OpenBSD 6.2 on a Librem 13 v2

Created: December 2, 2017
Last updated: May 17, 2018, OpenBSD 6.3


These are the collected observations and notes from installing OpenBSD 6.2 on a Librem 13 v2. I assume the reader has an above average understanding of PC hardware and is an experienced OpenBSD administrator. You'll need to be capable of installing, troubleshooting, and maintaining the system yourself. Purism's support for OpenBSD is non-existent. Purism officially supports PureOS on their gear.

OpenBSD is my primary OS for both servers and desktop because of the emphasis on security, standards, and a developer oriented focus. I especially appreciate the default minimal install.

Why a minimal install is an issue for me...
Security! The less stuff I've got running the safer I feel. I administer systems running several different *nixes and even a few with that monolithic monster from Redmond. A minimal install makes it significantly easier to secure and maintain systems. The nice thing about OpenBSD is that a minimal install is the default.

Hardware Overview

  Intel Core i7 6500U (Skylake) Supported
  DDR4 2133MHz Supported
  SATA3 hard disk (7mm, 2.5") Supported
Card Slot    
  SD/MMC Supported
  Atheros AR9485 wireless Not Supported1
External Interfaces    
  USB 3.0 (2, 1 is type C) Supported
  USB 2.0 (1) Supported
  Audio (Mic/Line Out) Supported
  HDMI (4k capable) Supported
  Intel HD 520 Supported
  Intel HD audio, built in speakers Supported
  Keyboard (US) Supported2
  Touchpad (Elantech multitouch) Supported
  BIOS, Coreboot Supported3

Hardware Notes

  1. M.2 E-key slot, can be replaced with supported device
  2. Not all of the function keys work as detailed below
  3. Does not support CPU throttling, 4.6-a86d1b-Purism-5
    Fixed in Coreboot release 4.7-Purism-4

Installation Notes

Intel ME -
The Intel Management Engine is disabled in BIOS.

Wireless - It's a AR9485 :-(
There are probably more posts on the net about getting these wifi adapters to work in BSD than there are cat pic sites. Atheros has been acquired by Qualcomm and doesn't seem too eager to play with the FOSS world.

“Not Configured” Devices -
Several ACPI features, thermal regulation, and some features of the Intel 100 series chipset are detected but not configured.

Console Video -
The default console video works fine and X(7) starts without any configuration. However, the brightness up/down keys on the keyboard do not work. Brightness can be set with wsconsctl(8).

External Video -
Connecting to the HDMI port works as expected. You may need to tweak X(7) or use xrandr(1) to get your preferred window manager to play nice. The external video toggle function key (Fn+F7) prints "p" and does not switch the video configuration.

Touchpad -
The touchpad is an Elantech. Tapping must be enabled in wsconsctl.conf(5) if you are not using the synaptics(4) driver.

Audio -
The audio has a soft buzz when the audio system is enabled during boot. This can be easily solved by muting the speakers when not playing audio. When watching video or listening to music the buzz isn't always noticeable. The keyboard mute button works as well as the volume up and down keys.

Suspend/Resume -
Manual suspend and resume, as well as hibernate, all work as expected with apmd(8). Suspend on lidaction must be disabled because resume on lid open enters an infinite loop that will require you to disconnect the battery to recover.

BIOS - Version 4.6-a86d1b-Purism-5 Version 4.7-Purism-4
The backslash/pipe key doesn't work as expected. It produces the < and > scancodes for some weird reason. It turns out this is easy to fix with a combination of wsconsctl(8) and xmodmap(1).

The Purism key pops the IceWM menu (our preferred window manager). The other special key generates a keycode but isn't assigned to anything useful.

The keyboard backlight toggle key works with three levels (off, low, high).

Power saving and CPU throttling do not to work. The BIOS is missing the necessary entries to allow the CPU to regulate itself. This obviously affects battery life.

Other - Color
The machine is a deep, deep matte black with no visible branding on the lid or interior. The downside to the color is that it really shows finger smudges. If this bothers you, you'll need to carry wipes with you to clean it up every time you use it.

Disclaimer - As stated above, the reader is assumed to have an above average understanding of PC hardware and be an experienced OpenBSD system administrator. This is not intended to be a cookbook recipe for installing OpenBSD on your Librem laptop.

This information is provided AS IS without any warranty. While reasonable effort has been made in preparation of this material, the author and publisher assume no responsibility for errors, omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein.