Communication app for children

Hi, for twenty five years, from NMT to GSM, I was lucky enough to stand with “dumb” phones only. Now, with a little bit of self-denial I “have to” switch to smart ones. I choosed Librem5s and have three pieces of them. After a few months, I am pretty satisfied with them (considering I can adapt myself to phone and not need the phone to adapt to me), I do use Librem 5 as a daily driver, 4G only, VoLTE, good call quality, SMS, data (was not capable of setting MMS yet) with battery endurance till afternoon without suspend mode. I could suggest many minor improvements, but generally phone works without problems, if you know what you want (I have wider knowledge of networking and security but almost no experiences with Linux), the only important problem is modem dropping off sometimes, but it seems getting better slowly.

Now I want to give the phone to my child and becouse I do not have enough knowledge of social networks and communication apps, I need to help with software recomendation:

What communication protocol to use with Librem 5 (as a substitute for Whatsup for example)? XMPP or Matrix? Are they comparable? It seems that both will be integrated to Chats in the future and I would prefer to use a built-in app. What are the strenghts and weeknesses of these protokols (from an ordinary young user view). Which of the protocols has apps on Android and Iphone to be used as easily as possible by my child´s friends (and which are as “sweet” as possible - on Android and Iphone, my child is capable of having not a top notch app on Librem5)? Or would you recommend to use some other application (than Chats) even on Librem 5?



Important questions you have asked. The question of XMPP or Matrix is a good one, and I think the easiest way to answer that is that Matrix is more like a modern chat platform with many of the features you’ll find there. XMPP is just as capable and lightweight, but it doesn’t have all of the same bling and shine.

That said, if you are using the services then Matrix chat is bundled there. It would be a good way to started.

As for what you can use on the phone, this is where XMPP currently has the advantage. Dino is an XMPP client that is just really good and works REALLY well on the L5 natively.

Nheko is a Matrix client that also works well but is not as polished or simple. It works though beyond this real well.

If you do want to run your own XMPP or Matrix server then there are services like Librem one that you can pay for to run one on your behalf.

This question though has a lot of details and this is the very tippy top of the iceberg. I hope it helps.

(As a side note, I wrote this from a Librem 5.)


Snikket is a great option, because they host a personal xmpp server just for you. You can be the admin of your own server, and you can manage accounts for the children.

The founder has stated that part of his motivation for creating the project was to have a communication platform for his own family, so the project definitely has your use-case built in to the design.

Unfortunately, signing up is not publicly available yet, but I do know that if you register for a phone number with, that you receive a hosted snikket server for ‘free’, so that would be one way to go, if that service would be worth $3/month to you. I highly recommend trying it out.

EDIT: dino flatpak (installed from flathub) is a great and simple XMPP client for the Librem 5 that you can use with a snikket XMPP server. If you have questions or need any help with any of the above, I am happy to help.


Thanks a lot to both of you. After more detailed research I find the XMPP much more closer to my view of things, but I guess that children will see it differently. So I will now try matrix with nheko client on Librem5 and element client on ordinary phones of my child´s friends and in the future I will use XMPP fo family communication with chatty on Librem side and maybe even try Snikket on server side.


Just as side information. Librem 5 is also a dumb one and no smartphone. You also don’t call your PC “smartcomputer”, just because it can connect to internet. “Smart” is more a term of “smart for companies”, because they got control about your device (also compare with all the other smart devices). But Purism can’t control anything you’re doing and what not. I guess you know that, because that’s why you’re here.

That’s what I also wanted to answer. Think not just about your family situation, but also for the future usage of your children. If they know there is an awesome chat that can do everything and more other applications like WhatsApp or Discord does, your children will more likely to stick on Matrix and pull friends to this plattform. If you use XMPP and your children never see the possibility of Matrix, they may get pulled by their friends to a proprietary big data app.

Especially if your kids want to play computer games on PC(!), give them Element chat to play with. It’s the only client (at least right now) that has the functionality Discord has (main chat for gamers), so without alternative they would become Discord users in some years. In Discord a private shared picture becomes totally public and messages can always be read by Discord employees - so it’s the worst case of all chat apps.

At the end you also don’t have to decide completely between both. With time you will find a solution that fits perfectly for your needs and I think there is no completely wrong option for you.


As for children, I have the exact same opinion and want to offer them a suitable alternative and just because of them I am begining to use communication apps and others, as for myself I am lucky enough that usually others need to communicate with me more than I need with them so they have to adapt to my mode of life.

As for “smartphones”, it depends on the view. I call “smart” the phones which have operating system (I understand that even 30 years old dishwasher has “operating system” in a wider meaning, but that is more firmware in my view) and standardized communication with internet, which means that contrary to dumb phones, they are “hackable” and in this view Librem5 is smartphone (only reason why I don´t call computer smart is that there is no dumb one). For me the problem of a the phone generally is that it is always with me and has huge amount of information about me, which not only manufacturer can reveal (of course he has great options to do so). That is one of the reasons why I write this on one of computers I use and not the phone itself although it is fully capable of doing this.

Few hints that may help you with Matrix for best practice (for XMPP other people know more than me). It’s a good idea to use Chatty and Element together on Librem 5. Chatty has a notification integration and is light weight (device does not run hit, train less battery). But it’s only usefully for common texts. Any file is not supported yet (there is an icon with download button, but it does not work as far as I know).

Element is for everything fancy you want … file sharing, calls and so on. VoIP will also be integrated in default Calls app at some point, just to keep in mind.
However, Element has few issues right now. At first, take your terminal keyboard and touch at least once Ctrl + - to zoom out (don’t zoom out more than you want - resetting is more complicated). This enables the ability to shrink the rooms panel. To shrink it, turn phone into landscape and back to portrait view. That landscape and portrait view step is a work around and has to be done every time on app start until an Element bug got fixed (touch input does not recognize drag and drop of panel).
Camera does not work right now which is an issue that Purism will “fix”. The cameras are not visible for any other application then default camera app and it still takes some work to implement this.
Since Librem 5 has just 3GB of RAM you may also want to close Element completely. Closing like other apps make it running into background, so it still uses minimum(!) 250MB of RAM. If you want to free all space, kill that process via usage app. There is no harm doing so.

Maybe and I see your point. For you it’s more the overall category for devices that can connect to internet. For me it’s more a lower category for internet capable devices where internet cannot physical be disconnected (Librem 5 disconnects with hardware killswitches) and usually where devices are not fully hackable.

One of the main reasons why it’s important for me to make this difference are people who don’t care about privacy. They ask “… and do you own a smartphone? You see, you’re already fully transparent”. Even non tech users connect “smart” with glassy people. And I want to disconnect that negative term to devices that respects users by design, but also doesn’t sound like “but then you have to live in stone age”.

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Matrix, wait for Purism to develop Chatty to have it properly implemented in the near future. On Android and iOS, one example of a Matrix client is Elements.

Both protocols are fine from a privacy and security standpoint, although the last time I read about XMPP, it requires OTR/OMEMO to have perfect-forward secrecy.