Frequently Asked Questions for the Librem 5

I started a FAQ for the Librem 5:

Please add to it.

PS: Yes, I created it because I got tired of arguing with critics of the Librem 5 over at r/Purism, and it is much easier to post a link to one place than deal with the same specious points over and over.


Thank you, it’s indeed very useful. A few suggestions:

  1. Order of questions could approximately reflect how deep a reader wants to dig into the topic. I do expect that most people read all questions consequently. I would make it like this:
  • What are the specs of the Librem 5?
  • Do the specs justify paying $599-$799 for the Librem 5?
  • Why buy the Librem 5?
  • How innovative is the Librem 5?
  • When will the Librem 5 (Evergreen) start shipping?
  • Will Purism immediately ship out all the preorders when Evergreen starts shipping?
  • What will be included in the box with Evergreen?
  • How long will be the battery life of the Librem 5 (Evergreen)?
  • How well do cellular phone calls work in the Librem 5?
  • Does MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) work?
  • What are the Aspen, Birch, Chestnut, Dogwood, Evergreen and Fir batches?
    (I personally think it is not very relevant for new potential users anymore, so it’s near the end of list)
  • Will getting FCC certification delay Evergreen?
  • Why does the price of the Librem 5 keep changing?
  • Why has the time to release the Librem 5 increased from 17 to 39 months?
  • What was the controversy over shipping Aspen?
  1. There is a misprint in
    “First running 100% free/open source software on main CPU cores (PureOS with Linux/Wayland/GTK/phosh).**”
    – it did not go to the new line. You should also add here the intention to obtain the FSF RYF certification; it’s the first phone of such kind.

  2. “First replaceable cellular modem and Wi-Fi/Bluetooth (on two M.2 cards)”
    I would separate it as two independent innovations:

  • First replaceable cellular modem (on M.2 card)
  • First replaceable Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module (on M.2 card)

Why are they counted as one innovation?

  1. “It can be argued that the PinePhone was the first to offer hardware kill switches, since its Community Edition: UBports got to market in June 2020, which is earlier than Evergreen”

I can also be argued that Birch batch was shipped to independent users earlier than the BraveHeart. We count here the innovations, not the number of shipped phones. The kill switches were implemented earlier for Librem 5.

  1. “First convergence based on downsizing existing desktop software with adaptive classes (libhandy) to use in both mobile and desktop PC (as opposed to using separate mobile and desktop software or upsizing mobile apps).”
    First convergence between mobile and desktop computing based on downsizing existing desktop applications (using libhandy library), as opposed to using separate mobile and desktop software or upsizing mobile apps.

One more question which is being asked frequently:

  • A phone with a non-existent app ecosystem is not a reasonable alternative for most people.

Possible reply:
GNU/Linux has a much more healthy app ecosystem than any mobile OS, it already has thousands of apps. They do not all fit the screen or touch-friendly, but it’s much easier to fix than create new apps. Purism created libhandy library for that. It should be noted that the libhandy features are now part of the stock gtk3+ framework, so every app following standard UI guidelines benefits from the new “responsive” look.

(courtesy of people in the link above)


Thanks for creating the new FAQ. It’s exactly the sort of document that the community wiki was created for. :smiley:

Let me add a few more questions and then I’ll reorder the questions.

Thanks for spotting that. I fixed it.

I had to think about this one, because the Librem 5 isn’t really the first phone to have WiFi/Bluetooth and a cellular modem that are replaceable. The ShiftPhone 5.x allowed all its chips to be replaced, because the PCB was backward compatible, so the PCB from version 5.3 could be placed in version 5.1 of the phone. For that matter, phone makers have sold multiple PCBs with different cellular modems for the same phone model, so it was possible to change the cellular modem by swapping the PCB. Fairphone introduced easily replaceable parts in phones using pogo pin connectors, but the parts were non-standardized. I think the real innovation here is using replaceable parts in a phone that have a standardized form factor and bus interface (although some people might argue that displays and batteries have that).

The goal of compiling the list of innovations was to measure how innovation is increasing/decreasing and in what companies and what parts of the world, so I don’t want to over-count, but it is often a judgement call what to call an innovation.

My standard is to only count models that actually made it to market, but development batches like Birch and BraveHeart were technically sold to the public. I changed the text to this:

* The Librem 5 was first to release a development batch, but PinePhone was the first to reach mass production, so it can be argued which was the first to introduce hardware kill switches. The Librem 5’s kill switches are easily accessible on the side of the case, whereas the PinePhone contains DIP switches that can only be reached by removing the back cover, and some of them don’t have good software integration to handle being turned on/off while using the phone and inform the user of their status.

Yes, that is a little clearer for people who don’t understand what is convergence. I changed it.


proof that Tony Stark has a heart :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
haters will be haters :mask:

Another frequently asked question:

  • The (common) security model of GNU/Linux is for today/2020 in my opinion pretty bad for desktops and totally unacceptable for phones. For third-party stuff, it would still be nice to prevent the apps from phoning home and stuff.

I created an account at and I am not allowed to edit anything there.

Some hints on how to answer the question above:

You can look into hardening the kernel and other applications. You may also consider AppArmor, SELinux, firejail and other security measures you want to use. Some are built into a given distribution, others requires manual intervention, and a few will be incompatible with each other.

