LibreTrend: new Linux OEM

As reported by Phoronix today, LibreTrend has partnered with Ubuntu Mate, to ship systems with Ubuntu Mate pre-installed. LibreTrend is a relatively new Linux OEM, they apparently launched last year in Portugal. LibreTrend joins the ranks of ThinkPenguin, System76, Purism, Novena, and a few others, OEMs that selling Linux-based systems. Quoting the press release with Ubuntu Mate:

LibreTrend are the designer and manufacturer of the LibreBox, a computer geared towards providing a complete “out of the box” Linux experience, with a heavy focus on hardware compatibility. All the hardware in the LibreBox is Free Software friendly and %100 supported by “blobless” Linux drivers.

The hardware behind this first LibreBox is based on the Intel 1037U Dual Core CPU. I’m not sure what firmware the LibreBox uses. I presume stock BIOS, not coreboot or UEFI.

Again, I don’t know what LibreTrend is doing with their firmware. Most Linux OEMs are merely taking commodity hardware made for Windows PCs, with stock BIOS, many blobs, fairly insecure compared to UEFI. (Novena is an exception, they’ve crowdsourced new Open Hardware development, and don’t use BIOS. Purism may also be exceptional, but I’ve yet to see specifics of what firmware they’re using.) Most other Linux OEMs are not exceptional w/r/t firmware, and could be be improved by using Intel FSP and coreboot, something that Sage Engineering, an open source BIOS vendor, does. That’d be more Open Source firmware (mostly Free Software-based) and fewer blobs than the default BIOS, which their Linux user audience would presumably prefer. Or they could ship a UEFI and get the additional security that Secure Boot brings to the OS; to help with their Linux user audience further, they could remove the Microsoft certs, something they could do as an OEM, or if they worked with their BIOS vendor. Intel and SuSE showed how to have a Microsoft key-free Linux system back at IDF 2013, yet AFAIK no OEM is selling hardware like this to the Linux community. Most Linux OEMs need to improve the firmware of their products.

I’m happy to see LibreTrend selling hardware with Free Software pre-installed, focusing on blobs at the Linux driver level. I hope they start building Open Hardware and use something beyond COTS BIOS, in future models, and also focus on blobs at the firmware level.

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