Librem 5 - is it the software or the hardware?

I am not being negative I am simply being factul.
Every time I decide today is the day I am using only L5 it takes less than few minutes before something becomes impossible to work with. Especially the screen becomes non-responsive or get stuck on landscape and will not return to portrait or the the wi-fi is slow and web searching is painful, or trying to open the store and find an application is impossible because the store doesn’t load etc etc, not to speak about the absence of a communication app such as Signal that allows to connect with people the world over(I don’t understand the Matrix thing nor can I convince my mum to use it).

Now my question is - all these issues are they software related or are they hardware related.
I ask this because if it is software related - I am happy to wait till the time comes and things improve
If it is HW realted I might as well start saving for a different phone.
All coments are welcomed.
Thank you.


I haven’t experienced any of those issues.(*) Are you on byzantium release?

(*) …with the possible exception of clunky web browsing.

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Yes I am on Byzantium release.
If it wasn’t happening to me I would have laughed a lot…

Just for info.
Maybe this is not your case, but it happened to me a couple of times and I realized that I forgot that all 3 kill switches were activated.
The rotation sensor will only work when at least one kill switch is deactivated.

Regarding the store - I have never used it as one could use apt to install new software.

Regarding the WiFi/LTE - yes it is slow for me as well, but usable. And if I need to download something big, I use Ethernet.

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You can download and install signal without app store.

A general rule of thumb is that if you can install it on a laptop with a linux distro, you’re likely to be able to install and use it on your L5.

How do you deal with the fact that they show the steps for amd64 architecture?


I’m using Axolotl (Flathub) as Signal client and it works fine. (I’m interested in signald to use from Chatty but didn’t get around to setting it up yet). Beware of the official “desktop” Signal client, it works well but requires regular reactivation from an Android or iPhone.
For chatting with my family I installed a jabber (xmpp) server on my private server and installed Monocles Chat (FDroid) for family members using Android, and Monal for iPhone users. They are very good and easy to use.
For the web I’m using Firefox and it’s pretty good. I immediately gave up “Web” which was too unstable go be at all usable.
That said, the phone has occasional bugs, sometimes (almost every day) I need to restart it to get things working again, but luckily it boots fast enough. It’s good enough for me to use as only phone but I wouldn’t yet recommend it for everyone. Most issues I see are software issues, however, so optimistic for eventual improvement.

– Posted from my Librem5 while at the doctor’s waiting room :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Thank you.
Great comment especially addressing my query about HW or SW issues.

Jabber - is that difficult to install? Will it install on a raspberry pie??

I think this depends on what are your expectations for a mobile phone. If you expect it use your mobile phone to shoot video, then I don’t think that the L5 will ever be a good choice for that. I expect that they will eventually get video recording working, but it will use software encoding and probably be low resolution. Even with better software in the future, L5’s battery life is going to be worse than a normal smartphone because it takes a lot more energy to run 6 discrete chips at larger node sizes that weren’t designed for mobile phones than 1 integrated mobile SoC like a Snapdragon at 14-5 nm node size which was designed for energy efficiency. The i.MX 8M Quad is a hot chip built on an older 28nm planar node and it doesn’t have any Cortex-A7x cores, so the L5 is always going to have limited CPU performance (although its GPU and VPU is pretty good).

Unlike PINE64, which hasn’t fixed its hardware issues with the PinePhone (backlight flicker at low light and slow eMMC speed), Purism has been updating its hardware design to address problems (e.g., better cellular reception in Evergreen, bigger battery and poor reception of GNSS). I don’t know if Purism has solved the problem that they can only use one of the LEDs in the dual tone flash because it is overheating.

However, it appears to me that that most of the outstanding issues are software and can be solved if Purism has enough funds to pay software developers to work on the problems. As I see it, mobile Linux will never get anywhere unless there are people working on the hard problems and Purism is doing that, and I’m actually pretty impressed by what Purism has managed to achieve in terms of software development with limited resources.

It is worth keeping in mind that it took 5.5 years of software development before the first Android device was released. After Google bought the startup Android in July 2005, it had a well-funded dev team working on the OS for 3.3 years, before the HTC Dream was released with Android in Oct. 2008. It took Apple 2 years to create iOS and it also had a big dev team with lots of experience from working on OS X.


For a communication device, it is a high priority feature to be able to take part in video conferences and video calls. I firmly believe that video calls are the superior form of communication compared to voice calls and texting and are an absolute must have.
At the same time I don’t care about videos from the back camera.

Use case for the front camera: Video Calls
Use case for the rear camera: Scan QR Codes, Scan paper documents to PDF.

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Well it is good enough to show the live camera stream in the camera app (although consuming quite a bit of CPU), so plenty good enough for video calls…

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It’s not the same. The live preview is not compressed in any way, the video stream to send over the internet must be encoded. Encoding needs lots more compute power.


I used ejabberd ( on my Debian-based server, reasonably easy if you know your way around a Linux system, apt and configuration files Probably you can install it on a Raspberry Pi if it’s just for a couple of users, BUT you need a domain name, and a static IP address which isn’t typically the case of residential connections (I suppose you could get by with dynamic DNS but am afraid it would not be reliable enough)

:sad face:

After reading many such questions, it is my conclusion that Purism phones are still in beta testing, where the users are the guinea pigs. That is understandable since this is first a new kind of phone where the number of users and field usage is very small to find all the bugs, as compared to the millions of phones used by that many user, as serviced by large companies. That is why it is taking so long to find and fix all the possible problems that a complex item such as the Purism phone might have before being perfected.

That is how any small companies grows, by going through many starts, fits and stops. Even the big companies still have many problems with their phones and computers, years after they have passed the beta stage. That is due to the complexity of the device.

That is probably compatible with what Amos wrote. You don’t need particularly high res video for video calls and the selfie camera is lower res anyway.

As someone who takes IT support calls 24x7, I am a firm believer in not having video calls. :rofl:


When I see video calls in progress on TV news or talk shows (or attempt to understand hear them on radio), I can’t help but wonder when such poor sound quality became acceptable for journalistic reporting. :rofl:

Well, 99% of people are not working as IT support. :wink: Even less so are doing IT support using a smartphone.

At the same time a very significant number of people do use video calls on the smartphone for talking to friends and relatives or for taking part in work meetings.

The real challenge with video calls on the Librem 5 may be proprietary protocols, where Linux support is either non-existent or closed source.

I am on the opinion that everytime the blocker is a proprietary protocol, the user has to receive the choice to install the proprietary code if she or he wishes to do so.
This would reflect both individual threat models and risks and would accommodate for different pain points regarding functionality and would allow for wider adoption.

I have used Debian with non-free WiFi Drivers for years on different notebooks. Why would I sacrifice absolute key functionality on Librem 5 just because it has some proprietary code. Especially when Librem 5 has a kill switch for the camera.

Give the choice to the users.