How knowledgeable do I need to be to operate the Librem 5 for basic needs?

I’ve heard people say that you need to know what you’re doing when using Linux devices and programs. But is that entirely true? If I just want the phone for it’s privacy and use it primarily for phone calls, messaging, and web browsing, how knowledgeable do I need to be in technology to run the Librem 5?


In my opinion, to use the L5 as a daily driver I would recommend at least some familiarity with Linux. I define that as someone who is not scared of running terminal commands and can understand the basics of how Linux distros function (knowing some Debian based sytems is a plus).

That’s because some setup may be required to get the L5 to cover the basic needs of calling, texting, and making the browser mobile friendly.


Not much, but you should at least know your modem variant and your telecommunication carrier’s supported bands, along with whether or not they support 3G/4G/5G.


well I think this post Time to flash is now - but how? is a good start.

it shows you someone who doesn’t know much about linux trying to flash their phone and the struggle they are going through.

no wonder why so many people had bad experience with linux when they get comments like this.


I did not need to know anything about Linux when I started using my Librem 5 USA, and what I know now is hardly much of a difference from way back when.


There is really not much to know for those things. Turning on Phone, typing PIN (see manuals next to the phone) and trial and error like on every new system. Just don’t forget backups when you try something new

In fact, what FranklyFlawless said is most important. Phone calls, SMS and web browser are working out of the box - mostly. For Firefox you may need to install some custom packages to fix flickering bugs. But this community can help you with such questions easily. For phone calls, don’t forget to turn on hardware killswitch or nobody hears you. :smile: Updates can be done via software center (terminal command is faster). You can use your camera with camera-app (pics and vids), but you may need to adjust things a bit more manually and you cannot use them for messenger apps. It needs further development.

If you want to install alternative messenger, you should search the internet on how to install them on Debian. If they’re some Android Apps (Whats App etc) it can be a bit trickier and you should ask people on this forum first (or search for existing threads).
And at the end: for any problem you are welcome to ask us.

The real question is: is it okay for you that L5 is not overall polished yet? And can you live with a battery drain that results in empty battery within a bit over 18h without any usage? If you answer both with yes, go for it.


Good to know, thank you!

I guess it doesn’t sound ideal, but I think that’s okay. I have been looking around for a phone that has good security and privacy that doesn’t send data to places like Google or Apple. The Librem 5 has shown to be the best option that I have come across. If there are other phones (that don’t have 5g. I don’t want it) that can fill my needs (and having a removable battery is a huge plus) I would love to know. But if the Librem 5 is best right now then I am willing to learn new things.


The current $599 flash sale is extremely good value.


I want to make sure you don’t miss @moon3 's comment here: How knowledgeable do I need to be to operate the Librem 5 for basic needs? - #4 by Moon3 .

I made a similar comment in that thread. It was considered by the moderator to be off topic and, so was, made a thread itself. Here’s a link to that discussion. The travails of updating and reflashing

This thread started in November 2023. I’ll point to this as what an intelligent person with no/limited Linux/Unix experience (Linux newbie) should expect in regard to dealing with a Librem 5. And this is with people who seem to be falling over themselves to be helpful.

That thread moon3 pointed to was started in November 2023 because her phone was no longer working well and it need to be reflashed. She only recently (this week) finally flashed the phone. Honestly, I would ask her opinion.


It is, although technically the Liberty Phone is the best iteration of the Librem 5 at the moment. Otherwise, there are the various PinePhones, although PINE64 manufactures them in China, and their hardware privacy kill switches require removing the back cover of the phone to access them, among other tradeoffs that may or may not need to be considered in your use case and/or threat model:

See also:


I would not make much fear about things. Librem 5 is also my first permanent Linux system (you know, GNU and so on). I had a dual boot system 10 years ago, but did not learn much at this time, because I was to lazy to stay on Linux. I even had to relearn how to update Linux via command line and it’s the first time I understand the system behind.
Most important are the last 2 questions of my previous post and if people are willing to learn something new. With the help of forum members tasks like reflashing are nothing people need to fear about.

In fact, I was a bit scared when I had to reflash my phone first time. It was a lot easier than expected. Struggling is part of any learning process with new digital things. It also helps not just to solve an issue, but also to learn the processes behind which can be very useful for other things some time in future.

@Privacy2: I don’t want to say you’re wrong. It’s a good thing to flatten the expectations. But it also should not sound like “you’re doing something dangerous” as long as expectations are in the right place.


