Librem 5 - Daily driven in professional use - SUCCESS

This is a great thread. Thanks!

My wife and I don’t have cell phones because they all require non-free software. I’ve wanted to get a Librem 5 but wanted to wait until it was production ready. I use Linux exclusively (Librem 14, PureOS) for my computing needs, but I still want something that “just works.”

Would it be possible to get one Librem 5 and share it with my wife? So, we each have a user account onthe phone, and we each get our own SIM cards with our own numbers, and then we switch SIMs? Is it easy to switch SIMs on this phone? Is this a reasonable ask?

I see the Librem SIMple would be better for us, since we don’t need data. These would just be emergency phones for the most part. Would it be cheaper or better to get prepaid SIMs? Would they work on this phone? Do I get them at Walmart? Dumb questions, I know, but I’ve been out of the phone loop for over a decade.

Also, it looks like the Librem 5 has GPS. Does this mean I’d be able to use it for navigation when driving? That’s always been one of the biggest appeals to me of a smart device, being able to use GPS plus maps for real time navigation. Can I do that with the Librem 5?

Thanks for the help!


A comment and a half answer:

  1. I want to commend you and your wife on your principled stand. I have been exploring the idea of “why” it is difficult for people to stand on principle and simply go along with the crowd. I had a conversation the other day that makes me think that it isn’t lack of principle but something closer to “I don’t see an end in sight so what is the point” sort of thing, implying that it might be possible to convince more people to stand on principle with the right communication.

However, it is incredibly rare to see couples stand unified on principle and THAT is truly inspiring.

  1. The answer to your question about two user using the phone is “TECHNICALLY yes, the phone software can handle multiple accounts and you would only need to switch sims and you would be able to make phone calls from your own isolate environments”. The system wide phone settings would be shared but you would have your own private files just like a computer.

However, here is the BUT.

I don’t believe (I have not checked, maybe someone knows) Phosh needs to be aware of multiple user sessions and allow for different passwords to log into individual sessions. Coding this up might not be too difficult but I don’t believe it exists.

In order to achieve something like this, you would need to install a regular desktop environment + a login manager such as lightdm that does this (thread: Multiple DE with selection at login screen) and from the desktop you should be able to start the phone + text apps and go. However, because it would be normal desktop you would lose call / messaging integration so you wouldn’t get notification when a call text comes in, you would have to manually setup screen rotation and so on. I am not aware of any competitor to Phosh that is designed to be used as a phone so that may be the only way to do that.

If you aren’t technical, I would strongly recommend against going down this route because in order to set this up correctly you need to do a few things: learn a whole bunch of new sysadmin skills, maybe learn to code a bit, spend a whole lot of time to make everything work for you and on top of that you might have to settle for a lesser user experience because writing your own equivalent to Phosh is a lot of work even if you could glue together a bunch of software to mimic what it does.

  1. Recommendation - If you are sure you would want a Librem 5 (it sounds like it might meet your needs as they match mine) I would buy one and try it and see for your self. If it works buy a second one for your wife. Or wait until a new version of Phosh supports multiple accounts and maybe a new device supports dual sim.
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I would be curious if you manage to resolve this issue like fslover mentioned. I have not had to deal with this issue so maybe I lucked out. Have you contacted support? I have read about flashing the firmware manually, but, I thought the software store / manager did this for you.

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Can confirm the software store does not flash firmware and the modem firmware is only available from Purism support at this time and they do not want to release the firmware nor the process outside of contacting support at this time.


Excellent response! Thank you!

Does L5 support GPS and maps for real time navigation, like while driving?

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Did you try to search this forum? E.g.: Librem 5 - Record a GPS track.

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I would say, generally, no. It is fiddly and some customers have messed this up. So this probably wouldn’t be the recommended course of action.

As to whether it is production ready, it’s important to remember that the Librem 5 is a general purpose computer and therefore can do so many things, potentially, but most of them won’t be important to you. So it is necessary to identify what your hard requirements are and what your “nice to haves” are.

The Librem 5 does not operate like that out-of-the-box. That is not the current design focus. I’m sure it can be made to do so. For someone who “uses Linux exclusively”, I expect that you would be able to work through the issues but you would be making life a little more difficult for yourself.

(My personal opinion is that I would like to see this standard Linux functionality re-instated as an easy GUI setting that just works - as a future low-priority change.)

Bear in mind that the Librem phone plans are only available for customers in the US (but your mention of “Walmart” suggests that you may indeed be in the US). These plans are comparatively expensive for a phone that is basically just for “emergencies”.

An existing SIM should in general just work if moved across to the Librem 5. Trying to activate a new SIM in the Librem 5 could be a problem if you have one of these authoritarian mobile phone service providers that tries to restrict what phone you can use. So I would recommend that you do your searching first - what networks / providers are available in your area and what has been the experience of Librem 5 customers in your country with that network / provider.

