Librem 15: A Laptop That Respects Your Rights

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Aug

30

At Crossroads for the Librem 15″ 4K: Lessons Learned from Supply Chain Dependencies

The good news

Over the past few months, Purism has made great strides to improve on its hardware and software offering, as well as making your user & customer experience smoother. Besides shipping hundreds of Librem laptops to backers (we will give you a better overview of this in a separate blog post with interesting data visualizations):

Over the past year, we have been offering the option to pre-order the Librem 15 with a 4K (UltraHD/HiDPI) display. Our screen suppliers wanted to move to 4K as their standard offering, and sold us that it would be ready in time for us.

While we have been shipping hundreds of regular (1920×1080) Librem 15″ and Librem 13″ models, those of you who chose to order the 4K variant of the Librem 15″ model had to wait for the 4K displays to become available through our supply chain. A couple of delays happened, and we made it a point to always keep you up to date on the situation (as seen herehere and here). This summer, we were reasonably confident we would still be able to ship these 4K models by October this year.

The bad news

Today’s blog post is painful to write but necessary, as it continues our tradition of accountability towards you. Even as we poured our heart and soul into trying to make 4K happen, external factors made plan A, plan B, and even plan C derail. LG (and its subsidiaries) has now let us down, just like Samsung did, putting us back onto “infinite backorder with no ETA”. The difference, this time, is that there are no more “easily” accessible 4K display panels suppliers left to turn to, bringing us back to square one when it comes to this particular component. Everything else in the supply chain, including our own operations, was aligned and going well, so it’s not for lack of work and efforts on our part. Our mistake was to readily believe Samsung and LG on the future availability of their screens.

At this point, we don’t think having you wait any more is acceptable, so we’re giving up on the 4K variant of the Librem 15 for now; we will be providing the regular Librem 15 instead, along with other models and their upcoming revisions. We are going back to “2K” so that we can confidently ship the goods without introducing any further delays undermining your trust in what we’re doing.

Rest assured this not a decision we are taking lightly. We made heavy investments trying to make this happen, and have spent sums that we cannot recoup: approximately $75,000 in assembly line retooling and deposits for 4K screens to Samsung and LG for orders that will, it seems, never materialize. We are trying to negotiate and recover some of the supplier deposits, but at this point we have to consider this money a net loss. On the other hand, we’ve made other investments early in our campaign that were worth it (for example: $50k to place an initial order for rarer Intel CPUs requested by some backers, $25k to retool the motherboard to 6 layers to support 32GB of RAM, progressively growing our team…).

We will be intensifying our product & service development pace, and we are still working on everything else part of our mission (including the Intel ME issue, achieving FSF endorsement of our software and working toward FSF RYF certification of our hardware in the long term). With your help, we can do this.

The updated operations roadmap

“The roadmap”, artwork courtesy of our creative director François Téchené

We may revisit the switch to 4K later, when we can get absolute certainty about it (no more preorders, we’ll only believe display manufacturers when they have the 4K panels in stock and ready to ship for us immediately), but for now we must regroup our forces to win this war.

Our plans (for the next 12-24 months) are now:

  1. Begin shipping the 1920×1080 version of the Librem 15 in September and into October (instead of the 4K variant), as per the options provided to you further below.
  2. Order enough materials for the Librem 11, 13 and 15, so we can ship from stock (without having long delays discouraging people from buying).
  3. Plan/design our upcoming Purism phone (we will be posting a survey about this soon, stay tuned!).
    In mid-2017, redesign the Librem 13 and Librem 15, including ways to meet the hardware selection criteria to qualify for “RYF” certification by the Free Software Foundation.
  4. Release “Purist Services” (our upcoming secure and private telecommunications infrastructure for you to use).
  5. Launch the Purism phone as an invite-only pre-order campaign.
  6. Launch the new Librem 13 and Librem 15, ship from stock for all orders.

What are my options if I pre-ordered a Librem 15 “4K”?

Should you choose to get the Librem 15 with the 1920×1080 IPS screen as originally planned, which we do have in stock (a bit over 50 units that we can assemble and ship quickly; we will re-stock soon to meet the demand and ship the remainder during September-October), you have the following compensation options:

  1. Maintaining the configuration and pricetag you paid, and getting 150% of the difference in credit for our future products (including our upcoming Purism phone). Therefore, the ~$300 price difference of the 4K screen would become $450 in credit that you can reinvest in any of our future products and services. Besides being a pretty interesting “early bird” opportunity for you from a pricing standpoint, this will help us get faster to the goal of providing the Purism phone and Purist Services infrastructure. You will also get an invitation to be among the first ones to try our Purist Services.
  2. Upgrade your RAM and/or SSD on your Librem 15 for up to $450 in value.
  3. Normal refund of the price difference.

You can, of course, decide to switch to a different product of ours, such as the Librem 11 or 13, but that means you will have to wait a few more weeks than if you were to choose the original Librem 15.

Please contact us at support@puri.sm to let us know what you would prefer us to do with your order.

We’ll need your help to continue this journey.

As always, your patronage is an investment that helps us deliver on our promise and make the case for privacy-respecting Free Software computers. We are very grateful to all of you who are supporting us (through purchases, word-of-mouth, feedback, etc.) and making it possible for us to fulfill our mission. If you have any comments, suggestions or encouragements you would like to share, feel free to send us your thoughts at feedback@puri.sm — or come have a chat with us on the “#purism” IRC channel on Freenode.

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Todd Weaver

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