Modular phone technology is a heavy blow to traditional smartphones. Can you think of an analogy in the case of laptops as well? Purism laptop is a perfect example, which is not strictly modular in the classic sense, but it delivers the promise of customizability.

Purism is a 13-inch laptop which takes Librem laptop series to a whole new level. It is an amalgam of custom-made hardware which is powered by a revitalized Linux operating system to present multiple security features that are not available in any other laptop.

Librem laptops are not only evolving in machinery, the software also improves with each new release. The latest 2.0 version with modified Linux kernel comes completely free with new Purism laptop, additionally offering bundles of free utility software.

Purism’s Librem 13-inch Laptop Review: Complete list of Features

  • 13-inch display (1920×1080)
  • 2-GHz dual-core (4 Threads) Intel i5 processor
  • Intel HD Graphics 5500
  • 4GB DDR3L of RAM (up to 16GB)
  • 48 Wh lithium polymer battery
  • 45W power adapter
  • Up to 8 hours usage
  • USB 3.0 port + USB 2.0 port
  • One HDMI port
  • One Pop-Down RJ45 Network port (r8169)
  • 11n WiFi (ath9k)
  • 720p camera
  • Hardware Kill Switches for wireless and camera/mic
  • HD Audio and Headphone jack
  • Full-size keyboard in a variety of languages
  • Aluminum enclosure body
  • SDXC card slot
  • Purism PureOS 64-bit Operating System (Trisquel based)
  • 325mm x 219mm x 18mm (12.75” x 8.62” x .70”)
  • 4Kg (3.0lbs)

Purism’s Librem 13-inch Laptop Review: Design

Purism is designed around beautiful and high-performance hardware to get the best out of the Linux OS. Each detail matters; built chip by chip, application by application for privacy and security.

The Librem 13 has a very friendly character about it. Weighing just weighs 3 pounds, you can take it anywhere and conduct any operation that today’s most advanced laptops offer. It is a worthy rival to Chromebooks, especially when it comes to responsive and stylish keyboard, Chromebook feels out date compared to Purism’s Librem 13.

Purism Librem 13 Laptop Review (1)
Purism’s Librem 13 boasts incredibly soft keys

The solid aluminum case is slim and sleek with a dark gray anodized finish. The hinges have been reinforced while a smooth multitouch trackpad is located slightly off-right center.

There are no visible logos. The external body is elegant while the inner clam wears cool sport looks where all is black except the blue Core i5 sticker. Purism has done very little for branding  the laptop, and the name only shows up during the boot-up.

Purism’s Librem 13-inch Laptop Review: Powerful Linux OS

We have seen many paid and free Linux packages, and though Purim’s version is not completely flawless, it has some great perks that stand out from other open source Linux editions. ‘PureOS distro’ is quite a performer and is specifically designed to work with custom-made hardware.

PureOS has some glitches, but you can oversight them because they pose a minor threat to the overall operating system and subsequent releases of the OS are doing very well in fixes these bugs.

Purism Librem 13 Laptop Review (3)
Librem 13 has PureOS: A modified Linux version

The latest PureOS 2.0 will be released in November so we are reviewing version 1.0, which is also a stable and very functional. PureOS 1.0 runs the Cinnamon desktop flavor and does not work with any other desktop flavor.

The Cinnamon desktop is a fine selection, which was made popular by the LinuxMint distro spinoff from Ubuntu Unity. For custom-made hardware configurations like Librem series, there couldn’t have been a better match.

Purism’s Librem 13-inch Laptop Review: Known Software and Hardware Issues

Bluetooth connectivity causes problems sometimes and the key-modifier command does not activate the Bluetooth. The solution is to get the latest driver for the Atheros Bluetooth card within the Linux kernel.

Apart from the minor PureOS glitches, the only big hardware-software discrepancy is the Kill Switch option. This time, however, we cannot rule out it as something ‘minor’ because this is one of the front-wave features that Purism’s Librem 13 is advertised with.

Librem laptop boasts that its kill switch is a reliable security solution to cut off spy software and viruses by physically breaking the link between your computer and its components like webcam or microphone. This is a very desirable feature and tempting enough to attract customers just for that.

However, users complain that while the kill switch works fine with the microphone, the same toggle function is not function on cam; camera setting isn’t even listed in the settings panel. This is not a missing feature as most of you would think, but a software-hardware conflict. The OS is not coordinating with the program Cheese; which is responsible for operating the webcam in PureOS.

Purism’s Librem 13-inch Laptop Review: Final Words

Purism is the best option for Linux enthusiasts and users who have an increased concern about their identity theft, internet price, security and digital right. The specially designed PureOS has been fine-tuned to make sure it serves your privacy efficiently and gives you the power of multitasking.

Librem laptops are available both in 13” and 15” variants, but there’s a striking difference in the specification, so we chose the 13-incher for the review because it is the perfect contender to 13-inch Chromebooks. The Librem by Purism is the first of its kind advanced Linux laptop couple with tailor-made hardware. The base price for Purism’s Librem 13 is $1,624 and the kill switch comes for an extra $89.


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