Chances that the Librem 5 will be usable for work?

Especially when I’m traveling, I really have to have a phone that works. That means it has to have at a minimum all of the following features:

  • Turns on and off :slight_smile:
  • Charges and battery has reasonable battery life.
  • Make and receive calls.
  • Send and receive SMS.
  • Actually works with Verizon voice and data.
  • Actually connects to wi-fi with no issues. Nothing terribly difficult about this (e.g., wi-fi passwords are securely saved).
  • Fully functional browser like Brave or Firefox, can handle all HTTP and HTML stuff as a laptop would, doesn’t die if you try to load YouTube.
  • Run email software and receive email via it.
  • Working camera; video is almost required; usable software (e.g., a working photos repository).
  • Run Telegram.
  • Run Messenger (work insists; could be in a browser tho).
  • Run Slack.
  • Run Enpass or, if I must switch, some other password manager.
  • Some way to play audiobooks…I guess I can export my audiobooks into another app, right?

Almost must-have features (I could do without these):

  • Runs YouTube app.
  • Run any reasonably decent GPS app.
  • Netflix and Prime Video (via browser, anyway).
  • Works with either Apple Watch or another health watch.
  • Some way to play music. I guess it could be kind of lame not to be able to play music in my car, since the car won’t be able to talk to the phone, right?

I know that there’s nothing close to a 100% guarantee that the thing will even turn on or ever be shipped. But here’s the real question: what is the chance that it will actually be a regular, useable, working phone? Is anyone who is buying the thing expecting it to work as such a phone? Or is it pretty much people who are so into privacy, Linux, and Linux mobile coding (!) that it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t really work?

I care enough about privacy that I’m willing to take a chance, but if we know there’s little realistic chance of it working like a real phone this year, I wouldn’t spend the money. But if there were, say, a 75% chance of all of the above items being delivered by April, then I might risk the wrath of my wife and just spend the money.

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This would be news to me. Where are you getting this information from?

There is no “news“ here, obviously. Just common sense. The Ubuntu Phone never shipped. Nobody has ever made a Linux phone, as far as I know. There is no prototype as far as I can find out. It’s an extremely complex piece of equipment.

It sure would be nice to have some confirmation from those in the know as to the other requirements.

For almost everything you can find an alternative, except for the proprietary software like Youtube app, Netflix, Prime video, Messenger…

You should think again if the Librem 5 is the smartphone you need or just any other Android one.


Full disclosure: I’m working for Purism on documentation (for software more than anything else) so feel free to bear this in mind. Having said that, this advice applies to any product you might want to purchase.

I think that, if you have an exhaustive list of requirements for what you want to do with any product, you should probably wait and see whether the product will deliver on your expectations rather than try to get some kind of commitment or promise that it will do so. There may be many trade offs between pre-ordering a product and waiting until it is available before purchasing it, and it’s helpful to think about those when evaluating a purchase.

For example, you might save money by pre-ordering[*] but are committing to spending money that you could use for something else. Waiting for release might mean waiting for availability of the product if demand is high. On the other hand, maybe someone who pre-ordered changes their mind and wants to sell on the product when they get it, so you get a bargain and jump the queue.

Anyway, it’s up to you what you decide. Well, maybe also your wife. :smile:

[*] I see that the early bird period is now over for the Librem 5, so that’s less of a factor now.


Actually, there are two days left for the early bird pricing. It was changed to February 3.

It might’ve been clearer if I had simply asked, “Will the phone work at all?” I mean, it’s true, I want to replace my iPhone. I was hoping for specific information about the likelihood of support for specific features. I guess that’s not forthcoming. Too bad. So why don’t we just talk about a stripped-down version of my list that virtually everyone will also want?

I have read the progress updates to find out how likely various common goals will be met. For all the detail, there is frustratingly little that helps a person to gauge the likelihood that the phone will work (in that sense). Just for example, I couldn’t find any report that the battery problem had been fixed. I have looked at videos online demonstrating how the operating system works, which is nice, but it doesn’t give me that much hope by itself that it will work on the units themselves, or that calling in and out will be possible, etc.

It’s one thing to ask people to assume a risk that certain basic, universally-needed functionality will be there (such as calling). But a leap of faith with little information beyond plans and working laptops…

One last thing would be useful: anything remotely resembling a user agreement, i.e., what would trigger a refund, assuming the company actually had funds for one.

It seems to me that you’re looking for more reassurance than I can give you at the moment. It’s certainly the case that more communication about features, functionality and plans is desirable. This is understandable. Some of those who have pre-ordered will have done so on the basis of the goals of the device and Purism’s track record in delivering hardware. For others it is a leap of faith in a sense.

In terms of the list you gave, the basic features are obviously going to be supported on hardware that’s shipped.

  • Something you can’t switch on and off clearly isn’t going to pass any basic testing process. Likewise with charging, though you will need to wait for more information about battery life in order to be satisfied on that front.
  • Calls, SMS, Wi-Fi, email are core features that were promised so shipping without those would be problematic to say the least.
  • I can’t say anything about Verizon’s limitations. There are other threads in the forum that cover questions about frequencies, carriers, etc.
  • Other hardware features like camera and GPS should be supported, though you will need to wait to see if they meet your requirements.

As to apps, I think I can safely say that anything that isn’t FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) is not going to be shipped or supported. That may mean that you need to use web versions of those things using the browser that may or may not handle the sites in question. It may be the case that third parties port those apps, or that versions for other platforms can be run under some kind of emulation, but that’s speculative and you would be on your own with that solution.

I think you need to wait and see if it meets your needs. Would you rather regret missing the early bird deadline or regret pre-ordering something you don’t think will suit you?

Can you elaborate on the battery issue you mentioned?


