Is Librem 5 a "Cloud Phone"?

Many aspects of Android and iOS that claimed to be “cloud” were actually not… In my opinion, you should be able to:

  1. do some operation on your phone
  2. throw it in a lake
  3. buy a new one
  4. hit recover
  5. be in the same state as #1

Sure, it isn’t required for every app… But some core apps such that all text written & received cannot be lost. Of course with an open source phone like Librem5, this would be easy to toggle off if the user was uneasy about it. It would also be easy to select whatever backup source you want. For example, you could toggle between many different cloud providers or a URL of your own server. This does not seem like a difficult technology at all, but I do think it should be part of the system software w/ a UI.

This is the key point. A person can’t be too serious about privacy and yet dump the entire contents of their phone on an untrusted server. In reality, this is a tricky area as some contents on the phone may be “sensitive” and some not, or perhaps it is all sensitive, or perhaps none of it is.

There are mitigations for that e.g. you provide the server (as you have suggested) or e.g. the contents is all strongly encrypted on the client side before uploading to the server - or both.

For me, I would be happy to back up to a local server (with client side encryption) but “cloud”? I think not. Eventually some kind of backup and restore mechanism will need to be thought about. I don’t think that this should be a priority for day 1.

Other people may have different ideas.


Agreed, sync is very difficult to do in a Freedom respecting AND user-friendly way (at this current point in time). To be user-friendly and not need to add whom you trust purism would need to be the one hosting the cloud service, the implication is that you are already trusting purism for their OS, hardware, and repository.

I would expect this to also come at a monetary cost if it were ever offered. I think a more practical approach will likely be for purism to partner with a third party that hosts a nextcloud server but this does add a to the list of entities you have to trust. Either approach being a default that you are presented as an option in option would be a good thing in my opinion; but it would likely be met with some push back.

I do see this as useful I just don’t see an easy to use solution that is also freedom respecting and open enough to satisfy the majority of the early adopters. Long term this is something I would anticipate, but short term I wouldn’t hold my breath for anything that is user friendly to set up.

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emphasis mine :wink:

Ah, Purism’s ethical services bundle subscription (coming soon)

Or they could partner with Nextcloud directly. Wait. They do! :slight_smile:
What I’m actually waiting / hoping for, is a little NAS/router/homeserver with Nextcloud preinstalled. And your laptop and phone auto-syncs to that if desired.


Having everything on the phone automagically synced is probably something far into the future. But for some data, you can already set it up yourself. It’s just not a “unified experience”…

Chat history is a first class citizen in Matrix, so messages would appear on your new phone. (You have to trust your home server, I think.) Not sure about XMPP and IRC, or if Matrix on the Librem 5 will also cover SMS.

Phone book entries and calendar events can be synced using CalDAV/CardDAV. Normally, you need to trust the server, but EteSync provides an alternative where all data is encrypted before leaving the device. See this comment with links:

EteSync is available for desktop use (in addition to an Android app and a web app). I believe it should be easy to add to the Librem 5.

Photos, videos, documents and files in general could be synced using Syncthing:

Syncthing replaces proprietary sync and cloud services with something open, trustworthy and decentralized. Your data is your data alone and you deserve to choose where it is stored, if it is shared with some third party and how it’s transmitted over the Internet.

You still need to trust the “server”, though. Any computer, and any number of computers, can be a Syncthing peer, including your laptop.

You shouldn’t throw electronics into a lake.


How to submerge like a boss.


Like so many other things people have suggested, I think this is very much a non-core feature. It would never make sense for Purism to develop it for the initial release of the phone, but it is a feature that any number of different people could add.

But I think this feature in particular would have been a PR disaster for the Librem 5, if it had been given prominence during this early development period. Aside from demonstrating a lack of ability to prioritise important features over bells and whistles, It would have made me feel suspicious of Purism’s intentions. I’d have been much more hesitant to back the project and I doubt I’d have been alone in that.

You could get some of the benefits of “cloud” by simply backing up your phone (whether to a cloud or otherwise). That would at least protect you against the results of your sudden lakeside losses of sanity, but it wouldn’t let you access the same data from multiple devices with ease.

Agreed, this one is not essential.
Also agreed, people suggest funny stuff.
Especially as it should be obvious that the Librem 5 is supposed to be the exact opposite of a “cloud phone”, designed to be as useful as possible without relying on “somebody else’s computer”.

If you talk about the cloudy cloud-cloud, then yes of course.
But the own-cloudy nextcloud, that possibly is not somebody else’s computer, especially not somebody involved in surveillance capitalism, that’s something else.

