Librem 5 - Heat Problem? (As seen in the CCC presentation)

The problem was identify before the release of the devkit, last year. It’s a well-known problem.

Is there any official number about how many dev boards have been delivered (or any guess)? And, where all the communication/mail/… between the owners and Purism takes place?

300+ devkit

so that we can verify the base board design before we order the final 300+ boards for series production.

Most devkit communication seems to be in the librem-5-devkit Matrix room. There’s not so much e-mail communication, as far as I can tell.

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I disagree. The communication around the phone so far has been pretty lousy. Yes, yes, finishing the thing is an absolute priority, but that doesn’t mean there’s absolutely no time left to keep the folks who paid you to create this thing in the loop. Kickstarters for far cheaper products have done better in this regard, informing us every step of the way.

I don’t know about you, but $650 + whatever import/tax I’m gonna have to pay on top of that… That’s the kind of money where I actually expect to be properly informed about all aspects of the product, not just how the libraries that underpin the applications are progressing. And 28 days before the latest possible shipping date (if they’re to hit that Q3 mark), I expect a finalised product design: no more TBD’s in the specs, and an actual prototype of what the final product will look like.

And if you look at how difficult it’ll be to do this product “right” (respecting contemporary form factors, comparable battery life and performance, decent screen/camera, all the convenience apps people expect to find in a phone), how would you explain this lack of transparency? Purism simply sucks at communication? Or that information is intentionally kept from us? And if the latter, why?

I hope my worries will turn out to be unfounded. But at this time, I am getting a little suspicious about the motives for al the secrecy when it comes to the physical aspect of this phone. Now, I’m certainly not applying for a refund. I’m curious to see the final product and to experience living with this as my main phone. So I’m riding this one out. If my worries are unfounded, all the better. If not, well, at least I tried supporting a product that tries to change the world for the better.


I disagree. For one this phone is catering to a crowd of people who actually understand the facets of security within the digital domain. Secondly many people who are concerned about their privacy and security are rather extremely concerned about those things and are also pretty vocal.

If Purism were to be more vocal during the development of the product to include all of the roadblocks, it would do more harm than good. People would speculate without end about everything, and Purism would have to hire staff just to quell the fires this would create.

On top of this, development of this nature is fraught with challenges and roadblocks that are not easy to communicate effectively to the customer. Customers who think they know a lot often times reach the wrong conclusion and are quite vocal about it.

Lastly to use cheap kickstarter projects as a reference for the amount of communication to be expected is unrealistic. The difference in complexity amongst the two are most likely exponential. There is a reason Canonical wanted an insane amount of money to even consider trying to build their own phone, and their phone wasn’t trying to give us hardware based on FOSS principles.

All of this to say that I think the amount of communication we are getting is just right for this type of truly complex product. If they were more vocal they would be making a mistake.


Well… this goes to the area of: what is time… :wink: Other than agreeing with @2disbetter, I’d like to add that, sure, there should be proper and expected communication at some point (no denying that - I too have questions). I disagree that last week or even this week would be the time to get a full (relative) report or that there would be any benefit from it (beyond calming the more anxious, sure) as the work still continues (heat will hardly be a show stopper at this point) and delivery (very likely) won’t be any sooner. Next week, on the other hand…
Isn’t it it almost time then for the monthly update? :spiral_calendar:

In an internet forum it’s easy to be anxious about hours and days, but real development work takes weeks and months. I don’t think we paid enough to have a 24/7 reality show. In general, I suggest reading a thick book while waiting.


I agree with what @ 2disbetter wrote and I would like to add …
This company is creating something unique with the forces at its disposal. They are creating a totally new product along a road that has never been tried before. They also show us, with maximum transparency, also the problems they encounter.
Who wouldn’t make mistakes in an adventure like this?
Personally, I can only thank them.
Best regards
P.S. If I personally wrote something about the bug site I did it only to help them and I would never feel like criticizing.

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I think it is fairly easy. Negative news is never good, but the truth always comes out. The deadline is hard…you know what I mean.

If they ship with heat problems, community will report badly. If they communicate heat problems before delivery, community will report badly. But at least communicating proactivly looks more professional and trustworthy than doing not.

As everyone has already a phone at hand, I think they should take the time to fix these problems even failing on Q3 delivery.

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A lot of information can be gleaned by watching the bug reports, seeing what is getting posted in their public source repository and by playing with the Qemu image. We do have a lot of information about how the project is progressing, but it takes some digging to find it. That is one of the benefits of a project like the Librem 5. I know more about the hardware and software in the Librem 5 than any other phone I’ve ever bought, so it is worth keeping that in perspective. I’ve never been able to look through the device tree listing of a phone before buying it, and read its commits to the Linux kernel like I’m doing with the Librem 5.

