Hello? Can you hear me? and other frustrations

Next week will mark the one year anniversary of my taking possession of my L5, and I still have to drag my old Galaxy S10 with me everywhere I go because my L5 is essentially useless.

The phone is a great concept, the hardware nice, when it works, and it is solidly built, as evidenced by surviving me throwing it against a wall in a fit of rage.

Now to the rub, why do I need to drag that old S10 around everywhere? Because on my L5 I cannot reliably do even the most basic tasks. The challenges I experience doing a simple thing like copy/paste are beyond frustrating, they send me back to my old device.

There are a few areas of frustration I am experiencing, plus the minor one that pushed me to throw it. Yes I know I am showing poor self control, and probably shouldn’t be admitting to it, but I am human, and that is where I ended up.

The biggest things that, if I could resolve them would finally allow me to leave the S10 at home.

  1. Can you hear me now?
    More and more frequently I find the mic does not work. I will call someone or they call me and I can hear them, but they cannot hear me. I can find no indication as to why, restarts don’t change things and it is seemingly random. I cannot for the life of me figure out what triggers it of find any kind of common denominator. As you can imagine it can be very frustrating, especially when it is a call I really need to take. My frustration peaked here yesterday, after almost two hours on hold I finally got a person only to get the now infamous “Hello? Is anybody there?”… It happened twice. Now I cannot get the phone to work at all. Nobody can hear me anymore.

  2. Copy/Paste
    A HUGE part of my “online life” is research and reading. Being able to copy/paste between apps is critical and is an enourmous challenge on my L5. After a year of trying I still cannot copy a URL from a browser and paste it into an app, forget copy/paste of any page content. I find that probably 90% of the time when I want to copy something I cannot trigger the submenu to copy. It doesn’t seem application specific, it is difficult in pretty much everything. I get a text from my daughter, I tap the lonk she sent and none of the browsers I have will load the content, especially if it is video. Forget YouTube or Rumble on an L5 - at least for me it almost never works, things don’t load. I’ve tried multiple browsers and typically get the sane results.

I frequently want to pass a URL on to someone, trying to copy/paste a URL from the L5 is pretty much impossible for me. Out comes the S10…

  1. Battery life
    I need to leave the phone plugged in all day and night every day. Unplugged I am lucky to get a few hours out of it, the S10 goes for days and days. Oops - forgot to plug my phone in as soon as I got home and it died…

  2. Kill switches
    I have some serious doubts about these. I do not believe the Audio switch actually disconnects the hardware. I installed “Flare” for Signal messaging, I turned notifications for this app off, but they still play, so I kill the speaker with the kill switch AND THEY STILL PLAY!!! How can this be if the physical speaker is disconnected? Sorry - but I do not understand how it can possible be that the sounds still play with the speaker allegedly disconnected? What does that switch actually do?

  3. Missing hardware
    Recently my WiFi card has “disappeared”. It shows as not there regardless of the position of the kill switch, and I no longer have WiFi. Since I used to I am assuming this is a software issue, but it is still frustrating.

Those are my challenges, I am not about to give up on this as I believe in the concept, it is just that I find I do not have the time and energy to spend the hours researching these things myself. I will admit, I kind of do want the phone to “just work”, that is not what I bought, so I am reaching out to this community to see if I can extract some help resolving these things and finally putting my S10 to sleep.

Oh - and can I buy a new screen and back cover to replace the ones that I smashed in my moment of “bad behaviour”?

Paul

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I find that Ctl+c and Ctl+v (available in the “terminal” style keyboard) makes copy and paste fairly easy. (Same for other keyboard shortcuts, like Ctl+a to select all. Alternately, use nemo (an alternate Files app) instead of nautilus (the default Files app). The menu controls in nemo are closer to what you find on desktop.

As for the inaudible calls, do you have VoLTE enabled in the BM818 Tool app. (If you’re in the U.S., your carrier requires VoLTE for calls, and not having it enabled can cause issues like what you described.)

The killswitch you’re referring to cuts the microphone, not audio (either incoming or output audio).

