Howdy (face recognition login) intergration


I need that feature, or a fingerprint reader for when I’m driving and want to skip a youtube ad and have to type a password first. It would be much easier not having to focus on typing a password while driving. I know…dangerous, but we all do it so we need the features that will help us.

I have an android phone so I don’t wanna use those features but if Librem was to have it and store the info localy I’d use it every day.

I’d also need a toggle to disable all biometric login features from the lock screen (which leaves the password still in effect) and to enable biometric login features the toggle should prompt for the password first.

That way I could easily change that setting when getting in and out the of the car but also if in any other situations where my devices security or my own security could be at risk if having biometric login enabled.

Bottom line, I’m all for having a device with all the modern features like the android flagships have just done in a privacy, choice respecting way and a in a secure manner.

Not to mention you’d be potentially saving many lives.


Also again while in the car, when I’m driving a friend or pretty much anyone they always want me to let them choose the music and as the phone keep locking itself when inactive for 30s I either have a choice to unlock it for them while driving or tell them the password. Both options are terrible.

What I would like is to be able to register multiple fingerprints or face ids to my device and then under the privacy have the option to toggle to enable or disable each id.

That way when I meet a person that constantly asks my to unlock the phone bcz they want to play this or that song I could just register their id (print or face) and then when I see them again I can just enable it for the time when I’m with them. Also, a second password wouldn’t work for that, just biometric. Because they’d keep forgetting it bcz they don’t use it that often so I’d had to put in mine once again and then we didn’t solve anything.

One other thing, there was one time when I was lying on the floor screaming and thinking I had a heart attack (it was some other thing but near). I yelled at my friend to call my dad to get me to the emergency room. He didn’t have any money on his phone left so he took mine from the pocket. I told him the passcode but he misspelled it a few times and gave me the phone back. I ended up calling him myself while litterally rolling on the floor screaming. Don’t worry it was some weird cramp infront of the heart, doctors tought I was unusual but that everything is fine lol.

The point is, from that day I’m so paranoid of something happening, anything. And the person with not being able to use my device when in need. I know there is the emergency from the lock screen nowdays but still, you see my point if they need to call someone from my phonebook and not the 911.

I don’t care that I’d be asking them their biometric data for the feature to work. Most of them give it to apple and samsung anyway.


I agree with your points and the toggle is a good suggestion. What if there was a guest password which when entered you go to a limited version of the OS.


here at Purism we encourage everyone to obey the rules and drive safely. just because everyone does something doesn’t mean you should. what good will a Libre oriented device do if your dead ? or worse … incapacitated for the rest of your life. convenience should not be a used as a way to break rules (this includes facial recongnition).
please don’t try to make a point about anything when you KNOW you just WANT to JUSTIFY your OWN BAD HABBITS. or if you know you can’t be bothered to CHANGE at least keep to yourself. why be a harmfull influence to others ?

anything you own - no matter what it is - car or computing device etc - is your responsibility. even more so when others depend on you.
while driving people in your car you should try to enforce certain rules concerning safety after all YOU have a RESPONSIBILITY to others just as you have to yourself. why feel sorry when you can BE SAFE ?


My question is this:
Do you oppose including facial recognition in the Librem for other people to use if they so choose?
If not, then this thread doesn’t concern you.
We are simply discussing a feature we want to see in the Librem and you are arguing that you would choose not use said feature.
I fully understand if Purism doesn’t include this feature from day 1 (they have bigger things on their plate). But, if someone from the community develops it, I see no reason not to include biometric ID for our phones.


In my opinion, phones should complement the driving experience. It’s just that they are badly designed. Biometrics are a step in the right direction but two steps back if they aren’t done in a privacy respecting and secure manner.

It’s against the law because it can cause accidents and it can cause accidents because of the pore design. What I’m suggesting is to make it safe for in car usage.

Keeping that in mind, you have to start somewhere, biometrics as a first step, Mycroft integration down the road, apple airpods compatibility etc…

I’m not advocating for the risky behaviour but I’m not pretending to be blind either, that’s a large market too.


i want to make readers of this thread aware that the title “face recognition login integration” allready made the asumption that this technology is recognised and validated officially by the Purism staff and will and should be integrated into upcoming Librem devices. This is not the case - YET. untill such an official statement is made this thread DOES concern everyone including me.

now. what i do oppose is cassually pretending to uphold moral and ethical Libre computing standards without actually doing that.

keep in mind that the Respect your Freedom (RYF) certification by the FSF has not been YET given and depending on the choices made by Purism it will probably NEVER be given as long as ALL strict Freedom criteria are NOT met.


Purism as a company has to uphold first and foremost FREEDOM priciples that have been formulated here >> by sir Richard Stallman.
Anyone who is aware and understands those Freedom principles has a duty to encourage Purism to keep the Libre part in Lirem devices.
Safety, security and privacy without freedom are not what they seem at all. car or no car.


So how does my suggestion conflict with it?


I’ll just add that one of the true powers of libre software is that the user can install any software they choose and do whatever they want, even if they want to install non-free software or otherwise reduce their own privacy/security.

Purism won’t allocate resources towards reducing privacy or security or adding non-free things, but the users are welcome to.

If Howdy already exists and works, users can choose whether to install or use it. Purism doesn’t have to do that. If it doesn’t work, then another advantage of libre systems is that all the tools needed to make it work are publicly available, so anyone who wants to see it work can contribute to making it work.

Now, in this case you also need the hardware to make it work. I wouldn’t count on seeing an IR camera on the Librem5 any time soon. But if the regular camera works in the light, then you just need community members to help make sure that feature is there for those who want it, and Purism doesn’t have to do a thing.

Edit: minor spelling fixes


what do you mean by it ?


