The Framework is a 13.5" laptop body with actually swappable parts, which makes it somewhat future-proof and certainly easily repairable, scoring an "exceedingly rare" 10/10 score from ifixit.com.

There are two generations of the laptop's main board (both compatible with the same body of course), the Intel 11th and 12th gen chipsets.

I have received my Framework, 12th generation "DIY", device in late September 2022 and will update this page as I go along in the process of ordering, burning-in, setting up and using the device over the years.

Overall, the Framework is a good laptop. I like the keyboard, the touchpad, the expansion cards (although I wish there were more ports). Clearly there's been some good work done on industrial design, and it's the most repairable laptop I've had in years. Time will tell, but it looks sturdy enough to survive me many years as well.

This is one of the most powerful devices I ever lay my hands on. I have managed, remotely, more powerful servers, but this is the fastest computer I have ever owned, and it fits in this tiny case. This is an amazing machine.

On the downside, there's a lot of proprietary firmware required (WiFi, Bluetooth, some graphics) and the Framework ships with a proprietary BIOS, with currently no Coreboot support. Expect to need the latest kernel, firmware, and hacking around a bunch of things to get resolution and keybindings to get the laptop to work right. Like others, I have first found significant power management issues, but many issues can actually be solved with some configuration. Some of the expansion ports (HDMI, DP, MicroSD, and SSD) use power when idle, so don't expect week-long suspend, or full day battery while those are plugged in.

Finally, the expansion ports are nice, but there's only four of them. If you plan to have a two-monitor setup, you're likely going to need a dock.

Read on for the detailed review. For context, I'm moving from the Purism Librem 13v4 because it basically exploded on me. I had, in the meantime, reverted back to an old ThinkPad X220, so I sometimes compare the Framework with that venerable laptop as well.

  1. Advice for buyers
  2. Current status
  3. Specifications
  4. Actual build
    1. Base configuration
    2. Customization
    3. Expansion Cards
    4. Accessories
    5. Total
  5. Quick evaluation
    1. Pros
    2. Cons
  6. Initial hardware setup
    1. Accessing the board
    2. Bad QR codes
    3. Seating disks and memory
  7. Hardware review
    1. Keyboard and touchpad
      1. Power button
      2. Special keybindings
      3. Kill switches
    2. Monitor
      1. Screen backlight
    3. Expansion ports
    4. USB-C charging
    5. Multimedia and other devices
    6. Performance tests
      1. Compiling Linux 5.19.11
  8. Software setup
    1. Secure boot and EFI
    2. BIOS issues
    3. Storage limitations
    4. WiFi compatibility issues
    5. Bootstrapping Puppet
    6. LVFS support
    7. Battery life
    8. Power management
      1. Background on CPU architecture
      2. Attempts at improving power usage
      3. Caveats
      4. Standby battery usage
      5. Detailed power usage tests
    9. Proprietary firmware blobs
    10. Graphics acceleration
    11. Resolution tweaks
      1. Console
      2. Xorg
  9. Shipping details
    1. The supply pipeline
    2. Shipping trivia
  10. Other resources

Advice for buyers

Those are things I wish I would have known before buying:

  1. consider buying 4 USB-C expansion cards, or at least 4 USB-A or USB-C cards. they use less power than other cards and you do want to fill those expansion slots otherwise they snag around and feel insecure

  2. you will likely need a dock if you want a two-monitor setup

  3. you might need to do some tuning to get proper (10h+ idle, 10 days suspend) power savings

  4. beware that the MicroSD card is what it says: Micro, normal SD cards won't fit, and while there might be full sized one eventually, it's currently only at the prototyping stage

  5. beware that the HDMI, DisplayPort and particularly the SSD and MicroSD cards do take power, up to 2-6W for the latter two

  6. the Framework monitor has an unusual aspect ratio: I like it, but it might surprise you

Current status

I have the framework! It's setup with a fresh new Debian bookworm installation. I've ran through a large number of tests and burn in and I'm satisfied I can use this as a daily driver.

See also the bottom of the page for last update date for this specific page.

Specifications

Those are the specifications of the 12th gen, in general terms. Your build will of course vary according to your needs.

Actual build

This is the actual build I ordered. Amounts in CAD. (1CAD = ~0.75EUR/USD.)

Base configuration

Customization

Expansion Cards

Accessories

Total

Quick evaluation

This is basically the TL;DR: here, just focusing on broad pros/cons of the laptop.

Pros

Cons

Initial hardware setup

A breeze.

Accessing the board

The internals are accessed through five TorX screws, but there's a nice screwdriver/spudger that works well enough. The screws actually hold in place so you can't even lose them.

The first setup is a bit counter-intuitive coming from the Librem laptop, as I expected the back cover to lift and give me access to the internals. But instead the screws is release the keyboard and touch pad assembly, so you actually need to flip the laptop back upright and lift the assembly off (!) to get access to the internals. Kind of scary.

I also actually unplugged a connector in lifting the assembly because I lifted it towards the monitor, while you actually need to lift it to the right. Thankfully, the connector didn't break, it just snapped off and I could plug it back in, no harm done.

Once there, everything is well indicated, with QR codes all over the place supposedly leading to online instructions.

Bad QR codes

Unfortunately, the QR codes I tested (in the expansion card slow, the memory slot and CPU slots) did not actually work so I wonder how useful those actually are.

After all, they need to point to something and that means a URL, a running website that will answer those requests forever. I bet those will break sooner than later and in fact, as far as I can tell, they just don't work at all. I prefer the approach taken by the MNT reform here which designed (with the 100 rabbits folks) an actual paper handbook (PDF).

The first qrcode that's immediately visible from the back of the laptop, in an expansion cord slot, is a 404. It seems to be some serial number URL, but I can't actually tell because, well, the page is a 404.

I was expecting that bar code to lead me to an introduction page, something like "how to setup your Framework laptop". Support actually confirmed that it should point a quickstart guide. But in a bizarre twist, they somehow sent me the URL with the plus (+) signs escaped, like this:

https://guides.frame.work/Guide/Framework+Laptop+DIY+Edition+Quick+Start+Guide/57

... which Firefox immediately transforms in:

https://guides.frame.work/Guide/Framework/+Laptop/+DIY/+Edition/+Quick/+Start/+Guide/57

I'm puzzled as to why they would send the URL that way, the proper URL is of course:

https://guides.frame.work/Guide/Framework+Laptop+DIY+Edition+Quick+Start+Guide/57

(They have also "let the team know about this for feedback and help resolve the problem with the link" which is a support code word for "ha-ha! nope! not my problem right now!" Trust me, I know, my own code word is "can you please make a ticket?")

Seating disks and memory

The "DIY" kit doesn't actually have that much of a setup. If you bought RAM, it's shipped outside the laptop in a little plastic case, so you just seat it in as usual.

Then you insert your NVMe drive, and, if that's your fancy, you also install your own mPCI WiFi card. If you ordered one (which was my case), it's pre-installed.

Closing the laptop is also kind of amazing, because the keyboard assembly snaps into place with magnets. I have actually used the laptop with the keyboard unscrewed as I was putting the drives in and out, and it actually works fine (and will probably void your warranty, so don't do that). (But you can.) (But don't, really.)

Hardware review

Keyboard and touchpad

The keyboard feels nice, for a laptop. I'm used to mechanical keyboard and I'm rather violent with those poor things. Yet the key travel is nice and it's clickety enough that I don't feel too disoriented.

At first, I felt the keyboard as being more laggy than my normal workstation setup, but it turned out this was a graphics driver issues. After enabling a composition manager, everything feels snappy.

The touchpad feels good. The double-finger scroll works well enough, and I don't have to wonder too much where the middle button is, it just works.

Taps don't work, out of the box: that needs to be enabled in Xorg, with something like this:

cat > /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/40-libinput.conf <<EOF
Section "InputClass"
      Identifier "libinput touchpad catchall"
      MatchIsTouchpad "on"
      MatchDevicePath "/dev/input/event*"
      Driver "libinput"
      Option "Tapping" "on"
      Option "TappingButtonMap" "lmr"
EndSection
EOF

But be aware that once you enable that tapping, you'll need to deal with palm detection...

Power button

The power button is a little dangerous. It's quite easy to hit, as it's right next to one expansion card where you are likely to plug in a cable power. And because the expansion cards are kind of hard to remove, you might squeeze the laptop (and the power key) when trying to remove the expansion card next to the power button.

So obviously, don't do that. But that's not very helpful.

An alternative is to make the power button do something else. With systemd-managed systems, it's actually quite easy. Add a HandlePowerKey stanza to (say) /etc/systemd/logind.conf.d/framework-suspend.conf:

[Login]
HandlePowerKey=suspend
HandlePowerKeyLongPress=poweroff

You might have to create the directory first:

mkdir /etc/systemd/logind.conf.d/

Then restart logind:

systemctl restart systemd-logind

And the power button will suspend! Long-press to power off doesn't actually work as the laptop immediately suspends...

Note that there's probably half a dozen other ways of doing this, see this, this, or that.

Special keybindings

There is a series of "hidden" (as in: not labeled on the key) keybindings related to the fn keybinding that I actually find quite useful.

Key Equivalent Effect Command
p Pause lock screen xset s activate
b Break ? ?
k ScrLk switch keyboard layout N/A

It looks like those are defined in the microcontroller so it would be possible to add some. For example, the SysRq key is almost bound to fn s in there.

Note that most other shortcuts like this are clearly documented (volume, brightness, etc). One key that's less obvious is F12 that only has the Framework logo on it. That actually calls the keysym XF86AudioMedia which, interestingly, does absolutely nothing here. By default, on Windows, it opens your browser to the Framework website and, on Linux, your "default media player".

The keyboard backlight can be cycled with fn-space. The dimmer version is dim enough, and the keybinding is easy to find in the dark.

A skinny elephant would be performed with Alt PrtScr KEY, so for example Alt PrtScr b should do a hard reset. You might have to hold the fn key as well if you're in fn lock mode.

Out of the box, some of the fn keys don't work. Mute, volume up/down, brightness, monitor changes, and the airplane mode key all do basically nothing. They don't send proper keysyms to Xorg at all.

