Librem Linux Laptop Drops NVIDIA Graphics But Still Coming Up Short Of Goal
Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 23 December 2014 at 04:06 AM EST. 20 Comments
HARDWARE --
Last month I wrote about the Librem 15 as an open-source Linux laptop to the firmware, albeit it showed a number of shortcomings. Since then there's been a number of updates and other news sites are reporting on this "open-source friendly laptop", while here's my latest thoughts on this high-end Linux laptop.

One of the oddest things I found about the crowd-funded Librem 15 laptop when writing about it last month was that it wanted to be open-source down to the component firmware/microcode yet they opted to ship with a NVIDIA GPU. In an updated earlier this month, at least they came to their senses and dropped the discrete NVIDIA GPU. While I have no problems recommending NVIDIA graphics for Linux gamers and those wanting the best performance, that's only when using the proprietary drivers, and certainly wouldn't recommend it for a fully open-source system -- NVIDIA on the desktop side doesn't do much for the open-source drivers, let alone down to the firmware/microcode level. Instead the Librem folks have opted to upgrade the design to using an Intel Core i7 4770HQ processor that features more powerful Intel Iris Pro 5200 Graphics, which isn't as powerful as a discrete NVIDIA GPU but at least is more open-source friendly.


The Librem 15 laptop has also been upgraded to an eight-layer motherboard design to make room for four physical RAM slots and thus increasing the maximum system memory support to 32GB.

Last but not least, the Librem 15 has been upgraded to an option of having a 4K (3840 x 2160) display as an alternative over the stock 1080p screen.

With a laptop that's Linux-friendly, sporting an Intel Core i7 CPU with Iris Graphics, up to 32GB of RAM, and a 4K display, now that at least is a laptop beginning to interest me more.... Much more! The specs are starting to sound very good for a Linux laptop, but still of concern is the price (which obviously will come at a premium compared to offerings from tier-one manufacturers) but of equal concern is the build quality. I'm not yet sold on the build quality of the Librem 15, especially when it would cost more than a high-end ThinkPad or MacBook Pro. The Librem 15 with 8GB of RAM, 250GB SSD, and 4K display would cost $2484 USD at current pricing levels.

Evidently not many others are sold on this open-source Linux laptop. Originally the campaign was slated to end by the end of the year but now it's been extended through the end of January. At the time of writing, the CrowdSupply campaign has yielded $113,823 in sales of the $250,000 USD goal. With the extension and this campaign already having been active for quite a while, they're still at less than 50% their goal.

Those wishing to learn more can visit the Librem 15 campaign page.
About The Author
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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