At first I thought about writing your typical hardware review, however, it seems like they can become repetitive by following a similar layout to cover similar hardware and software aspects of the machine. Instead, I want to briefly talk about how I justified the cost of and my first impressions of the laptop as an end user.
I wanted to replace my old and cracking Thinkpad x230 running Coreboot, gain NVMe support, and finally get back to a 1080p screen. My main reasons for purchasing this laptop was because Purism supports privacy and ships Coreboot on their machines. As I said in an earlier post, I think it’s important to support companies providing specialty hardware like this so it continues to be available and may prompt others to follow suit. For example, it was great to see Purism start disabling Intel Me, followed by System 76, and even Dell.
Initially, I was supposed to receive my laptop around August… My understanding is there were supply chain issues, Coreboot kinks to work out, and a large effort on the phone (I pre-ordered one of these too) funding campaign which delayed shipments. The laptop finally arrived in December. I tried to be very understanding of this because, in my view, Purism is a smaller company that does not have the resources to have a large amount of stock on hand like other established hardware providers. They do everything in batches. They were also releasing the first i7 version of the Librem 13 v2 with Coreboot support. Sill, it would have been nice to have had better expectations set upfront and to have been better kept in the loop of progress and delays.
After unboxing the laptop I was honestly I little worried it would not meet my expectations. I have been using a Thinkpad of some sort for the last eight years and have grown accustomed to their feel and durability. While the aluminum body looks great, it almost felt fragile, and at first I was worried about damaging it. I also read some reviews about it showing lots of grease from your fingers. However, after using the laptop for the last three weeks it has really grown on me and I am happy with the feel of everything.
The finish does show some spots, but they are not nearly as bad as some other posts made me think. I actually think the trackpad will be more resistant to the typical Thinkpad-trackpad-wear, in which a large greasy/polished/shiny spots shows up where it is used the most. Time will tell.
I killed PureOS in favor of running Qubes OS too quickly to give much of a review, but the setup was quick and easy. If you are new to running Linux I would recommend sticking with PureOS because it is easy to use, a derivative of Debian, and was recently added to the Free Software Foundation‘s list of endorsed distributions. Currently, I am having a major problem with Qubes 3.2 as it will not resume from suspend…
Overall, I am real happy with the final product that was delivered. It will take a little time to get used to a new keyboard layout and I am eagerly awaiting VT-d support to be added so Qubes OS 4.0 will be supported.