It’s not like they were silent on that topic. So, while Purism went quite silent on their partnership with Nextcloud (link above) after announcing it (which they always do after announcing a partnership), I still hope they plan to reveal a few more “bells n whistles” as we get closer to the release.

Self-hosted cloud support is fine, especially if it’s just a footnote. I would nevertheless have found it offputting if it was touted as a selling point, because it would suggest Purism’s mindset was quite cloud-centric. I would have worried about what might mean for their future decision-making.

There’s no question of scaring me away now, because I already backed the project, but I think my decision to back it was quite tied up in the issue of whether Purism’s thinking was well enough aligned with my own.

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Not hard to do automated diff-based backup of a finite/set files on Linux. I just don’t want it to be extra difficult. There should be a lightweight service that detects which apps you have installed that you might want to backup. Then you can just selected them and select a source in settings. If default is none, then that’s fine. The photos app will probably have the most to backup.

Turns out, the updated answer is:
“No, the Librem 5 is of course not a cloud phone, but…”

You can get a fully integrated, privacy & freedom respecting app from the PureOS store that brings cloud backups to those willing to pay for it.

As Purism intends to bring privacy and freedom also to non-technical persons, I think this (the whole package) is huge, even though personally I don’t have a need for much of it.


I was hoping to eventually use my own servers as the ‘cloud’ destination.

it seems to me that librem one is for handholding the users who aren’t quite ready for the whole respect-your-freedom mentality

from the above

Why do I need to pay?
We are changing the landscape of digital rights, which includes changing the business model from the previous exploitative zero-price for all-your-data, to a nominal-price to retain your digital rights, data, and privacy.
Can I get a free Librem One account?
Since not everybody can afford to pay, we do offer a free Librem One Basic account if you agree to strictly avoid products and services from big-tech that exploit you, lock you in, and control your data. If you agree to that, select the ‘FREE’ option for Librem One Basic: Social + Chat service, and you can get a free account as a gesture of gratitude from Purism, SPC.

In a way, yes. But neither as a primary focus, nor does your quote hint at that.
What that says is “Okay, you can use our stuff for free, but only if you pinky-promise to delete your facebook account”. That’s just a friendly nudge in the right direction.

The thing that targets “not ready yet for the real deal” more directly is the mere existence of Android and iOS apps for Librem One. And this is quite a genius move, if it works out as intended.

In addition to LibreOffice and other free goods for people on proprietary systems, they have now a simple way to slowly move to privacy-respecting services. This is substantial for people who attempt to move away from the tech giants, like Kashmir Hill demonstrated in her powerful article series. But I’d rather view it as targetting “non-techy” people, than those lacking a mentality.

IMO, The biggest potential here, basically a gateway-drug, is the Librem Chat.
It’s not only freedomy and privacy-y, it’s also free as in beer.
This means, you now have a way to convert all you loved ones (and maybe some non-so-loved ones) from WhatsApp to a truly free alternative that they can use without giving up their current (proprietary) devices.

That’s huge!
And it basically can utilize the same snowball effect every messenger has.
You almost can’t overestimate how important this is. It basically leverages a Freemium model, where you gain wide reach by being available for free as in beer.

This makes Librem One known to a wide audience. And the more they get interested and convinced by this and other services, the more likely they are in becoming interested in a truly freedom respecting phone or laptop.

So, us, the geeks, privacy advocates and Purism fans, we can now have a very direct impact on

  • the use of ethical services, and thus indirectly on
  • the future growth of Purism,

which ultimately will benefit ourselves in multiple ways: They can innovate faster, offer more variety and possibly lower prices.

Imagine, if each of the ~5000 Librem 5 preorderers would invite ~10 friends and relatives to use Librem chat (to talk without feeding Facebook), that would mean about 50,000 people using a product of a company they currently only vaguely know. And nothing prevents this number to jump to 500,000 just as quickly.

Made my day :slight_smile:

i’m STILL alowed to contest this “primary focus” since the majority of the people who have a digital life DO NOT take decisive action against proprietary non-free infrastructure (software and hardware included) - also it clearly exploits purity (it’s called Purism and PureOS and Libre[m]) NOT by accident. now i’m not saying that beeing an SPC is bad quite the oposite but the TRUTH still points to the not so transparent parts that are yet to be adressed.

the steps neccesary to undertake the freedom goal have been taken but UNTILL that fully comes to fruition there’s nothing stoping me to regard purism with some level of distrust (although it is significantly less than other big-giants).

i deserved that :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m starting to understand how you’re thinking better… Perhaps I can express myself in a language that makes more sense from your points of view:

