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Purism finally starts shipping the Libre5 GNU/Linux phone

Posted 10-28-2019 at 08:31 AM by zeebra

I haven't been paying attention, but I just noticed Purism who is behind the Librem phone has moved away from pre-orders to actual shipments. This is great news. It is actually happening. But they are sold out! (which is also in a way good news).

The Librem 5 is a "smartphone" that comes with PureOS, an actual GNU/Linux distro, not busybox/Linux or some other fake Linux variant, but real GNU. This is an actual GNU/Linux phone, maybe the first one (not sure about Mer/Linux from Jolla). Older "Linux" phones were not GNU but busybox and other such solutions, and not proper GNU. I had the N900 myself which was a "Linux" phone, but in essence it was not open, it was a busybox base with libc6 which meant you were pretty limited. As far as I know Mer/Linux from Jolla is also not a proper GNU mobile, and besides, the GUI is proprietary as well.

What sets this phone aside from the others is the proper GNU/Linux. I don't know PureOS and exactly how it is put together, but I believe them when they say it's proper GNU. Efforts are also under way to port other distroes to the Librem5, which means the company is open to such things, but ofcourse they prefer PureOS which they have designed for it and will support. In case there are any doubts as to the GNUness of the distro, it is endorsed by the Free Software Foundation, something which is hard to accomplish, and something most Linux distroes are not.

Aside from the obvious, something that will set this phone aside on the Smartphone market is an OS which can extend the longevity of the product and be optimized for the product over time, and obviusly by the user themselves should they want. This means that unlike the other products on the market, the lifetime on this phone is basically only limited by the actual hardware (ex. battery lifetime). Most phones and platforms are designed for replacement and not for longevity or continued use. In case you take veery good care of your product and worry about the battery being the limiting factor, the battery is actually replaceable. These facts could make it the first decent smartphone product ever on the market!

If you don't care that the phone is designed like every other product out there, it is a great option. Personally I'm not that enthusiastic, because I think "smartphones" as a product is defect by design and was obsolete from the very beginning. They are basically modern versions of the old portrait symbian dumbphones of Nokia and the hardware design is really primitive and quite useless. Just a thin block design used mainly in portrait mode when all other modern screens are wide. Besides that the design of the "smartphone" products is just not clever. The Nokia N900 was a "mobile computer", not a "smartphone" and I regret this type of design was neglected because it's just so incredibly powerful compared to smartphones design. Every type of details from buttons to keyboard and the landscape mode design and functions of the GUI was incredibly powerful and make smartphone design look like a stupid monkey toy. If you don't mind the smartphone design, or even then, if you just don't want trashy android or apple stuff, then go for the Librem5!

Personally I will wait until they release a "mobile computer" and they realize what was just so damn smart and powerful of the design of a product like the N900, both on the hardware side and the GUI side. Buttons and GUI even worked together in perfect harmony. I certainly hope Purism will consider doing something like this for their "next" mobile product. I will even wait 3-5 years for it, but it has to be perfect..

Anyways, I'm very enthusiastic that the Librem 5 has been released, I think it marks a great day in the history of the (corrupt) mobile market and a landmark in the history of GNU/Linux. I hope they succeed widly with this product not just on the targeted market, but the general market also. I hope an ecosystem of developers can grow and thrive around the product, such as Plasma Mobile (gui) and other mobile distroes and even oldtimers like Jolla, Mer and the more commercial actors like Tizen, Meego and company, maybe even Ubuntu Mobile. It would be great if the product becomes like an open platform and well documented and can serve as a base for GNU/Linux mobile development.

Anyways, some more details about the product. It costs $699 which by todays exchange is about 630. This is not a bad price, probably cheaper than most Apple and Samsung Phones which have fake prices subsidized by the telecom companies and their subscription services. Specs can be found on their page:
But specs in themselves are not so relevant. More important is jack audio, replaceable battery lifetime OS updates, kill switches for wireless/bluetooth/mobilebands/camera/microphone and proper USB (host I assume??).

Anyways, with more reading, I realized it says shipping started on the 5th of September, so I'm quite latere here, but better late than never. Currently the system is so that they will keep taking order and ship in batches, each with their improvements. It seems that all the first batches are sold out, which means any order done now will be a Q2 2020 order in the "Evergreen" batch. Before that there are batches "Aspen" aka current, "Birch" Oct-Nov, "Chestnut" December, "Dogwood" January-March and "fir" Q4 2020. Evergreen batch Q2 2020 marks the start of mass production.

All the info is available on their page:

Looking at some early stuff Librem 5 activities, it does look somewhat unfinished on the software side, lacking some features and some others not being performed very well. But this is kind of a beta product phase. The mass production starts in Q2 2020 and I expect most major and minor issues will have been resolved by then. I think any of the early sales will be specially interested people and developers whom will all be interested in optimizing the software for their own and others benefit. The next months until the major release should also see new features popping up and enabled on the phone, which will be interesting.

Anyways, I wish good luck, and it will be interesting to keep an eye on the continued development.
Posted in freed hardware
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  1. Old Comment
    Librem 5 - too good to be true?

    At least according to Jay Little:
    Posted 10-30-2019 at 04:57 AM by zeebra zeebra is offline


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