This is a known problem and it's related to the fact that the laptop has light sensors to adjust the brightness automatically. Somehow some of those keys (e.g. the brightness controls) are supposed to show up as a different input device, but don't seem to work correctly. It seems like the solution is for the Framework team to write a driver specifically for this, but so far no progress since July 2022.

In the meantime, the fancy functionality can be supposedly disabled with:

echo 'blacklist hid_sensor_hub' | sudo tee /etc/modprobe.d/framework-als-blacklist.conf

... and a reboot. This solution is also documented in the upstream guide.

Note that there's another solution flying around that fixes this by changing permissions on the input device but I haven't tested that or seen confirmation it works.

Kill switches

The Framework has two "kill switches": one for the camera and the other for the microphone. The camera one actually disconnects the USB device when turned off, and the mic one seems to cut the circuit. It doesn't show up as muted, it just stops feeding the sound.

Both kill switches are around the main camera, on top of the monitor, and quite discreet. Then turn "red" when enabled (i.e. "red" means "turned off").

Monitor

The monitor looks pretty good to my untrained eyes. I have yet to do photography work on it, but some photos I looked at look sharp and the colors are bright and lively. The blacks are dark and the screen is bright.

I have yet to use it in full sunlight.

The dimmed light is very dim, which I like.

Screen backlight

I bind brightness keys to xbacklight in i3, but out of the box I get this error:

sep 29 22:09:14 angela i3[5661]: No outputs have backlight property

It just requires this blob in /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/backlight.conf:

Section "Device"
    Identifier  "Card0"
    Driver      "intel"
    Option      "Backlight"  "intel_backlight"
EndSection

This way I can control the actual backlight power with the brightness keys, and they do significantly reduce power usage.

Expansion ports

I ordered a total of 10 expansion ports.

I did manage to initialize the 1TB drive as an encrypted storage, mostly to keep photos as this is something that takes a massive amount of space (500GB and counting) and that I (unfortunately) don't work on very often (but still carry around).

The expansion ports are fancy and nice, but not actually that convenient. They're hard to take out: you really need to crimp your fingernails on there and pull hard to take them out. There's a little button next to them to release, I think, but it still feels a little scary to pull those pucks out of there.

And there's only four expansion ports. Once you have two monitors, the drive, and power plugged in, bam, you're out of ports; there's nowhere to plug my Yubikey. So if this is going to be my daily driver, with a dual monitor setup, I will need a dock, which means more crap firmware and uncertainty, which isn't great. There are actually plans to make a dual-USB card, but that is blocked on designing an actual board for this.

I can't wait to see more expansion ports produced. There's a ethernet expansion card but it went out of stock basically the day it was announced. I would like to see a proper SD-card reader. There's a MicroSD card reader, but that obviously doesn't work for normal SD cards, which would be more broadly compatible anyways (because you can have a MicroSD to SD card adapter, but I have never heard of the reverse). Someone actually found a SD card reader that fits and then someone else managed to cram it in a 3D printed case, which is kind of amazing.

Still, I really like that idea that I can carry all those little adapters in a pouch when I travel and can basically do anything I want. It does mean I need to shuffle through them to find the right one which is a little annoying. I'm considering having an elastic band or something to keep them all together so that all the ports show the same side. That way it would be easier to find the right one.

The expansion ports do take up some power, even when idle. See the power management section below, and particularly the power usage tests for details.

USB-C charging

One thing that is really a game changer for me is USB-C charging. It's hard to overstate how convenient this is. I often have a USB-C cable lying around to charge my phone, and I can just grab that thing and pop it in my laptop. And while it will obviously not charge as fast as the provided charger, it will stop draining tha battery at least.

(As I wrote this, I had the laptop plugged in the Samsung charger that came with a phone, and it was telling me it would take 6 hours to charge the remaining 15%. With the provided charger, that flew down to 15 minutes. Similarly, I can power the laptop from the power grommet on my desk, reducing clutter as I have that single wire out there instead of the bulky power adapter.)

I also really like the idea that I can charge my laptop with a power bank or, heck, with my phone, if push comes to shove. (And vice-versa!)

This is awesome. And it works from any of the expansion ports, of course. There's a little led next to the expansion ports as well, which indicate the charge status:

I couldn't find documentation about this, but the forum answered.

This is something of a recurring theme with the Framework. While it has a good knowledge base and repair/setup guides (and the forum is awesome) but it doesn't have a good "owner manual" that shows you the different parts of the laptop and what they do. Again, something the MNT reform did well.

Another thing that people are asking about is an external sleep indicator: because the power LED is on the main keyboard assembly, you don't actually see whether the device is active or not when the lid is closed.

Multimedia and other devices

Those things also work:

There's also a light sensor, but it conflicts with the keyboard brightness controls (see above).

There's also an accelerometer, but it's off by default and will be removed from future builds.

Performance tests

Compiling Linux 5.19.11

On a single core, compiling the Debian version of the Linux kernel takes around 100 minutes:

5411.85user 673.33system 1:37:46elapsed 103%CPU (0avgtext+0avgdata 831700maxresident)k
10594704inputs+87448000outputs (9131major+410636783minor)pagefaults 0swaps

This was using 16 watts of power, with full screen brightness.

