Librem 5 Ready-To-Market?

Some thoughts, maybe I’m thinking out loud.

Let me start with a super-sized Thanks to Purism for making the Librem 5 happen. There were too may challenges in the way as Todd mentioned; funding, team et al. The efforts are really commendable given that you have nano, pico sized team compared to Apple, Google etc.

I was super excited when the news that Librem 5 is now shipping. Thanks for @amarok for being the first one to report to have received it. Then we saw a flood of posts mentioning few issues with the phone. (I prefer calling it a Phone rather than PC-in-my-pocket because that is what I had supported and paid for). Maybe, I am wrong but my assumption with now-shipping was that everything should work and it should be RTM product. If camera module is not ready yet then I wouldn’t call it a RTM product as yet.

I’m trying to understand the direction taken by Purism here. Are the project backers used as testers and before the Librem 5 is available for sale in open-market?

And as said before, I’m thinking out loud. But am someone who is patiently patiently waiting for my modem confirmation email and subsequently the phone.


I think Purism is in a tough situation. They are already far behind the original schedule. People who understand the monumental amount of work required to create this product are understanding of that. But there are other people, who are at least very vocal if not numerous, who are unhappy with the delays and want to see a product in people’s hands.

Purism has already rolled out small test batches, while offering them to early backers who were enthusiastic about helping beta test, and people still complained that they were small, early batches and not the full phone.

Now Purism has all the hardware set, but there is still room to improve software. So they again are shipping to early backers who know the state of things but want to get it anyway, knowing that functionality will “unlock” with time as the software gets ready, and people are still complaining that it’s not a full phone and not everyone is getting it immediately.

So they can either delay the release of the phone and get yelled at for being behind schedule, or they can release it and get yelled at for having a few features underdeveloped at the time of release. I think they are going with the better option, because the people first in line to get the phone (those who order very early in the L5 crowd-funding campaign) know what to expect for the most part, and they can at least honestly claim that the phones have shipped now.

People also love to complain about the price and ask why they should pay for the L5 when the cheaper Pinephone exists, not knowing that a tremendous amount of the software running on the Pinephone was made usable by the development work Purism did (funded in large part by L5 orders). And also missing the differences in hardware and what it took to get working drivers for the L5 hardware. This is all beside your point, but just highlighting that Purism often gets put in an impossible situation, where people get mad at them despite the incredible work they have achieved.

To your point, the tl;dr I think is - Purism gets flak for everything they do, and there were not easy choices. I think they made the right one with shipping a hardware-complete, but software-incomplete phone now


The camera module itself is ready (hardware), it’s the Linux driver which is not.
It will happen with a classic update without any particular action from the user.
Although this is not very much the case with smartphones, it is an increasingly common practice for electronic products.
Successive software updates bring new functions.

It even the case for cars now, see Tesla.


It may also help to call it a phone when you’re at the service provider’s brick and mortar store to get it set up.

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I agree with what you’ve said here Taylor. You outlined it well. At the moment the product is being sold in a state where the backers or people who have been following development for years can finally get the product in their hand. IMO the device is very close to being daily driver ready and could replace your old phone. There are just a few software things that will likely be addressed within the next few months. This phones target demographic is generally already those that are tech-savvy, and understand that this software will come. I think most people here (Pre-orderers) would agree that they would rather have the device in their hand 95% complete on the basic software functions and get it now, rather than wait another few months for that stuff to come pre-installed.

IMO there’s 3 groups of buyers.
-Pre-orders, people who ordered before the latest shipping announcement.
-Early adopters, the people who order once they see that the product is real and that people have received it.
-Lastly, mass market. The people who will order the phone 5-6 months from now when the basic software is polished (based on purism’s current projections) and they will receive their phone within a few weeks of ordering.


Yes. So? So it is with all the others as well: telemetry is gathered in abundance. So it is with all Linux systems: things get fixed and better.

[edit to add: Better a tester for L5 than a social experiment for many others.]

It already is, it has been for a while.

I understand the sentiment but the base expectation seems to be (intentional or not) a double standard: L5 should be a stable thing that shouldn’t need to update - unlike other phones which are ready, stable and never update [/sarcasm]. I’d argue that the relative minimum for “ready to ship” has been reached and passed - and so thinks apparently Purism too. The minimum to market and ship to a more wider audience than early adopters…? Debatable.


