RetroFreedom webshop launched! Freedom-respecting Libreboot laptops with Trisquel GNU+Linux. Secure, private. Free as in freedom

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libreleah
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Iscritto: 04/03/2017

Hi everyone :)

My name is Leah Rowe, and I'm the founder of the Libreboot project. I have an important announcement regarding my company selling Libreboot and Trisquel preinstalled laptops endorsed by the Free Software Foundation. The company is now called RetroFreedom.

On 10 November 2020, the webshop re-opened. It had shut down earlier in the year, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, as did many other businesses around the world. The newly launched webshop is here:

https://retrofreedom.com/

I decided that after all these years, I wanted a fresh new brand. That's when I came up with the new name! "Retro" is cool, especially when it's RetroFreedom!

I sell high quality, freedom-respecting laptops. The laptops come pre-installed with Libreboot, alongside Trisquel GNU+Linux. Together with libre WiFi support using ath9k-compatible modules, this makes them the most free-as-in-freedom laptops available. The Free Software Foundation has endorsed by company in the past, but it was offline for a while, until it re-launched 2 days ago. They had removed me from their list while I was offline; today, I have contacted them seeking re-endorsement.

You all know what Trisquel is if you're on this forum ;)

Libreboot is a fully free BIOS replacement, endorsed by the FSF. Generically, it is "free boot firmware". Boot firmware is the low-level initialization software that runs when you turn on your computer, initializing all of the hardware so that you can use an operating system such as Trisquel GNU+Linux. Libreboot systems are quite unique in this regard, because most other computers out there have proprietary boot firmware. Our systems are 100% Free Software at the low level.

Our great leader, Richard Stallman, uses a Libreboot laptop himself!

In fact, according to recent Trisquel 9 release announcement, Trisquel development servers are provided by the FSF, and are KGPE-D16 machines running Libreboot! The FSF also hosts https://gnu.org/ and https://fsf.org/ on Libreboot D16 servers.

Fundamental changes have been made to the business, so that it operates with complete efficiency. This has been done to cope with high order demand, so that I can supply laptops reliably, to more people! You can read about it here:

https://retrofreedom.com/company-relaunched/

To summarize, what are these changes?

Well, most Libreboot sellers build their laptops to order, usually after an order is placed, then they pack the laptops ready to ship. This is because many of them will provide multiple options such as 2nd batteries, different RAM, SSD and so on. In some cases, this complexity can cause those companies to delay in shipping (sometimes weeks, in extreme cases months) if there are too many orders. My business used to fall under this category.

Essentially, the change that I've made is this:

* Laptops are now pre-packed and ready to ship, before they go on sale. When you buy from RetroFreedom, the laptop is guaranteed to ship on the next business day, or on the same business day if payment is received early in the day. I use only the high quality UPS shipping services; they've always done right by me, and I stand by UPS!

* On the ordering system, a laptop is only considered to be "in stock" if it's packed, ready to ship to a customer that buys it. This 100% avoids the risk of supply problems when people buy.

In other words, let's say I have 100 laptops in my lab, but 0 of them are packed, then the laptop is listed as out of stock on the website!

* Because of this, simplifications were made: laptops now only come in 1 configuration (with 4G RAM and 250G HDD) but with lots of things included that were previously optional add-ons: such as docking station, 2nd battery, CD/DVD RW drive, extra power cables (US, EU and UK). All of these are now included by default, for a reasonable and affordable price. I tried to strike the correct balance in this, both in terms of price and including as much value for money as possible.

The mantra is this: quality over quantity! I take my time with each laptop, and make sure each one is perfect before I pack it. Then, and only then, does it go on the website. My previous operation attempted quality AND quantity. I think I made the right call, in making these changes to the business.

In a few weeks, I plan to offer 8G RAM + 480G SSD upgrade "kits" where the SSD already has Trisquel pre-installed, and the RAM guaranteed to be compatible with whatever Libreboot laptop it is. Replacing the RAM and HDD/SSD on a Libreboot laptop is very easy (just a few screws removed) and full picture+video instructions will be provided. Just install the RAM and the SSD (Trisquel will already be installed) and start using your computer! Therefore if you order a laptop today, but want more RAM and an SSD later on, you can purchase it separately.

* Misc items such as USB flash drives have been removed from the webshop. The shop now only focuses on high-value items such as laptops.