It seems as if Librem is trying to get people into free software in one fell swoop. I don’t think this is necessarily bad. However, let’s learn from Google, Microsoft, and the rest… They did something called “lock-in,” right? It wasn’t right from the beginning. In the beginning there were problems with compatibility and interoperability, but this was not a selling point. Lock-in is done as if they’re gradually boiling frogs. Now, if we’re trying to lock out - or whatever the opposite would be, then I think a more optimal strategy could be more like:

  1. provide a fully open Linux platform
  2. allow users to converge onto various apps

instead of

  1. provide a fully open platform and apps (which are defaulty supported more than all others)

I think the first process allows more characteristics for competitive and emergent OSS evolution. Allowing for more iteration, and not trying to force a world view onto it as much. I mean world view in the sense of outcomes - the world is unpredictable and we want to make sure our planning is antifragile with respect to the evolution of software development and long-term usability.

If we look at many platforms that were open source and had no “lock-in,” then they often felt like they had more lock-in from a user perspective. Let’s take the n900, for example, (of which I had 4) - it was one of the freest phones out there. However, from a long term point of view, my Google Pixel phones have been a lot more stable. End of life with no migration options should be considered 100% lock-in. Of course, Nokia changing OSs every generation had a lot to do with this instability.

Part of what is great about an open and free platform is that many people can figure out how to use Facebook, WhatsApp, etc in the best ways possible. They can sandbox, or they can use an alternative version. For example, I use “Lite” on Android, which is a Facebook alternative. It lets me do the few things I need to do on FB without sharing any data with them by default. There are so many instances like this. What I’m trying to say is the real gateway drug is having the popular services available: Telegram, WhatsApp, Facebook, Gmail, Soundcloud, Youtube, 1Password, GTranslate, etc - so anyone can just start using it. Maybe not as polished as their previous smartphone experience - but instantly they can start moving to the alternative apps.

Anyway, I guess this is a bit off-topic for this ‘Cloud’ thread. But I suggest if you want to conspire to get the maximum amount of people onto a privacy-focused platform, then there are stronger strategies that are move funnel-like (but don’t necessarily compromising on any defaults).

the thing is this is not what software freedom is about. sure if it’s open-source philosophy we’re talking about then that is true.

RMS himself admits that freedom-respecting software is a long road and we are only at the beginning

also many people confuse gnu/linux with the gnu/libre-linux. one uses modules in the linux microkernel that reference and call upon non-free-proprietary-patent-protected-binary-driver-and-firmware-binary-blobs to operate non-free-hardware - the other is Free-as-in-freedom but not free as in free-beer or gratis-software it is simply a Libre(french for free or freedom) so it uses only code that can be independently audited in it’s entirety. see

that’s why uses only this linux-libre in the GNU os. the various distributions that exist today just serve as the glue between the linux kernel and the actual GNU OS. well you could very well stay only within EMACS and you wouldn’t miss much if that is your thing.

I’m not convinced. But you should rather try to understand what Purism stands for.
Why Purism?, Social purpose, Freedom roadmap, Ethical design, Escape the walled gardens, …

  • Advocating free, libre, privacy respecting hardware, software, services
  • Not endorse any company, software, or service that is unethical in that it
    • manipulates you by the selection of shown topics / ads (Google, Facebook, Twitter)
    • manipulates you to spend as much time as possible on their platforms (Facebook, Twitter)
    • abuses you to train their machine learning algorithms for free (Google, Facebook)
    • wastes your time and bandwith to serve you ads and become rich (all of them)
    • sells your data (all of them)
    • builds walled gardens so you don’t switch to other gardens (all of them, plus Apple, Microsoft, …)

So I can say with confidence that Purism won’t put any effort into making #SurveillanceCapitalism more accessible on their systems. They just announced a services bundle that is meant to replace your beloved services, for those who don’t want to be exploited by the tech giants.

It was already antithetical to their believe system to go in the direction you desire, but now it additionally contradicts their business plan.

By the way, I’m uncertain whether you were referring to “Facebook Lite”, which is an official FB app that just uses a little less bandwith, or “Faster for Facebook Lite”, which still uses FB APIs. If you log in, they have you. Basically all of the services you mentioned react quite allergic to unofficial apps and shut them down quickly with all legal and technical means they have. It’s called walled gardens for a reason. They have an empire to protect.

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I did not read the whole thread, yet. Sorry for that but I would like to add my opinion.

I am interested in the Librem 5 because I don’t like that many thing I do on my Android leak into the internet in secrecy. I don’t want that. I would like the Librem 5 to perform its functions on local hardware where ever possible and its possible for many things. Of course there are functions that just need internet connection. And sometimes it can be useful to perform some functions with internet support even if it is not necessary. In these case it must be carefully thought how it can be done best in respect of user interests if it is worth.
Just my opinion.

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