I think he meant the silicone problem with the imx8? It caused the battery to drain or something, but wasn’t a problem for the devkits because they are always plugged in.


I think you should give us, and the rest of the community, more credit. The dev kit was created with the intention of having hardware as close to the final design as necessary, which counts as a prototype in my eyes.

Examples of Linux phones that shipped:

Have more faith, Linux can and has been on the phone!

As David said, we have some goals that we promised with the crowdfunding, and we are really attached to them. In the end, we aim for world domination, so the support of different features is not a question of likelihood, but time.


I mean this:

Thanks for the detail, it helps a lot. I support the cause, but I want to be reasonably sure it will be more than an expensive paperweight that I can hack a little.

I’m disappointed that Purism still can’t provide any update about this months-old battery bug. Doesn’t inspire confidence, frankly. It’s probably the main thing stopping me at this point. I love the mission—Linux, privacy, and freedom!

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It’s outside my area of expertise. However, I went back in the community/librem-5 Matrix room and found this response from @todd-weaver to a similar question:

the devkit got old silicon; we’re testing new silicon and CPU choices to select the best available, we’ll update once we have the results.

So things are still in progress with that. The focus before New Year was on getting the development kit out. Now the focus will be more on the phone, as I understand it. Some of us are focused on more than one thing, which can be confusing at times! :slight_smile:


Re/ Ubuntu Phone: All my family uses Ubuntu Phones BQ E4.5 and I’m just typing these lines from one of these sitting in a bar. Watch your words.


One must remain disciplined and refrain from the fallacy of the initial occurrence. It took millenia before liberal governance (parliamentary, democratic republics, etc) could be sustained. Even now, it is uncertain. But we have working examples.

As it is with the macro, so it is with the micro. We have many examples of aborted or moderately successful Open Source hardware endeavors. And yet I type this on a Librem 13v3. As @guru said, we should all watch our words.

Learning to sit with uncertainty and hold the, “maybe” in our minds takes discipline. But it is possible. Maybe the Librem 5 will ship. Maybe it won’t. Maybe it will meet your expectations. Maybe it won’t. And it’s possible that it will not only ship but it may surpass our expectations.

As Hannah Arendt once wrote, “The average man does not realize that anything can happen”.

No need to bite my head off here, people. I am a potential customer simply wondering whether there is more specific information about whether the vaguely-described product will work in the ways I’ve described. When pressed, I clarified what I was curious about. I’m sorry I was ignorant that anyone had ever install Linux and made regular, non-VoIP calls on a Linux phone. That’s news to me, but I’m not deeply into this stuff the way most of you seem to be.

I’m still trying to decide whether to take the plunge.

But now I’m really curious: are there any other Linux phones that make regular, carrier-based calls, which are on the market and shipping right now?

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I taught logic for years, but I can’t recall ever hearing of the “fallacy of the initial occurrence.” What does that mean"?

It’s a relatively new term used in the book, << Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes >> by Richard Clark and RP Eddy. More information here:

The basic tenet is that individuals may use the lack of something previously happening as an argument against it being possible. “We’ve never been able to fly. And look at how many boffins have hurt themselves or died trying!” Etc. I’m sure you get the gist. And like many fallacies, this one is a demonstration of sidestepping rational reasoning that would take into account frequency, amplitude, technical progression, operating environment, etc and hand waves it away. As an academic, you may have a professional term for this. And I’d be curious as to what it is.

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That’s fair push back. And it’s also one of the reasons I sidestepped addressing you specifically and used << one >> as the subject instead. There are many readers who may have the same doubts you have. I would like them to consider what I wrote as well.

My apologies if you felt attacked. I wanted to lay out a rational argument for the possibility of the success of the Librem 5 and do it in a way that does not have the reader feel that they cannot assert a different opinion without having it heard fairly. Whether or not I succeeded will likely vary from reader to reader but that, at least, was the intent.

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I’ve been using linux for a long time and bought the phone during the fund research campaign. I want a secure phone and then open sorce (including hardware). I do not want my phone to do anything other than what purism had promised … like Steve Jobs

The battery drain bug still hadn’t been fixed by NXP as of October 2018. See errata e11174 and e11171.

However, I don’t think that this is an issue to worry about. NXP can’t sell the i.MX 8M processor without fixing this bug in their silicon. NXP claims that the i.MX 8M is: “Optimized for fanless operation, low thermal system cost and long battery life.” The company has published documents about power management to use the i.MX 8M on mobile devices.

It is clear from the news articles that Purism decided to delay the Librem 5 until April in order to wait for NXP to release new silicon that fixes the bug.

There are many other potential issues with the Librem 5, but I don’t think this is one of them, because NXP knows that it has to fix this bug to sell the chip.

However, my advice is for you to wait till version 2 of the Librem 5 (or at least the reviews of version 1), if you need the guarantee of a working phone. There is a lot of new software to make the Librem 5 work and I doubt that the Librem 5 will be a full replacement for your iPhone from day 1. I ordered the Librem 5, because I want to help finance the reform of the hardware industry, but as I software engineer I know the difficulties of making a new software platform work perfectly out of the box.

Purism has a lot on its plate and it doesn’t have the resources of Apple or Google, so it might take the company a while, but it has shown that it eventually delivers. I view this as an investment in a better future, but I expect that I will still carry around my old phone for quite a while once I get the Librem 5.


Yeah, those did ship and I so wanted one… Previous history of Ubuntu and the lack of a clear statement made me doubt the state of privacy on the Ubuntu phone, though, and I never bought one.

To be fair to the OP, the Ubuntu Edge never shipped, despite raising almost 13 million USD for close to 6000 phones five or six years ago. (The goal was set at $32M.)

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