Anyone using the L5 as their MAIN computer

I know there are daily driver polls and questions, but I think these are all aimed at how you are using your L5 to replace your Android or iOS based smartphone, not about your laptop or desktop.

Now, I know that many will look at the computing power of the L5 and think, pssh how could anyone use it as their primary computer? But after using the MNT Reform for a long while now, I can tell you that not only is it possible, but it isn’t even that bad.

If I had to use the L5 as my only computer, I’m sure I could. I would loose out on maybe 5% of the things that I need a computer for. These are very important things, but still only 5%.

What do you think? Are any of you doing this very thing?

PS: This post was written from a Librem 5.

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Not exclusively, but I do generously use both my Librem 5 USA and Librem 14, sometimes even simultaneously for various workloads. You could say I am using Purism as my main technology company, in which I would agree, as I have nothing else to fallback on.

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Last year I disconnected my Raspberry Pi 4B and connected the L5 USA in its place and used it as a desktop computer for about a month, but it was my secondary computer. Most of the time, I use a Thinkpad laptop as my primary computer. I took out the battery, since the L5 was always plugged in, and it worked OK as an SBC, but I prefer XFCE over Phosh as a desktop interface. I like having a normal menu and taskbar.

My RPi 4B with 4GB RAM benchmarks about 40% faster than my L5 USA, but for normal stuff (email, text editing and web browsing), I didn’t notice much difference between the two, although the RPi felt a little more responsive than the L5. However, I did notice that the RPi was better at handling processing intensive tasks, since my RPi has a cooling fan and it stayed cooler than the L5 and did not throttle, whereas the L5 did slow down the CPU speed when it got too hot.

With the L5, I used the HDMI port on the hub that came with the PinePhone Convergence, which is limited to USB 2.0 speed, so I couldn’t really compare the video resolution and refresh rate of the two devices on an external monitor. I never bought a USB 3.0 hub, so that I could do a proper comparison with the RPi, but I didn’t notice much of a difference between the two on my low resolution monitor. I don’t do any gaming and I didn’t try connecting a 4K monitor, so I really can’t comment on how they compare on external monitors.

My conclusion was that the L5 as a desktop computer works good enough to get normal tasks done, but I wouldn’t want to use it as my primary computer, because I like to keep a lot of Firefox tabs open which chews up lot of RAM, and I occasionally need to run a Windows virtual machine. When I tried to work on a 70MB spreadsheet in LibreOffice, I really noticed the difference between the speed of my Thinkpad T480s with 16GB RAM and the L5 with 3GB RAM.

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Totally makes sense. I am personally swamped with computers, so I have to pretend to try certain scenarios out. I am in the process of making my own UMPC that is pretty powerful as well.

However, like I mentioned the Reform is something that I could use as my only computer if I had to. If I could do that with the Reform than I could do it with the L5.

I recently saw a talk by @dos about the struggle of fixing USB bugs, and it just really made me appreciate all the work going into the L5. This kind of thinking got me to wondering if the L5 could do the job.

I think the Liberty Phone (4 gb RAM, and 128 gb EMMC) would be the better variant to use, but I think the 3gb and 32gb version would work as well, so long as you had a 2-4gb swap in place.

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No way for me. Even with power of the best smartphones I would need a desktop pc. I need the power of a strong desktop pc. Those 32GB storage is the amount I need as RAM. Otherwise I have an unstable system.

On the other hand:
I may replaced my old phone. But I also make use of the “new” features here. I don’t connect it to my monitor, but since I 3D printed a stand, for most tasks I don’t even feel the lack of a bigger monitor. Keyboard connected via bluetooth (with simulated mouse layer) and it feels well (disabling OSK when using it a bit longer).

So I don’t call it just pocket computer, I also use it as such.

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To me the L5 is a pocket computer first and foremost. The fact that it can make and receive phone calls is secondary to me.

The 5% I was talking about is where I need a beefy system as well. I said I could live with the L5 as my only computer, BUT I didn’t say for how long.

It is just interesting to me how much the L5 can actually do. I mean when I have it docked and I am using it, I almost forget that I am using a phone. You know?

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It may be a better use for it than a phone!

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No way for me, since Librem 5 can’t run Qubes OS. After trying this OS, I’m never going back to ordinary GNU/Linux on desktop.

I’m trying to limit untrusted actions on the phone as much as possible (e.g. use NoScript).

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make sure you use opensnitch as well. You have full control of whatever is trying to use the internet. Awesome tool.

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I’m using the L-5 as a computer for my writing, browsing, etc. In that respect it is my main computer. What it cool about it is at home I hook it up to a full monitor/keyboard setup, but I can use it on the go as a computer with the NexDock. And I can carry my writing with me wherever I go :slight_smile:

The biggest drawback on the L-5 is drive space, which is why I don’t have much in the way of games installed. For gaming, I use a different device.

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So you don’t put everything on a SD card? I have a 128gb drive that I am using for most media and documents.