With all 16 cores (make -j16), it takes less than 25 minutes:

19251.06user 2467.47system 24:13.07elapsed 1494%CPU (0avgtext+0avgdata 831676maxresident)k
8321856inputs+87427848outputs (30792major+409145263minor)pagefaults 0swaps

I had to plug the normal power supply after a few minutes because battery would actually run out using my desk's power grommet (34 watts).

During compilation, fans were spinning really hard, quite noisy, but not painfully so.

The laptop was sucking 55 watts of power, steadily:

  Time    User  Nice   Sys  Idle    IO  Run Ctxt/s  IRQ/s Fork Exec Exit  Watts
-------- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ---- ------ ------ ---- ---- ---- ------
 Average  87.9   0.0  10.7   1.4   0.1 17.8 6583.6 5054.3 233.0 223.9 233.1  55.96
 GeoMean  87.9   0.0  10.6   1.2   0.0 17.6 6427.8 5048.1 227.6 218.7 227.7  55.96
  StdDev   1.4   0.0   1.2   0.6   0.2  3.0 1436.8  255.5 50.0 47.5 49.7   0.20
-------- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ---- ------ ------ ---- ---- ---- ------
 Minimum  85.0   0.0   7.8   0.5   0.0 13.0 3594.0 4638.0 117.0 111.0 120.0  55.52
 Maximum  90.8   0.0  12.9   3.5   0.8 38.0 10174.0 5901.0 374.0 362.0 375.0  56.41
-------- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ---- ------ ------ ---- ---- ---- ------
Summary:
CPU:  55.96 Watts on average with standard deviation 0.20
Note: power read from RAPL domains: package-0, uncore, package-0, core, psys.
These readings do not cover all the hardware in this device.

Software setup

Once I had everything in the hardware setup, I figured, voilà, I'm done, I'm just going to boot this beautiful machine and I can get back to work.

I don't understand why I am so naïve some times. It's mind boggling.

Obviously, it didn't happen that way at all, and I spent the best of the three following days thinkering with the laptop.

Secure boot and EFI

First, I couldn't boot off of the NVMe drive I transferred from the previous laptop (the Purism) and the BIOS was not very helpful: it was just complaining about not finding any boot device, without dropping me in the real BIOS.

At first, I thought it was a problem with my NVMe drive, because it's not listed in the compatible SSD drives from upstream. But I figured out how to enter BIOS (press F2 manically, of course), which showed the NVMe drive iwas actually detected. It just didn't boot, because it was an old (2010!!) Debian install without EFI.

So from there, I disabled secure boot, and booted a grml image to try to recover. And by "boot" I mean, I managed to get to the grml boot loader which promptly failed to load its own root file system somehow. I still have to investigate exactly what happened there, but it failed some time after the initrd load with:

Unable to find medium containing a live file system

This, it turns out, was fixed in Debian lately, so a daily GRML build will not have this problems. The upcoming 2022 release (likely 2022.10 or 2022.11) will also get the fix.

I did manage to boot the development version of the Debian installer which was a surprisingly good experience: it mounted the encrypted drives and did everything pretty smoothly. It even offered me to reinstall the bootloader, but that ultimately (and correctly, as it turns out) failed because I didn't have a /boot/efi partition.

At this point, I realized there was no easy way out of this, and I just proceeded to completely reinstall Debian. I had a spare NVMe drive lying around (backups FTW!) so I just swapped that in, rebooted in the Debian installer, and did a clean install. I wanted to switch to bookworm anyways, so I guess that's done too.

BIOS issues

The Framework BIOS has some minor issues. One issue I personally encountered is that I had disabled Quick boot and Quiet boot in the BIOS to diagnose the above boot issues. This, in turn, triggers a bug where the BIOS boot manager (F12) would just hang completely. It would also fail to boot from an external USB drive.

The current fix (as of BIOS 3.03) is to re-enable both Quick boot and Quiet boot. Presumably this is something that will get fixed in a future BIOS update.

Note that the following keybindings are active in the BIOS POST check:

Key Meaning
F2 Enter BIOS setup menu
F12 Enter BIOS boot manager
Delete Enter BIOS setup menu

Storage limitations

Another thing that happened during setup is that I tried to copy over the internal 2.5" SSD drive from the Purism to the Framework 1TB expansion card. There's no 2.5" slot in the new laptop, so that's pretty much the only option for storage expansion.

I was tired and did something wrong. I ended up wiping the partition table on the original 2.5" drive.

Oops.

It might be recoverable, but just restoring the partition table didn't work either, so I'm not sure how I recover the data there. Normally, everything on my laptops and workstations is designed to be disposable, so that wasn't that big of a problem. I did manage to recover most of the data thanks to git-annex reinit, but that was a little hairy.

WiFi compatibility issues

I couldn't make WiFi work at first. Obviously, the default Debian installer doesn't ship with proprietary firmware (although that might change soon) so the WiFi card didn't work out of the box. But even after copying the firmware through a USB stick, I couldn't quite manage to find the right combination of ip/iw/wpa-supplicant (yes, after repeatedly copying a bunch more packages over to get those bootstrapped).

Thankfully, I had a little USB-C dongle with a RJ-45 jack lying around. That also required a firmware blob, but it was a single package to copy over, and with that loaded, I had network.