However, I agree that a regular monthly hardware report would be good. I don’t think that Purism is trying to hide anything from us. After all, we can read the public bug reports, and Nicole Faerber wouldn’t have talked about the overheating problem in her presentation if she were trying to hide it.

To me this appears more like a company which is overworked and has too many things to worry about. Purism is trying to launch the Librem 5, Librem One and Pure Store at the same time, and it is a tiny company.

I’ve been involved in trying to get a product ready for launch, and I can tell you that it is very hectic experience. All the projects that I was involved in were peanuts compared to what Purism is trying to launch, so I can’t imagine the stress that the Purism employees are feeling right now.

However, we can handle bad news and frankly most of us are in this for the long haul. At any rate, most of us have already figured out that there are still kernel issues to resolve and the software still needs a lot of work, so it is unrealistic to expect the Librem 5 to ship at the end of the month.


So, the marketing tells us one thing, while the bug reports tell a different story…
Even Purism can’t escape that familiar reality gap, it would appear.


There is no more TBDs in the electronic spec. Only the case design haven’t been shown.
If you want to buy a finalised product, wait on more month, don’t fund a development campaign.

Purism confirmed Q3 shipping few days ago.
Software can be fixed after shipping, of course.


I stand corrected. Last time I checked, which was not too long ago, there were still some TBDs on the list. Seems those have been filled in in the meantime.

Well, I did explicitly compare it to Kickstarter campaigns, so it’s safe to assume this isn’t exactly my first crowdfunding rodeo. I’m not complaining about delays. Those are inevitable anyway, so I come to expect them.

What I am complaining about is the lack of clear communication. Not everyone has the time to pry the information out of the bug report list. All of us paid good money to see this product succeed, and the least we can expect is to be kept well informed. And not just on how the software is progressing. That’s also important, but so is the hardware side.

Furthermore, assuming they’re still committed to the Q3 shipping date, the case design should be close to finalised. If Purism still maintains that the phone will ship in Q3, that leaves them 4 weeks before they start shipping finished and boxed products. So at this point we should’ve been shown a prototype already.


What’s the point of knowing day by day how they’re progressing on the job?
What matters is the condition at the time of delivery of the final product. And Purism was clear on what they were promising.

Obviously, they do not want to communicate on prototypes and want to show a finished product when it is ready.
Prototypes, they’ve had them in their hands for months. The recent publication of a photo of the PCB proves it.
With 4 weeks to go before the first serial copies are delivered, who cares about the protos? We will see the final product in the coming days.


For 99% of software problems, I would agree with you, but I don’t think that the Librem 5 can ship if it has a problem with overheating, unless Purism is 100% sure that it can be fixed with software in the near future. For example, if Purism knows that the problem doesn’t exist with NXP’s Linux kernel, then it is a matter of figuring out what NXP did and getting that into its U-Boot and Linux drivers that it is upstreaming. If Purism sees the same problem with the NXP kernel or it can’t see a clear path to implementing it with a free kernel, then it might have to consider adding a better graphite sheet or something more extreme like a copper heat spreader or evaporative heat pipes.

I personally am fine with getting a piece of hardware where I have to constantly update the software for a couple months before it becomes a usable phone. However, I’m not sure that is the best strategy for Purism from a business perspective. What Purism wants to avoid is some ignorant tech reviewer (like Marques Brownlee or Lew at Unbox Therapy) getting ahold of the phone and telling the whole world that it is garbage and causing lots of people to cancel their orders.


It’s the case for month now. They know that they can fix this problem since last January, when they made the final choice for the processor.
Most of the problem is already fixed. Only need optimisation and mainline kernel merge (read the git and Purism updates).


Thanks for point that out. Reading the whole kernel thread, it looks like Purism found the problem, but it also looks like the code is still being written at Linaro, so its not in the best state:

The battery charging issue also looks like a problem that is solvable, but maybe not in 4 weeks:

My prediction is that Purism won’t be ready to ship at the end of the month, but let’s see what happens.


It’s a 2 points user story only, so it must be easy to fix.

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I do agree with everything you said, but not on this one

“With 4 weeks to go before the first serial copies are delivered, who cares about the protos?”

Most of us (if not all) don’t because we already paid based on the good faith-trust in this company. But, there have to be a lot of people who discovered this phone recently, whether interested because of privacy concerns or wanna have something different and are asked to pay 699 few weeks before the shipment. Least they can expect before paying so much money is to see the actual photo of the product and full spec sheet. They are not comfortable paying. I’m saying this, because I personally got a few to look at it, and despite loving the idea ,still hesitant to buy.
And for some on the backers side, it definitely raises concerns for delivery being pushed for the 3rd time.


They will have it in 4 weeks, maybe less, and the real one, not a proto.
Who can’t wait less than month before buy it? It’s not an regular 24h amazon delivery phone.

Publishing proto image now would bring more negative reaction and false assumption and nothing good fo Purism.

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