Librem 5 - is it the software or the hardware?

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.


The users already have a choice. That doesn’t mean that the nonfree solution will be served to them on a golden plate.

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Hi people OP here.
I feel as if the conversation has been taken a little side road talking about video calls and free vs non-free OS policies.

My real issues are with things like:

  • tapping the screen and nothing happen…
  • trying to connect with the software store and nothing happens
  • problems with updating software
  • trying to close a program and it doesn’t want to close
  • phone getting super hot while on call
  • Wi-Fi not always reliable working with internet quite slow
  • file manager behaving on idiosyncratic manner

Because I do believe in what Purism and what their people want to achieve I am happy to be a Guinea pig!! Which is why I bought the device and also bought two Librem 13 (after the first one had its screen hinge broken if no fault of mine)

I really want to move away from my iPhone and just wanted to adjust my expectations - should I wait and the L5 will work reasonably well - so I can do everything I need in the web and survive a full day with the battery?
Or get a different phone like Volla or Fairphone and put UBports on it.

This is why I wanted to know is it HW or is it SW??
I understand if it is SW it will just be a matter of time but if it is HW then it will never be right.


I interpret “serving on a golden plate” like user friendliness.
And I don’t understand any justification for not striving for user friendliness using some common sense balance between effort and delivered value.
I totally agree that per default the device can be without non-free stuff like Debian.

But the documentation and instructions for implementing non-free work arounds for key features should be user friendly and easily accessible. So if something is not working due to lacking free alternative, then this could be documented somewhere incl. instructions for the non-free workaround.

Well like always it depends on your requirements.

Is the HW in theory sufficient for the majority of use cases? Yes.
Is it sufficient for absolutely all use cases? No.

Are software improvements only a matter of time? No. Obviously they depend on the money investment and how many people work on the project. So it might take a long time. Or it might never happen if Purism goes bankrupt one day.

Is Librem 5 Evergreen THE hardware? I hope it is not. For me it is just the current iteration. I hope that Fir / Librem 5v2 will become reality one day and we are yet to witness their specs.

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This is mostly software. For improved WiFi, you should try upgrading the RS91116 firmware.

I don’t think that there is much that Purism can do about the heat of the BM818 cellular modem. Maybe BroadMobi will release new firmware in the future that reduces that, but M.2 modems are known to run hot, which is why they have big heat spreaders.

There’s a reason businesses are not “user friendly” about sending you to competition. That’s because that would be undermining themselves.

With being “user friendly” towards non-free software, you not only do free labor to your competitor, but also help undermine user’s moral rights.

The benefit must overwhelming, or else it doesn’t make sense to work for free on a competitor’s opaque product.

As a user, I suggest you get in touch with the non-free software provider, and ask them to provide the user-friendliness themselves. Or to free their software, so that it makes sense for others to make it user-friendly. Even nvidia(!) gave us a tiny bit of hope recently, so it’s worth trying.


It is debatable if temporality using the software of the competition is as damaging to Purism compared to people just buying other hardware and giving up on Linux phones.

People have to start somewhere on their journey of getting out of the Google/Apple/Microsoft/Made in China grip.

There was a guy on the forum that at some point got angry and bought himself a Pixel and installed Graphene OS on it. Does this help Purism? No, not at all. Does the user now uses free and open source firmware. No, not at all. So Purism is worse off and the user is worse off as the Librem 5 has more free firmware and kill switches. At the same time it was another Made in China unit sold by Google.

If on the other hand the same user would start with Librem 5 USA with closed source firmware and exchange it in one year, this would be better for everybody.

But I can see your argument that if you take the hard line and have enough customers, this might force hardware manufacturers to become more open and this is long term more beneficial. Just it is a risky strategy because hard line means less sales and less chance to live long enough to see the long term success.

So it is not at all an easy decision.

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I enjoy the discussion.
Yeah there are people in different groups.
For myself I like the idea of FOSS (&HW) I just don’t know how I would make it happen easily or without steep learning curve and missing up on some things.
However because I think it is a good idea I support companies like purism buying their products even though they are not the best in the market. But it’s a way of supporting.
I think (and I’m sure this was discussed here and in many other forums) that a middle way like debian are now doing with the non-free would suit people like me and allow us to buy products from purism supporting companies like purism financially.

With this money purism grows in strength amd are able to extend the free software hardware universe.

Sounds logical to me.
But hey what do I know.

Any how thanks for interesting discussion.

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It would be much easier to decide what to do if users were legally required to remove any non-free software after 3 months from installing :wink: Or if we had a crystal ball.

Too late! We’re already going!

Almost certainly software and the consistency should improve as the software improves.

Almost certainly software.

Almost certainly software.

Almost certainly software.

More likely to be hardware, possibly improving firmware and efficiency may work around the hardware to make it less of an issue given enough time.

Start with the recommended firmware upgrade, though this may also be hardware, could try swapping with a different wifi card, they’re pretty inexpensive.

Almost certainly software.

The hardest part will be reliably reproducing the issues you’re having in a consistent and repeatable way, then communicating to the correct people in the correct place in the correct way to get them to understand, take interest, and address the issue. I’ve seen many issues over the years that went unaddressed because either they could not be reproduced (at which point its near impossible to test and verify any solution) or weren’t communicated jn a way that the correct people got involved to resolve them. Not intended as doom and gloom, just added context as posting on the forum isn’t the best place to report issues to get them resolved.

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What did you find odd in it?

when trying to open menus for copy or paste or something like this unless the device is not in particulr configuration like landscape and grid - then you cannot get the menu; or sometimes you can get the menue but you cannot actually copy.
possibly more things but these two come to mind at the moment

hi @tendays
Axolotl sends me a registration code
It asks to Enter registration pin
But it does not actually take/accepts the input and so I cannot send the code
Any advice?

How do you manage to install the official desktop client?

Thanks. I may keep it as a project for a rainy day.

So you mean that you can’t get the context menu (right mouse click on a conventional desktop / laptop) to come up? Or if it does come up, you can’t make it work?

99.999% sure that’s software and a known problem. Search may find existing discussion.

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