For an emergency phone, you are probably better off to have a single shared phone number and the default shared user account on the phone (purism). Yes, that will be more painful if you upgrade to a phone each in the future - but at least you won’t have some authoritarian mobile phone environment (Apple or Google) telling you what you can and can’t do as far as splitting the content of the phone.


Thank you for this!


Purism sort of disagrees with you:


I think @irvinewade was referring to the process of swapping SIMs being mechanically fiddly. (It is a fact that a number of people have posted that they had trouble with it.)


Phosh on the Librem 11 handles multiple users. The L11 runs Crimson, but I don’t know why Byzantium wouldn’t.

I used the useradd command. I don’t know whether there is a GUI for doing it on a phone.


You are correct that exchanging personas would be a different approach, rather than having two accounts on the phone. It is an option for the poster to consider, particularly given that he is already talking about swapping SIMs anyway. I would still rather just have the login screen reinstated (for those that want it).

For clarity, the quoted post is talking about changing the µSD card (not the SIM), the author isn’t around any more to elaborate, and it isn’t clear how much actual changing of the µSD card he was doing - since the purpose of his post was to demonstrate that it was possible to move the “persona” to the µSD card, and hence make personas in theory exchangeable. (You can move the persona to the µSD card but still just leave the card permanently in place, which may free up space on the eMMC drive.)

I always took his (example) use case as being … you are intending to travel outside your own country, you first remove your real persona before leaving your country, you insert a vanilla persona - which would not usually necessitate frequent changes (e.g. not daily changes). That reflects a threat model, but the poster isn’t really concerned about that threat, hence why I would favour a software solution for the poster.

To elaborate on my post:

  • Some customers have fried their SIM card by failing to shut down the phone before swapping SIMs. (That by itself is an inconvenience if your “daily” use case involves deciding whether Mr or Mrs Grey is going to have the phone that day and inserting the correct SIM and potentially the correct µSD card.)
  • Some customers have managed to get one or both cards in the tray to jam in such a way that it is quite difficult / almost impossible to get the tray out (and hence quite difficult / almost impossible to exchange those two cards at all - which would be a style-cramper for your day).
  • And, yeah, it’s just a bit fiddly.

I wish Purism had put all three cards behind the battery (and hence done away with the tray altogether).

@elkingrey should take all this into account if contemplating this as a daily use case.


My recollection … there’s somewhere where purism is, or was, hard-coded. So as a one-off change (i.e. you don’t want to use the default, purism, user at all, which is a better security choice), it is easy enough to fix - but as a daily process, a bit painful.

Me too.

My understanding: There is but it is not adaptive (yet) and hence doesn’t work (unless you temporarily dock / use an external monitor).


It would be a really interesting feature for a future version to have dual or triple sims and assign a sim to a profile. Probably will never happen but, it would allow people to have personal / business profiles and swap between then as necessary. I assume a modem can only use one sim at a time so there would be no need to deal with dynamic profile switching for incoming calls for different profiles.


eSIMs make it easier to support 2 or 3 (or more) SIMs.

I don’t have any direct experience on a mobile phone with 2 or more SIMs but I think this might not be correct.

For the specific requirement of the poster, having the 2 SIMs physically or virtually in there but only one of them actually in use may be adequate. For many customers that would not be sufficient, particularly for outbound calls.

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Dual SIM Dual Standby (DSDS): Dual SIM - Wikipedia

vs. Dual SIM Dual Active (DSDA)


How would I go about this?

FWIW, I’m aware that Purism very much have their hands full, so I am erring on the side of patience and observation, rather than calling on their time to improve something that is almost certainly software related. (Or worse still, engaging in the apparently-prolific online ranting about them and their actions)
That said, I would certainly report a bug if I could isolate a specific problem.

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Contact Purism support (


Dropping back in to provide more real world updates:

  1. We just went through hell week where various client issues converged to create a really difficult set of issues to resolve. Since the L5 was working well I continued to use it but was carrying my android around as a just in case.

  2. During the entire high pressure situation I was:

a) Able to send / receive calls reliably.

b) Able to send / receive texts reliably.

c) I even started using Geary for a few email accounts and that seems to be working well, although, I have not had time to fully test it out.

SUMMARY: For day to day phone / text use absolutely no issues.

  1. There are two almost show stoppers for me:

a) Resume from blank screen - I am not sure how this is handled in Phosh as the old xscreensaver layer no longer exists. However, often, when I wake the screen up I cannot interact with the interface and I have to press the power button to turn off the screen, press it again to turn it back on and I can use the touch interface again.

b) I cannot interface with bank touch option telephone systems %99.9 percent of the time. Only on one system was I able to put it on speaker phone and somehow interact with the telephone system until it stopped working and getting kicked off the call.

