"In het verleden behaalde resultaten bieden geen garanties voor de toekomst"
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These are the ramblings of Matthijs Kooijman, concerning the software he hacks on, hobbies he has and occasionally his personal life.

Most content on this site is licensed under the WTFPL, version 2 (details).

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See also my Mastodon page.

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My next laptop: Framework

Framework laptop

For a while, I've been considering replacing Grubby, my trusty workhorse laptop, a Thinkpad X201 that I've been using for the past 11 years. These thinkpads are known to last, and indeed mine still worked nicely, but over the years lost Bluetooth functionality, speaker output, one of its USB ports (I literally lost part of the connector), some small bits of the casing (dropped something heavy on it), the fan sometimes made a grinding noise, and it was getting a little slow at times (but still fine for work). I had been postponing getting a replacement, though, since having to figure out what to get, comparing models, reading reviews is always a hassle (especially for me...).

Then, when I first saw the Framework laptop last year, I was immediately sold. It's a laptop that aims to be modular, in the sense that it can be easily repaired and upgraded. To be honest, this did not seem all that special to me at first, but apparently in the 11 years since I last bought a laptop, manufacturers have been more using glue rather than screws, and solder rather than sockets, which is a trend that Framework hopes to turn.

In addition to the modularity, I like the fact they make repairability and upgradability an explicit goal, in attempt to make the electronics ecosystem more sustainable (they remind me of Fairphone in that sense). On top of that, it seems that this is also a really well made laptop, with a lot of attention to details, explicit support for Linux, open-source where possible (e.g. code for the embedded controller is open, ), flexible expansion ports using replacable modules, encouraging third parties to build and market their own expansion cards and addons (with open-source reference designs available), a mainboard that can be used standalone too (makes for a nice SBC after a mainboard upgrade), decent keyboard, etc.

The only things that I'm less enthusiastic about are the reflective screen (I had that on my previous laptop and I remember liking the switch to a matte screen, but I guess I'll get used to that), having just four expansion ports (the only fixed port is an audio jack, everything else - USB, displays, card reader - has to go through expansion modules, so we'll see if I can get by with four ports) and the lack of an ethernet port (apparently there is an ethernet expansion module in the works, but I'll probably have to get a USB-to-ethernet module in the meanwhile).

Unfortunately, when I found the Framework laptop a few months ago, they were not actually being sold yet, though they expected to open up pre-orders in December. I really hoped Grubby would last long enough so I could get a Framework laptop. Then pre-orders opened only for US and Canada, with shipping to the EU announced for Q1 this year. Then they opened up orders for Germany, France and the UK, and I still had to wait...

So when they opened up pre-orders in the Netherlands last month, I immediately placed my order. They are using a batched shipping system and my batch is supposed to ship "in March" (part of the batch has already been shipped), so I'm hoping to get the new laptop somewhere it the coming weeks.

I suspect that Grubby took notice, because last friday, with a small sputter, he powered off unexpectedly and has refused to power back on. I've tried some CPR, but no luck so far, so I'm afraid it's the end for Grubby. I'm happy that I already got my Framework order in, since now I just borrowed another laptop as a temporary solution rather than having to panic and buy something else instead.

So, I'm eager for my Framework laptop to be delivered. Now, I just need to pick a new name, and figure out which Thunderbolt dock I want... (I had an old-skool docking station for my Thinkpad, which worked great, but with USB-C and Thunderbolt's single cable for power, display, usb and ethernet, there is now a lot more choice in docks, but more on that in my next post...).

Daniël (DTM) wrote at 2023-11-28 15:20

Hey Matthijs! I'm currently looking into replacing my work machine and my eye also caught the Framework.. I didn't see any further posts on your Framework, is that a good thing or a bad thing? :-D

Are you happy with it/would you recommend it? One of the concerns I have is dust piling up in the gaps between the components (for instance between the screen and the bezel). Is that something you're experiencing? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Matthijs Kooijman wrote at 2024-07-11 17:43

W00ps, you comment got stuck in my moderation queue, only approved it just now.

Making another post about my experiences has been on my list for a while, but busy, busy, busy... The TL;DR is that I'm quite happy with the laptop, it works really well. I had an issue with the webcam, but that was replaced under warranty (and a breeze to replace).

I do have a few gripes with it: Limited battery time (especially high drain in suspend mode), the glossy screen and somewhat limited brightness, but AFAIU all of these have improved in the newer revisions of the laptop.

> Are you happy with it/would you recommend it

Yes, definitely. In addition to being happy with the hardware, I'm also happy with the way Framework has been following up with new designs that are compatible with the older generations (allowing upgrades), as well as a lot o openness about their designs (within limits of their own NDA's) and willingness to collaborate with third parties (e.g. they recently announced a RISC-V motherboard produced by someone else).

> One of the concerns I have is dust piling up in the gaps between the components (for instance between the screen and the bezel). Is that something you're experiencing? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Nope, not at all (it did not create a problem, and I just looked behind the bezel and no dust there. It closes quite neatly.


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