The phone seems ready to market for me, but a niche market, the market will open widely with the addition of more and more fonctionnalities

And I’m sure that if you asked backers in this project to be beta-testers, the vast majority would sign with no hesitation

Actually, not smartphone on the market is ready for me, that’s why I stick to my samsung C260 (which I didn’ even bought)
Librem 5 is the only smartphone worth interest for me, I know I’m not everyone, working camera is a very low priority for me (I will patiently wait for the update making it work)

But from the beginning of the project, it was pretty clear for me, it targeted a niche market that would grow with time and quality, like the growth of the Linux kernel (contrary to ubuntu touch which targeted the regular phone consumer)

8 years ago a colleague told me : linux on desktop is not ready, too much problems to solves, too much fonctionnalities missing, too complex
I answered him : first, my 60 years old mother use a linux on regular and have much less problem, and we are actually in a helpdesk to help callers solve their problems (or educate them) on their windows computer… so windows on desktop is not ready ?

I will answer something similar to you : have you ever seen someone never having a problem with their android smartphone ? (slow reactivity, log-in problems, overheat, not finding a option, crashes…) so … android is not ready ? Didn’t you remember how shitty the first iphone was (slow, lack of fonctionnalities, buggy, etc…) ?
Android and IOS are about conforming to one fit-for-all technology, gnu/linux product are about personalisation of technology
So if you wait to have a fully terminated perfect product with gnu/linux, you will die before it happens : there is always some problems to solve or fonctionnalities to add, because habits, hardwares, technologies are in constant evolution.


We (rightly) assumed that most people would prefer to receive their phone now instead of wait until the camera driver is finished.

That said, we still inform people of the current state of the hardware when they get their shipping notification email and give them the option to postpone their shipment until the camera or certification is complete–we leave the choice to the customer.


@fralb5, I understand your point. When I backed the project in 2017, I was super excited to let my family, friends, colleges know that next, I would now be using Linux not only on my laptop but phone as well. For me, it was/is more of having GNU/Linux on my phone.

Now, for my family, friends, colleges a phone is a phone. These days phone is synonymous to a smartphone and vice versa.

If I say I received the phone and the camera does not work it does not portray a nice picture about my phone. I, for one, do not care about megapixel of the camera. It should be working. I have a feeling a CHDK kind of hack can be thought of for the Librem 5 camera. Sure it will come later. But an RTM product that is “now shipping” should have working functionality for all the components.

As you said, if early backers are beta-testers then count me in. No fuss about it. But the Evergreen version is a advertised as “Now Shipping”. This translates as a RTM product.

To clarify, I am not being against Purism or do not want to belittle their effort. Its’ that I just do not like the way they play and twist with words.


We aren’t twisting words. I see this a lot in this forum where people jump to their own conclusions about our statements, add their own words and misconceptions to them, and then accuse us of being misleading (which implies an attempt to deceive). The more reasonable response would be to acknowledge that you perhaps jumped to a conclusion or misunderstood our words.

We try to be very careful about how we phrase things because we know people jump to conclusions, read into our words, misunderstand things, and then blame us for their misunderstanding. We spend a lot of effort on the phrasing–in particular in our important posts–for this reason yet despite it we will inevitably have people misunderstand, draw their own conclusions, and then blame us for their mistake.

We have Evergreen phones and have started shipping them. There are some core features (in particular the camera driver) we intended on having completed by this time but we still working on it. That feature will come in future software updates.

We could have just held back shipping until it’s done, but we assumed that many of our customers would rather have their phone now instead of wait. Yet instead of just assuming that, we ask each customer whether they would prefer to wait or not. So far I don’t believe we have run into a customer who wants to wait for the camera driver, but if you are an exception it’s no problem, when we get to your order (if the camera driver isn’t done by then) you can tell us to hold your phone until it’s done.


I think when more backers get their phone and have a chance to play with it, it will become obvious that it has all been worth it and that the developers and Purism have achieved something astounding.

Here’s a short summary of my impressions after two weeks of using the L5-Evergreen.