All of these simplifications mean that the company now operates 100% efficiently. My mother often says that I'm a genius, but that I lack common sense; it was she who told me I should change my operation in this way, when she visited me recently! I've always been an engineer running a business, not a business person trying to be an engineer. In fact, since launch on 10 November 2020, I've sold 5 laptops already (today is 12 November). 3 were sold and shipped yesterday (11 November); the other 2 were sold today (12 November), and have shipping labels on them waiting for UPS to collect :)

I decided to "test the waters" for 2 days, so to speak, before announcing on Trisquel forums, to test out my new business operation for real. On 10 November, I announced only on my twitter and on IRC. I made all these huge changes to the way I operate, but I didn't know how it would actually turn out. Well, it turned out just fine! Better than I hoped, in fact.

So I'm pleased to announce, that I am back in business! I'm proud to be a part of the Free Software community, and I will do my utmost to advance it in every way. The Libreboot laptops are only a small part of what I do :)

You can contact me, using the contact information on RetroFreedom.com and I am also @n4of7 on twitter.

Happy hacking!

Yours,
Leah Rowe.

PS: Full disclosure, in the interest of maximum honesty, since I anticipate that people whom the message is for below may respond on this thread:

As some of you may know, due to the inefficiencies of the old way my business operated, and due to an overwhelming surge in demand in late 2019, my company ran into some supply issues in late 2019. I ended up having to refund a lot of people, and I shut the company down for a while. I briefly re-opened at the start of 2020, fully ready to resume business, but then the covid pandemic hit which further halted my company, as it did with many other small businesses around the world.

These factors combined are the main reasons I shut down the company, and I spent time to recover it. I decided to revive the company for 2 reasons: I've noticed that a lot of people now are going back to work, despite covid and 2: covid vaccines have recently been announced in the media, so I'm anticipating that things are going back to normal soon. That, and it's christmas season. What better time to re-launch!

I'll cut right to the point: after I launched 2 days ago, someone contacted me privately, to tell me that their orders from before the company shut down were never shipped. They agreed to have their laptop shipped. One other person also contacted me, in the same situation, and today I refunded him.

If you are a person such as this, and I never shipped or refunded your order earlier this year before the company shut down, please tell me! Send me an email, using the information on the website. I will gladly either ship your laptop (I have a lot in stock) or refund you (money is good right now, and quite stable. I've set aside a budget specifically for such contingencies, so don't be afraid to ask). I wish to tie up all such remaining loose ends, to do right by anyone whom I accidentally left out. I apologize in advance if this applies to you.

And now, I would like to sing a song. Sing it with me!

Join us now and flash free firmware!
You'll be free, hackers, you'll be free!

Join us now and flash free firmware!
You'll be free, hackers, you'll be free!

NSA can spy on all of us.
That is true, hackers, that is true.
But! They cannot touch our firmware!
That is good, hackers, that is good.

When we have enough free firmware, at our call,
hackers, at our call...
we'll kick out the management engine evermore,
hackers, evermore!

Join us now and flash free firmware!
You'll be free, hackers, you'll be free!

Join us now and flash free firmware!
You'll be free, hackers, you'll be free!

eliotime3000
Offline
Iscritto: 06/05/2016

Congrats by the comeback of the truly pure and honest laptop road!

However, I have a few questions:

1.- Does this laptops have a wizard that let me choose the language and set-up the user and the computer name, alongside the language?
2.- I'm a huge fan of the Latin American keyboard distribution, but I understand the insanely low demand of this keyboard for small OEM assemblers (even in laptops). Do you have laptops with ISO-based keyboard distribution like UK-English or Spanish?
3.- Which SSD drive will put in the laptops? Single NAND type or 3D NAND? 2.5" SATA or mini M.2 ones?

Anyway, I'm seriously happy with the revival of your store.

libreleah
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Iscritto: 04/03/2017

Hi eliotime3000,

First of all, thank you for your support! I will answer your questions:

1) I ship laptops with English language. However, Trisquel has a handy dandy guide on the website for changing language*.

As for username and password, instructions are provided with each order, on a printed welcome pack. A default user name and password is already set, but the instructions guide you on changing them both.

* https://trisquel.info/en/wiki/switch-languages

2) Generally speaking, my laptops come with UK keyboards. Occasionally I will install custom keyboards if I happen to have them (e.g. if I import laptops from another country), but I typically only have UK keyboards.

However, the keyboards are very easy to replace. It's just a few screws and the keyboard+palmrest come off. You can often find ThinkPad keyboards on auction sites, so you can source it separately and install it yourself. I'm happy to provide you with instructions on how to do this.

3) At present, I don't supply SSDs. I plan to, in a few weeks. I don't have exact specifications yet, because I don't currently supply SSDs.

