Is Linux Always the Answer? (Librem 5 video)

Sounds interesting - how’d you find that out?

A video he posted about Purism… He’s had a couple. He’s not a bad dude or anything, he just thinks Purism is mismanaged…

Anthony from Linus Tech Tips reviewed the PinePhone:

He concludes with this statement:

It’s a lot better than the Librem phone. After having a little bit of time with this phone, I can tell you that the Librem was kind of trash.

Obviously Anthony hasn’t spent much time with the two phones, and isn’t doing a detailed comparison. First of all, the PinePhone Community Edition: Mobian and Librem 5 are both using the same Phosh mobile interface (which was developed by Purism) and both are based on Debian. Both phones have similar software above the kernel level (Mobian is based on bullseye and the Librem 5 that Anthony reviewed 2 months ago was based on buster), so if the Librem 5 is “kind of trash”, then the PP Mobian is also “kind of trash.” The Mobian developers Evangelos Ribeiro Tzaras (devrtz) and Arnaud Ferraris (a-wai) collaborate closely with the Purism developers to develop Phosh. See: https://source.puri.sm/devrtz, https://source.puri.sm/a-wai

70% of PinePhone users say that they use Phosh on their phone, and 65% say that Phosh is their favorite interface. See: https://source.puri.sm/Librem5/community-wiki/-/wikis/Frequently-Asked-Questions#310-why-did-purism-decide-to-create-the-new-phosh-interface, https://forum.pine64.org/showthread.php?tid=12961&pid=88876#pid88876

Only 18% say that Plasma Mobile and 18% say that Lomiri (Ubuntu Touch) is their favorite interface, so I suspect that Anthony hasn’t spent enough time with the PinePhone to see the problems with Plasma Mobile and Lomiri. Plasma Mobile is less complete than Phosh, and the code of Lomiri is not well maintained since it was abandoned by Canonical in May 2017. It has received only 112 commits in the last year. See: https://github.com/ubports/unity8/graphs/commit-activity

Most people who have tried the two phones side by side says that the Librem 5 running Phosh is significantly smoother and faster than the PinePhone running Phosh, and that is reflected in the benchmarks of the two phones. The Librem 5 scores 30%-40% better at integer operations, 50% better at floating point operations and 140% better at OpenGL. See: https://source.puri.sm/Librem5/community-wiki/-/wikis/Benchmarks People also say that the Librem 5 screen looks better and brighter than the PinePhone screen.

Now Anthony has a point if he makes the argument that the PinePhone is better because its camera actually works and it has working suspend-to-RAM, which gives it good enough battery life to actually be usable as an every day phone, but Anthony didn’t say that was why the Librem 5 was “kind of trash”. Instead he leaves the impression that the PinePhone is a better phone. Most people who have used both phones disagree. They also know that camera support is coming on the Librem 5 and they have seen the battery life improvements, so they don’t think that the Librem 5 is going to be at its current state for very long.

Honestly, Anthony is doing a disservice to the Linux community but not taking the time to do real reviews, rather than half-assed unboxing videos based on initial impressions. If he had used the PinePhone for any amount of time, he would have discovered the problems with the Quectel modem drivers not waking up the system fast enough when suspended, so people were missing calls. He would have compared the amount of time to open apps between the Librem 5 and PinePhone and discovered that the Librem 5 has significantly faster RAM, which effects its speed at loading apps.

There are reasons to argue that the PinePhone is better than the Librem 5, such as lower price, slimmer form factor, lighter, support for more distros, more choice of interfaces/mobile environments, supporting community-based development, working cameras, working suspend-to-RAM, full disk encryption wizard in postmarketOS and Mobian, etc. Likewise, you can make the argument that the Librem 5 is better because it has a better CPU, GPU and VPU, it uses a RAM standard which is 2.4 times faster, its USB-C port is 4 times faster, it supports 4K@60 video out vs 1080p@60 on the PinePhone, and its 13/8 MP cameras have much higher resolution than the 5/2 MP cameras in the PinePhone.

Anthony, however, didn’t bother explaining any of that, which is why I consider his review to be a waste of time.