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I have a lot of music and videos on a 128gb SD card. But for games I tend to use flatpaks. I haven’t wired up flatpaks over to an SD card.

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I actually do use the Librem 5 as my main computer. I don’t generally do anything resource intensive. I basically use a computer for web browsing, word processing, and listen to music.

I am interested in tech stuff as a hobby, but when I looked at my resource usage I realized my desktop and laptops were overpowered for my needs.

That’s why I was excited about the convergence feature of the Librem 5. I have an all in one device that covers 99% of my needs. There is the very rare occasion where I want to edit a video or something, and for that I boot up an old laptop.

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I do not use it as my main computer. It is not quite fast enough to have as many web-browser tabs open that I need and run word processing, cloud file hosting, and an online web interface for meetings, like Zoom (not to mention that things like Zoom do not work at all for video). There is not a enough RAM.

However, I do run it simultaneously via a monitor on my desk. I can have a browser open, listen to music, do odd jobs. Very useful.

I can also work out of the car with only the Librem 5, in a pinch. My next goal is to have a readily available monitor/keyboard setup in the car for working on-the-go.

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Web browsing is (excessively) resource intensive.

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That is true. Although with an ad blocker and me keeping the number of open tabs to about 3 or so, the L5 seems able to handle it.

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To answer the question from OP:

No. I would probably be waiting for an 8GB RAM model before that would be realistic. So: next generation.

What I hope for now is that the Librem 5 + lapdock can replace phone + laptop for “on the go” use - which tends to be mostly checking emails, light web browsing and shuffling files around. I’m really only just dipping my toe in the water with this so far though.

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I was tempted at the thought of this when I first got my L5, at least for my non-work personal device. But after the Louis Rossman video claiming that he had a leak from a Purism-related insider saying that the only way Purism could honor refunds was through the influx of new cache from product sales, I decided to buy a Librem 14 when I had some disposable income as a way to both support Purism and see what else they had to offer.

I have generally been pleasantly surprised, and find myself preferring to do tasks with the Librem 14 rather than bothering to dock the Librem 5 on my old usb C docks with a keyboard and monitor. In particular, moving around the monitors that I have is a little bit cumbersome because I was currently using rather large 4k monitors, and when I dock the L5 to them I always have to start by fiddling with settings to reduce resolution to 1280x720 [any more than that and it starts to commonly overheat].

Other issues that dissuade me from only using the Librem 5 are:

  • the lack of OpenGL 4-ish support. I’ve been working for a few years on an open source OpenGL based toy program that uses a lot of RAM and newer OpenGL APIs, and the project is able to run on the Android Samsung I was using prior to getting a L5, and is also able to run beautifully on the Intel HD graphics of the Librem 14. But on the L5, it does not run because my shader programs are not compliant with the older versions of OpenGL and probably include novice mistakes that cause incompatibility – and even when I tried hacking around some of the mistakes, creating a black screen with some flashing colors as a benchmark, the Librem 5 was still getting 7 fps when these other devices were getting 60 FPS, perhaps because of the memory requirements of my project
  • I’ve been using vinagre as a VNC solution, and for some reason the controls that work great on the L14 are kind of junk on the docked L5. This might be solved by getting a different VNC solution, but I haven’t put in the time
  • Another one of my hobby projects includes an archaic desktop Java program (AWT/Swing + OpenGL) and for some reason that is again something that runs beautifully on the L14 but shows a blank window on the L5. It’s still amazing to me how the L5 has a working Java virtual machine and can run the Java code and is only hickupping on some visual thing – I can literally click buttons in the GUI and interact with the code even though it doesn’t allow me to see anything – but this is obviously less ideal than on an x86 machine.
  • It is quite frustrating that I cannot dock my Librem 5 to a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and charger in a configuration that works when the Librem 5 battery is completely removed. Being able to completely remove the battery would mean that I could use the device as though it were a desktop PC for arbitrarily long periods of time without any concern for over-charging batteries. The closest I got to this was a high-powered dock where I can plug in everything and start the convergent docked mode, then remove the battery while it is running and have it continue running without the battery in the configuration I desire – as if things were fine – for 10-25 minutes. However, after time passes, the device will randomly die and power off as if from some voltage issue.

All of the above issues are solvable and mostly user-created problems, so I am almost able to imagine in a few years if I spent more time on it and/or got a more powerful version of the L5 that it could conceivably become my MAIN computer as discussed here. Come to think of it, that 7 FPS issue mentioned above was only on the Librem 5; more recently I have a Liberty Phone with the 4 GB ram, and I might not have tested that project on it, having been simply preferring to the use L14 instead.

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2 posts were split to a new topic: Java on Librem 5

I have L5 connected to power all the time when I’m at home without removing battery. That means it charges up to 100% and then just ignores battery completely. So no concern about battery health at all. In additional when I leave my home I always have a fully charged device.

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