fsf stop endorsing purism start criticizing it

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tonlee
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https://libreplanet.org/2020/speakers/#2464
https://www.fsf.org/givingguide/v10/
In more than one rss, fsf has made favorable comments
about purism and their products.

It is documented that purism from the beginning has
been either amateurish ignorant or plain liars
about what how free software their products would become. They
have continuously made people believe their
products would stand a change of getting ryf
approval from fsf. I and likely others have emailed fsf
on the matter. No effect.
What is it about fsf? Does it get money or hardware from
purism? It takes one email to libreboot or replicant to
get the facts straight.
If you are a fsf official, then comment on this post.

When people have mentioned purism products favorable, then
I have told them the above. People have not been able
to counter my arguments. Still almost always, they have
defended purism. How does it look, when you are calling purism
out and at the same time fsf displays approval and
endorsement of purism?

If fsf thinks it has to mention the librem 5 on its website,
then you are required to tell, how purism have mislead people.

My understanding is, purism has been allowed to present its
products in the vicinity of libreplanet. A wrong decision. Now
libreplanet has given purism a libreplanet talk. What a peak
of incompetence from libreplanet.
Libreplanet cancel the talk. If you are attending the talk,
then interrupt the talk. Confront the speaker with their
history of misleading people.

zapper (not verified)
zapper

I agree with this wholeheartedly. Especially with intel me within those computers. Its not like they are corebooting them + me cleaning + being backdoor free.

Even if the first two happened, I still would be suspicious.

;/

chaosmonk

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> Its not like they are corebooting them + me cleaning + being backdoor free.

> Even if the first two happened, I still would be suspicious.

I have my complaints about Purism, but my understanding is the most recent line of Purism laptops do in fact do the first two (coreboot and me_cleaner).

zapper (not verified)
zapper

That's at least one good thing. Now if only they would ditch intel altogether in favor of arm or risc-v.

Won't happen right away probably though.

and in the case of arm. never i assume.

Either way though, intel has many, many vulnerabilities besides their backdoor intel_me.

Of course there pureos also supposedly uses a vanilla linux kernel but that's a rumor of which im not sure of yet. ;)

if anyone knows, report to fsf for sure. :)

Magic Banana

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More groundless accusations...

zapper (not verified)
zapper

I said that i didnt know for a fact, however I do recall a few people, Luke of the Hyperbola project seemed to say this. You can always check for yourself.

I am not really sure if hes right or wrong, but I would like the answer.

So yeah, I am saying its possible not that it definitely is.

strypey
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Zapper:
> Now if only they would ditch intel altogether in favor of arm or risc-v.

If these are capable of the processing power required by modern laptops, I expect they'll do exactly that when they next design a new laptop. Neither of these were options when the current Purism laptops were designed and put into production, and they would be foolish to start designing new laptops when they are still trying to get the Librem 5 mobile device into full production. If the perennial anti-Purism FUD-spewers on this forum succeed in putting them out of business, then a) they won't be able to do this, and b) no other business will bother trying. Luckily, most people seem to be ignoring the FUD.

tonlee
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> Neither of these were options when the current Purism laptops were designed

No, they were not. But it does not justify a company to start lying about
their products.

> anti-Purism FUD-spewers

Start countering the arguments supporting purism has acted fraudulently instead.

a) they won't be able to do this

If purism had marketed their products accurately, then there would have been nothing to
criticize. It is pitiable reasoning to say, a company can lie. Also if in some
fields it contributes to free software.

b) no other business will bother trying

It is common behavior for purism apologists, that they do not relate to the lies. If a
company does not lie, there is no occasion for criticism.

strypey
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Tonleee:
> It is common behavior for purism apologists, that they do not relate to the lies

This claim - that Purism lied - is itself part of the FUD. It gets tiring to explain, over and over again, that there is no smoking gun evidence that Purism set out to deceive anyone. Their website began with some overly enthusiastic aspirational marketing, which lacked sufficient technical detail to be 100% transparent about the compromises they made with their first two laptop models. AFAIK this technical detail was added as soon as the issues were raised with them.