Eventually, I did managed to make WiFi work; the problem was more on the side of "I forgot how to configure a WPA network by hand from the commandline" than anything else. NetworkManager worked fine and got WiFi working correctly.

Note that this is with Debian bookworm, which has the 5.19 Linux kernel, and with the firmware-nonfree (firmware-iwlwifi, specifically) package.

Bootstrapping Puppet

Once I had some networking, I had to install all the packages I needed. The time I spent setting up my workstations with Puppet has finally paid off. What I actually did was to restore two critical directories:

/etc/ssh
/var/lib/puppet

So that I would keep the previous machine's identity. That way I could contact the Puppet server and install whatever was missing. I used my Puppet optimization trick to do a batch install and then I had a good base setup, although not exactly as it was before. 1700 packages were installed manually on angela before the reinstall, and not in Puppet.

I did not inspect each one individually, but I did go through /etc and copied over more SSH keys, for backups and SMTP over SSH.

LVFS support

It looks like there's support for the (de-facto) standard LVFS firmware update system. At least I was able to update the UEFI firmware with a simple:

apt install fwupd-amd64-signed
fwupdmgr refresh
fwupdmgr get-updates
fwupdmgr update

Nice. It also seems like the 12th gen BIOS updates are not yet deployed in LVFS, but that might very well be because there are (currently) no pending BIOS updates anyways.

Battery life

I was having between about 7 hours of battery on the Purism Librem 13v4, and that's after a year or two of battery life. Now, I still have about 7 hours of battery life, which is nicer than my old Thinkpad X220 (20 minutes!) but really, it's not that good for a new generation laptop. The 12th generation Intel chipset probably improved things compared to the previous one Framework laptop, but I don't have a 11th gen Framework to compare with).

(Note that those are estimates from my status bar, not wall clock measurements. They should still be comparable between the Purism and Framework, that said.)

The battery life doesn't seem up to, say, Dell XPS 13, Thinpad X1, and of course not the Apple M1, where I would expect 10+ hours of battery life out of the box.

That said, I do get those kind estimates when the machine is fully charged and idle. In fact, when everything is quiet and nothing is plugged in, I get dozens of hours of battery life estimated (I've seen 25h!). So power usage fluctuates quite a bit depending on usage, which I guess is expected.

TODO: give battery estimates while streaming video, editing, browsing the web, etc.

Power management

Compared to the Purism Librem 13v4, the ongoing power usage seems to be slightly better. An anecdotal metric is that the Purism would take 800mA idle, while the more powerful Framework manages a little over 500mA as I'm typing this, fluctuating between 450 and 600mA. That is without any active expansion card, except the storage. Those numbers come from the output of tlp-stat -b and, unfortunately, the "ampere" unit makes it quite hard to compare those, because voltage is not necessarily the same between the two platforms.

TODO: review Arch Linux's tips on power saving

Background on CPU architecture

There were power problems in the 11th gen Framework laptop, according to this report from Linux After Dark, so the issues with power management on the Framework are not new.

The 12th generation Intel CPU (AKA "Alder Lake") is a big-little architecture with "power-saving" and "performance" cores. There used to be performance problems introduced by the scheduler in Linux 5.16 but those were eventually fixed in 5.18, which uses Intel's hardware as an "intelligent, low-latency hardware-assisted scheduler". According to Phoronix, the 5.19 release improved the power saving, at the cost of some penalty cost. There were also patch series to make the scheduler configurable, but it doesn't look those have been merged as of 5.19.

All this to say that the 12gen Intel line shipped with this Framework series should have better power management thanks to its power-saving cores. And Linux has had the scheduler changes to make use of this, so this should not be the source of power management problems on my laptop, quite the opposite.

Also note that the firmware updates for various chipsets are supposed to improve things eventually.

Attempts at improving power usage

I did try to follow some of the tips in this forum post. The tricks powertop --auto-tune and tlp's PCIE_ASPM_ON_BAT=powersupersave basically did nothing: I was stuck at 10W power usage in powertop (600+mA in tlp-stat).

Apparently, I should be able to reach the C8 CPU power state (or even C9, C10) in powertop, but I seem to be stock at C7. (Although I'm not sure how to read that tab in powertop: in the Core(HW) column there's only C3/C6/C7 states, and most cores are 85% in C7 or maybe C6. But the next column over does show many CPUs in C10 states...

As it turns out, the graphics card actually takes up a good chunk of power unless proper power management is enabled (see below). After tweaking this, I did manage to get down to around 7W power usage in powertop.

Expansion cards actually do take up power, and so does the screen, obviously. The fully-lit screen takes a solid 2-3W of power compared to the fully dimmed screen. When removing all expansion cards and making the laptop idle, I can spin it down to 4 watts power usage at the moment, and an amazing 2 watts when the screen turned off.

Caveats

Abusive (10W+) power usage that I initially found could be a problem with my desktop configuration: I have this silly status bar that updates every second and probably causes redraws... The CPU certainly doesn't seem to spin down below 1GHz. Also note that this is with an actual desktop running with everything: it could very well be that some things (I'm looking at you Signal Desktop) take up unreasonable amount of power on their own (hello, 1W/electron, sheesh). Syncthing and containerd (Docker!) also seem to take a good 500mW just sitting there.

