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Purism - Librem5

Posted 06-30-2020 at 08:59 AM by zeebra
Tags librem5, purism

So it seems like all other GNU/Linux projects on mobiles, the Librem5 have run into some issues. In an answer to my previous post about the Librem5, someone talked about the Librem5 running into massive issues and possibly not shipping at all, despite contrary information from Purism, the company behind the Librem5.

We have seen this before as well. A couple of big examples is the failure of the Ubuntu Edge and Ubuntu on mobiles in general. Due to proprietary hardware and the hardware manufacturing industry and their near monopoly over the market and production. Producing a "new" mobile is almost impossible when the whole chain is controlled by a few companies, and those are "owned" by the Google/Apple duopoly.
Another example is ofcourse Jolla and their Sailfish project. A noble project indeed, and one that succeeded in making usable software on usable hardware. In the end, the project failed, and Jolla seems to have resorted to try to licence Sailfish as an OS for mobiles instead. In reality, both have failed due to a variety of factors, and both were quite resourceful attempts at making it work.

Personally I think trying to make a similar phone to all the ones on the market is the wrong approach. Android phones and Iphones are all the same. Rather a GNU/Linux phone should pick up where the N900 left off and continue the path towards a proper mobile ("phone") computer. N950 was on the way to do that before Microsoft infiltrated and destroyed Nokia with the probable help of CIA and NSA to establish the American duopoly of Google/Apple in the mobile market, and get rid of any players (Nokia) who would not automatically comply with post-911 draconian measures like blanket surveillance and use of controllable proprietary technology.

Ubuntu failed because they could not accomplish hardware support with their OS, due to proprietary hardware models, firmware and middleware/firmware/hardware design in systems like Android. Ubuntu tried to get 30 million dollars to fund their Ubuntu Edge phone, which almost succeeded, but gives and indication of how much money is actually needed to design and release a "new" phone. This was partly due to normal cost of development, but also in getting a "reasonable" hardware manufacturer onboard with the project, something which takes a certain minimum number of produced units. Purism was trying the same with 1 million, and according to some reports they ran out of money for the project and had problems continuing it.
There is nothing about Librem 5 on youtube or on the internet which indicates the phone has in any way been launched on the wider market. This contradicts the sales strategy by purism online and their youtube videos, which seems to indicate they are selling the Librem 5. Perhaps the reality is somewhere in the middle, they need to sell them to keep the project alive, but have delivered less than promised so far.

In a huge market, few companies want to produce hardware for companies like Jolla, whom rightly expected moderate sales and got to build a hardware platform based on those estimates, which meant that quality wise the phone was sub-par, while design wise (Android/Iphone like) it offered nothing new. It was a nemo/mer based Linux which is probably almost GNU like, but having remaining elements of things like busybox and the middleware design of Maemo (libc5). It's difficult to say if it was proper GNU/Linux, but at least it was probably pretty close. The UI was a proprietary design by Jolla based on Wayland. Due to a combinations of factors, the project overall failed, probably due to lack of casual enthusiasts like myself, not being confident of the nature of the phone, and not being able to see a better hardware design than all the boring flat useless "smart phones". The niche appeal of designing your own second half failed, since the hobbyists and programmers and the like probably did not find it worthwhile to only design them for likeminded people, and not for general casual enthusiasts like myself.

I don't want an Alpha phone where I have to fix the software myself and design new software to have it. I want smart hardware and the freedom that comes with GNU/Linux, combined with proper uptake of hardware and software enthusiasts to create a living ecosystem for the device (alike to N900 where it was not big, but lively and good/free). I want to be able to tinker and tune my own system with the help of enhusiasts. I don't want to be controlled by a huge global corporation and their terrible practices and customer exploitation. And I want practical and smart hardware, not low quality mainstream trash that people just accept. N900 is still way smarter hardware design than any product on the market, and the UI design is still a good example to point too, although some of the mainstream has implemented some similar features (already, after 10 years).

Looking at the state of the Librem 5 of what I could find online, it doesn't seem promising to me. It seems that possibly they might even have problems gaining access to their own hardware, which again would point to a flawed design/implementation period. The software state seems rough, and the hardware/UI design never appealed to me personally. What did appeal to me and still does is the fact that it is GNU/Linux, but that's only useful if they have actual control and access to the hardware they designed. And I can't personally design another GNU/Linux distro for the thing, so it needs to be of a certain quality of have some viable alternatives.
Posted in freed hardware
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