While the first part is probably a config or driver issue, the second one seems to either be a Gnome calling app issue or it has some sort of interaction with the previous point because I start the call with a hand call and sometimes look at the dial pad to dial or switch to speaker phone so I can interact with the phone system until I can get a human on the phone. Somewhere in that process there are issues with the dialer and interaction with screen becoming unresponsive to touch forcing me to use the power button trick to wake up the touch capability on the device.

These are not show stoppers as there are easy enough workarounds but would be considered high priority usability fixes that I need for day to day usage.

  1. Other usability issues:

a) When driving, I cannot have the phone plugged into the car charger and watch Youtube videos (on a phone stand). The phone case gets incredibly hot. so much so that the metal frame becomes uncomfortable to touch. I know the manual says the flashing light means that it is unsafe to charge so I have started unplugging it, but that was an interesting observation.

There are probably a few things interacting for this to happen including the older slow cpu having to render high res video, Firefox not being gpu accelerated so the video is software rendered on the cpu and maybe a couple of other things as well.

This was expected when I bought the device.

b) Maps actually work reasonably well for my needs, but again, as the app is probably not gpu accelerated on this device it is taxing the cpu and the ui is a bit on the slow side to respond. Not sure how well it works for every one else.

One interesting thing to note is that it takes a bit to sync up to the gps signals and android is instant. I suspect this has less to do with the software or hardware on the L5 and more to do with the fact that on android your gps signal is ALWAYS BEING TRACKED so when you turn on google maps you are basically accessing either real time or cached gps signal sync.

I would heavily bet on this because of the extreme invasive nature of Google and it is one of those eye popping realisations that not only is Google tracking, they are tracking you ALL THE TIME TO THE SECOND. It is a thought to behold, really.

c) The other thing is that I find I am opening up applications all the time by accident. I think this doesn’t happen on my android because I have a bulky case around the bezel so I can’t fat finger the screen, so I ordered a case for the L5 to see if that helps. I will report on the case as soon as I get it.

  1. Other usability success:

a) Keyboard - As mentioned earlier, the keyboard is glorious. I can type reasonably well even without spell check now and the keyboard is pure joy to use. Switching between terminal and non terminal mode is so easy + accessing all the characters that I need as a sysadmin has been eye opening. It is so nice to actually have a wonderful keyboard designed to perfection. I especially enjoy the keyboard icon that allows me to manually close the keyboard even with a cursor in a text field, super useful.

b) Utility - I cannot express how amazing it is to have a full Linux computer in my hand, connect it to either wifi or lan and run network scans using the usual nmap and other utilities. I like my laptop but when I am running around, it is so much more convenient to have my phone with me where I can perform the same diagnostics with a fully featured handheld. Having the entire free software ecosystem is completely indispensable for me, there is nothing in the android ecoystem that even comes close except Termux. Unfortunately for Termux, it is running on android with shitty keyboards and terrible ui/ux, so even that really isn’t comparable.

c) Then, I had to do something I did not expect: I only had to use my android once and that is to take pictures because I have not started testing the camera nor expect it to be amazing. I also wanted to test the hybrid workflow.

Let me tell you something. There is NOTHING more infuriating than the steps and process of taking a picture on an android, either attaching it to an email or trying to download it from the device directly. Now, sure, if you are windows user you have probably gotten the quirky workflow memorised but I am not a windows user and I don’t pollute my self with bullshit windows / google quirks, workflows and workaround. I want my app to have access to the file system, I want my camera to save pictures in a sensible directory and I want to be able to use normal file system conventions to attach an image. Can I do this on android? No.

I take a picture and it is saved in some bullshit directory called DICOM. No idea why, don’t care to look it up. If I want to browse the file system, I need to download a file browser, and when I do, none of the file system makes any sense at all and I have to guess and click around until I find the images. I first try to use K9 to attach an image but it isn’t actually aware of my file system and … I don’t remember the rest actually. Instead, I had to open up a gallery app to browse my photo images for some god forsaken reason, select the share icon and then select the email app that I wanted to attached them to. Did it actually attach them to my new email ui / window? Nope. It opened up a new email ui / window attached it there and I had to once again manually type in the email address and send. Dealing with android anything is so arcane and bizarre now that I have a real system in the palm of my hand that it makes me angry that me, the person that purchased and paid for the android, has to be trained like a circus animal to attach files because my corporate masters demand it. It is an utterly infuriating experience.

And don’t get me started on transferring files via Windows because I cannot be arsed to fiddle with MTP on Linux. Okay, plug in the Android into a windows machine over usb and it takes FOREVER to populate the file manager list with the directory listing. Absolutely slow and utter garbage. On my L5, I can ssh in, ftp in, mount samba shares, scp files, rsync … whatever I want over any network connection that I care to use. Just standard tools and I can find files and transfer them over no problem and no bullshit android / windows workflows to remember.