Beyond my desktop configuration, this could, of course, be a Debian-specific problem; your favorite distribution might be better at power management.

Standby battery usage

I wrote some quick hack to evaluate how much power is used during sleep. Apparently, this is one of the areas that should have improved since the first Framework model, let's find out.

My baseline for comparison is the Purism laptop, which, in 10 minutes, went from this:

sep 28 11:19:45 angela systemd-sleep[209379]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT/charge_now                      =   6045 [mAh]

... to this:

sep 28 11:29:47 angela systemd-sleep[209725]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT/charge_now                      =   6037 [mAh]

That's 8mAh per 10 minutes (and 2 seconds), or 48mA, or, with this battery, about 127 hours or roughly 5 days of standby. Not bad!

In comparison, here is my really old x220, before:

sep 29 22:13:54 emma systemd-sleep[176315]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT0/energy_now                     =   5070 [mWh]

... after:

sep 29 22:23:54 emma systemd-sleep[176486]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT0/energy_now                     =   4980 [mWh]

... which is 90 mwH in 10 minutes, or a whopping 540mA, which was possibly okay when this battery was new (62000 mAh, so about 100 hours, or about 5 days), but this battery is almost dead and has only 5210 mAh when full, so only 10 hours standby.

And here is the Framework performing a similar test, before:

sep 29 22:27:04 angela systemd-sleep[4515]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_full                    =   3518 [mAh]
sep 29 22:27:04 angela systemd-sleep[4515]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_now                     =   2861 [mAh]

... after:

sep 29 22:37:08 angela systemd-sleep[4743]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_now                     =   2812 [mAh]

... which is 49mAh in a little over 10 minutes (and 4 seconds), or 292mA, much more than the Purism, but half of the X220. At this rate, the battery would last on standby only 12 hours!! That is pretty bad.

Note that this was done with the following expansion cards:

Preliminary tests without the hub (over one minute) show that it doesn't significantly affect this power consumption (300mA).

This guide also suggests booting with nvme.noacpi=1 but this still gives me about 5mAh/min (or 300mA).

Adding mem_sleep_default=deep to the kernel command line does make a difference. Before:

sep 29 23:03:11 angela systemd-sleep[3699]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_now                     =   2544 [mAh]

... after:

sep 29 23:04:25 angela systemd-sleep[4039]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_now                     =   2542 [mAh]

... which is 2mAh in 74 seconds, which is 97mA, brings us to a more reasonable 36 hours, or a day and a half. It's still above the x220 power usage, and more than an order of magnitude more than the Purism laptop. It's also far from the 0.4% promised by upstream, which would be 14mA for the 3500mAh battery.

It should also be noted that this "deep" sleep mode is a little more disruptive than regular sleep. As you can see by the timing, it took more than 10 seconds for the laptop to resume, which feels a little alarming as your banging the keyboard to bring it back to life.

You can confirm the current sleep mode with:

# cat /sys/power/mem_sleep
s2idle [deep]

In the above, deep is selected. You can change it on the fly with:

printf s2idle > /sys/power/mem_sleep

Here's another test:

sep 30 22:25:50 angela systemd-sleep[32207]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_now                     =   1619 [mAh]
sep 30 22:31:30 angela systemd-sleep[32516]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_now                     =   1613 [mAh]

... better! 6 mAh in about 6 minutes, works out to 63.5mA, so more than two days standby.

A longer test:

oct 01 09:22:56 angela systemd-sleep[62978]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_now                     =   3327 [mAh]
oct 01 12:47:35 angela systemd-sleep[63219]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_now                     =   3147 [mAh]

That's 180mAh in about 3.5h, 52mA! Now at 66h, or almost 3 days.

I wasn't sure why I was seeing such fluctuations in those tests, but as it turns out, expansion card power tests show that they do significantly affect power usage, especially the SSD drive, which can take up to two full watts of power even when idle. I didn't control for expansion cards in the above tests — running them with whatever card I had plugged in without paying attention — so it's likely the cause of the high power usage and fluctuations.

It might be possible to work around this problem by disabling USB devices before suspend. In the meantime, I have been able to get much better suspend performance by unplugging all modules. Then I get this result:

oct 04 11:15:38 angela systemd-sleep[257571]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_now                     =   3203 [mAh]
oct 04 15:09:32 angela systemd-sleep[257866]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_now                     =   3145 [mAh]

Which is 14.8mA! Almost exactly the number promised by Framework! With a full battery, that means a 10 days suspend time. This is actually pretty good, and far beyond what I was expecting when starting down this journey.

So, once the expansion cards are unplugged, suspend power usage is actually quite reasonable.

There is also some hope that the Chromebook edition — specifically designed with a specification of 14 days standby time — could bring some firmware improvements back down to the normal line.

