Librem 5 concern

Those very things “people normally do on a phone” that you wish to continue doing are a very large part of the insecurity of the phone. You cannot simultaneously have a secure and insecure phone, but that’s what you are demanding.


@pureman48 I feel you. I really do but. You have to give up all of those “great” apps like Instagram-Snap and Tinder that take all your data. I have an Android right now and I have removed my fingerprints and uninstalled every app that isn’t coming from F-Droid. Which means; good games, good communication apps -like snap and of course Tinder. And I am preparing myself for this Librem5 phone coming out. All of that just for a secure phone.

Well everything is being worked on while we speak. But 5G for example is a high security risk. I haven’t looked into it but I have seen it on the TV news that 5G is very dangerous. So if you really wanna stay secure on that side of the fence, forget 5G+.

Purism has also told us that running Android apps could possibly become possible on the Librem5. But that is not 100% sure if they will.

And last thing, all the specs is being put into place, just a few months ago they switched from an i.MX-6 to an i.MX-8. Just so we could get a better more powerful phone. Correct me if I’m wrong about the CPU.

So. If I were you, I would buy this phone right now, no doubt. But if you really need those apps like Instagram-Snap and Tinder then I don’t think a secure phone is something you really need right now. Maybe one day when you’re ready to put down the “good as hell” communication collecting data apps then! you’re ready!


Sorry guys I didn’t know the point of this phone was to defeat the evil capitalist oppressors.

Joking aside, In my mind a secure phone solves the hidden tracking behind the scenes that most phones do. Then it lets me choose what I am sharing with apps. If I want to share things on facebook I think you should be able to choose to do that. I thought the whole underlying purpose of a phone like this is to stop the baked in tracking. As it is now iphones and android don’t choose if you have a facebook, tinder, or whatever else and you have full control over privacy settings for these apps.

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I don’t think you get what secure actually means, and how the apps that you so love work against it. Having most of the apps that you mentioned installed on your phone actually means that it is not secure, precisely because of the way these apps work. So not having a tinder or a facebook app on it is actually part of what makes a phone secure.


For any app that also utilizes a website, you can use the website. Unfortunately, when software is closed-source, only the owners/maintainers of that source can change it. So if you want Tinder on this phone, you have to ask Tinder to port their app to Linux. If you want Venmo, you have to ask Venmo to port it to Linux. There won’t be anything from stopping you from using them on this phone if that is what you choose to do. But that is outside Purism’s control, and given the relatively small market share this phone will have, I don’t believe those companies will be porting anything any time soon.

The phone will make phone calls, it will send emails, it will send SMS and E2E encrypted messages (but not via WhatsApp). It will do the things a smartphone can and should. It won’t use proprietary software to do them. And it won’t prioritize making that proprietary software available. But if it becomes available, you can use them, because unlike most phones, you will totally own this phone and be able to do whatever you can to it’s software/hardware.

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You probably should wait until the Librem 5 is released and read the reviews to see if it fits your needs before ordering it (although the price will probably rise to $699 when released).

Here are some details that might address some of your concerns:

  • There are 107 apps currently listed for mobile Linux in, and most of them will probably be available for the Librem 5. With an active community, I expect most of them will be quickly added to the PureOS Store. The work of adapting existing Linux desktop applications to work with libhandy will take longer, but there are potentially thousands of mobile apps that could be available in a couple years.
  • Purism is developing Chatty for SMS + XMPP messaging.
  • Purism started planning a Messages app last year to incorporate an adapted version of Fractal into the Librem 5, but there is currently no code in the Messages repo so I wouldn’t expect this to be available on day one. However, Fractal is already available as a mobile Linux app, so I expect that the community will make it available in the PureOS Store even if Purism doesn’t. Fractal is a Matrix client, and Matrix which has bridges to IRC, Telegram, Discord, Gitter, Slack and libpurple (which supports 20+ protocols including Skype, Lync and XMPP).
  • The elephant in the room is messaging with Whatsapp. In a standard Linux desktop, you can run an Android virtual machine with Whatsapp installed and then use the mautrix-whatsapp bridge to communicate with a Matrix client. I doubt that it will be possible to install an Android VM on day one, but I expect that the community will make this happen if it technically feasible, because a lot of people will want it. The question is whether 3GB of RAM is enough to adequately run both PureOS and an Android VM. It probably is possible, but Purism says “RAM: 3 GB minimum (subject to change)”, meaning that there is some possibility that we will get more, since Purism is aiming for convergence to be able to also run a Linux desktop.
  • There will be a MicroSD card slot for expandable storage, so you aren’t limited to 32 GB of storage.
  • The cellular baseband will be in an M.2 slot, so it can be changed, and they are considering offering alternative cellular modem to support other frequencies. A 5G modem can probably be added in the future, but most regions won’t get 5G in the next 2 years and it will only be available in the center of cities. LTE is also speeding up, so it is unlikely that you will ever need 5G. (Some experts think that 5G will be like Blu-ray, and won’t be widely adopted, since it is too expensive to implement and poses potential health problems.)
  • There is a good possibility that an Android mod, such as LineageOS, Resurrection Remix OS or AOSP Extended, will be ported to the Librem 5, so you can use all the standard Android apps. This won’t be available on day one, but I would be shocked if it takes more than a month or two for an Android mod to become available after release.
  • In terms of the SoC, screen, RAM and Flash memory, you are essentially getting a $150-$200 phone, but you are paying for 2.5 years of software development, custom board design, a non-standard SoC which requires more development work, higher prices on parts due to a small production run, and the extra overhead of running a software and hardware development company based in San Francisco. Most phones on the market take a reference design from Qualcomm, Mediatek, UNISOC or one of the Taiwanese ODMs and do some minor tweaks to the hardware design. They add a skin to Android and a few apps. Then they contract with a Taiwanese or Chinese OEM to build it for them. Their development costs are tiny, especially when averaged over millions of units, compared to what it is costing Purism to develop the Librem 5.

So the price is high for the hardware that you are getting, but keep in mind a few factors:

  • You are paying for the development of a new OS and essentially making a donation to the cause of user digital rights. Other companies will be able to take the work of Purism and offer cheaper mobile Linux devices in the future. If the reform of the tech industry and starting a movement for digital rights on mobile devices is important to you, then $649 is not too much to pay.
  • You are getting the only smartphone on the market that runs on 100% free software, has 3 easily-accessible hardware kill switches, comes with a free BIOS and has an M.2 slot to upgrade the cellular modem, and is open hardware in the case and board design.
  • This phone could potentially last you 10 years, because:
    – The battery is replaceable (with tools),
    – It works without binary blobs so the Linux community will provide drivers as long as there is community interest in the device. Plus, NXP is offering 10 and 15 year support plans for the i.MX 8M, so the SoC will likely be produced and supported for a long time,
    – The M.2 slot allows the cellular modem to be upgraded,
    – Parts for the Librem 5 are likely to still be available in the future. Purism promises to release its Gerber files after it has recovered its development costs, so that anyone can 3D print the case and any 3rd party board builder can make the motherboard. Even without the Gerber files, much of this will still be possible.
    – The tech advancement in smartphones is slowing down, so there is less need to have the latest hardware, since it doesn’t make much of a difference in real world usage.
  • The Linux/Wayland/GKT+/GNOME/libhandy/phosh software stack in the Librem 5 will likely require less RAM and fewer processing cycles than Android, which runs in a Java virtual machine, so you are unlikely to notice the slower Cortex-53 cores in the Librem 5 and the fact that it has less RAM.

At this point we don’t know what camera the Librem 5 will have, but I wouldn’t count on it being too good, since the i.MX 8M Quad doesn’t have a dedicated image signal processor or digital signal processor, and we don’t have the proprietary AI magic of Google or Huawei. Likewise, I wouldn’t count on the battery life being too good, since the i.MX 8M Quad isn’t very power efficient. If you need flagship quality in your phone, then you should look elsewhere.

Hopefully that answers some of your questions. Also, it is rumored that Purism will be announcing the final hardware specs for the Librem 5 at the beginning of July (July 1 or July 4), so maybe you want to wait and see if that happens before you decide.


So how is this phone better than just using LineageOS and not signing up for any of these apps? Perhaps even putting LineageOS on this phone would get the best of hardware and software.