Basically, in comparison, android is utter garbage in comparison to the Linux environment on the L5. IT doesn’t even come close except for one thing: Fully hardware accelerated … well I guess everything minus a small number of apps? Having now gone through the daily driver / business use experience, I can say that there is absolutely NOTHING that I need on my android. It’s only the 3d acceleration that really makes a difference and that is it. There are zero applications on the google app store that I depend or even use, because they are designed for the typical android user and the lowest common denominator means that everything is either designed as a fisher price interface or is some frankenstein nonsense of bullshit like the vendors trying to sell me an ssh client with half of the features turned off so they can get me to pay for it.

For me, the L5 is a quality of life improvement with some minor trade offs that I can live with.

d) Battery life for a daily driver is about 8 hours, just enough to get me through the day. The android is about the same or perhaps 1 or 2 hours better because of the highly tuned native drives and unbelievably aggressive power saving features that I cannot (but want to!) overriude.

e) Another feature that I love: I can set my L5 to not lock the damned device and I cannot do that on my android. I don’t know if that is just the android manufacturer locking me out of being able to disable that, but in a workplace I often need to leave my phone fully unlocked as I am moving around, working on things and getting back to my phone. It’s a small thing, but having full access to my phones ui/ux is unbelievably important to iron out the small workflow issues that I need to make the device tailored to my needs.

f) Oh, one more thing: I love the manly man size of the phone. I like the heft and feel of it. I don’t have my case for the phone yet so I carry it around and I have not dropped it once. The housing is metal which is EXACTLY what I want, I want it to feel solid and hefty so I know it is there. It is bulky so my fat fingers can easily pick it up, hold it and interact with the buttons in a meaningful way. I am pretty sure that the reason that I have not dropped it once is because of the size and heft.

  1. A bit of a conclusion - It has been quite the experience replacing the proprietary dependency with an free software dependency. I need a mobile device for my daily work. Figuring out if the L5 can fit the use case means that I had to have the skills necessary to use the free software ecosystem effectively, have a good understanding of the hardware I was getting and adjust my expectations accordingly and make the usual trade offs when you replace one tool with another.

I can no longer use my android, the ux is too painful and the device is too limiting. I can’t do almost anything that I can do with the L5 so it is not even a fair comparison.

Looking forward to the future version of the L5 where we have access to the latest soc with fully open source drives so we can access all the nice 3d accelerated goodness, but until then, this is EXACTLY the experience that I had when I switched to Linux on my desktop in 2000. It’s rocky only for a short amount of time because you are not sure of your self and you cannot see all the benefits. Once a few days pass, you get a little more sure of your footing start to get productive and then you realise just how little freedom and how few tools you have available on non-free platforms.

Also, knowing what I know now about hardware and software compared to back then, I am truly amazed at what Purism has produced. Developing Phosh, working on the drivers, tweaking the ui/ux to get the experience to a point that non techs expect so they can just slip into a comfy environment is an UNBELIVABLY large amount of work on top of shipping the hardware. I don’t know what it takes to ship an android and it looks to me like a lot of vendors put in a huge amount of dev time to customize android for their needs, but they do that because they want to not because they need to. Purism had to do the whole thing from scratch them selves and to have a device that is this great is absolutely amazing thing to behold.

Apologies for the wall of text, I wanted to dump that on here while it was fresh. In some threads users got upset because I proposed counter narratives to their negative experiences. The interpretation was that I was attacking them but that was not my intention. I fully recognise all of their frustration, especially if they are not sysadmins level techs. I cannot speak to whether or not a regular user will be frustrated on the L5 because I am so removed from regular users I cannot imagine their experiences any longer. However, my counterpoint in those threads was that while their frustrations are real, there is this entirely different perspective and understanding of the device that can really help provide depth and perspective on how to think about the device.

Does a user need to be a sysadmin to use the L5: Not in my opinion. That only helped me understand why everything works the way it does so I did not feel like putting a shotgun through it like the one user on these forums did. Normies can use it just fine but it helps to have an adventurous frame of mind.

Will I continue taking my android with me? No, if I do only for a couple of more weeks just to see if I really need it for anything at all. I guess if the camera is already working on the L5 to the bare minimum to work in normal light and it is a click and save image experience I can just use the L5.

Those are all my thoughts and notes on my daily driving the L5 in a real world / work scenario.

I hope this helps others get an insight into the real world fit of this marvellous device.


Thanks for this amazing update!

The charging stops automatically when the red light flashes. AFAIK you don’t have to unplug it.

You should probably add a link to this update to your original post, so new people could easily find it.