When I launch the 8G RAM + 480G SSD upgrade kits, I will decide on precisely which brand/model I wish to use. At that point, I will be able to provide exact specifications including links to manufacturer datasheet.

PublicLewdness
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Iscritto: 03/15/2020

Awesome news ! I am always on the lookout for places to buy a Libreboot system from. Hopefully around March/April I can give you some business.

libreleah
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Iscritto: 04/03/2017

Thank you for your support!

libreleah
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Iscritto: 04/03/2017

I would like to clarify: the laptops come with the recently released Trisquel 9 MATE pre-installed. I didn't mention the exact version in my original post, hence the clarification.

I've been trying it out in my lab for a few weeks, and I really like it! A lot of issues I had with Trisquel 8 are now fixed, while the overall experience is the same. Continuity! That's one of the things I like about Trisquel. It's very conservative in how it does things. The interface has remained mostly the same over the years, but the distro has been polished time and time again with each new release.

A lot of other distros I've used in the past have a nasty habit of changing things without warning. Trisquel is smooth, and a very polished distro. I provide it on all of the laptops that I sell.

cubalibre
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Iscritto: 10/14/2015

:o/

WHY do companies use the Trisquel forum for their commercials, this is about the operating system Trisquel. Would an operator please remove spam and remind OP of the rules here?

Just in case this commercial stays up I want to warn about this company Minifree. Just look at the OP's erratic behaviour here in forum (I followed with disgust). It has bad rep for a good reason and OP seems to think change the name to retrofreedom fools us. Minifree didn't shut down because of Corona, it shut down because Leah had drug and mental problems as she claimed herself publicly. Many people from from my hometoen in Bologna died because of corona and some friends too, shame someone uses it for their own selfish purposes. I'm really upset. Bugiardo una volta, bugiardo per sempre!

libreleah
Offline
Iscritto: 04/03/2017

I'm very sorry you feel this way. I don't do drugs, and I pity those who do, but I accept that I can't please everyone. Not everyone on the internet is my biggest fan. That's OK. People are entitled to feel however they like about me and my business. I'm just happy to be back, and serving the Free Software community.

My heart goes out to all those who have passed away due to coronavirus, and I wish all the best for everyone, including you and your family. We live in very dark times.

Stay safe!

Vikings_thum
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Iscritto: 04/04/2017

I didn't read the whole novel but I wish you good luck.

libreleah
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Iscritto: 04/03/2017

Thanks Thomas! I wish the same to you. We all have to look after ourselves in these crazy times.

nadebula.1984
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Iscritto: 05/01/2018

Welcome back. We coreboot community members have made significant progress. We are trying to implement coreboot on ULV Haswell/Broadwell platforms without Boot Guard and already succeeded on certain models. If there is provisioning solution (e.g. if certain OEMs offer firmware signing service), Boot Guard can also be overcome, and we do have successfully implemented coreboot on up to Coffee Lake (8th generation Core).

So when will you consider to support new platforms? Up to Ivy Bridge (3rd generation Core), coreboot can be blobless. For even newer platforms such as Haswell/Broadwell, we are trying hard to reverse engineer them. For still newer platforms (starting Skylake), we are also willing to study them as long as we can find someone willing to provide firmware signing.

libreleah
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Iscritto: 04/03/2017

That's very interesting. I was not aware that such progress had been made in the coreboot project.

I *do* provide x220/x230 flashing via the install service on the webshop. I install coreboot (which I know is 100% free software on those laptops), and run me_cleaner. I thoroughly emphasize however that it isn't technically Libreboot.

I think the X200/T400 are more popular, so I will continue to sell those for the time being. However, I would very much like to see the remaining parts of Intel ME on X220/X230 replaced with free code (power management and so on), at which point I will probably start selling them (and also add to Libreboot!). Unfortunately for X220/X230 it's simply not possible to remove the ME, it will cause the laptop to be unusable so ME has to be replicated with free code there.

GNUser
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Iscritto: 07/17/2013

Great news, I am happy to see a Minifree is back (with a new name but still).
I would recommend having the prices tagged also in Dollars and Euros.
Keep up the good work.

libreleah
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Iscritto: 04/03/2017

Thank you for your support!

The prices are in £ GBP, but people can pay in other currencies. I've added text to the homepage and other places, telling people to convert GBP into their own currency, using live market exchange rates, and pay the corresponding amount in that currency.

