In the past week, Purism went from the company selling user- and privacy-oriented devices to the company also selling user- and privacy-oriented services. With their announcement of the Librem One service bundle some of the free software and fediverse communities were up in arms. Some decisions regarding the service bundle were scrutinized for being anti-free software and another for being anti-minority. Now that a few more details have been released and some decisions more carefully considered, the dust has seemed to settle, for now at least.
The main gripes coming from the free software community were related to licensing and credit. Initially no credit was being given to the original projects one which the mobile clients for their service suite were based on. Thankfully, within the few days following the announcement of Librem One, they released a statement that listed the projects the clients and servers were based on as well as linked to the temporary location of the modified source code they were using in production. Given that this is a new suite of services, I don’t expect the modified code to stay where it is. Hopefully they don’t stray too far away from upstream so that contributions that are given back to the original project are still useful and don’t cause more harm than help.
Gripes about marginalization and abuse were aplenty when Librem Social was released to the public for trial. One of the many modifications made to the Mastodon server that Librem Social is based on is the removal of the ability to report content posted to Librem Social and, in tandem, released to the rest of the fediverse. What’s worse is that nobody could report anything that was going on at social.librem.one and nobody on the instance could report anyone else that they saw. The API for reporting had straight up been ripped out. However, that decision has since been reversed and reports have been reinstated in full functionality.
Many saw the lack of reports as a venue for abuse for would-be offenders. People were afraid that some would use Librem Social to attack others seeing as it would have been the only instance that didn’t support reporting in any fashion.
Moreover, the rationale behind removing the federated and local timelines was published on the Purism blog and their reasoning seems pretty sound. People are so used to being bombarded with more content than one can handle in the endeavor to “help users discover content they want to see” when all it really is about is boosting statistics and keeping you on the platform. Without the local and federated timelines you’re not being force fed stuff you don’t want to see. This more closely mirrors something like Twitter but without the ads and without the absolutely uncontrollable notifications and home timeline.
In conclusion, it seems like all is right again. Many of the things that people complained about were solved and other complaints were met with a worth explanation as to why the decisions they took were taken. Librem One is an effort that was originally met purely with criticism but now that more information is out there and Purism did right by those that previously championed them it’s being met with praise. It’s a noble cause and I don’t think I’ve seen as comprehensive of a suite from the free software community. It’s all tied up neatly with a bow almost ready for mass consumption. There may be a few hiccups here and there in the future but I see big things that will come of this effort.
As long as they stay transparent, Purism has my vote.