Purism sells a line of laptops that ship with GNU/Linux software and which support privacy features including physical kill switches for the cameras, microphones, and wireless cards. The social purpose corporation is also developing the Librem 5 smartphone, which should ship with a Linux-based operating system later this year.
Now Purism is moving beyond hardware and launching a set of apps and services that it says respect your privacy.
The Librem One suite of apps includes a Chat app, a Mail app, a VPN, and a social networking app. They don’t include ads of any sort. They offer end-to-end encryption. And Purism says it doesn’t track user data.
But since Purism isn’t making any money off your data, they’re asking you to pony up — Librem One is a subscription service.
A full subscription runs $7.99 per month or $71.91 per year for all the Librem One services. But there will also be pick-your-price options for folks that only want one or two of the services.
Purism says its apps all use open standards, which means you won’t be stuck sending messages that only other Librem One subscribers can read. But that does still mean that you’ll need friends who are using (or willing to use) things like Mastadon or Matrix. If everyone you know is using Facebook or FaceTime, then good luck convincing them to change.
Of course, while the standards are open, somebody’s got to pay for the servers that run these cloud-based services. And that’s where the subscription fees come in.
Purism is running a crowdfunding campaign with the goal of getting at least 5,000 subscribers in the next two months. If that happens, here’s the bare minimum that you’ll get with a Librem One full subscription:
- Librem Mail – SMTP, IMAP, and POP support
- Librem Tunnel – OpenVPN
- Librem Chat – Matrix
- Librem Social – Mastadon and ActivityPub
There are also a set of stretch goals that will launch if enough people subscribe, because the economies of scale make it possible to offer more services without charging more for most of the services… but only if enough money is coming in.
Those stretch goals include:
- 50,000 subscribers – Librem Cloud (Nextcloud-based storage solution where you pay for the amount of storage you use).
- 100,000 subscribers – Librem Backup (long-term, encrypted online data backup).
- 200,000 subscribers – Librem Dial (virtual phone number)
- 300,000 subscribers – Librem Contacts (encrypted contact synchronization)
- 400,000 subscribers – Librem Pay (crypto payment support)
Update: Well this is kind of embarrassing. A security flaw affecting Librem Chat was discovered the day the Librem One apps and services went live. The team has resolved the issue and explained what went wrong in a blog post.
The team has also posted an update making it clear that its apps are rebranded versions of existing open source apps (including Vector for chat, Tusky for social networking, K-9 for email, and OpenVPN for virtual private networking). Changing the names makes it easier to find all of the supported apps in one place, and ensures that those apps are configured to connect to Librem One services.