open source developers, given the laptops run on Intel chips. A sore point was that its first devices shipped with a proprietary AMI UEFI BIOS.

However, Purism has been working on porting the open-source Coreboot BIOS to its 13" and 15" models. The Coreboot project aims to replace proprietary BIOS and UEFI firmware. Purism claimed recently Coreboot firmware would be pre-installed on devices shipping from June.

Purism's laptops aren't cheap. The Librem 13 with Intel's Skylake Core i5 processor starts at $1,699, while the Librem 15 costs $1,999.

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