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

Thank you, and I thank @Dlonk as well. Both posts are excellent and give me an idea of what to expect.


I should probably share my experience of the Librem 5 too, but I will limit it to your use case.

Phone calls:

  • Works when using headset microphone.


  • Works with no missed messages.

Firefox ESR:

  • Works, but user experience can be improved with various solutions.

Most of the time I listen to Internet radio using Shortwave, otherwise I listen to the same music locally in Lockdown Mode. I do not use the command line for any of these tasks.

Here is a screenshot of Firefox ESR using Crimson:


This is going to depend significantly on what aspects are being compared and valued and how much those values are weighted. Similarly with what aspects of privacy and security are being valued and weighted. Each person that weighs in on this will have differing views and as such this kind of conversation often devolves rapidly as people whom tie their identity to brands too closely weigh in with their perpectives.

This is on the forum in several places and may be better suited for DM’s to avoid that topic taking over this thread.


Introductions would be more appropriate to keep publicly identifiable information centralized.


In regard to why I’m in this forum, the short version is to disrupt groupthink and reduce misinformation/disinformation. The reason I dislike Purism is that, IMO, the CEO (Todd Weaver) constantly pushed misinformation mingled in with PR … combined with them not honoring their refund policy (if you can’t trust them to honor their promises, should you trust them at all?).

I think the word “better” is too simplistic — what is better for one person may not be better for another. All of the choices in regard to “privacy and security” will require work from the user (the “learning curve”). Also, in regard to alternatives with “similar privacy and security” … it depends on your threat model. All alternatives that I’m aware of take effort/knowledge/experience on the part of the user.

  1. One could examine SailfishOS on a supported device (Sony “Open Devices”). Sailfish is not completely FOSS. Also, the Open Devices still depend on drivers from Android. The experience, though, is traditional Linux.

  2. Personally, I’m choosing a Pixel phone (7a) and installing GrapheneOS. I, perhaps, have a different threat model than you, but I think of it as a flexible and secure choice that allows me to manage my privacy.

  3. If you aren’t troubled with Purism’s behavior, a Librem 5 an OK choice. It will require work on your part for it to be useful. It’s similar to the Pinephone, but the Pinephone would probably require more work on your part to keep it updated/working if you don’t already know/understand Linux. Only these two choices have a removable battery (as far as I know). But removing the battery or Hardware Kill Switches are not necessary for my threat model.


Understandable. My apologies.

Thanks otherwise for the reply.


I think the most complex thing a Linux novice might encounter is reflashing the device (to upgrade the OS version, or reinstall to correct a malfunctioning phone), but even that is easy if one is able to follow the posted directions, cut and paste commands into the terminal, and hit the Enter key.

All the rest is learned over time on an as-needed basis, which is the same way all of us probably learned Linux desktop in the first place.

That said, it’s important to temper your expectations. Things will be mostly functional, but not perfect or polished as with modern smartphones. The L5 is a full computer with phone capabilities, but the computer part is more capable at the moment. Everything is improving over time, though.

For instance, suspend works the way it would on a laptop, but might not always be amenable to waking up during incoming phone activity.

The OS is not so much built on a “mobile apps” ecosystem as the other systems. The existing applications are adapted from real, regular Linux applications/programs, so there is the potential to have thousands of options… if developers of those existing applications write them to adapt to the small screen and the phosh (phone shell) environment. Lots of them already work, some can work with scale adjustment on the fly, and some don’t work at all yet on the L5.

There is the possibility of installing Waydroid in order to get many Android apps functioning, but many (e.g. some commercial Android apps) will never work, or may not work well.

The phone is heavier and bulkier than most people are used to. This is because the components needed to achieve isolation, security, and privacy are separate, not consolidated on a single chip. The L5 also gets quite warm due to the frame’s being designed to act as a heat sink.

The battery is removable and replaceable, but you may find yourself having to recharge it or swap it out more than once a day. It can drain quickly, depending on your activity level.

Navigation may not work as well as you need right now.

To use the L5 internationally, you’ll have to own a separate modem card, which can be bought from Purism and swapped out, but it’s a very delicate operation that can result in broken connectors. It’s not recommended to change the modem very many times.

I’ve owned my Librem 5 for 3 1/2 years now, but I’m still not using it as my main phone yet. I love it more for its being a portable pocket computer than a phone (at present).

I don’t own a Pinephone, but people who own both it and a Librem 5 frequently comment on the L5’s vastly superior performance.

As others have said, if you’re committed to achieving as much privacy as possible, then the L5 is your best bet, as long as you can endure some inconvenience.

Also, the camera is functional and improving, but not on a level with commercial products.


