A L5 Review: 1 Week to My "Ready to Ship" L5 Anniversary

One week from today marks the one year anniversary of my “ready to ship” email for my first Librem 5 order. In a few short weeks, it will have been an entire year that I was daily driving a Librem 5 as my phone.

I wanted to post a positive thread and ramble about my experiences a little. Maybe it is an error in how I decide to allocate my attention, but I find myself more often reading negative comments about the Librem 5 than positive ones. I’ve heard it said that online feedback is more often negative than positive, because those having a good time don’t feel they have a reason to communicate. So, what better reason for me to communicate my positive exprience?

Anyone interested in whether to buy Librem 5 is probably dealing with what they feel is “special knowledge.” To want hardware that boasts freedom, moddability, or auditability over sheer raw performance suggests a realization that something is wrong with leading Apple and Google mobile devices. To feel this wrong about technology so powerful suggests the interested shoppers investigating Librem 5 might be people who have been hurt in the past. Ideally, in a smaller human society where our minds could process who the other humans are, it would be nice to have everyone feel like they will be held accountable for their actions – remembered – and that on almost a sort of honor system, everyone with special knowledge about how technology works should make the best decisions possible about how to build that technology so that it functions on behalf of anyone else who pays to buy it.

Over the course of my life experiences that led me to be interested in the Librem 5, I began to lose faith in my fellow human that they would make these sort of decisions in the best interest of others. So on occasion, I have used the phrase, “the information war,” to describe what is happening in society today. But if there is an information war, who or what are we fighting against, and what does it mean for either side to win? My truth is that I don’t know the answer.

But for someone looking to try to purchase a Librem 5 or Liberty Phone to win the war, here is my experience: using this device will not win you the war, but it will probably make you more informed about what is real and what is not. As a Librem 5 user, I learned that Firefox is almost entirely sponsored by Google and that it always keeps an open connection to a Google cloud node that Mozilla set up for some reason, and that when people question the developers of supposedly privacy-oriented Firefox forks about this decision, the people asking the questions are treated as ignorant trolls, and told that they are wrong to concern themselves with which servers their computer does or doesn’t connect to and for how long. I learned that if I post on Signal messenger forums in a reply to someone who asked why we can’t have Signal on Librem 5 as the primary device, and I link to the source code where this CIA-funded Signal app supposedly oriented towards “speaking freely” notifies Google whenever I send a message, my post is moved to a hidden thread where only I can read it. I was told everyone already knew that Signal notifies Google of all user messages, and that users have an option to turn it off. I calmly opened another thread in a separate, more correct location on the Signal forums asking where to find the option to turn off notifying Google. I learned then that actually… there is no such option. So what I was told on the other thread is only true if we bend the truth to some degree; the feature of notifying Google on every Signal message will disable itself automatically on phones where it deems that disabling itself would be the only possible means to function. Otherwise, Google is always notified. I learned that forks of Signal - this supposedly open source application - are in violation of its terms of service if they change its behavior, such as the behavior that I described above.
I learned that Phosh, the default graphical phone skin of the Librem 5, having originated as a fork of the GNOME desktop suite, by default includes a component inherited from GNOME that will sometimes send detailed information about your user location - such as WiFi name, nearest cell tower location, and perhaps additional details - to an Amazon AWS node registered for use by Mozilla. Sometimes this information is reported to Amazon/Mozilla by the Librem 5 as fequently as five times per second, and sometimes not at all. It is also reported through any active VPN, so that if you think you are anonymous by installing a VPN on the Librem 5 (or on any machine running GNOME for that matter), at least to Mozila/Amazon you are not anonymous, because your location information is sent out paired with your VPN’s IP address, effectively disclosing where the user of that VPN IP is located. But I learned the decision whether to send this location information has nothing at all to do with Mozilla Firefox, and would still be reported by a Librem 5 that is idling even with Firefox entirely uninstalled.
I also learned that Discourse forum software includes a glaring information security leak, such that anybody who creates a new forum topic on Purism Forums can embed metadata in their forum topic that will make Discourse tell the user device to contact any website chosen by the creator of the topic, leaking information such as user IP to the website chosen by the topic author.