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I should have read this first before watching the video. :sweat_smile:

I think Anthony just dislike Purism for no real reason and so he’s watching to these devices with half closed eyes. But I have already 2 reasons to dislike Anthony. One reason is what amosbatto said and the other one is the advertise (promo) inside his video … normally I don’t see any ad on web.

Instead of making trash “PP vs L5” videos he should show why both are needed for the future of (Linux) pocket computer and how both projects (and all the software projects around) help each other.

Btw another point for PP is the usb-dock. Would love to see such piece in my L5 box.

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Yeah, these videos are shockingly low effort. This was basically a video of Anthony trying out a multi-boot SD card image and playing with about half of the distros for 5 minutes each because the distro that shipped on the phone completely failed to install itself. I noticed he gave the Pinephone a pass on a lot of the frustrations he had with Phosh in the first video. The DIP switches give you “more control” but you’re never going to whip out your tweezers in public and pop the back off of the phone for a second to toggle any of them.

After several months, I still find the Pinephone incredibly awkward to use. It’s slow. Really slow. You’re going to miss a call unless you have the phone sitting in front of you and you’re expecting the call. Watching videos is still impossible on most websites. Every app takes multiple seconds just to draw something over the desktop. Yeah the camera works, but it’s so slow and low quality that I’ve used it maybe twice.

If Anthony used either phone for a day he would come across these issues, but these videos seem to be shot in around an hour with no background research done on what’s being reviewed.

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but these videos seem to be shot in around an hour with no background research done on what’s being reviewed.

I mean that’s the entire point of Short Circuit, as discussed up above in the thread. Anthony clearly had a different mindset when looking at the PinePhone, but until he publishes a review and it is listed as such on one of their other channels I don’t really see the concern especially considering the channels viewership fan base.

I’m glad it’s causing more discussion for both companies, but since neither device can be ordered today it’s a moot point as far as I’m concerned (gathering interest only to wait for a few months isn’t something a person used to Android/iOS is used to when it comes to purchasing a new device).

I enjoy @amosbatto posting here on the subject of the differences - Comparing the PinePhone to the Librem 5

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Yes, it would have been nice if he pointed out that his conclusions are different because he reviewed them at different times in their product development stage. By the time that each product is sold from stock and the software is stable, I expect that the Librem 5 will be the preferable product, unless your only concern is cost. I expect that web browsing on the PinePhone will be so bad that a second device will be necessary to enjoy the web, but for occasionally looking up information, it may be adequate for some people. Maybe Ekioh’s Flow Browser will help. I expect that both future versions of these phones will have better futures. Once the common Linux distribution becomes a turnkey smartphone OS, I expect the hardware situation to greatly improve.

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But to which costs? Purism could also make a faster computer and put all together to one SoC, but they didn’t for some important reasons. So hardware is limited to other companies products (CPUs etc) and how “open” they are or hardware is limited to privacy and security risks.

I’ll probably get a little flak for this here, but I kinda wish Purism had been less ambitious at least for the first iteration, and focused more on software and the basics. The external kill switches are a huge feature, and free/open hardware is obviously preferable, but I do worry that it can come back to bite us. (Of course, this is all with the benefit of highsight, so I don’t really blame Purism I guess.)

I was a late discoverer of L5 (May 2019 I think) and sometimes when reading discussions here, I do worry that Purism will have the rug pulled out from under them (some crucial hardware component becomes discontinued) and anyone who doesn’t have their L5 yet will be out of luck. The high cost of L5 is a real shocker to most people too (seemed so to Anthony), and I’m guessing that this is mostly due to hardware “pickyness” (no proprietary crapware).

I was also disappointed a little by Anthony’s review and especially how he really put down the L5. But he did say before that for mobile stuff, he wants something simple that ‘just works’. That kind of means he’s not the right target audience for a Linux phone at this stage.

