A Year Later

11th Gen, Batch 5, Manjaro Linux

It’s been just over a year since I came across the article on Cory Doctorow’s blog, bought into the Framework idea, and literally bought a Framework. I’ve been abusing laptops since the 90’s and I remember when it took at three days to configure X on a newly-installed Linux box.

The Framework replaces a few years of Dell XPS13s and Thinkpad X1 Carbons. I purchased it for everyday use: email, browsing, blogging, publishing papers*, research, and teaching classes, often from jungles and rainforests where services can be sketchy.

I first tried Fedora, then Ubuntu before returning to my standard Manjaro. Here are my thoughts one year later.

What I Like

  • The swappable ports are convenient. I keep a USB-C and Snack Drawer on each side; it’s convenient for charging, and there are decongestant tablets in one of the snack drawers for when I fly. I carry an HDMI and USB-A if I’m likely to need them, and use a 1Tb drive for offline backups.
  • The screen ratio is ideal for research and writing. I don’t watch a lot of videos, but seeing more of a full page makes work easier.
  • The keyboard is nice to type on. I thought I’d miss the full size arrow keys, but never really notice they’re gone.
  • Pretty much everything just works under Manjaro. Even the fingerprint reader, which is faster and more usable than the one on my Thinkpad. The touchpad works fine as well, though I use taps rather than clicks.
  • The camera’s crisp and bright. As mentioned above, I often use it for teaching.
  • I can fix it. Framework sent replacements for my defective hinges and it took less than 15 minutes to swap them.

What’s Okay

  • The battery. Really. After a fair amount of Linux tweaking, I can work most of a day. Sure, a twelve-person Zoom session with full brightness and volume will shut me down in two hours, but I can read, write, browse, and email for a multi-flight travel day without much worry.
  • The Glossy Screen. I’ve always hated shiny screens and was surprised that I don’t hate this one. Probably because the display can be turned up to “supernova” brightness and reflections don’t stand a chance.
  • Customer Service has improved a lot since the early days. Hiring Matt for dedicated Linux support was huge. If I need to deal directly with Support again, I might be inclined to bump this to “What I Like,” but I’ll wait and see.

What Would Be Nice

  • Okay, I’d love a trackpoint, but that really is asking a lot.
  • A matte screen. It’s easier to see, especially if you’re using the laptop for actual work.

I picked up a felt Byrd & Belle laptop sleeve for travel. It’s thin, elegant, cushiony, and perfectly protects the laptop in my backpack.

It’s been a year and I use my Framework daily. I guess I’ll be keeping it around for awhile. Great work folks. And happy new year everyone.

*Links included for chocolate geeks.


I bought my Framework about a year ago, so I’d like to jump on this train as well. Mass emails are what clued me in to the project. I have no idea what spam list I got put on, but I’m glad I did.

The Good

  • Screen ratio. I’ve gotten really attached to 3:2, and it’s a perfect complement when sitting next to my primary 1080p monitor (with the resolution on the laptop downscaled slightly to make text readable). I’ve never used a matte screen, so I can’t comment on glossy vs matte.
  • Swappable ports. I thought this was a novel gimmick when I bought the laptop and didn’t expect it to get much use, but I’m really attached to the gimmick now. Instead of a mass of dongles, I just carry around my 3D printed expansion card holder with a USB-A, HDMI, and card reader. The fact that I could extend the original design of the laptop was amazing as well (I’m huge on customization, and a magnetic charger is just so cool).
  • The mission. I want to be able to fix, modify, and fully control my devices, all the time, any time. This company shines a light on the industry’s treatment of that ideal from many angles. Demand and assert a right to customize!
  • The community. Where anywhere else can you find hundreds of people who all have or want the exact same hardware and can assist with each others’ problems???
  • The camera. Inbuilt hardware privacy is my new favorite laptop feature, and the quality has been top notch. If I was ever in a room with the engineers, the first thing I would ask is if the video+audio specs were originally this high or whether they were hastily beefed up due to the sudden global need for constant video calls.

The Neutral

  • Keyboard. I didn’t notice anything special (moved from a 2015 HP Envy), but I suppose that’s the point: if you’ve done something right, nobody will notice you’ve done anything at all.
  • Trackpad. Some people applaud it as the next MacBook; some people hate it. I personally hate the MacBook trackpad and find it hard to use, but this feels like every other buttonless windows trackpad I’ve used. See point made about the keyboard.
  • Customer experience. Shipping was average and the website is smooth. The marketplace’s launch and component availability had pretty significant delays though.
  • Linux experience. No problems with the laptop itself running Linux, but issues with peripherals (an egpu and a storage expansion card) made it unusable for my use case. I will drop Windows in a heartbeat if I ever stumble across a fix for those few dealbreaker issues.
  • Communication. The company is groundbreaking in how much the consumers know, but there’s always those few points that I’d love to know more about that strangely get omitted without explanation. Sort of a “I wouldn’t notice it if they didn’t say anything, but they did say something and so I noticed that it wasn’t included.” This is very much an irrational, subjective gripe coming from a curious nerd, so it’s in the neutral category.

The Less Good

  • Battery life. My one huge gripe with this laptop. Tuning it for efficiency gets my computer through the day just barely. I’d love to see an upgrade in some fashion as soon as possible, whether that’s an AMD mainboard (reset the counter) or just some way of cramming more battery capacity in the chassis.
  • Unresolved issues. Dozens of people experience this issue, which Framework was previously unable to reproduce and has had no progress. It happened to me both booting off of the drive and using it for storage, and I have a big fat NAND paperweight until it’s resolved.

Overall I’m happy with my purchase and can’t wait to see what Framework does in 2023!