Chances that the Librem 5 will be usable for work?

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.)

1 Like

No worries, but a request for evidence and information is not the same as a denial that success is possible (or even likely). I mean, I won’t tell you who I am, but I will say that I have achieved a fair number of things that most narrow-minded people would say were impossible. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think there was a decent chance that Purism would deliver a working phone. I just don’t have $599 (or whatever the price is now…) to burn.

1 Like

At least on Android (using F-Droid) there is an app called “NewPipe” that allows you to watch YouTube videos, and even download them to your device. For me, it’s a direct replacement for any YouTube app. The only real catch I know of is that it occasionally lags behind YouTube’s updates, breaking the internal API/communication layer and is unable to play videos until an update shortly afterward.

I don’t have a Facebook account, so I can’t vouch for any direct-replacement apps for Messenger, but there are a plethora of FOSS messaging apps out there. The challenge with living a privacy-centric/FOSS lifestyle is that you can cut the cord on all the large tech companies, but friends and family may not be so accepting of it for their own use.

1 Like

To summarize this, I’d say:

  • there is very little chance that the phone won’t ship. I mean, you never know if NXP is hit by a meteor tomorrow, but…
  • maybe they butcher the April promise and it will be May or June
  • maybe the phone doesn’t work (well) with the frequencies your current carrier uses
  • maybe, the initial release will be too unstable for you to rely on it in every day situations
  • quite likely, the initial release will have quite a few features missing that you’d like (e.g. GPS navigation)

Anyway, that will not make it a paperweight. You could try a different carrier (or modem!), give it a few more weeks, install the updates and the nice apps others will add (and are already working on) and you will feel very good having been a supporter from the first hour.

As it has been pointed out, the battery drain bug (described here) is on NXPs side. That Purism figured that problem out very early after they got the chips, and work with NXP on fixing it (instead of just concentrating to get the dev-kit going, that doesn’t need power-save states) and being very transparent about it, should, if anything, reinforce your trust in them.

As Todd Weaver has been saying many times, it was always the plan to do a phone, but first build some laptops, because else nobody would have even considered they could do what many failed to accomplish.

However, what you have to keep in mind here: Most of the “failed” ones did not fail because of technical difficulties, but rather because they didn’t see a sufficient market for the product. This is very different with Purism, because (big*) profit is not the main goal.

They also don’t try to create their own eco-system, but rather enhance the existing GNU/Linux/FOSS/Gnome/KDE/UBports ecosystem for the benefit of everybody. And because of that, existing Linux developers will not be reluctant to develop or adapt apps for the Librem 5, because it so close to what they always do and would not be wasted if the phone would not succeed. Every app for the Librem 5 should reasonably well run on any Linux mobile or desktop device.

(*) Sidenote: They originally promised to deliver the phone if ~2500 pre-orders would be placed. That’s not much, especially if you also want to make big money :wink:
Meanwhile, extrapolating my old numbers, they most certainly have at least 4500 devices preordered, but I’m pretty certain it’s already more than 5000. And every order on top will make the phone better.

As @dcz said, have some faith. There’s no indication that you can not trust in what Purism is saying. Except for the inevitable delays, Purism has a very good track record of delivering what they say they will.


I think you’re just looking for reasons why the Librem 5 isn’t for you; and this is not a bad thing as it really just might not be for you - at least not as an early adopter.

First of all, you really require too much proprietary software, and nobody from Purism or the free software world can give you that; certainly not in the early days of the Librem 5.

So while I expect the basics (calls, sms, mail, browser, …) to work pretty much from the start, some things are just not going to happen.
Of your list, those are:

  • Slack: proprietary software, not going to happen
  • Enpass: proprietary software, not going to happen
  • Messenger: which one? Microsoft? Facebook? Doesn’t really matter, not going to happen
  • Netflix: requires DRM and a proprietary browser extension, not going to happen
  • Prime video: requires DRM and a proprietary browser extension, not going to happen
  • Apple watch: don’t know, but knowing Apple, will require proprietary software, not going to happen
  • Audio books: depends on what audio books are for you. Audio books are just audio files and can be played anywhere, certainly on the Librem. For some people audio books are DRM-restricted Audible files, which will never be able to be played on the Librem

Nobody is going to stop you using proprietary software on the Librem - with the exceptions of the makers of said proprietary software. You rely 100% on the delivering the software to your platform, and Librem is one they likely will not support, certainly not in the next couple of years.

Then there are the things that are possible, but require some (or a lot) of work and will likely not be supported or supportable right from the start:

  • YouTube app: Third party apps can be done as proven by NewPipe and others, but they will not allow you to use features that require login. Official Youtube app: not going to happen
  • GPS app: depends on what you mean. If a GPS app to you is Google Maps: nope. If it is a OSM client with GPS functionality, this will happen probably rather sooner than later
  • Video playback: this is a tricky one. Doing video on a phone requires special hardware. The i.MX8 has such hardware, NXP calls it VPU (video processing unit). The hardware IP is by hantro, and there is open source support, and it is doable. However, I expect it to take a while to come together.
  • Video recording: see above. There is V4L support for Hantros encoder and recording is achieavable, but some work

I think it needs to be very clear, that the Librem can’t be a fully functional smartphone platform like Android from day one.
Android wasn’t one on day 1 either, far from it.
The first android device, the T-Mobile G1, while nice hardware, was pretty much universally panned for being subpar. Times sure have changed.
But the G1 got people excited, finally a more open platform to do things with.
The Librem will get people excited as well, but maybe not as many.