Battery life - yeah, that’s still a problem, especially for very (or somewhat) active use. We all hope they can improve on that. Some tips to extend it might include reducing screen brightness, enabling the experimental suspend function, disable bluetooth and WiFi when not needed, etc.

About the missing WiFi, coincidentally mine disappeared for the first time in 4 years of use just yesterday. When I rebooted, it came back. Weird…

Browsers are still a work in progress, in my opinion. That goes for FirefoxESR and GNOME Web. Member @user0 has published a configuration that fixes a lot of issues with FFESR. You can find links to that in this forum.

YouTube - I can’t help you there… I don’t use Google products. I believe others are accessing it through more private frontends. (Search forum.)

For the back cover and screen replacement, you’ll have to contact Purism. (support@puri.sm)

BTW, just to confirm, you are running PureOS byzantium currently, right? If you’re unsure, type this in the terminal and then hit Enter: lsb_release -c

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I am also on about 1 year of having a Librem 5 - just slightly more - and prior to this I was using a Galaxy S10+. Quite similar situation. The primary difference for me is that 4 days after I received my Librem 5, the YouTube AI recommended me a video of a mechanical looking black and white face with 10-40 views on it that created excessive buzzing noises that made me feel very off, and it made me want to get up from the computer and get away, but when I went away from there and to my Galaxy S10+ after that I found I could no longer remember the unlock code that I had been using for the past 5 years. In this way, I am a plant or a foil to your situation, perhaps. Maybe I was just having a bad day, or maybe Google’s evil AI stuff decided to push me to succeed with the Librem 5 in this way. I do not know for certain whether their recommendation engine is as smart or capable as I sometimes imagine it to be.

So, locked out of my Galaxy, on principle I forced myself to start overcoming all the hurdles and using the L5 because I didn’t want to factory reset the Galaxy and lose all my stuff - I was very bad about backups, actually - but they wouldn’t let me in. It felt like the nail in the coffin that these Android things really truly aren’t mine, even though I know deep down if I forget my LUKS password now it would be no different really, so maybe I just wanted to dislike Android.

Generally, for the past year I always kept my S10 in my active living space inside of a Faraday cage. At some point I erased it and did a factory reset, although it was sad to lose my memories and other things, I didn’t want a thing that had no purpose but to frustrate me. I have used it on occasion for certain apps that lack an L5 equivalent, although I try to keep this to a minimum. The last few times I took it out, really I didn’t need it. I was just scamming myself.

My Librem 5 is my phone. It goes with me in my pocket. I’m using it to write this post. I use it to listen to music or do other things.

I quoted your message to reply from my L5 here easily enough. How? **Because I realized a fundamental difference in how L5 does text select.

My S10+ taught me to select text by pressing and holding on it. That would spin up a popup and always expand to select the word, with two thumb cursors on either side, or something like that.

So, at the moment I’m writing from the default Gnome Web, and the Phosh mobile variant of this selects text by doing a drag swipe across the text, not by using little thumb cursors on either side. If we know this, we can learn to act differently and select text. Here, I’ll copy that sentence three times as an example:

If we know this, we can learn to act differently and select text.
If we know this, we can learn to act differently and select text.
If we know this, we can learn to act differently and select text.

I used terminal keyboard to paste, and CTRL+C and CTRL+V, and then accidentally hit CTRL+ENTER meaning to do a newline but instead posted this reply. I was meaning to reply more to your other points as well, and will likely send more.

So obviously my use of this was not perfect. But, Android is sick and maybe freedom doesn’t have to be perfect.

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Later on in your post, it sounds like you do not yet know how the hardware switches work. Namely, the bottom switch is not a speaker ON/OFF. Instead, it is a mic and camera on/off, so when it is off the other side can never hear you!! I tend to keep it off but switch it on when I hear a call ring, and this has worked reasonably well for me. Still not perfect perhaps, but calling support varies by cellular provider I think.

