​Free software GNU/Linux laptop in development

There are lots of Linux laptops, but none that have the Free Software Foundation's blessings. That may change.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Linux laptops are available from major computer OEMs such as Dell and Lenovo and specialized Linux vendors such as System76 and ZaReason, but the Free Software Foundation (FSF), which would prefer it if I referred to Linux as GNU/Linux, doesn't approve of any of them thanks to their use of proprietary firmware. That may not continue to be the case.

The Librem 15 may be the first "pure" free-software laptop to make it to market.
Portland, Oregon-based Crowd Supply, a curated crowdfunding and e-commerce company that focuses on open-source projects, has launched a project to create the first pure free-software laptop: Purism Librem 15.

This Kickstarter-like project is seeking $250,000, with $82,000 already raised by December 18, for the "first high-end laptop in the world that ships without mystery software in the kernel, operating system, or any software applications."

Purism, the company behind the Librem 15, promises that it will ship an Intel CPU fused to run unsigned BIOS code. The business's hope is that this will allow a future where free software can replace the proprietary, digitally signed, BIOS binaries.

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Richard M. Stallman, the FSF's president, said in a statement, "Getting rid of the signature checking is an important step. While it doesn't give us free code for the firmware, it means that users will really have control of the firmware once we get free code for it."

Purism is working on opening up the source code for the one set of binary blobs it must have for the device to work: the Intel Firmware Support Package (FSP)

This laptop is meant to be a high-end model. Engineers are promising customers a laptop with a 15.6-inch 1920x1080 display, a 3.4 Ghz 4-core Intel i7 CPU, Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200, 4 GBs of RAM, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and a 720p Webcam. It also comes with a high-end $1,499 price-tag if you help fund the project.

This laptop with its April 2015 release date will run Purism 64-bit GNU/Linux. This is a Trisquel-based operating system, which is based on Ubuntu Linux.

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