Shipping to North America (US/Canada)
Minifree ships internationally. Shipping prices can be found here: https://minifree.org/shipping-costs/
Shipping to European Union
Minifree regularly ships to the EU without issue, from its lab in the UK. The couriers handle the paperwork and pay the tax on your behalf, and then they simply contact you to request payment of VAT plus a small filing fee (usually about 20 euros). This only applies to Europe. USA customers do not pay VAT.
Before Brexit, Minifree charged 20% UK VAT to EU customers. Nowadays, Minifree can (and does) charge 0% UK VAT to EU customers, and you pay your own country’s rate of VAT instead. The overall cost is the same compared to what you’d pay if the UK never left the EU. Customs normally takes a few days, and then your laptop arrives safely.
More info available here: https://minifree.org/delivery-and-return-policy/
What other hardware does Minifree sell?
See, Libreboot compatibility list: https://libreboot.org/docs/hardware/.
Minifree’s main products are listed on minifree.org, but you can contact Minifree to ask about other hardware. If you want to buy something else, Minifree is happy to sell whatever is on the list. A custom price will be made for you, and an invoice emailed to you with payment instructions. The hardware will then be sourced, and configured according to your specification.
In principle, anything from coreboot can be added to Libreboot, and sold, so please also check the coreboot list: see https://doc.coreboot.org/mainboard/index.html and https://coreboot.org/status/board-status.html.
How to change the keyboard?
Minifree ships with British keyboard layout by default, which is very similar to the US keyboard layout.
If you want to change the keyboard yourself, you can find keyboards on eBay and other sites, for these machines. Here are videos showing how to change the keyboard:
Then you can simply change the (software-based) keymap in your Libreboot firmware (if using GRUB payload), and in your operating system. If you need any help, just email your question to Minifree.
US keyboard layout
US keyboards are possible, although UK keyboards are virtually identical. You can see the difference between UK/US keyboard layout here:
Minifree ships with UK keyboard layout, by default.
European keyboard layouts
Most European keyboard layouts are electrically compatible with the 105-key UK keymap design. It’s the same physical layout, but your OS differentiates keymaps by interpreting scancodes differently; all 105-key keyboards will output the same scancodes.
Therefore, if you have a UK keyboard but you want, say, a German QWERTZ or French AZERTY, you could use stickers. Many sellers online provide stickers, which you can place over the default UK keys. Then you just change the keyboard layout in your OS (Libreboot also supports several keymaps, in the GRUB payload). Some of them are quite high quality, and this is much cheaper than buying a whole new keyboard.
You could also use UK Dvorak or French BEPO this way (Libreboot GRUB supports both of these!)
Is <insert OS here> compatible?
Generally, any Linux or BSD system will work perfectly, even the more exotic ones like Qubes. Minifree regularly installs a variety of Linux distros, in addition to FreeBSD and OpenBSD. Minifree has also installed some of the less-used BSD systems, such as NetBSD. Minifree caters specifically to free operating systems such as these. **We will not provide Windows, so do not ask**.
Keep that in mind, when ordering. The purpose of Minifree is specifically to provide systems with free software. We don’t care about Windows, at all. We only care about Linux and BSD systems, because those are free software. We only care about free/opensource software.
Minifree mostly provides Debian Linux, but will install other distros and BSD systems on request. *Qubes* is also compatible, on models that have vt-d; make sure to specifically request Qubes when ordering, if you want Qubes, so that Minifree can test it on your machine before shipping.
Operating systems other than Linux/BSD-based, can still be used regardless of Libreboot. For example, you could run proxmox or maybe Qubes on your machine, and run under virtualisation. Linux/BSD systems are *natively* support, so you can just boot these as-is, on Libreboot systems.
What about import tax?
Minifree charges 20% UK VAT, for *UK* shipping addresses.
For international (non-UK) shipping addresses: Minifree charges 0% UK VAT (zero-rate VAT), and you pay your own country’s rate of VAT instead; this payment is made directly to the courier, not to Minifree. The courier pays your government on your behalf, and then charges you the amount of tax plus a small filing fee (usually about £10 to £20 or equivalent in your currency).
More information available here:
What about shipping fees?
How can I install Libreboot updates?
In addition to running Minifree, I (Leah Rowe) am the lead developer and founder of Libreboot. Releases are always well-tested, especially on the hardware that Minifree sells.
When an update is available, you can easily install it with a flashrom command, from your GNU+Linux system. You do not need to take apart your computer, and you do not need a soldering iron. The original vendor firmware blocks writes to the flash on most machines, requiring you to use special external equipment. However:
Libreboot does not, by default, enable flash protection (but they can, if configured to do so). Restrictions put in place by the manufacturer do not exist when you’re running Libreboot.
Minifree provides support, if you get stuck and need help installing updates. Otherwise, check the Libreboot project website.
What is Libreboot?
Libreboot is a free/opensource BIOS/UEFI replacement, for core hardware initialization. It starts a bootloader, when will then boot your operating system. See libreboot.org for more information. Libreboot development started in December 2013.
What if I brick my laptop when updating Libreboot?
If you brick your Minifree laptop when updating Libreboot, Minifree will unbrick it for free if you send it back to us. Even if your warranty has expired! However, such bricking is rare
It’s a reference to Orwell’s 1984 novel. In the world depicted by that novel, “freedom” is a banned word. So, in that world, “Minifree” could never exist.
It’s a very amusing name, though our world is arguably the one envisioned by Huxley, not Orwell.