Purism is working hard on making the Librem a usable smartphone; but I think it should be clear, that they just can’t deliever what some people expect: a fully functional android alternative with a complete ecosystem, supported by the whole proprietary software industry.

I have great hopes and Purism is doing so many things right that, after initial skepticism, I decided to back the project. I consider it backing, not preordering, so I’m fairly sure I know what I’m getting, which is a working development platform with big potential.

And finally, I have to come back to your point, that you care about privacy:
You’re fairly willing to use a lot of proprietary software, rely on proprietary services like telegram, and you’re willing to upload your phonebook with all contacts to third parties, violating other peoples privacy.
That pretty much stands against much what the Librem stands for.

Considering that, I would assume that the Librem won’t be what you are looking for and it is more likely than not, that you will end up disappointed.

While Purism could certainly use your preorder-money to achieve their goals, and I feel a little bad for possibly hindering them, I really think it would be wise for you to wait, and see what the Librem will be a couple of months after it comes out.

I hope this helps.


It helps, but I could have done without the condescending attitude.

Then perhaps drop the entitled attitude? I’m not sure if that’s quite the right word, but it’s the most polite one I can come up with off-the-cuff. I was honestly struck by how polite their response was, so I think maybe you’re also being a touch sensitive.


Look, asking for information about actual evidence of the functionality of a promised product is hardly “entitled,” but making broad assumptions about someone who asks for that information (“I think you’re just looking for reasons why the Librem 5 isn’t for you”–I would have thought exactly the opposite) is pointless. And getting all judgy about someone’s commitment to privacy is just silly. I’ll decide for myself whether owning the phone is consistent with my opinions, thanks very much.

Also, I know Purism isn’t promising everything on the first day. I just wanted some hard evidence (like a video of a device making a call, for example) especially about the likelihood of basic functionality, the stuff that everybody would agree is good to have. Thanks to those who have explained context and given some evidence, it’s much appreciated.

I believe that, however, the questions and observations and behavior that the first message refers to will increase: this is because it increases the number of buyers passing from the initial “fervent” FOSS, who are aware of the difficulties faced by the team purism, to less informed Linux enthusiasts.

This, actually, might well work. I don’t know anything about the status of an official client, but there is apparently a very functional Matrix bridge for Slack (, It might require a little bit more configuration (I’ve never tried it), but I do know that Matrix is something that Purism want to function straight out of the box (, ctrl-F for “matrix” to see the various mentions).

1 Like

I think @tg_gpm is right regarding that it does not make too much sense to want a Librem 5, but keep all the “bad” stuff that the Librem set out to avoid. Yes, the user must have the freedom to do so, but it’s also a good opportunity to re-evaluate what one really wants, needs, or thinks to need, or realize that companies made one think to be in need of :wink:

Regarding calls and other capabilities, there have been very detailed reports like this one last May. In a later one there was another video of a call.

I understand it for messengers, because the transition away from one can be very hard. On the other hand, yesterday I watched a FOSDEM talk on Matrix, which I found very exciting. Matrix will be able to, for example, work as a bridge to Slack (!). And Matrix will be available on the Librem 5.

So, a better question might be: which alternatives to X, Y and Z do we actually have?
For example, yesterday I discovered this list of apps that will most likely work on the Librem 5 from the start or early on, including maps/navigation: Mobile GNU/Linux apps

Also, which alternatives do we have to cloud services of “the big five”?
After evaluating some of them (Nextcloud, Purism Services), one might actually find that those might actually be better alternatives, even feature wise.

I agree that one thing that is missing is kindof a complete picture of how all these nice things can play together, how many will be ready in 3 months or in a year, and which things are rather unlikely to happen soon.


I think this is perfectly obvious, and if you’re not planning for it, you’re not planning to succeed.

I’m sorry, but FU if you think it doesn’t make much sense for me to want a Librem 5. I want a Linux phone. I can’t buy one, and I’d like to. However, I’d like it to have basic functionality. Stuff that all of us, even those of you with condescending and superior attitudes, can agree that it should have.

Whether it will, or should, also support non-FOSS software is a wholly separate issue from this more basic issue. The fact that I’m interested in having apps (like Telegram) that are required by work doesn’t mean I don’t want a Linux phone. Can you understand that? I don’t suppose you can.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter; I will probably be able to access Telegram and others via a browser, if the Linux app doesn’t work for some reason.

I think that most of what you asked will work, I would just advise you to not expect it to be able to run proprietary things right away, maybe something/someone will make Telegram work sometime in the future but maybe the watch IoT thing won’t and might never get any support.

If you spent the same amount of time I spent on collecting information for you, considering it, watching the videos, follow links etc., maybe then you actually would be sorry, but for using the F word on me.
The Internet is weird. I’m confused. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


Can we keep it nice and civil, please?
Maybe take a step back and wait a while before responding to each other if the discussion gets a bit heated.


One of the specifics I’m personally curious about is regarding email. There’s no doubt email will work; but will email support the ability to sync with an exchange server (please don’t derail with pop3/imap support via exchange) and more importantly comply with the servers need to “wipe” corporate data?

I know we all don’t want companies to control our devices but in the age of BYOD I don’t think it’s unreasonable for a company to be able to remove it’s data from your device (without affecting the rest of your device).

1 Like

I saw somewhere that Geary is the intended default email client for the Librem 5. You can use the desktop version to get a feel for it.