The best things about it:

  1. It’s GNU/Linux!
  2. It’s a computer.
  3. It’s private and secure.
  4. It potentially has thousands of applications to draw from.
  5. It will always get updates. (Or write your own.)
  6. It’s user-serviceable.
  7. It’s not “disposable” hardware.
  8. Any bug fixes and refinements will be dealt with quickly.
  9. Its FOSS software will improve at a rapid pace.
  10. It has a ready-built support network (Purism plus community at large).
  11. Most of the basic apps work now.
  12. I have control; I can make it do new things.

What could be better:

  1. Call quality needs improvement.
  2. VoLTE absolutely must be implemented ASAP.
  3. Suspend is needed.
  4. Photography needs to be enabled.
  5. Maps & navigation are required.
  6. Battery life still needs improvement.
  7. Charging duration could be shortened.
  8. Your must-have proprietary apps may not ever get ported.
  9. phosh crashes happen every now and then.
  10. A more internationally-applicable modem would be nice.
  11. Thickness/heaviness take some getting used to.


Would I buy the Librem 5 again? Absolutely.

Will I use it as my main phone (assuming it gets VoLTE)? Yes, eventually. Soon, hopefully.

Do I wish it weren’t so thick? Definitely.

Would I hesitate to buy the next or a later version from Purism? No, assuming I need a new device or if that device is significantly different and better.

Was it worth the price? Without a doubt. I realize the price has increased, so the buyer will have to decide whether it’s worth it to them. I typically buy somewhat expensive phones anyway, so not a big deal to me. And with many improvements and new features in the pipeline, it’s only going to get better and better.

Edit: to add “GNU/” to “Linux.”


How is the certification going on? Any details on that?

Thanks much for clarifying on the camera @Kyle_Rankin. Appreciate your honest reply.

Me too. Just that I want Purism to reduce on the thickness aspect of the phone.


Maybe better to write “GNU/Linux” there, otherwise some besserwisser will inevitably come and tell you that Android phones are also running Linux (the Linux kernel). Also, good to give some credit to GNU.


This alone makes it worth it. I hate when now I need to select even laptops from the perspective “is it locked?” which is translated to “will I be able to wipe windows and install linux there?”. Unfortunately neither purism nor s76 offer form factors I’m after so I need to fish it out of the swamp market.
In the phone area I need to pull my form-factor preferences in as there’s pretty much no other choices nowadays.


Then you have pretty much answered your own question. Right?

I don’t accept that there is only one definition of RTM but if you accept yours then you have your answer.

Let’s be absolutely clear: Purism is disclosing in the shipping email that the camera is not yet working.

There is nothing misleading about that.

I was one who nominated that a (rear, non-selfie) camera is actually a pretty important piece of functionality for me personally (after, you know, doing actual calls and texts) but I will still be happy to receive the phone without a working camera.

Take into account that the original crowdfunders were prepared to put money up for this phone knowing that there was some risk that for some reason it wouldn’t ever be delivered at all. By that standard getting a phone at all is a win.

I am pretty sure that only original crowdfunders are getting the phone at this stage, and probably only early backers from among the original crowdfunders. Clearly that group has different expectations about what “ready” means and about what level of completeness is available today.

If someone walks in off the street and buys one today (metaphorically speaking) then by the time they get their phone, I would expect a much greater level of completeness - and closer to your idea of “ready”.

Will it ever be “complete”? Probably not. If I know the type of early backer customer, there will always be something to tinker with. :wink:


We can look forward to @rinigus excellent Pure Maps for this: see A nice Free-Software GPS navi app and


I am yet to receive the modem selection / shipping email. But if Purism is making it clear upfront before shipping the phone then it is understood that they are being transparent. Since I do not know this fact so I would say Purism is being honest here and doing the right thing.

By RTM, I meant all the functionality working. And since it is GNU/Linux the tinkering aspect is almost always there.

Thanks for making the camera disclosure point.


Actually I dislike the humongous amount of pixels they default to on phone cameras. You want to transmit it via message and it ends up being converted to a smaller size anyway and it may just eat up monthly bandwidth if you’re on a cheap service. It’s not like we’re all photographers for National Geographic (there’s a hidden joke there). How much detail do we really need to transmit?


I agree, it’s another one of those things that Big Tech have successfully indoctrinated people with, like the belief that it’s important for a phone to be extremely thin (even though they anyway put it in a thing leather thingy) and that you need a “retina” display that has a resolution far beyond the point where a normal person can even tell the difference. It’s good for manufacturers who can use these things to persuade customers to buy new phones ridiculously often.