Librem 5: impression - first days

Appearance: Beautiful. The screen resolution is good too - could be thinner, but it is OK.

Display use: I haven’t got as far as monitor use, but to be honest landscape mode is proving a bit useless. The reason is as follows: The OS has a top and bottom panel, the app will have a header and perhaps another menu or something. Each of these full-width horizontal lines eats up about a tenth of the available height taking a huge swathe of territory. A keyboard nearly fills whatever is left. Would it not be better for the app header to somehow share the OS top panel? and for landscape mode to automatically change the panel heights for these items to the font height and nothing more? The keyboard has no need to be full width and the area to the side of it could then incorporate the bottom panel of the OS I don’t know how hard this would be to implement, but landscape mode eats too much height! The portrait mode is beautiful. I am impressed with the presentation, the icons etc.

Epiphany Browser: Mostly useless: It fails to load pages over and over.

Camera: a chore.

Store: Terrible… until it finally loads about a day later. After that each time a bit of a wait, but tolerable. The store is also utterly incapable of removing absolutely anything at all! The names of the apps to remove is a great guessing game when resorting to the terminal :thinking: Even the desktop folder is empty, but the desktop isn’t - I don’t know where the real desktop file is.

Battery: Not great, but better than I had expected, The phone even charges quite fast.

Ringtones: c’mon man put some ringtones!

Phone calls: Good

What would I like to see on the next model? HDMI

Overall It is quite good - considering the monumental task that was set.


Yes, yes, yes. :pray: :pray: :pray:

Using DP-Alt Mode to HDMI adapters/hubs is really horrible:

  • Adapters/hubs struggle to deliver stable video signal. I get occasional short interruptions with all hubs/adapters I have tried.
  • Adapters/hubs take space and weight when travelling. If I need to carry a hub, a power bank, additional cables, and maybe a keyboard… then why don’t I just take a notebook instead?

A notebook has longer battery life, faster CPU, more RAM, better HDMI signal (if needed at all as it already has a large screen), linux support for many telecommunication applications (Teams, Signal, Zoom, BBB, Telegram, Discord) that work for video calls with the inbuilt webcam.
So for Librem 5 to become the better choice compared to a notebook, we need to limit the need for hubs/adapters. So that one day traveling with Librem 5 becomes lighter and more convenient than taking a notebook.

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It crashes even on laptops. So nothing new.

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Maybe try following this:


Good feedback, thank you. In my case, ideally a full monitor and keyboard are preferred. That way, my Librem 5 gets treated like any other Linux desktop until I take it with me on the road.

I think there could be a stumbling block there, namely that HDMI requires a blob.

Maybe try a monitor that supports DP altmode natively. I totally get it that for most people, myself included, the majority of existing monitors support HDMI and only a minority of monitors support USB-C (in my case, just one) but perhaps that will improve over time.

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FWIW, this was a WebKit issue inherited from Debian’s security updates; the fix is already known and should arrive in Debian (and then in PureOS) soon.


Librem 5 is advertised with its convergence. This kind of makes HDMI a very high priority issue. I am totally fine if some users refuse to install a blob and don’t take advantage of this feature without a hub. But then for the rest that don’t mind the blob, there should be an easy way to install the necessary blob. Like including non-free in Debian. If in Debian I could add the non-free repos, then why is this not possible here?

I have such monitor. And it brings nothing because then the one and only USB-C of Librem 5 is occupied by the monitor and I can’t charge the Librem 5 while in convergence mode and the battery drains down. So this would have been a solution if Librem 5 had 2 USB-C ports.
All USB-C hubs I have tried were not able to forward the video signal. So with a hub between Librem 5 and the monitor, I have not seen the USB-C monitor to work.
Maybe the hubs split the signal and send the video signal to the HDMI port of the hub. I don’t know.
I have not tested hubs without HDMI port. Maybe they work.

I have several USB-C hubs here and video out works on Librem 5 with all of them. Check out the list of tested adapters:

Personally, I like using the Baseus / Digitus docking station (same thing under different brands). The phone sits there firmly, video output is stable and it properly negotiates high current charging.

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Here’s a proof :slight_smile:

(I should dust that screen off, I guess :sweat_smile:)


We are talking about a Librem 5 -> USB-C Hub -> USB-C to USB-C cable -> Monitor accepting signal over USB-C chain.
Have your tried that?

I have tried several hubs and while most were able to deliver signal over HDMI and some were also able to charge with more than 1A. The HDMI video signal was in my experience always not as stable as when using a notebook. There were always occasional interruptions. Tested with different HDMI-HDMI cables.
On a notebook I have never had any interruptions in the HDMI video signal.
Do you know which is the chip for the video conversion in the Baseus docking station?
I have tried at least PS176 and PS186 and if it is one of them, I guess the performance should be the same.

Personally I haven’t encountered any hub that provides video out over USB-C. I’m using a HDMI cable between the dock and the monitor and I don’t have any issues with signal stability. With other hubs I can sometimes see the screen going dark shortly when moving the phone or cables around.