  • keyboard button
  • globe icon
  • terminal keyboard
  • ctrl button
  • ‘c’ to copy
  • ‘v’ to paste
  • now your CTRL is stuck on and you cant turn it off because L5 was made by a small indie company
  • switch to English keyboard and back and CTRL is turned back off

In terminal app where CTRL+C doesnt work and instead has terminal meaning, the keyboard has a “Menu” button with a copy option as a workaround. Only needed in that 1 app oddball case

I almost never plug in my L5. My friend showed me which charger to buy… so… I have 3 Kastar universal chargers. They cost $10 each and can charge a Librem 5 battery external to the device. If you plug in L5 you can rip out its battery while its on. So about every 4-6 hours or whenever Im at 40% battery, I plug in the L5, rip out battery, pop one off charger, put fresh battery in device, put old battery on charger, unplug L5 from power and walk away. So I never have to charge my L5 directly and fast charge it with this ritual, and it doesnt even have to turn off/on. Only problem is those cheap chargers keep breaking, because they’re $10 junk. Maybe there’s a place to buy better ones. Purism sells L5 batteries for cheap too though, but unlike Kastar universal chargers I find that my L5 batteries dont seem to be breaking down after a year.

It kills mic and camera. Also, Signal app is probably government funded and notifies google whenever you send a message, so, they probably dont want you using Flare and probably have every incentive to keep breaking Flare whenever they can.

This might be because of throwing the device at a wall. The WiFi card is removable unlike with crappy S10s, so you can replace it. But when I played with my M.2 replaceables in the back of my L5 like that I broke the connectors. Be careful with the small friction fit attachments on the ends of the wires.

I had tremendous help from an in person friend who also had a L5 and took it probably more seriously than I did.

I still use Google Fi for my cell provider here on L5, which means if I get a call and my life depends on it then I can answer from PC. Similarly, I can use data+browser on my L5 to check for missed texts, and cover for when it has issues. I have also had cases where sending text would show red X and fail to send, but sending from a browser works fine. Of course, this means running nonfree JavaScript in the browser… But hey, I’m daily driving an L5, and I don’t miss texts.

I rip my phone backs doing all the battery swaps. Been through 2 and my friend has been through 2 as well I think. Purism sent me a new one for free the first time. I’m waiting on an order that they said would include another one. At the same time, I ordered a 3D printed one made from some strong stuff using the designs purism published recently. We’ll see in a few weeks when the new custom back arrives if it is truly stronger.

I thought someone on the forums described buying and installing a replacement screen but I don’t have experience with that. I can say if you didn’t already update to Liberty Phone though, I’m using the 4GB ram / 132 GB storage unit and I don’t regret the extra RAM. As you said, I want it to “just work” so throwing money at making it bigger for me was worth it, even if perhaps a little silly. Obviously the “made in USA” part is a little questionable. First thing I see when I rip it open is a battery from Zhonshan or whatever in China.

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I’m unsure of what you mean by this but there is a known limitation with byzantium that the context menu (aka right click menu) doesn’t work. If you use the Terminal keyboard layout then the Menu key may work around the issue.

FWIW, Purism has published the schematics. So if you were a qualified electronics engineer (or even an amateur one), you could verify how the hardware design is supposed to work in respect of the kill switches.

The correct answer to your question has already been given but to illustrate one scenario where the design makes sense: Let’s say you want to drop totally off the grid. So you kill WiFi and cellular to go radio silent (and hence by definition you won’t get any phone calls). And you kill microphone/camera in order to remove that (unusual) possibility of surveillance. But if you have music or podcasts stored locally on your phone, it is still reasonable to want to listen to them.

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I have done this with music and vlc player for fun sometimes.

Edit: After writing my other two posts on this thread in bed from my L5, I got up for a break then battery swapped back up to 98% power, because I hadn’t battery swapped for a few hours. So now I’m back in bed - no powerbank, no charger plugged in, just me and my 98% charged phone after writing all this stuff here on this thread.
And I still have the tab open where I was forum browsing!

The battery swapping has been great for me because I hesitated to do the suspend feature after finding out it prevented alarms. And also I can be here in bed goofing off on it as long as I want, or take the phone out and about on a walk if I want, and do all these things and I’m never stuck needing to plug it in for a downtime where I can’t use it. I just have the ritual where occasionally I pit stop at the battery station. It’s really a lot better. The rest of society’s phones are garbage with low battery life by comparison, because they do have to charge. Ever. I don’t.