For your use case, it might not be. I’m not sure that LineageOS will support it right away, but I’m sure someone will eventually port Lineage to it, so if you feel like waiting so you can use all the Android apps, then go for it. I’d just be happy to see another Librem 5 sold


You will definitely get better performance if you buy a good quality Android phone, and then install LineageOS.

The difference is that there is no guarantee that LineageOS will keep getting updated for your phone and will support all the hardware, whereas it is virtually guaranteed that LineageOS will run well on the Librem 5, because everything is documented, there are no binary blobs, and Purism is committed to helping community ports.

However, if you decide to go that route, I recommend either buying a OnePlus or a Pixel if you can live without a MicroSD slot. There are a number of Sony and Xiaomi models with good LineageOS support, but check the model before buying. If you can wait longer, and don’t want the best specs, then you might consider the PinePhone.


The phone won’t prevent you from using facebook or whatever you want, you could just log into the website. It’s linux, so the choice is yours. But it does seem counter productive to want a secure phone only to use a bunch of apps that don’t respect your privacy.


So you found this project that don’t like and think is a waste of time and money and the first thing you thought to do was creat an account to tell people in the forums you think their project is dumb? It’s kind of the definition of trolling.

You assert that you want a secure phone to install a bunch of surveillance and tracking applications on and ask us why we wouldn’t want that? I just don’t get it.


Why and how is Librem supposed to develope those apps? Apple and Google just develope the OS and other companies write the apps.
I’d put money on a majority of the people that are seriously interested in the Librem 5 could careless about Facebook, snap chat, etc. We want the phone to protect us from those exact companies (among others). The Librem, as far as I can tell, is being designed to do just that.


I totally agree with you on that. The Richard Stallman way will get us nowhere. We have to be more flexible to slowly make technology more secure and open, instead of starting which extreme positions which will only turn people away. (For example, I got my family to switch from WhatsApp to Signal by refusing to use WhatsApp, this was only possible because I didn’t overwhelm them by also not using Google/Apple Calender, etc.) My premise is:

“Use FOSS wherever it is viable”

… which also means, if its not i’d rather use proprietary stuff than not taking part in modern life.
I’m not concerned about 5G (just a minor inconvenience, not something that stops you from accessing something) or small storage (easily worked around by expanding it), but compatibility to android apps should be a top priority for Purism. If the Librem 5 has the network effect working against it, it’s dead on arival.


I disagree with you that it’s Purism’s job. They develope the phone an OS that’s compatible. The job of a runtime environment for Java based Android apps should fall on someone else, possibly the community?
I say this because you introduce large potential security risks unless the apps are properly sandboxed.


there are already compatibility layers for running android apps within desktop linux. I see no reason why these couldn’t be tweaked for the librem 5 by the community if that is what we want. Not really purism’s problem. They are providing an open platform that we can make work the way we want. If it becomes an in demand feature it can be added to the main phone image later in updates.


Baseband firmware is closed source (Qualcomm MSM chipset if I’m not wrong) but there is a hardware kill switch that if implemented properly should remove power to the modem.

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The phone is expected to have a working browser. You can still sell yourself to Facebook. :slight_smile:

I don’t think Facebook lets you be half pregnant though. Unless an app is open source you simply cannot control what is sent from your phone. With a closed source app all tracking is hidden. “Settings” mean nothing in a closed source environment.

I don’t speak for Purism but for me it is about creating an open source environment that is based on a different business model, not the business model of surveillance capitalism. The whole ecosystem needs to change (for those who care about this).


A rather long post, so I would just like to pull the above one line out for the benefit of pureman48.

In my opinion 32 GB is “reasonable” without being capacious. However it all depends on your intended use. If you plan to download (permanently) full HD movies then 32 GB won’t go far! On the other hand, by comparison with any phone that I currently use or have ever previously used, I have never used even close to 32 GB. So 32 GB is probably enough for me well into the future.

I’m curious to see how the OS will handle the sdcard. Will it act just like Linux sda0,sda1, etc? Or something more like how Android does splitting things between phone storage and expansion slot.

I would expect by default it behaves about the same as the reader in the laptop.
Maybe in the first increment you’ll have to mount it manually. Important is that it works. Amazing is that it supports 2TB :sunglasses:

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