Can you point to any "lies" Purism is telling on their website or in any of their official communications channels right now?

Can you offer any evidence that Purism *intended* to deceive their customers?

If we can just accuse anyone of anything without evidence, then I could accuse you of being a shill for Microsoft, spreading FUD about Purism to make it harder to small businesses to succeed in selling devices with GNU/Linux as the native OS.

chaosmonk

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> It gets tiring to explain, over and over again, that there is no smoking gun evidence that Purism set out to deceive anyone.

I think this sentence is a good example of why this topic is tiring for both sides. People are talking past each other. Since no one (to my recollection) has claimed that there is such "smoking gun evidence", explaining that there there isn't does not contradict the views of Purism critics, so it does not change their mind. To you, this feels like they aren't listening. To them, it feels that you are ignoring their actual views and attacking a straw man. For the most part, the main criticism that I have seen made of Purism is that they have made many misleading statements. This claim doesn't require proof of intent. A misleading statement is not necessarily intended to be misleading. It might be misleading because it is poorly worded, lacking context, intended for a different audience, etc. Tonlee did just use the word "lie", and that may be too harsh, but focusing on that does not address why many people feel the way they do about Purism. Accusations of FUD *do* assume intent, so when you accuse people of this, I encourage you to consider whether all of them are really working to strategically spread false information, or if some of them might be honestly concerned about the effects of Purism's approach to discussing important and often complicated topics.

I have seen plenty of statements by Purism which are often technically true, but for which the most obvious interpretation by a casual reader would be untrue. Purism has made statements which at times implied things like (a) Every line of code in the Librem stack has been audited; (b) Every line of code in the Librem stack was written by Purism; (c) Purism was involved in writing the kernel patches for Meltdown and Spectre; (d) the Librem 5 can be used normally without the user being tracked; (e) Librem laptops are uniquely secure; (f) Purism has plans to reverse-engineer low-level Intel code.

With some scrutiny and context, there's usually another more truthful interpretation: (a) Most lines of code in the Librem stack could in theory be audited; (b) most lines of code in the Librem stack are packaged and distributed by Purism; (c) PureOS uses Debian's kernel, which incorporates the Meltdown and Spectre patches; (d) the main computer of the Librem 5 running PureOS will not track the user, and the secondary computer which does track the user can be disabled at the expense of telephony features; (e) for normal threat models, Librem laptops are significantly more secure than laptops running Windows, and for some more extreme threat models they are more secure than many laptops which also run GNU/Linux; (f) okay, this one is hard to defend, but Todd took the tweet down pretty quickly.

However, the cumulative effect of these technically true statements is that people are often misinformed, or believe that they are more informed than they think they are, about Purism's products and (much more importantly) software freedom and security issues in general. I have seen people whose takeaway was that Coreboot is 100% free software, or that the Librem 5 is endorsed by the FSF. Purism might not have literally made these claims, but it is entirely understandable for readers to come way with such impressions. I don't know if you've ever browsed the Purism forum or watched any YouTube reviews of Purism products, but doing so is pretty revealing. The community of people actually *using* Purism's products are often misinformed or under-informed and have a false sense of security. Purism scared them into buying a $1500 laptop for reasons they didn't really understand, and now their minds are at ease and they just need help installing Spotify.

I can't speak for everyone who criticizes Purism, but I believe that technical advancements and education are both important to the free software movement, and my assessment is that Purism is helping with the former while hurting the latter. Arguments about Purism in this forum have often turned into one side focusing on the negatives, one side focusing the positives, and both sides getting frustrated because the other side doesn't seem to be listening. I used to overemphasize the negatives. I now try to give both sides, accurately and specifically describing the technical merits of Purism's products, while filling in important information that I feel Purism glosses over or otherwise fails to convey.