And if I go on a long trip, like a plane trip where I use my L5 as my ticket, I bring all the full batteries with me like a mobile battery station and although it ends up in a burnout state with them all empty if I sit on the L5 and do heavy use un-socially on those trips, just being a phone zombie and ignoring the other humans, it’s usually fine. Upon arrival I can set up the battery station again and power them all back up.

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  1. Use a wired headset with a built-in microphone instead.
  2. Use the terminal keyboard layout, then use keyboard shortcuts.
  3. Update your phone software.
  4. There is no audio hardware kill switch.
  5. That is not normal, provide a description of which Wi-Fi/Bluetooth modem you are using.

Contact Purism support to replace your back cover, or you can consider 3D printing the part yourself using this STEP file:

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For which: Tips & Tricks · Wiki · Librem5 / Librem 5 Community Wiki · GitLab (at least when it is there)

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@paulororke I share some of your general frustrations. Using this phone has been a rollercoaster (I may have thrown a couple of phones in the past, luckily never this one). There are always broken or disfunctional things but I’ve always been able to work through them one by one thanks to the forum community and a lot of time and patience. I’m known to family, friends and colleagues as “the one with the weird phone that can’t run apps” by now.

About copy-paste: I’m no longer able to select (and therefore copy) text in text (SMS) messages, but elsewhere I’m usually using the keyboard as well. Have a look at this post to avoid needing to switch to “terminal” layout all the time. Having arrow keys available is very nice, by the way, to avoid frustration with precise cursor positioning.

For YouTube I use FreeTube (Flatpak). If someone gives you a link you can simply paste it into the FreeTube search bar.

Good luck and remember, we’re here to help.

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I think the biggest difficulty with the Librem 5 is that it does work. It is a huge milestone as well. The engineers who worked on this largely had never done anything like this before, but they have managed to overcome VERY difficult odds to get us where we are now. They deserve nothing but praise.

The irony is that for Purism to truly make it the Librem 5 has to be mainstream-able. Right now this is just NOT possible. You have to be a tech savy individual who has dabbled frequently in Unix or Linux offerings.

There are bugs and glitches that happen all the time, and being able to understand that this is a Linux glitch and not a hardware glitch helps significantly.

One other thing that would truly be helpful is if the Librem 5 was utilizing the PCie lane the IMX8 offers with a mini nvme drive. The storage expansion would then make the L5 truly a one stop shop for your computing needs, as well as providing a snappy fast area for a MUCH needed swap space. On top of this the NVME storage space is far more resilient and made to be accessed way more time than the emmc memory the phones come with.

I truly hope that Purism can stay a float and keep providing updates to the Librem 5, but the impression I always get is that they are just barely hanging on. The erosion to public perception has been devastating. Before they do anything else, they need to convincingly address their public perception problem, and then move forward. Why they haven’t done this is beyond me.

All that said, the phone is VERY capable, especially with a lapdock. It requires advanced Linux knowledge to truly be functional, but this need to shrinking with each update. The developers of the Librem 5 are amazing!

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You can’t just hold down the whole message and copy it?

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WOW. What am amazing response from an amazing group of people!

Now I have a lot of reading and things to do.

I want to thank all of you who piped in with suggestions. I will, over the weekend go through all this, and give feedback on how it goes. I have 6 kids, and more demands on my time than I care to speak about here, so dedicating the time to doing the reading itself can be a challenge, and likely why I am in the situation I am.

I have to say, my frustrations melted away and were replaced with renewed optimism. I will be going through all this as time permits, and look forward to more discussion on my progress.

Thank you to each and every one who had suggestions.

… I’ll be back…

:grinning:

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With the carriers offering unlimited data plans, would the spot the WiFi card occupies be able to accommodate the mini drive or is that going to require a complete redesign?

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In my limited experience, off the shelf NVMe drives (like what you find down the street at Best Buy or Micro Center) would be too big. [Edit: Having opened my Librem 14, I can say the one inside it is also too big]

Has anybody seen any smaller ones?