TODO: one final solution here is suspend-then-hibernate, which Windows uses for this

Detailed power usage tests

Some expansion cards waste energy, even when unused. Here is a summary of the findings from the powerstat page. I also include other devices tested in this page for completeness:

Device Minimum Average Max Stdev Note
Screen, 100% 2.4W 2.6W 2.8W N/A
Screen, 1% 30mW 140mW 250mW N/A
Radios 100mW 250mW N/A N/A
USB-C N/A N/A N/A N/A negligible power drain
USB-A 10mW 10mW ? 10mW almost negligible
DisplayPort 300mW 390mW 600mW N/A not passive
HDMI 380mW 440mW 1W? 20mW not passive
1TB SSD 1.65W 1.79W 2W 12mW significant, probably higher when busy
MicroSD 1.6W 3W 6W 1.93W highest power usage, possibly even higher when busy

So it looks like all expansion cards but the USB-C ones are active, i.e. they draw power with idle. The USB-A cards are the least concern, sucking out 10mW, pretty much within the margin of error. But both the DisplayPort and HDMI do take a few hundred miliwatts. It looks like USB-A connectors have this fundamental flaw that they necessarily draw some powers because they lack the power negociation features of USB-C. At least according to this post:

It seems the USB A must have power going to it all the time, that the old USB 2 and 3 protocols, the USB C only provides power when there is a connection. Old versus new.

Apparently, this is a problem specific to the USB-C to USB-A adapter that ships with the Framework. Some people have actually changed their orders to all USB-C because of this problem, but I'm not sure the problem is as serious as claimed in the forums. I couldn't reproduce the "one watt" power drains suggested elsewhere, at least not repeatedly. (A previous version of this post did show such a power drain, but it was in a less controlled test environment than the series of more rigorous tests above.)

The worst offenders are the storage cards: the SSD drive takes at least one watt of power and the MicroSD card seems to want to take all the way up to 6 watts of power, both just sitting there doing nothing. This confirms claims of 1.4W for the SSD (but not 5W) power usage found elsewhere. The former post has instructions on how to disable the card in software. The MicroSD card has been reported as using 2 watts, but I've seen it as high as 6 watts, which is pretty damning.

The Framework team has a beta update for the DisplayPort adapter but currently only for Windows (LVFS technically possible, "under investigation"). A USB-A firmware update is also under investigation. It is therefore likely at least some of those power management issues will eventually be fixed.

Proprietary firmware blobs

The framework does need proprietary firmware to operate. Specifically:

Note that, at the time of writing, the latest i915 firmware from linux-firmware has a serious bug where loading all the accessible firmware results in noticeable — I estimate 200-500ms — lag between the keyboard (not the mouse!) and the display. Symptoms also include tearing and shearing of windows, it's pretty nasty.

One workaround is to delete the two affected firmware files:

cd /lib/firmware && rm adlp_guc_70.1.1.bin adlp_guc_69.0.3.bin
update-initramfs -u

You will get the following warning during build, which is good as it means the problematic firmware is disabled:

W: Possible missing firmware /lib/firmware/i915/adlp_guc_69.0.3.bin for module i915
W: Possible missing firmware /lib/firmware/i915/adlp_guc_70.1.1.bin for module i915

But then it also means that critical firmware isn't loaded, which means, among other things, a higher battery drain. I was able to move from 8.5-10W down to the 7W range after making the firmware work properly. This is also after turning the backlight all the way down, as that takes a solid 2-3W in full blast.

The proper fix is to use some compositing manager. I ended up using compton with the following systemd unit:

[Unit]
Description=start compositing manager
PartOf=graphical-session.target
ConditionHost=angela

[Service]
Type=exec
ExecStart=compton --show-all-xerrors --backend glx --vsync opengl-swc
Restart=on-failure

[Install]
RequiredBy=graphical-session.target

compton is orphaned however, so you might be tempted to use picom instead, but in my experience the latter uses much more power (1-2W extra).

It's also possible that a Wayland environment might do the right thing here as well, but I'm [[software/desktop/wayland|not switching to wayland just yet]].

Thanks to EmanueleRocca for figuring all that out. See also this discussion about power management on the Framework forum.

Also note that the iwlwifi firmware also looks incomplete. Even with the package installed, I get those errors in dmesg:

[   19.534429] Intel(R) Wireless WiFi driver for Linux
[   19.534691] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: enabling device (0000 -> 0002)
[   19.541867] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-72.ucode (-2)
[   19.541881] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-72.ucode (-2)
[   19.541882] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: Direct firmware load for iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-72.ucode failed with error -2
[   19.541890] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-71.ucode (-2)
[   19.541895] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-71.ucode (-2)
[   19.541896] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: Direct firmware load for iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-71.ucode failed with error -2
[   19.541903] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-70.ucode (-2)
[   19.541907] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-70.ucode (-2)
[   19.541908] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: Direct firmware load for iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-70.ucode failed with error -2
[   19.541913] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-69.ucode (-2)
[   19.541916] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-69.ucode (-2)
[   19.541917] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: Direct firmware load for iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-69.ucode failed with error -2
[   19.541922] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-68.ucode (-2)
[   19.541926] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-68.ucode (-2)
[   19.541927] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: Direct firmware load for iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-68.ucode failed with error -2
[   19.541933] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-67.ucode (-2)
[   19.541937] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-67.ucode (-2)
[   19.541937] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: Direct firmware load for iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-67.ucode failed with error -2
[   19.544244] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: direct-loading firmware iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-66.ucode
[   19.544257] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: api flags index 2 larger than supported by driver
[   19.544270] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: TLV_FW_FSEQ_VERSION: FSEQ Version: 0.63.2.1
[   19.544523] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwl-debug-yoyo.bin (-2)
[   19.544528] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwl-debug-yoyo.bin (-2)
[   19.544530] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: loaded firmware version 66.55c64978.0 ty-a0-gf-a0-66.ucode op_mode iwlmvm

Some of those are available in the latest upstream firmware package (iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-71.ucode, -68, and -67), but not all (e.g. iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-72.ucode is missing) . It's unclear what those do or don't, as the WiFi seems to work well without them.