Some of the negative posts about Purism have definitely gone too far, and I am glad that you push back against these, but I think there have also been some informed criticisms made in good faith, and dismissing all of them as FUD is unfair. Like you, I don't want Purism to fail, and I think you are right to push back against exaggerated criticisms, particularly those which might imply that Purism products are *less* secure than most. However, refusing to acknowledge and correct Purism's misleading statements is swinging too far in the other direction, and is actually hurting Pine64 right now in practice in the exact way that you are worried Purism could be hurt in theory:

Based on the information we have now, it seems likely that the the Librem 5 will be pretty similar to the Pinephone freedom-wise, and the Pinephone may be a little better. The Pinephone requires non-free software for telephony, GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth. The Librem 5 probably will too, plus additional non-free software for the screen. However, you wouldn't know this from reading many comparisons of the two devices. Take a look at [this review][1], which writes:

"Both devices are highly privacy-oriented... However, only the Librem 5 is certified to be fully free software when it comes to kernel, drivers and bootloader, and unlike the PinePhone is endorsed by the Free Software Foundation for a Linux experience that will be, with much effort, one of the rare ones to be entirely free from proprietary software."

and

"If you need performance and a fully privacy-respecting, libre smartphone, the Purism Librem 5 is probably your best bet. However, if you just need a low-cost, entry-level Linux mobile device, and prefer Plasma to the GNOME ecosystem, the PinePhone will probably be more than satisfying."

The author is of course mistaken about the Librem 5. They are probably confusing the FSF's endorsement of FSDG distros with their RYF verification, which is for hardware products. Purism has touted the FSF's endorsement of PureOS and not always been adequately clear that this is not an endorsement of their hardware products, so it is understandable that the author is confused, but it is unfair to Pine64, who is essentially being punished for their transparency.

(Btw, the Pinephone can also run Phosh, Purism's GNOME fork. My Pinephone currently has Debian+Phosh installed, which is pretty much what the Librem 5 will run minus Purism's branding.)

Articles like that one have led to a misconception that the Pinephone has serious freedom issues, when as far as I know it is actually the most free phone yet. (Devices that can run Replicant/LineageOS not only require non-free software for telephony, WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth, but also require non-free software in order to boot.) Around the time that the Pinephone Braveheart edition was shipping, they had to publish [a statement][2] correcting some of this misinformation.

I was about to link to the Pinephone's Wikipedia page as another example, but I am glad to see that it has been revised since I last looked at it. It used to be basically an advertisement for the Librem 5, repeating the claim that the Librem 5 will be 100% free software and endorsed by the FSF, and implying the Pinephone is less free in comparison.

[1]: https://tuxphones.com/purism-librem-5-vs-pine64-pinephone-linux-smartphone-comparison/

[2]: https://www.pine64.org/2020/01/24/setting-the-record-straight-pinephone-misconceptions/

zigote
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> A misleading statement is not necessarily intended to be misleading. It might be misleading because it is poorly worded, lacking context, intended for a different audience, etc.

In the particular case of Purism the statements and the whole language are very carefully tailored to create the misleading impression.

Their approach is:

(1) to speak of freedom and security perfectionism, of their utopia and their hard work and milestones towards that utopia

To make that more touching to the reader:

(2) they add criticism of the dystopia, personal notes (e.g. about Todd Weaver's daughters and how much he doesn't want they to be tracked etc).

So with (1) and (2) they instantly catch the attention of their target buyer and pump him with energy to keep reading.

(3) They rarely avoid a case to underline that "their" PureOS is "FSF endorsed". So in their text you would very often read phrases like "FSF endorsed PureOS" and more rarely just "PureOS". That is not because of lack of intent.

So the reader is completely "caught" by the promise of the perfect dream come true.

(4) Parallel to all that they speak of the hardware they sell, including technical info thus "proving" that they are not just talkers but actual experts who deliver some extreme quality product in which all details have been paid attention to.

Blending all this in an "progress update" or other article is a purposed marketing propaganda. One may argue that "there is nothing wrong or unfair in selling/marketing a product" but there is because when you mix the language of science and technology with the language aimed to create and satisfy emotion you are:

- not really sharing tech-science (as a pure tech article would do), you are simply trying to sound scientific for other purpose

- not truly concerned about anyone's feeling or emotions, you are merely exploiting the existing predispositions of the reader

Doing this has one purpose: to manipulate the reader to do something for you. Manipulating others in such cunning way is neither ethical (which they claim to be) nor a "social purpose" - what they proclaim to be.