You might have been the only one talking about that. :wink: Honestly, I thought we were talking about “HDMI”.

Like @‍dos, I haven’t personally encountered a hub / dock that can do that (video passthrough). Perhaps your best option in that case is a monitor that directly supports USB-C input and then provides a USB hub internally i.e. mouse and keyboard are connected to the monitor and no actual, separate hub is required.

Or a lapdock, which would be functionally very similar. I have mine on order. :slight_smile:

Or the monitor (presumed to be on mains power) supports USB-C PD?

I understand your choice but it is not as simple as that.

Take the case of the Bluetooth support in the Librem 14 laptop. You choose whether to load the non-free firmware and get Bluetooth, or not. But there is no other penalty for the choice either way. The card with the Bluetooth support is there regardless (doing WiFi). If you don’t need either Bluetooth or WiFi, you could even remove the card completely (or not order it) and use the card slot for some other type of card.

That isn’t going to be the situation with a future hypothetical revision of the Librem 5 with HDMI out. At the very least, you are likely to be left with an unusable connector, taking up scarce space on the edge of the phone, if a customer refuses to load a blob. At worst there is also additional circuitry (although I believe that the SoC does support HDMI out).

I would still hope that, in the X years before such a hypothetical revision could appear, the market for USB-C devices matures - so that there are more devices available and they are more reliable (better implementation of the spec or at least better interoperability).

I guess it got too complex so there are some misunderstandings.
Yes, at the beginning we talked about HDMI.

Then when you suggested

I assumed you mean a chain Librem 5 + USB-C to USB-C Cable + Monitor.

So there are the following possible set-ups:

  1. Librem 5 + USB-Hub/Adapter/Docking Station + HDMI to HDMI Cable + Monitor.
    This is the set up that works that is also suggested by Dos. But this set-up is for me not 100% stable. Tested with 4 different hubs/docks and with 2 different HDMI to HDMI cables and with 2 different monitors and there are always occasional interruptions. I have also checked that my Librem 5 has the latest firmware versions that are mentioned by the community.

  2. Librem 5 + USB-C to USB-C Cable + Monitor.
    This set up works for me. But the monitor does not deliver power to the Librem 5 so the Librem 5 discharges while in use.

  3. Librem 5 + USB-Hub/Dock + USB-C to USB-C Cable + Monitor.
    This set up does not deliver video signal to the monitor.

The suggestion to buy a monitor that would accept USB-C as input and would return power to the Librem 5 is not really a good solution because this would mean to dump the monitors I already have and would mean that when I travel my set-up would not work at a random place with a random monitor.

It would be really helpful if someone could share which is the chip used by the Baseus dock.
It would only make sense to look deeper into it if it uses a chip that I have not tried yet.

Yes. This would be the consequence. But is this really that bad? Does Purism want to achieve a mass product or a product for a tiny minority of people? The tiny minority will be left with an unusable connector. The rest will have a working HDMI port.
Pinephone are not that fixed on avoiding any blob at any price. And the Raspberry Pies have HDMI ports so they don’t seem to care.
It is great that Purism cares, but there must be some healthy balance between fanatism and practical product. A Librem 5 with a HDMI blob is still way way way way way better deal than an Android or iOS device if everything else is equal. And I am not talking about forcing the blob. Per default it would be blob free, but the user would be able to decide to install the blob and enable the HDMI port.

An HDMI does not have to be built in. There could just be a modular recess in the phone. Want a blobby HDMI with yellow and black warning stripes? push it in. Want a memory stick or something else? push that module in instead. Don’t want to pay for the HDMI module? Don’t!


Btw the port could also be hidden under the back cover.
Anyways convergence without a battery is one of the coolest options of Librem 5. To the extend that it would be cool to be able to disconnect the battery without physically removing it. By a kill switch under the cover or something like that.

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You can do that in software. To effectively cut the battery out of the circuit and operate solely on USB power:

sudo i2cset -f -y 3 0x6a 0x09 0x64

To go back:

sudo i2cset -f -y 3 0x6a 0x09 0x44

(BQ25895, REG09, BATFET_DIS)

Note that if you attempt to draw more power than the USB source is able to provide, you’ll get a brown out.


Nice to know, thank you!

I think @Hristo’s point is that … that is the situation today but with a lot of the plugin hardware that he has tried, it is unreliable. Which goes to my point that we can hope that in the timeframe that Purism might deliver Librem 5v2, the market will mature.

I think that only someone actually attempting to design a phone can answer. It may not be “that bad” or it may actually be quite difficult to fit in, necessitating more redesign and/or a bigger device.

While you have a monitor that does not supply power over usb-c, I would like to mention the Lenovo Thinkvision M14: a 14" portable that has two usb-c ports with displayport alt mode. Once I have received my Librem 5 I’ll verify the M14 can both act as a display and power supply for the Librem 5 (I expect it will).