I still copied them in from the latest linux-firmware package in the hope they would help with power management, but I did not notice a change after loading them.

There are also multiple knobs on the iwlwifi and iwlmvm drivers. The latter has a power_schmeme setting which defaults to 2 (balanced), setting it to 3 (low power) could improve battery usage as well, in theory. The iwlwifi driver also has power_save (defaults to disabled) and power_level (1-5, defaults to 1) settings. See also the output of modinfo iwlwifi and modinfo iwlmvm for other driver options.

Graphics acceleration

After loading the latest upstream firmware and setting up a compositing manager (compton, above), I tested the classic glxgears.

Running in a window gives me odd results, as the gears basically grind to a halt:

Running synchronized to the vertical refresh.  The framerate should be
approximately the same as the monitor refresh rate.
137 frames in 5.1 seconds = 26.984 FPS
27 frames in 5.4 seconds =  5.022 FPS

Ouch. 5FPS!

But interestingly, once the window is in full screen, it does hit the monitor refresh rate:

300 frames in 5.0 seconds = 60.000 FPS

I'm not really a gamer and I'm not normally using any of that fancy graphics acceleration stuff (except maybe my browser does?).

I installed intel-gpu-tools for the intel_gpu_top command to confirm the GPU was engaged when doing those simulations. A nice find. Other useful diagnostic tools include glxgears and glxinfo (in mesa-utils) and (vainfo in vainfo).

Following to this post, I also made sure to have those settings in my about:config in Firefox, or, in user.js:

user_pref("media.ffmpeg.vaapi.enabled", true);

Note that the guide suggests many other settings to tweak, but those might actually be overkill, see this comment and its parents. I did try forcing hardware acceleration by setting gfx.webrender.all to true, but everything became choppy and weird.

The guide also mentions installing the intel-media-driver package, but I could not find that in Debian.

The Arch wiki has, as usual, an excellent reference on hardware acceleration in Firefox.

Resolution tweaks

The Framework laptop resolution (2256px X 1504px) is big enough to give you a pretty small font size, so welcome to the marvelous world of "scaling".

The Debian wiki page has a few tricks for this.

Console

This will make the console and grub fonts more readable:

cat >> /etc/default/console-setup <<EOF
FONTFACE="Terminus"
FONTSIZE=32x16
EOF
echo GRUB_GFXMODE=1024x768 >> /etc/default/grub
update-grub

Xorg

Adding this to your Xresources will make everything look much bigger:

! 1.5*96
Xft.dpi: 144

Apparently, some of this can also help:

! These might also be useful depending on your monitor and personal preference:
Xft.autohint: 0
Xft.lcdfilter:  lcddefault
Xft.hintstyle:  hintfull
Xft.hinting: 1
Xft.antialias: 1
Xft.rgba: rgb

It my experience it also makes things look a little fuzzier, which is frustrating because you have this awesome monitor but everything looks out of focus. Just bumping Xft.dpi by a 1.5 factor looks good to me.

The Debian Wiki has a page on HiDPI, but it's not as good as the Arch Wiki, where the above blurb comes from. I am not using the latter because I suspect it's causing some of the "fuzziness".

TODO: find the equivalent of this GNOME hack in i3? (gsettings set org.gnome.mutter experimental-features "['scale-monitor-framebuffer']"), taken from this Framework guide

Shipping details

I ordered the Framework in August 2022 and received it about a month later, which is sooner than expected because the August batch was late.

People (including me) expected this to have an impact on the September batch, but it seems Framework have been able to fix the delivery problems and keep up with the demand.

The supply pipeline

There are basically 6 steps in the Framework shipping pipeline, each (except the last) accompanied with an email notification:

  1. pre-order
  2. preparing batch
  3. preparing order
  4. payment complete
  5. shipping
  6. (received)

This comes from the crowdsourced spreadsheet, which should be updated when the status changes here.

I was part of the "third batch" of the 12th generation laptop, which was supposed to ship in September. It ended up arriving on my door step on September 27th.

Shipping trivia

I don't know about the others, but my laptop shipped through no less than four different airplane flights. Here are the hops it took:

I can't quite figure out how to calculate exactly how much mileage that is, but it's huge. The ride through Alaska is surprising enough but the bounce back through Winnipeg is especially weird. I guess the route happens that way because of Fedex shipping hubs.

There was a related oddity when I had my Purism laptop shipped: it left from the west coast and seemed to enter on an endless, two week long road trip across the continental US.

Other resources

Created . Edited .