Author Topic: Computer advice: Purism Librem for Linux newbie?  (Read 256 times)

BurbPlanner

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Computer advice: Purism Librem for Linux newbie?
« on: July 07, 2019, 10:54:38 AM »
My ancient HP laptop will need to be replaced soon, and I've started considering my options. I know that a frugal choice would be a used business machine as recommended in another thread.

However, I am increasingly concerned about digital privacy/risk, and my SIL and BIL have purchased super-secure laptops for their kids (https://puri.sm/products/). My BIL is a software engineer, and I am totally inexperienced as anything but a basic user on Windows and Macs.

Aside from the cost, which is comparable to Mac or other higher-end laptop, I'm concerned that there will be more of a learning curve than I'm up for. It's not that I think I am not capable of learning, but that I am not interested in putting in the time at this point in my life. Demanding full-time job, young kids, other interests and goals, etc.

Any advice from those who have used PureOS, or made a similar switch? What should I expect for care and feeding? What constraints should I be aware of before making this decision?

RWD

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Re: Computer advice: Purism Librem for Linux newbie?
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2019, 12:56:08 PM »
The hardest part of Linux is installing it yourself and troubleshooting compatibility issues. When buying a complete solution you don't have to worry about that, everything should just work. If you aren't doing anything particularly specialized then it should be very easy to learn.

I haven't used PureOS specifically but I see it uses the Gnome desktop environment which I do have some experience with. I personally prefer Xfce but Gnome has been around a long time and should be easy to understand.

Syonyk

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Re: Computer advice: Purism Librem for Linux newbie?
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2019, 07:03:15 PM »
You could install PureOS on other hardware, if you wanted: https://www.pureos.net/

The Purism hardware is certainly an excellent set of design tradeoffs - for a particular risk profile of user.  If you're a basic user, you're not that target market, and the hardware features that Purism offers are of remarkably little value to you.  Quite simply, if you can't explain how trusted boot works, what evil maid attacks are, know something about firmware image verification, etc, the hardware isn't going to be of any particular value.  The hardware cutoffs are nice, but unless you're seriously worried about that sort of thing (or are taking the hardware into places where wireless is disallowed), it's not of much value to a typical user.

The hardware isn't magically secure.  It's a low volume, high priced laptop that's built around some of Invisible Things' design principles, with a minimal amount of firmware in the various hardware controllers, an auditable main flash chip for the firmware, a set of features well suited to heavy virtualization based isolation, and a decent OS distribution running on top of it.  If you want something to run Qubes, it's a fairly good option - and I certainly agree with their design choices and their work to neuter the ME, but... I also know what all that means.  For what it's worth, I don't (yet) own one.

But it's not going to prevent stupid, and if you're not interested in putting in the time to learn a new OS, don't buy one.  Get a used business grade laptop, flash the firmware to the latest version, put Win10 on it, use Firefox or Chrome with some ad blocking/tracker blocking extensions, and call it good.

OurFirstFire

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Re: Computer advice: Purism Librem for Linux newbie?
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2019, 07:20:08 PM »
In general I wouldn't recommend Linux for an average desktop user.  I develop for embedded Linux systems but using Linux as my primary OS just isn't worth it for me.  It's desktop environment can be very simple to use, but things like getting wifi printing and scanning to work can be maddening and there are major holes in software availability.    Everyone I know that uses Linux as a primary machine dual boots or has some other access to Windows for doing the little everyday tasks that Linux doesn't have solutions for.

RWD

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Re: Computer advice: Purism Librem for Linux newbie?
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2019, 07:31:46 PM »
In general I wouldn't recommend Linux for an average desktop user.  I develop for embedded Linux systems but using Linux as my primary OS just isn't worth it for me.  It's desktop environment can be very simple to use, but things like getting wifi printing and scanning to work can be maddening and there are major holes in software availability.    Everyone I know that uses Linux as a primary machine dual boots or has some other access to Windows for doing the little everyday tasks that Linux doesn't have solutions for.

I have been using Linux as my only OS for nearly a decade now, no dual boot. I highly disagree that there are major holes in software availability unless you are a gamer or doing certain things professionally.

BurbPlanner

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Re: Computer advice: Purism Librem for Linux newbie?
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2019, 08:11:42 PM »
Thanks for the responses, everyone.

I'm going to do a little more research into specific shortcomings other users might have identified, and keep the used business-grade laptop as a good option.

OurFirstFire

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Re: Computer advice: Purism Librem for Linux newbie?
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2019, 08:38:43 PM »
In general I wouldn't recommend Linux for an average desktop user.  I develop for embedded Linux systems but using Linux as my primary OS just isn't worth it for me.  It's desktop environment can be very simple to use, but things like getting wifi printing and scanning to work can be maddening and there are major holes in software availability.    Everyone I know that uses Linux as a primary machine dual boots or has some other access to Windows for doing the little everyday tasks that Linux doesn't have solutions for.

I have been using Linux as my only OS for nearly a decade now, no dual boot. I highly disagree that there are major holes in software availability unless you are a gamer or doing certain things professionally.

Glad to hear you've had a good experience!  Namely, the holes I've encountered are PDF editing/annotating, scanning (with built-in OCR), and Excel with macros.  Also my Canon printer would only print with the color cartridge, even for grayscale.  All the Linux solutions I tried we're just way less useful than their Windows counterparts.  I switched back to Windows and use the Linux subsystem for everything I like about Linux. I'll never take the free bloated software that comes with my printer for granted again.

Syonyk

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Re: Computer advice: Purism Librem for Linux newbie?
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2019, 09:30:32 PM »
I've never regretted spending money on a good Postscript capable network laser printer.  It just works.