An honest approach would be:

A. Either be completely technical and point out verifiable facts without any bias whatsoever, without accenting on what you like or dislike. Then say: here are the product specs and price. Nothing more or less.

B. Or be completely emotional, share your dreams, shed tears in prose about your dreams and/or personal struggles, then sell a novel about it

The moment A. and B. get mixed intentionally the vendor is not different from the other sly manipulators.

https://trisquel.info/en/forum/librem5-and-why-i-am-no-longer-interested

chaosmonk

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> In the particular case of Purism the statements and the whole language are very carefully tailored to create the misleading impression.

I personally agree with you, and you are one of the people I was thinking of when I wrote "there have also been some informed criticisms made in good faith, and dismissing all of them as FUD is unfair." However, I know from prior conversations that strypey doesn't find this argument convincing, so rather than repeat it I am trying to find common ground by focusing on the effect of Purism's actions rather than the intentions behind them. It isn't necessary to prove intent in order to demonstrate harm.

zigote
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Yes, I read how he calls it "FUD" but I neither fear, nor I am trying to scare anyone. There is no uncertainty either because I simply point out observable facts. Without doubt there is no way to question anything and without questioning one cannot possibly see the truth of anything - one would simply be told "buy this because I can tell you beautiful things about it" and he will buy it.

GrevenGull
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What do you mean by " It isn't necessary to prove intent in order to demonstrate harm."?

chaosmonk

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We can examine the effects of Purism's actions and determine whether or not they cause harm (which requires only observation) without knowing or arguing over whether Purism *intends* to cause harm (which would require us to read their minds).

koszkonutek
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This (#9) chaosmonk's post puts the facts so clear and explains the cause of the argument so well I would upvote it 10 times if I could

tonlee
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> there is no smoking gun

Yes there is. I think purism sat down and devised a plan intending
purposefully to deceive people. I cannot show that is what
happened. When the controversy about the librem 15 surfaced, I
assume someone told purismen about the impossibility of getting
a ryf certificate for any new x86 intel cpu. From that point
on, purism was in bad faith. Precisely when that happened I do not know.

If it was purism responding here
https://trisquel.info/en/forum/librem-15-freelibre-and-open-source-laptop-respects-your-essential-freedoms
then it is proven that about november that year, purism was aware
how incorrect their advertisement was. Establishing an obligation to
rephrase the description of librem 15. First time achieve.org
notices that the description of librem 15 gets more accurate is
https://web.archive.org/web/20190219143500/https://puri.sm/learn/intel-me/
At that time purism had gotten the funds from people and could not
ship computers having a ryf certificate. The fact that you avoid
these arguments tells you either do not want to listen or are uninformed.

> channels right now?

With their back up against the wall, purism rephrased the
advertisement about its notebook. About the librem 5
advertisement, purism has turned more subtle. There are no lies
in the descriptions. Instead the phrasing is vague and
omitting. If purism wanted to, they could be more direct when
describing the limitations librem 5 has about free software.

chaosmonk

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> processing power required by modern laptops

Unless you are a compiling large programs or doing heavy video editing, a Pinebook Pro or X200/T400 should be plenty for normal desktop usage. Otherwise, having modern hardware is really only important for running Windows or macOS. There are legitimate reasons someone might need a "modern" laptop, but don't contribute to waste culture and the price-gouging of ignorant consumers by reinforcing the meme.

> If the perennial anti-Purism FUD-spewers on this forum succeed in putting them out of business

> no other business will bother trying

If Purism goes out of business it won't be because of handful of threads in this niche community's echo chamber. It will be because of their over-promising, their reliance on superficial hype and scaremongering to make their case to consumers, and their not-invented-here syndrome. Purism could have the best of intentions, but their approach has been a high-risk one that I would not urge other companies to emulate regardless. I'll say the same thing about EOMA68, despite how worthy of an endeavor I think it was and the immense respect I have for Luke.