More good information, thanks!

Although I am all for learning new things in order for the phone to work for my needs (which aren’t many), I don’t want fear to creep in and tell me it would be too much. Or that could be laziness lol. But really, is there an alternative that can achieve good privacy and security with it being more convenient? I hear that a Google Pixel with GrapheneOS is popular, but I don’t (and won’t) use 5g. Are deGoogled phones actually good, or not good enough?

A simple question that I am not sure has a correct answer is, how much should I really care about my privacy and security? Should I care enough to the point that I spend the time to learn something new, or go with the bare minimum? That is my goal here. Understanding why I should care, if at all, and which device is best, or at least good enough, even with some downsides.


Some of this is dated now, but check out: List of Apps that fit and function well [Post them here.]

And: Tips & Tricks · Wiki · Librem5 / Librem 5 Community Wiki · GitLab

Also, just search the forums for “tutorial” to get an idea of some capabilities you might not expect.

You might also check out @linmob’s site:
He has experience with both Pinephone and Librem 5.


My main phone’s a Sony running degoogled iodéOS. It’s a vast improvement over the privacy-abusing standard Android (even Android without signing into a Google account), but it still doesn’t stop all communication with Google’s servers. The user experience is good, polished, and convenient for what I need (communications, camera, international travel, navigation, etc.). Still, not as private as I would like, considering my hatred for the data-slurping tech giants. I keep the Blokada tracker-blocking app running in the background, unless I have to connect to my VPN provider on occasion, and that includes tracker-blocking as well.

Yeah, that’s something you’ll have to decide. Just query “why care about privacy” on the internet, then you’ll understand the implications of being tracked (and trafficked) 24/7 by tech companies.


That depends on your needs. The only viable smartphone choices for me have hardware kill switches and an open-source operating system for security purposes, as I have a need to be off-grid and/or to distrust hardware at whim.

I cannot decide the valuation of your privacy and security, but I will remind you that the hardest step is the first one.

See also:

If you want to head in my direction:


For first question: As much as possible. :smile: There is no “too much” … it’s just that you cannot waste 24/7 for it and have a life beside of privacy and security. You have to ask yourself what do you want to achieve?

For me L5 has exact those things I want:

  • Hardware kill-switches. I can face my camera without tape on it and know nobody can watch me, even if it is compromised. I can stay naked in bathroom and know it’s completely impossible that anyone will record me. Even if there is just a 0,01% Chance on Android that this happens once in my life, it feels not worse it.
  • I want to learn Linux to remove Windows from my Desktop without troubles.
  • I want to support the idea of open source (software and hardware). I think it leads us into a better future for all of us some day.
  • I want a repairable device.
  • I want software support until I want to buy a new device in X years. Both points to reduce e-waste, but also because I don’t need flagship power in my pocket for my daily needs (got a desktop for such).
  • Privacy by design (including most common apps).
  • And I want a mobile phone that is just a desktop PC that fits into my pocket (of course with less power). I was searching this point on web 2019 and that’s why I found the Librem 5 (and got hands on it last year).

Everyone has own points and decide on such. These are just mine. But it may gives an idea about different motivations and that there are also other benefits beside of privacy and security. You may also should give a look at your points beside of privacy and security what’s important for you (you said switchable battery). It could help to decide which phones you definitely don’t want to use or it shows which one fits your needs perfectly.


And that pretty much rules out all iPhones and Android. :wink:


Close, but not all of them:

Tons of analytics/trackers on the last link, and there are more Android devices I am unwilling to list.


Thanks. With these links, the more I read, the more I am leaning even further into being more serious about my devices with their privacy and security. For now, a phone (or in this case, and pretty much for any smartphone nowadays, a computer in your pocket) is going to be sticking around for many uses it has and how, even if you don’t play games or use social media, it is pretty important to have one around. So I should perhaps be more conscious about what I do and where I do it when it comes to my devices. Thank you again!

Yes, good points. Really this whole discussion is telling me that it will be worth it to learn some new stuff in order to achieve what I would like. Thank you!


@Kyle_Rankin’s blog articles are the highest quality content out there, but unfortunately they are no longer working for Purism. I have reread them multiple times throughout the pandemic and incorporated their themes into my own security practices.

The only other blog that comes close is the Tor Project:

Tor Blog | The Tor Project

Have fun reading.


Re the importance of privacy, you might want to peruse these threads, too:

Personal Security After Data Breaches and
Voter Data Exploitation and
Data collected on me by ROKU


Haha, yeah. I got a lot to read up on now. Thanks guys :slight_smile:


Also, see this: Study reveals scale of data-sharing from Android mobile phones




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