I’ll look into it a bit more. Thanks! And I didn’t miss the comment (although I thank you for pointing it out directly), it brought me to do some more research on phones… a lot more to consider. But thanks still.

So, it the PinePhone a solid alternative that provides similar security and privacy? But isn’t it also Linux, so then, still a little bit of a learning curve? (As ease of use, more or less, is the main topic here.)

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No, there are many differences between how Purism and PINE64 operate that affect their devices. Purism focuses on pursuing vertical integration to minimize external dependencies while providing a more consistent user experience, whereas PINE64 only provides hardware to reduce and/or eliminate other costs at the expense of the user experience. You should expect and prepare to read wikis/documentation with the latter.


Aha, okay. That really just adds another reason why the Librem 5 tops everything else I’ve researched that fits my needs, even if it’s not flawless. I hate to turn this into a discussion about other phones, but is there really any better phone option that provides the same or better amount of privacy and security? With what I’ve found, even if so, many of the other options are either far more expensive or they do not contain a feature that I would like to have (removable battery).

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No there is not, otherwise I would have simply gotten it myself. However, there is a comparison list from Efani within this blog article:


In regard to security and privacy, the Librem 5 and Pinephone are similar.

In regard to “learning curve”, I would think the pinephone would be even slightly more difficult to deal with than the Librem 5. In various ways the Librem 5 has more support. I wouldn’t recommend the pinephone for someone who isn’t already comfortable with Linux. [Edit: I wouldn’t recommend the Librem 5 because I don’t like how Purism has behaved. I will admit that it would be a better choice than the Pinephone for a Linux Newbie … although the price difference should be considered.]


Just for the record that Librem 5 also it is a Hydra Phone which PinephoneS are NOT.

// wroted on Purism Librem 14.

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With this in mind, what would you recommend as a better alternative phone that provides similar privacy and security (and perhaps a removable battery)? Furthermore, if you wouldn’t recommend the Librem 5 “because I don’t like how Purism has behaved”, then may I ask why you are in this forum at all?


I’ve been trying to use my Librem 5 as my phone as exclusively as possible for about a year, and I feel that calls/texting/web browsing would probably work if I had less Linux familiarity, but the problem is that I would get less out of the device.


  • Without command line, I would sometimes “stop getting texts”
  • With command line, I run a fix command to delete hung messages and my modem recovers


  • Has been working for me regardless. In a few cases people said my audio was so bad that they could not hear me, but other times it was fine so I assume this was my unusual phone carrier causing an issue. I don’t know any Linux commands to improve this

Web Browsing:

  • Pretty much works as expected, but running desktop browsers at a mobile form factor. There is a fix for Firefox available on these forums but I never bothered to download it. I can avoid the flickering menu with careful use of the Keyboard toggle button, and that’s not linux experience, it’s just observing what works and what doesn’t and clicking carefully.

App Store:

  • Without Linux experience: Purism renamed the gnome software downloader to PureOS Store or something but it doesn’t usually work on my Librem 5.
  • With command line: Instead of the “store”, I stick to mostly only installing software from the command line package management using apt commands, including apt install thing and apt search thing to look for packages. By doing this, the PureOS repos are basically like a giant app store with most all standard linux desktop software adapted for L5.

So, I have a good experience because I use command line. If I didn’t, and compared the experience strictly as a clicky app home screen user against other Android and iOSes, maybe I would accept the narrartive some forum users espouse that Librem 5 is bad or doesn’t work.

Luckily for me, I dont have that problem and so I kinda love my Librem 5. Theres a command line command to list all network traffic and see if I’m being stalked by big tech. Great software.


The L5 is not a phone like any android or apple phone (thank God).
At the moment I own three Librem 5 phones and I’m happy to own them.

As long as you are willing to learn a bit about Linux and only need the phone for making calls, texting or browsing the web, and want to get away from Big Tech, I can recommend the Librem 5.

There are (at the moment) no better solutions if you worry about privacy.
Even deGoogled Phones are no match for the Librem 5 compared to privacy.

Also, be aware that there are posters who have formed an opinion about the L5 without owning one.

When I bought my first L5, I knew nearly nothing about Linux OS.
Today I know a tiny bit more, but I’m far from being a Linux nerd and I never will be.
Despite this fact, I’m using the phone as my daily driver and I’m pleased with it.

I’m sure if you are willing to put some minor effort in learning and not affraid for trying out things, you will find the L5 a good phone.