So although I have not won the information war, one of the awesome aspects of my Librem 5 experience was this learning journey to learn more about technology and how stuff works today than I would have known if I had not lived with this device. And in all these cases, I know of no mathematical law or reason why any of this stuff is how technology has to work. Rather, as I stated previously about having an honor system where we depend on other humans to make the best decision possible when providing us with software, these instances that I have learned about are essentially failures of other folks to uphold such an honor system.

To me, that is one of the beauties of living with a Librem 5/Liberty Phone. At this point I have ordered 2 Liberty Phones, and both took longer than what it says on the Purism website ads to ship. Certainly Purism ships on “Purism time.” But they did ship. These devices are real. My family and friends, for some reason, arrive at the conclusion that this hardware is not for everyone and would require an enthusiast like me to get it to work. Certainly I don’t use the Purism App Store; I use apt and the pureos.net software repositories. But ChatGPT created for me an app called “App of Apps” which sits on my homescreen and can turn any shellscript paired with an icon into a homescreen app. In my life, because I do not fear bash nor the command line, this is leagues beyond the walls of Android and iOS. I have a desktop game of Pacman that I wrote years ago with OpenGL, then ported to Android, but the desktop version now sits as an app on my homescreen available with single tap as an “app,” but yet the icon runs the game from source using its build scripts. If I find a bug, I can edit the source and rerun, all from the comfort of my handset.

I had always been an Android user and not iOS because I never wanted to give up on how easy it was for me to write my own Java programs and have those on any of my devices, including mobile. But, now I no longer need to change the desktop Java cross-platform code to conform to a new API for mobile. It simply is.

So, my internal justification for Android is dead to me. Now the only reason for me to use Android would in theory be if I were forced to use it, such as by the government. For example, my Librem 5 and my Android both have working cameras and working internet. I take pictures with my Librem 5. But my bank only allows mobile check deposit from Android or iOS. I might have removed my Android from its faraday cage once or twice during the year to deposit a check in that way. But the reason I am pressured to do so is not that the Android is better. On the contrary, the reason is due to a failure on the part of my bank. (And maybe because I refuse to install Waydroid. I learned that if I install Waydroid and do not run it, it has processes running after a Librem 5 boots even before I launch the Waydroid app; again indicating fascinating information that I encountered on this learning journey.) Perhaps I should consider choosing an alternative bank.

And what I find is that most of the very real frustrations that Librem 5 users report on these forums is likewise due to failings on the part of society and other companies, and not anything about the Librem 5 itself – other than the fact that if you order a device from Purism, from the moment you order you should be sure you want the device and sure you can wait for it to take 3x the suggested shipping time. As long as those remain true, the actual hardware is very real and very unique, and enjoyable for a proficient Linux user who does not fear bash/commandline.

I have unlocked my 2 factor auth without standing up from my 1 factor, by ssh-ing into my Librem 5 that sat in a different room. I have docked my Librem 5 to a mouse/keyboard/monitor and played a complex, GPU-intensive 2D strategy video game I wrote with hundreds of spaceships and asteroids with little dust trails flying off of them in real time with hundreds of animated dust particles. The game session can run for hours, to completion. I constantly alternate my hardware switches in the on and off states based on my needs. Sometimes I do not use the Modem switch for days at a time, improving battery life, because my phone plan allows me to call and text from any device using an internet service.

Now that I switched from Android, I no longer must charge my phone. Instead, I have a fleet of batteries and whenever the phone runs low on power I switch out its battery to a freshly charged one, giving me full charge instantly with little effort. I have flown on airplanes and taken trains using the Librem 5 as my mobile ticket, by downloading PDFs with QR codes and zooming into them on the screen. I spent 4 days in a remote location with no electricity and never ran out of battery on my Librem 5, because I came with numerous fully charged batteries and swapped them as needed. On this vacation, I took photos with the Librem 5 camera and created an HTML page guiding other folks to our camp using pictures of landmarks, and I uploaded this HTML guide to the public internet and linked it to our SMS group chat (via a separate program admittedly, not chatty) all from the comfort of my Librem 5 in a cabin with no electricity available.