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I am not sure that I completely understand the question, but yes, they did build an atypical smartphone to fill a void in the market. They are using parts that were never intended for a smart phone. Maybe some of the manufacturers will keep Purism in mind when designing their next product. For the discrete modem design to work, Purism needs a lot of sales. And those sales need to be after the software is ready for the general public if they want to sell more in the future. In the mean time, they should be targeting Linux hobbyists with a security and/or privacy focus. But I was thinking along the lines of other hardware manufacturers seeing this as an opportunity. Most hardware companies do not do software very well, so having a Linux distribution ready to go with minimal customization will be a game changer for them.

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Do you have a PinePhone? I have a PMOS CE. I bought the convergence package, mostly to support development, and so I would have it when my Evergreen finally arrives. PMOS was hugely frustrating and I eventually settled on Mobian-Phosh. I wouldn’t call it fast, but it’s perfectly usable. Hell, I’m even still booting from the SD card. As a web browsing device, both Epiphany and Firefox are much more pleasurable than Firefox on a cheap but new Android.

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Back in August 2017 when Purism started, the only way to get a smartphone that ran on 100% free software was to either use the ancient i.MX 6, which have given horrible performance, or to use the upcoming i.MX 8M Quad which has taken years to get decent mainline Linux support (it still doesn’t have suspend to RAM) and critical things like its MIPI CSI2 camera interface are poorly documented. The other options were to use the A64 like the PinePhone did and hope that Mesa would eventually support it (which ended up happening in April 2019) or to give up on hardware kill switches, publishing open source schematics, and 100% free software, and use an older Snapdragon that has mainstream Linux support.

Given the choices, I think Purism took the only path that was truly capable of generating a large number of pre-orders, which was necessary to finance its dev work on Phosh. Without 100% free software and hardware kill switches, I don’t think Purism would have gotten enough pre-orders to pay its software developers, and it would have to use Ubuntu Touch/Lomiri or Plasma Mobile, which both have major problems in my opinion. Lomiri simply isn’t being well maintained–it only had 112 commits in the last year and only has 9 people with commit access, so basically Purism would have had to take over maintenance of the project which would have been very expensive. In the case of Plasma Mobile, it wasn’t at all complete in Aug. 2017, and it would have required a lot of dev work to get it ready, which also would have been expensive.

In other words, there were no good choices for Purism, and I frankly think that Purism chose the best course of all the difficult options it had. You might want to read my essay on why Purism created Phosh.

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My PinePhone Mobian Edition wakes up just fine. At the first calling tone it starts waking up and by the second calling tone it starts playing its ring tone. Everytime I tested it.

EDIT: the calling phone and the PinePhone are in different mobile networks.

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Hello, I think this is the critical problem with the Librem 5. At this price, you can’t consider monitoring your battery life all day, or having to buy an extra battery (extra purchase + opening the back cover every day can break it).
I hope they will find a solution with/without NXP… for a smartphone, and at this price, they have to.

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Thank you for providing me with this information. This was on January 15th. Since then, what have been the improvements of the PM?

Many people have reported that they are missing calls with the PinePhone because it takes the cellular modem too long to wake up the system. It has even been reported by @Gavaudan on this forum:

The PINE64 February update says that Dylan in the community is working on the driver to fix this problem.

I saw that update, but now after last update (weekend of March 20th) my pinephone doesn’t lock when I hit the button, it just blanks the screen. I’m gonna see how plasma is doing, figure there must be a reason they decided to officially go with it.

I don’t think PINE64’s decision to preinstall Plasma Mobile was based on the technical merits. Both postmarketOS and Manjaro chose Phosh as the best interface to represent their distros when they released PinePhone Community Editions, despite having Plasma Mobile as an option and working on a Lomiri port. If you follow the comments on the PINE64 forum, both Phosh and Lomiri are more usable interfaces at this point in time.

Instead, Plasma Mobile fits PINE64’s model of community-based development, and Plasma Mobile has adopted the PinePhone as their target device for their development work. By preinstalling Plasma Mobile, the PinePhone probably will be able to help stimulate the development of Plasma Mobile, so it isn’t a bad decision from that point of view.

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Ah I see. Still, I’ve always been curious (and a plasma fan, frankly). And it does actually lock the screen when I hit the button. I actually like the way it looks better than phosh, kinda makes me wish purism had gone plasma instead.