NO. that is not what Libre software stands for at ALL. here is proof >>

in order for the Librem 5 device to be certified by The Free Software Foundation and obtain RYF both software and hardware MUST work together in unison and strictly abide by those core principles otherwise the RYF certification will never be given.

if your are ONLY looking for open source software then yes what you just said will work for you.

Libre computing is not the same as Open Source. this is a CORE DISTINCTION.


Purism doesn’t have to (and won’t) provide non-libre software in their repositories and will use hardware that works with libre software/firmware/drivers/whatever. As I understand it, that is what is needed for RYF certification.

The user, as the complete and total master of their device, can do whatever they want. If they want to install software that is NOT provided by Purism and not found in their repos, but can be installed by enabling extra repos or whatever else, then they are free to do that.

Does this kinda ruin the point of using a device like a Librem? Yes, though the hardware killswitches and otherwise open design still makes it a better alternative than most devices.

But you cannot advocate for libre systems and then simultaneously advocate for restrictions on what the user can do. They user can do whatever they want. They just can’t expect to get any support from Purism when doing it. They are on their own.


let’s imagine:
far right side - Libre Compute Devices (100 % Libre hardware and software )
middle right side - OPEN SOURCE software on liberated HARDWARE
middle left side - OPEN SOURCE software on proprietary HARDWARE
far left side - proprietaray compute devices (100 % walled off hardware and software)

so what is the middle ? libre software on proprietary HARDWARE ? it’s difficult to decide because Libre doesn’t make any sense to be associated with proprietary ?
or how would we determine ? 100 % libre software on 100 % proprietary hardware ? it’s like oil and water. they don’t mix at all.

this is why i’m inclined to believe there can be no middle here. just like good and evil they don’t mix.


I thought this discussion was about Purism providing a privacy respecting, free software biometric system on the phone they were already making.

And while we agree that 100% Libre hardware and software is the best thing to do, we also will not prevent people from running proprietrary software on their devices. While it is unwise to run proprietary software and unethical to restrict what others can do with software, it is impossible and unethical to tell somebody else they can’t run some specific software on their device. The only way to pull this off would be DRM which we all agree is unethical.

However, the preceding paragraph is irrelevant to the issue at hand. The issue is whether to include Howdy on a librem device. As this would require an IR camera to work in the dark, it probably won’t be included. Howdy is free software and I can’t figure how it goes against RMS’s principles unless it relies on some nonfree software that I don’t know about. (Full disclosure: I have never used Howdy and don’t know much about it.)


i wasn’t suggesting that Purism should enforce how people decide to use their devices after they unbox them.

i sensed a confusion happening and i derailed a little to fix that. no harm done. right ?


So to clear some things up

  1. Howdy is floss, as in it is released under the MIT license so offering it at install would not disqualify Librems from getting FSF approval
  2. Whilst Purism primarily focusses on providing freedom-respecting computers/software (FRC/S), this does not mean it should not (or rather does not) act as a marketing engine for the GNU/Linux movement as a whole. The best way to do this is to prove to people that FLOSS software is Better not just ethically but literally as well. As such making set-up of advanced features such as face recognition, voice assistant (check out, encrypted chats, faster and easier software installs/updates and more secure computers (both by design of the system and through additional features) as easy as it is to do so on a proprietary system if not easier with better systems… In my perfect future vision of the world, everyone uses FRC/S, the best way of achieving this is not to lecture people on ethics but to make our technology literally better and provably so.
  3. Whilst integration can be simple as including a tickbox at install you could do other things such as having multiple cameras so as to get 3 separate pictures and comparing them all to a gallery of photo’s potentially (although not certainly this would have to be trialled) producing more accurate face-recognition (link to p2)


Meh … I don’t like it either.
For the moment, this technology doesn’t seem sound.
So either there is a way to not only disallow it, but to disinstall this feature, or it should not be present at all.


i was thinking about what you said in the context of proprietary devices. when the manufacturer decides to implement a certain “feature” and markets it as usefull or convenient or “secure” or whatever - everybody goes along with it because they need the basic functionality that certain device offers and “protest” with their mouths and wallets wide open.
they say : “hey we don’t like what you did - it is not-freedom frespecting” but then shell out the cash and say “take my money and give me what i need”
if a freedom-respecting manufacturer does the same thing on a Libre device some people will say : “hey you are suppossed to respect our rights and give us a choice”

this is why Ubuntu is open source but is not recongised as a RYF linux distibution and Trisquel is.


There are multiple issue raised around the discussion, and we should not mix those issue into one.

  1. Why do I want to use biometrics?
  2. Are face recognition software and camera module free?
  3. Are face recognition safe?

For second one, the answser is yes. Howdy is open source project, and camera module from Librem has open source firmware. The software itself does not harm your privacy.

For third one, it depends, since the software itself is not a mature product. I doubt how many benefit does it added into security.

Now the most important question here is the first one. Why do I even want to use face recognition?
It is supposed to be a method to easily unlock your phone securely. But does it fulfill its promise? The former part, yes. It can easily unlock the phone with face. But the latter part, securely? Not really, as stated above, it’s not a mature project, and there are some inherit risk using biometric.

Let’s sit back and rethink the question. We have to think about the use case. Why do we want to easily open our phone? As @KristijanZic said its because he wants to skip a youtube ads when he’s driving. Obviously, there are some use of the phone does not involved dealing with personal data, like having a quick google search, searching a map, watching a youtube video.

Then, basically, we don’t actually need to unlock the phone. We need a restricted access to the phone in order to use some app. That’s call guest session in Linux. If we can create a Guest account with limited access of app, and it can start from a lock screen without password, then it actually solve the issue.

You don’t actually need biometrics. You just need a guest session.