Some decades back, when I’d buy a new PC, it would unlock new capabilities. Maybe AGP video, or a PCMCIA slot, or, heck, sound.
Nowadays, mostly new hardware means things get a bit faster or less crashy, or I have some more space for files. It’s good and useful, but sorta… meh.
Not this purchase.
Cory Doctorow wrote about the Framework laptop in 2021:
There’s no tape. There’s no glue. Every part has a QR code that you can shoot with your phone to go to a service manual that has simple-to-follow instructions for installing, removing and replacing it. Every part is labeled in English, too!
The screen is replaceable. The keyboard is replaceable. The touchpad is replaceable. Removing the battery and replacing it takes less than five minutes. The computer actually ships with a screwdriver.
Framework had been on my radar for awhile. But for various reasons, when I was ready to purchase, I didn’t; either the waitlist was long, or they didn’t have the specs I wanted.
Lately my aging laptop with 8GB RAM started OOMing (running out of RAM). My desktop had developed a tendency to hard hang about once a month, and I researched replacing it, but the cost was too high to justify.
But when I looked into the Framework, I thought: this thing could replace both. It is a real shift in perspective to have a laptop that is nearly as upgradable as a desktop, and can be specced out to exactly what I wanted: 2TB storage and 64GB RAM. And still cheaper than a Macbook or Thinkpad with far lower specs, because the Framework uses off-the-shelf components as much as possible.
Cory Doctorow wrote, in The Framework is the most exciting laptop I’ve ever broken:
The Framework works beautifully, but it fails even better… Framework has designed a small, powerful, lightweight machine – it works well. But they’ve also designed a computer that, when you drop it, you can fix yourself. That attention to graceful failure saved my ass.
I like small laptops, so I ordered the Framework 13. I loaded it up with the 64GB RAM and 2TB SSD I wanted. Frameworks have four configurable ports, which are also hot-swappable. I ordered two USB-C, one USB-A, and one HDMI. I put them in my preferred spots (one USB-C on each side for easy docking and charging). I put Debian on it, and it all Just Worked. Perfectly.
Now, I orderd the DIY version. I hesitated about this — I HATE working with laptops because they’re all so hard, even though I KNEW this one was different — but went for it, because my preferred specs weren’t available in a pre-assembled model.
I’m glad I did that, because assembly was actually FUN.
I got my box. I opened it. There was the bottom shell with the motherboard and CPU installed. Here are the RAM sticks. There’s the SSD. A minute or two with each has them installed. Put the bezel on the screen, attach the keyboard — it has magnets to guide it into place — and boom, ready to go. Less than 30 minutes to assemble a laptop nearly from scratch. It was easier than assembling most desktops.
So now, for the first time, my main computing device is a laptop. Rather than having a desktop and a laptop, I just have a laptop. I’ll be able to upgrade parts of it later if I want to. I can rearrange the ports. And I can take all my most important files with me. I’m quite pleased!