When someone pays me in foreign currency, the money is automatically converted into £ GBP when it arrives into the account, after the customer pays for their order. It's been that way for years.

gnudev
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Iscritto: 08/03/2020

Hi Leah Rowe
Congratulations. so happy that you back :)
I live in Iran. Is there a way I can buy from you? Do you send orders to this country? Have you ever had the experience of sending to Iran? Because we under sanctions...
thanks

libreleah
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Iscritto: 04/03/2017

Hi gnudev,

I've shipped to Iran in the past, but it can be difficult. I've only ever did it once. I didn't ship directly to Iran, I shipped to someone outside of Iran who then went to Iran to visit the individual who lived there, and they delivered the laptop to that person. The website that I use for shipping services does not list Iran, so I can't ship directly to Iran. However, if you have a way to get someone to bring a laptop into Iran, it can be done (that last part may be difficult, due to covid).

I'm not sure how payment would work, though if you have some bitcoins you could pay for your order using those. I recommend that you contact me via encrypted (GPG) email exclusively, when dealing with me, and use bitcoin when paying me. For privacy and security of course.

If you have a friend or relative in neighbouring country, and/or someone who will come to Iran, I can ship the laptop to that person, and they can bring it into Iran and give it to you.

By the way, I hope you're well! I read in the news a few weeks ago that Iran is struggling heavily at the moment, because of covid. I hope you're safe.

~Leah

libreleah
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Iscritto: 04/03/2017

I felt like doing some box art today!

Sometimes I draw the GNU, Libreboot and Linux logos on packages. Take a look!

standpower_compressed.jpg
libreleah
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Iscritto: 04/03/2017

End of week report, 20 Nov 2020:
--------------------

Yeah I think I'll do these reports regularly, just to let people know what's up. One of the things I'm doing with this re-launch is trying to be more transparent.

--------

X200 as of today, 20 November 2020, is 1 left in stock! These laptops have been selling really well. Thank you everyone for your support!

Well, I expect to get more X200 in stock in about a week, or in other words late November 2020. So for the next person who orders that X200 soon, after they do that, I will ship it to them and then X200 will temporarily go out of stock on the website. As per my new policy I only sell what is packed, so I anticipate that X200 is going to go out of stock soon, and stay that way for about a week.

So if you want an X200, now's the time!

----

HOWEVER!

I currently have a large surplus of T400 laptops in stock. With these conditions, I have decided on a temporary basis:

T400 price is now exactly the same as X200. X200 is 298 GBP. T400 is normally 398.

T400 temporarily reduced to 298 GBP!

-----

During the weekend, for Saturday November 21st and Sunday 22nd, I'll be focusing on new improvements:

* I'm re-adding the 8G RAM + 480G SSD option. I was going to do it as a kit, but I can install these in the laptops no problem. I just install Trisquel on the SSDs; then I just open the box before shipping, swap out RAM/HDD and put 8G+480G in there. The 4G RAM and 250G HDD will be included spare, for the customer, when they order with the RAM and SSD upgrade.

* I currently have 1 decent Libreboot W500 in my lab with a 1920x1200 screen. I'm going to box that up and sell it during the weekend, so stay tuned!

I have *another* such W500 which may also be usable for stock. I'm working on more laptops in the lab this weekend, ready to be packed and added to stock.

* I'm probably also going to re-add the stickers to the site. Because you know, your Tux and GNU sticker on your laptop gets lonely without a deer to complete the gang!

Glaring flaw with the company at present is:

Only wire, bitcoin and cash accepted.

I have made it a priority that I will add debit/credit card option to the webshop, using a third party payment provider. I already know what to do here, so stay tuned!

muhammed
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Iscritto: 04/13/2013

I like the new name; Retro Freedom is more fun a name than Ministry of Freedom. I still use the free T400 that you sold to me in early 2017 and I am very happy with it. All the best Leah.

libreleah
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Iscritto: 04/03/2017

Status update 11:03 AM UK time, 24 November 2020:

Every laptop is out of stock at this moment. RetroFreedom laptops will be back in stock soon: I have more Libreboot T400 in the lab, just need to test/pack them and add to stock on the web shop (I only sell when laptops are packed, so that they can ship immediately after sale).

More X200 will arrive in my lab in a few days. Check back again later!

You can still send me a laptop you already have, and pay for the “Libreboot Installation Service” as shown on the website. For instance, if you already have an X200 that has Lenovo BIOS on it, you can send it to be for Libreboot installation.

I mean, think of it this way:

The laptops are selling really well! It means people want to use Libreboot, which by extension means that people value freedom. This is good!

Check back later and the webshop will be back in stock.