A couple of Wiki articles regarding hardening:

What apps will be available for the Librem 5?

One can also include the link to the new article about anbox:

I have added a ton of text to the Community FAQ, but I’m too tired to proofread it. I would appreciate it if people would check the text for me and give feedback.


PS: To be able to edit the wiki, see this page:

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does Purism officially endorse everything (or most) of what is stated in this wiki ?

No. The top of the page says:

This page addresses questions which aren’t answered in the official Purism FAQ and the Librem 5’s Developers FAQ. It is written by community members, who have their own opinions, so don’t take the answers in this page as the official word from Purism, unless links are provided to an article on the Purism website or a Purism employee is quoted.

I tried to keep it factual, but there is a lot of my opinion in some of the answers.


The main page says this:

This wiki is intended to be used to collect information about the Librem 5 phone for users and developers. It is not an official source of information about the phone, though it aims to be as accurate and up-to-date as possible.

One reason for its existence is to let users write about things that might be awkward for anyone working for Purism to write about. For example, people ask about other products, and a comparison written by someone with an affiliation to Purism might be accused of bias.

Also, if someone from Purism writes about a certain technology or product, some people read that as an endorsement or an indication of future plans. So, an unofficial but accurate wiki hopefully helps with that.


I think that your idea is a nice example of the best defense is a strong offense. Thank you for the effort!

I would start with a few simple suggestions and will add more comments as I read more and the faq develops.

  1. First of all I would suggest starting off with a clear statement of the problem that Librem 5 is trying to solve, which is not necessarily so much a security problem as a privacy problem. For instance:

What is the motivation for the Librem 5:

Surveillance capitalism is the name that has been given the economic system of the early 21st century that has grown out of the exploitation of personal data. This use of personal data for profit by third-parties has been made possible with the increased use of the internet and of personal hand held electronic devices, such as cell phones, smart-watches, etc. The Librem 5 is a device that is designed to provide the user with the ability to manage better one’s privacy. The Librem 5 tries to manage both the privacy and security aspects. See wikipedia for a summary.

  1. A nice summary such as algo vpn has: Features and Anti-Features.

adding to this
… with free-software
distinction : others from the big-tech industry have been doing this but with proprietary software.

to this i would add that just because it’s proprietary doesn’t mean that malware (in the form of a backdoor or something else) is necessarily present in EVERY proprietary component on the system but it’s enough if it’s present in JUST one place (depending on HOW dangerous it is it could be enough)

that isn’t to say that free-software can’t contain such malware but if by any chance that is found by ONLY ONE member of the community out of millions then that is enough to destroy a good reputation.

we know that in a FREE market REPUTATION is important if you want other people to support you financially so we might say that free-software makes this process HARDER to maintain because of the constant “danger” of being exposed if you try something funny.

do you guys know if there are free-software programs or even primitive AI that can handle the tedious task of auditing HUGE amounts of source code ? i imagine that since the cat program exists in a CLI environment it can be piped to such programs … however i’m not personally aware of such specialized software being in the public domain (maybe i’m just blind)

i would however imagine that such practices exist inside the large companies that handle mission critical equipment / infrastructure such as the agriculture industry and the electrical-energy distribution systems, etc.

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I cant find the refresh rate of the screen, and it isnt listed on the spec sheet of the MLAF057WE51 X.

You can safely assume that any modern LCD for smartphones supports 60Hz. If it supports anything higher, it will probably be listed on the spec sheet. 90 and 120 Hz screens cost quite a bit more, and they aren’t common.

I doubt that anybody bothers to make 90 or 120 Hz smartphone screens at 720p resolution, because there simply isn’t demand for a low resolution screen at a high refresh rate.


Would anyone be willing to proof read the FAQ? I’m not good at catching my own mistakes.

@fsflover, I think the FAQ now covers all the issues that you raised. Let me know if there is anything else.

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For ease of doing this, for referencing, could the list be numbered instead of bulleted?
And Each section could be done by an individual or two - it’s a bit much for one to go through efficiently. I’ll try to have a look later tonight or tomorrow on some of it.

Additional question: “Can L5 be used in my area/country/language?” or similar question. It should touch on which aspects need to be considered (and may have their separate answers) on possible availability, carriers, modems, keyboard/input, language/translations, localization, legal, support, service etc. issues (on the top of my head) - and what may be the timetables/timelines, where to see info/status and caveats and so on.

I think there are many motivations for the Librem 5 beyond Surveillance Capitalism, such as software freedom, tinkering/fixability, fighting planned obsolescence, convergence, being able to use Linux anywhere, unifying mobile with a desktop software stack for better long-term maintenance, making desktop distros be able to also be mobile distros. So I don’t think we should say there is ONE motivation, but I definitely think a question should be added to the FAQ about how the Librem 5 (and Librem One and AweSIM) designed to fight Surveillance Capitalism. (Please feel free to add it.)

Yes. Good idea.

Cellular bands and modems are already covered in the official FAQ and we have the Cellular Providers page. I think that we need a separate wiki page to explain what languages are available for Squeekboard, Phosh, Calls and Chatty and to give info on how to switch the language.