If there's one company or project I think we ought to look to as an example for others to emulate, it's Pine64. They work in meaningful but modest steps that don't incur much risk. Rather than develop their own software, they work with other free software projects to target their devices, which keeps their costs down, avoids redundant work, and builds inroads with free software communities. Rather than try to make a large profit on any one project, they charge just enough to make their money back and look toward the next project, which makes their products accessible to many more people.

strypey
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chaosmonk:
> If Purism goes out of business it won't be because of handful of threads in this niche community's echo chamber.

Sure. But it could be because of people spewing the same FUD across a wide range of community forums, wherever people interested in GNU/Linux hardware gather. This is self-sabotaging behaviour (assuming their support for software freedom is genuine).

> If there's one company or project I think we ought to look to as an example for others to emulate, it's Pine64.

I prefer Pine64's practices to Purism's too, and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on a PinePhone. But I think it's a strength, not a weakness, that people are trying all sorts of different business approaches to commercializing GNU/Linux-native hardware and libre services. I agree we need to hold them accountable, to prevent freedom-washing. But as I've said before, it's important to be rigorously fair and accurate in our criticisms, and to give the benefit of the doubt unless and until it's impossible to do so.

Beko
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Purism has definitely been misleading by trying to claim that their products are free, when they use intel i-gen cpus.

I think what purism is doing is not bad or malicious, their computers are still a whole lot free-er than windows or mac, their phone is free-er than iphone or android.

They are moving free software forward in my humble opinion, simply by capitalizing on the market formed by free software enthusiasts. It seems there is more demand for free software nowadays, and purism laptops were the first 'free' laptops I came across when i was switching from windows.

As long as they are making progress, and each new machine they make is free-er than the last, I'll take the improvements.

That being said I don't own any purism products, and don't recommend them at this point in time.

PsychicEcho
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Isn't it somewhat questionable that Purism is sending their LibremPhone to YouTubers who have influence, and telling them that if they like the phone, they can keep it. That is something of a bribe, no? " If you tell people you like our product, you get free stuff. "

Then again, I understand that the business world is tough, and to survive in it you need be able to play dirty. In a perfect world it might be different...

FindEssential
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Holy he said/she said Batman!

Todd, the founder of Purism has an account on this forum. His arrogance, lack of respect toward community members/leaders, and his lies about Purism products are on full display. These posts are still up, simply search for them. He directly says Purism was seeking RYF for its products along with claims of working directly with not just FSF, but also RMS directly. This was six years ago, clearly it didn't happen, and as predicted then was never going to happen. Coreboot as a project even took the extra step to write a detailed blog post clearly explaining what Purism was saying was complete b/s. Again, this wasn't over zealous marketing, it was either willful dishonesty or incompetence to a level where no one should trust their products.

There is no FUD, it is clearly, and explicitly in print on this very forum.

This also isn't a "purity" issue. This community supports Think Penguin and various Libreboot cottage companies that all make their own compromises. We all do it every day and we all do the best we can within our personal use cases. What Purism does is say one thing and do another. If they hadn't done that or their founder hadn't acted like an angry child here this community likely would have been fine with what Purism is doing. In small, niche communities like this one, trust is the most important currency. Purism lit theirs on fire on day one, thats very hard to come back from.

Personally, its not even just Purism. There are other free software projects and cottage companies I do not support because I was turned off by how the person/'s behind the company handled themselves publicly on this forum or elsewhere. When you take your software freedom seriously you have to be able to trust those behind delivering the tools, if you don't it just makes better sense to go a different route.

Some folks in this thread support Purism, thats their right and there are logical reasons that make this point of view valid. It is equally valid why members of this community don't trust Purism as far as they can throw them, it isn't FUD. Either side treating the other with disrespect doesn't advance the goals of this community, its important to keep in mind when debates start to become a circular firing squads. Everyone gets hurt and nothing good can come from it.

PsychicEcho
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Could you point a post on this forum with Purism's founder, so I could catch up? Also, is there no doubt that this person's true identity is in fact Purism's founder?

Thanks