Improving text editing on the Librem 5

Via OSNews, a very interesting view on text editing in mobile platforms:

If Apple or Google won’t see this through, I believe we could.
I am not a good-enough programmer for this, sadly.

What do you think?


It is a good idea, but I do not edit messages all that often on my Librem 5 USA.

My main issue with text editing is Squeekboard. Squeekboard has no support for Shift modifiers and Purism devs don’t want to implement that. They said “short cuts don’t use the shift modifier itself, but the big letters. So you just need to use Ctrl+U instead of Ctrl+Shift+u”. Thats correct for most cases. Shift+Arrows does not work, because there is no “big arrow”.

So my issue is to mark text easily, because I can’t do it via Squeekboard. I need to add an USB-keyboard or to double-touch the text plus setting start and end of the marker with other touch inputs. Everything else can be done via Squeekboard like on PC.

I can do copy, paste, cut, moving courser to next letter or line, jump courser to the end of the word or line, deleting a whole word, searching (-next) and a lot more. I use an own made custom Squeekboard layout, but the terminal layout provides the same functionality in general.

Marking a part of the text is the real issue for me - everything that improves that is welcome. I don’t care a lot about other touch improvements, but it’s still good if it makes it easier for other people.
However, I really like the zoom directly in front of text like the blog you linked shows us.

Another issue is that Texteditor does not know the Ctrl+z or Ctrl+y combination. This lowers the app experience a lot, but is no issue of text editing in general.

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I want to KISS YOU!

…and now I want Purism devs to add this to Chatty, the terminal and a text editor. Then I’ll sexy kiss all of them.

Seriously, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for since I experimented with an iPod Touch and the Galaxy S III I replaced it with over 10 years ago. Eloquent is the perfect addition to the L5 and will make it stand out from the spyphones even more.


Well I 100% agree that text editing on existing phones (e.g. iPhone in my case) is painful, and has been for years. Sometimes it is “OK”. A lot of the time it is exactly as described in the article - hit-and-miss, cumbersome, error prone.

Bring “back” vi :slight_smile: ?

In the interests of keeping the forum G-rated … :wink:

I’m the author of that blog post. I’m thrilled that you’re interested in trying this out. However, I will caution you that changes of this magnitude should be done carefully, text editors are rather tedious to get right. Doing it in stages: e.g. start off with better cursor handling and a magnifier, move on to selection, then to the menu, might be a better way to break up the problem, to see how the community likes it, fine tune it, etc.

I’m happy to discuss this further if there is any interest, please feel free to email me at


I’ve been using emacs + sxmo with wvkbd, and it has been pretty awesome. I think it largely addresses these problems.

It’s so amazing to be productive with a phone! Totally different than iOS and Android. If I have a break in the day, waiting at the dentist or something, I can feasibly: (1) open a text editor and fix a bug in one of my projects, (2) compile and run my tests to make sure it’s right, and (3) git commit and push to a remote repository to work more on my full-size computer later. With iOS or Android, I only doom-scrolled the internet. The Librem 5 is way, way better. Enjoy mobile computing freedom with a Librem 5!


Welcome to this community and thank you for addressing this problem. :clap:


I am flattered by the contact offer. However, pressures from DevOps $DAY_JOB mean that my coding skills improve rather slowly.

I must clarify my proposal, though.
The idea is to improve text editING, not text editORS. Apologies for not phrasing it better…

Meaning that we would incorporate the changes to phosh and every single text field would receive the improvements. I’d not focus so much on the menus right now. If we could get right handling the cursor.

I’ve never managed to use anything touch-finger-based for serious work because text input is so tedious. Phones and tablets are for quick queries only, just because it’s maddening to fix anything done wrong. Even ed is faster and less error-prone.

The only time I used my phone for anything serious was when I had a Cosmo, but being stuck with kernel 4.4 or Android 9 was not great.

Thanks for that. I should clarify MY comment. By “text editors” I did NOT mean apps, I meant the low level text manipulation engine for the OS. Sorry for the confusion. As a UX researcher in text editing, I’m quite familiar with the low level details and complexities of getting the core OS text layers working and they are quite complex, which is why I suggested (and you seem to agree) that we start with handling cursor placement and dragging first. This is good news.

There is no rush on this work, I just want to be helpful. Let me know what I can do…


I always liked the slide your finger around the keyboard and it guesses the word thing Android does. It seemed quicker most of the time, until you tried a weird word.

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