Luxury Linux. The Librem 13 is a privacy-focused Linux laptop from Purism, a boutique Linux OEM. While the device looks beautiful at first glance, software limitations and hardware bugs cripple the laptop and keep us from recommending it.
Most people are not aware that the world at large runs on Linux. From Android handsets to traffic control systems, from supercomputers to the Large Hadron Collider, from the vast majority of web servers to self-driving cars, Linux powers are most of the computer systems that make modern life possible. Despite its popularity throughout the industrial, scientific, and commercial world, however, Linux has a microscopic prevalence in the personal computer space (notwithstanding Android).
It’s rare, then, to see a company build a retail business off Linux-based consumer laptops. Purism is a such retailer. The company’s claim to fame is PureOS, a privacy-and security-focused Linux distro based on Debian. Purism also sells a pair of laptops designed specifically for PureOS, Librem 13 and Librem. We have formerly under review today and are willing to put a “pure” Linux laptop through its paces.
The Librem 13 looks out on paper. While the design still holds up, the internals were already older than the device’s 2017 release. Our machine uses a 6th grade Skylake Core i7-6500U, 8 GB of RAM, and a 120 GB SSD. The machine starts at US $ 1399 (6500U, 4 GB RAM, 120 GB SSD), which is a lot to ask for older hardware. Is the Linux experience worth the premium? Let’s take a look.
The 13.3-inch Ultrabook space has no shortage of competitors. Since the Librem 13 is computing on the go for, we will compare it to some popular and compact Windows alternatives. Dell’s XPS 13; Lenovo’s Yoga 730 and ThinkPad 13; The Huawei MateBook X Pro; and Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 2 come to mind.
A quick note before we start: some of our measurement tools and benchmarks are incompatible with PureOS. To that end, this review will be largely focused on the Librem 13’s hardware and experience using PureOS. We will not include a rating but will conclude the review with our general thoughts on Liberty 13 of a daily driver for the average user as viability.
, DDR4, 2133 MHz
, Intel SSD 520 120 GB, 116.2 GB free