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How do you charge the batteries that you swap out? And dow many do you carry with you? I bought a spare when I got my phone because I suspected I might need to do something like this but I realised that I would need to charge both batteries IN MY PHONE, which kind of defeated the purpose.

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You are so right pauloroke,

however its still a good choice to have it. I use amaroks Terminal-SKB way to solve it. Just the new Firefox sometimes ignore it.

For myself i ship around most bugs by using VPN/ssh to have access on my local hardware, where i running kind of own Webpage, which is connected to a fast computer with internet connection, which collects every news for me like RSS, Messages, Email. Weather Information, Train Traveling and so on. And i just pass important text fragments to my phone.

This way i have control to do anything with the lowest power input and got my information.

For the WiFi i had that issue too sometimes. Like the SIM-Card is not detected. But i had that with every phone sometimes, some androids too. And what helps me is a reboot. - Just to add. I disable WiFi if i do not need it and push it on every time i try to connect to a known network. I know some folks just add the new network and stay allays on. This is really energy wasting if you are not in reach. Just try to memorize places where you have a useful connection to activate it manually.

Hope for us we all can fix our issues soon.

I think there is no other Device i would trust, ok some GraphenOS Google Phones - but you know on Google Hardware. It still feels fishy - like using webkits, proprietary drivers for WLAN, 4G or camera. So no… there is today no alternative to my little Linux Phone.

I had recently changed some PureOS Store installations to actual Flatpack installations over PureOS Store. Check the Version numbers of your applications.

I’m looking forward to a good future and hope Crimson Support will be there too.

Remember the old days of drivers and Linux and how long it take to be really sexy. I knew it will be there sooner or later. I think i will use my L5 for a longer time. My LG3 was used 10 Years with Lineage and my LG5 only few Years.

Happy first Birth Day L5!

Edit: If you have to use the file browser from gnome to select a folder or a location where to save. The Terminal Layout is helpful too. If the Gnome File Browser open, you can switch to the Terminal Keyboad Layout and use the layout with the arrow keys to navigate to a folder, open it by switch the view with alphabeth and enter… and use enter to open some marked folder. Which can not be archived by touch right now. Just to give you some hints. Understanding usual Linux/Unix Systems is a big step forward to use computers of all kind.

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Yes. They make M.2 SSDs in the 2230 module size The Steam Deck and other gaming handhelds (ROG Ally, Lenovo Legion Go, MSI Claw) uses this size drive. They are more expensive at higher capacities, but available.

That said, I very much doubt that one could swap the M.2 slot used for the WiFi/BT with a storage drive without some hardware changes, even if the card fits. At the very least, the firmware would probably need to be updated to account for the different card type.

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Most likely not.

The PCIe pins may not even be connected to the M.2 slot. Check the schematics if this is important to you.

The M.2 slot keying may be wrong.

PCIe may also open up the potential for a security compromise (the point being that the card that is currently in the slot runs untrusted, unauditable, blackbox code and hence must be denied unrestricted access to main memory).

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So, in my current day to day life it’s common that one battery is enough since they last probably 4 hours or something (highly dependent on use). If I’m going on a longer trip I might throw one or two batteries in my pocket. If I’m traveling on a plane or train, I take them all.

The chargers i am using were $10 amazon junk. Originally I had 3 chargers since I had 4 batteries, but more recently two of them broke and I just have 1 charger and 1 spare librem 5 that I am using as a charger, which is admittedly quite silly.

I had been thinking that maybe I would take the 2 broken chargers and frankenstein them together into 1 working charger but generally they were probably not designed to be user-disassembled and are just cheap junk. So a better charger might be smart. But they really work. I just put the battery in there and slide the little metal slider to connect to positive and negative, and it charges up the battery. It charges a little bit slower than the battery does inside of a Llibrem 5 but that’s probably OK and honestly might be good for safety, I don’t know.

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Thanks, I’ll look into getting one. Unfortunately I live outside the US and I only had the foresight to buy one extra battery.

I don’t know how to get another one (other than buying another phone) unfortunately.

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