And, I wrote this entire post in a text document offline, all on my Liberty Phone. So when I act like a fanboy and endorse the device on the forums, even if some people see this as nutty, I can certainly say that I am walking the walk as well as talking the talk. And I like this device. It is my phone, and will be until Android and iOS users elect a government in my country so hostile to free will that they mandate me to stop using a Liberty Phone – which for all I know, and for how this learning journey feels – I truly believe they might. I probably would not see it coming. I would wish for better in my fellow human, that they might not so easily be manipulated to become instruments of my oppression. But in this learning journey, it is clear that the honor system does not always work. Things are not always as they appear.

So, I hope this post is useful to anyone who finds themself reading through this forum, wondering what it means to use a Librem 5 and whether to do so is something they might enjoy.


I once saw a TV program about a startup that existed in the late 1990s called “General Magic.” The program was made by folks who believed that iPhone was some extraordinary brilliant invention, and alleged that the “General Magic” company had the idea for a tiny mobile computer handset to store your digital life long before Apple. They were able to show design documents with pictures of these handsets that looked near identical to iPhones, and said that they had all the right ideas but didn’t get the money right and ended up having to collapse their company only to find out a few years later than from a technology standpoint, their people were right. They were right and they missed it, and Apple stole their ideas because it had more money, basically. For me this style of thinking brings to mind my life growing up in the late 90s, playing in the schoolyard and dreaming about how cool it would be to have a computer watch with me to take everywhere I go. I knew at the time, to dream of such a thing was to dream of magic, generally. Because there was no such thing.

But when we fast forward to today, now that companies exist that sell “smart watches,” I don’t want them. The idea has veered off course. The concept of a computer no longer means the same thing, for so many users and companies. It’s no longer exciting because we no longer get to own it. Android told me that I don’t have a hard drive to speak of. They wanted to say I shouldn’t make a distinction between files on my hand computer and files on a Google computer. They wanted to start from the base assumption that they own me, and build from there.

When I think about my Librem 5, I think in some sense it is the general magic. It is a computer in my hand. It has a hard drive, and I can command it to image a copy of the drive to an SD card. On Android they would have wanted me to believe that was impossible or that I shouldn’t want it, because when they own me I don’t need to worry about my files.

Maybe I’m not sure how to describe it because it takes me a long time and a lot of human experience to really appreciate the difference. Maybe I sound like a biased Purism plant, although I assure you I am not. But it’s fun for me to put in the good word to remind anyone interested that there is, indeed, a difference between Android and Phosh.


I feel the same. Using iOS or Android is completely out of the question, the idea of going back to those is laughable at this point. It’s become even more unthinkable after all the things I’ve learned on the L5 journey.

In that way it’s like taking the red pill in the movie The Matrix - there is no way back. I did choose to break free, not regretting it, not going to put those chains back on again. :slight_smile:


Next month I will have been daily driving the L5 for 2 years. I also have no intention to switch back to Android or iOS. There’s still optimizations that can be made, but for my use case it works fine.

The level of freedom to treat my phone as my own device, as well as plug it in to use as a Linux laptop and desktop, is just too cool to give up.


Due to the BIG Complexity of Librem 5 the Librem 5 already work Fancy. THANKS for PURISM OF COURSE.
Many people complaining here they don’t know about Librem 5 and GNU Operating System. There are Fancy and Unique features coming up to Librem 5 to improve Speeed and Slowdown Heat.

My Librem 5 and Librem 14 already working Fancy and i have ZERO complaint for Purism.

Thanks for Existing Purism. :pray:

Wroted from Librem 14 and GNU OS.