Librem 5 USA edition

You’ve got some good points there.

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I don’t like assuming things I don’t know to justify what I disapprove. The truth is L5 project is in a bad shape, meanwhile the company is entertaining itself with other projects. Birch was shipped not being a functional device and what people are saying about it is that its going to take a long while for it to be a daily driver phone. BUT Purism is talking about a L5v2 and a USA version of L5. TO ME this is chaotic and I don’t like it. It seems to be the wrong attitude in this forum to point at what I don’t like about the way Purism is managing this project. Maybe I’m joining the wrong crowd. I’ll find out…

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Maybe it would better to write, then, “My opinion is” because unless you are working on the L5 project, you “don’t know”.


Then you know something you should share with everybody here. Birch has been a success and the internet is full of positive reviews, Kieran. Tell me…

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If you know the truth, cite it for us. With facts, not conjecture.

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“Lastly we are constantly making improvements to thermals and power consumption. With the current software image Birch devices will throttle and run through the battery quickly but we decided that we still wanted to get them into the hands of backers so that they can be part of the journey and experience the weekly progress our team ships to you. Over the coming weeks and months we will add software support for more hardware such as camera, video out etc.” By Todd.

And also: So it has shipped. Where are the reviews?
Read the complete thread including links.

That’s why I’ve said L5 project is in a bad shape. Purusm needs to focus on it. If you take your head out of the sand you’d be able to see it too.


I’m not sure if you actually don’t know what it is, or you just can’t quantify it with the available information. Trust of the supply chain is important to some and not others. Either way, the valuation is made individually by each consumer. The market is the aggregate of consumer valuations and purchase decisions.

It would be extremely unlikely if you had, as business schools, at least in the USA, teach Keynesian economic theory almost exclusively.

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Even if you don’t get the girl, tilting at windmills is not without merit!


Woah, that’s not an assumption the company has been on kickfurther 6 times

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I already posted where the major parts come from. You can figure out the rest by looking at the list of parts and this thread and looking at the list of silicon fabs in the world.

One difficulty is that a lot of companies like STmicroelectronics, Texas Instruments and NXP both have their own fabs and outsource their chips to foundries (TSMC in Taiwan, GlobalFoundries in New York, Signapore and Germany, Samsung in S. Korea, UMC in Taiwan, SMIC in China, etc.). Sometimes you can figure out where the chip is made by looking at the node size and type. China has pressured/induced many companies like TSMC, UMC, SK Hynix and Samsung to build at least one silicon fab in China, because they export huge amounts of their chips to China for PCB assembly, so there is a small chance that the chips were made there.

Glancing through the list, I didn’t spot any chips that are obviously made in China and most chips are made in countries with high standards of living.

One misconception is that Taiwan is the same as China. I’ve been twice to Taiwan and it is a democratic country. It has decent labor standards and a very high percentage of the population is in the middle class. Singapore has a lot of silicon fabs, and it has a high standard of living, but it isn’t democratic. India is democratic, but has poor labor standards and pays low wages.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the US and South Korea, which are democracies, actually rank very low in the world in terms of workers rights. Here is how the International Trade Union Confederation ranks workers rights, on a scale of 1 being the best and 5 being the worst:

  • Netherlands: 1,
  • France: 1,
  • Germany 1,
  • Taiwan 3,
  • Singapore 3,
  • Mexico 4,
  • USA: 4,
  • India: 5,
  • China: 5,
  • South Korea: 5

I can’t comment about South Korea, but I can see why the ITUC gives the USA such a low rating:

  • There are no laws guaranteeing paid sick and maternity leave,
  • US workers don’t get much vacation time, which usually starts at 2 weeks per year,
  • Only 10.5% of American workers have a labor union to represent them and the tech industry engages in anti-union activity, so there are no unions for tech workers,
  • Many workers are part-time and have no health insurance, and workers lose their health care insurance if they lose their job.

Workers may have political freedom in countries like S. Korea and the USA, but that doesn’t always translate to tangible workers rights.

People working in fabs and electronics assembly have to work around a lot of dangerous chemicals and assembly work causes a lot of repetitive motion injuries. I get the impression that the environmental and health safety standards for workers are the best in Europe and Japan, then a step lower in S. Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and the US, and then even worse in China, India and Vietnam (countries where there is a lot of assembly work).


I care far more about global workers rights and environmental protection than patriotism. However, if you want a phone that is 100% made in the US, you will have to make major trade-offs and it probably won’t be possible.

Purism has to work with the companies that it can find that have components that run on free software and it is much harder than you think. Let’s take just one example. Redpine Signals is headquartered in San Jose, California, but most of its employees are in India, so the M.2 card with the RS9116 will be assembled in India. Maybe if Purism sold 300k phones per year, it could convince Redpine to set up an assembly plant in the US. A more realistic option is for Purism to just buy the RS9116 chip and design its own M.2 card to hold it. Then, it has to find a subcontractor to assemble the M.2 card in the US, like it is having to do with the Gemalto PLS8 modem. However, most of the silicon foundry work (meaning fabbing chips for other companies) happens outside the US in Taiwan, S. Korea, Singapore and China. GlobalFoundries is the only major foundry company based in the US, but it does half of its foundry work outside the US. TSMC and Samsung both have one fab in the US, but the vast majority of their fab are outside the US and their fabs in the US are not leading-edge facilities. Not only would Purism have to convince Redpine to change its foundry from TSMC to GlobalFoundries, but it would have to insist that the RS9116 only be fabbed in a US facility.

If we cross Redpine off the list, then the only way to get Wi-Fi 802.11n without binary blobs is to use an old Atheros chip that that has crappy reception (see all the complaints about the Wi-Fi for the Librem 13/15) and sucks a lot of power, so you get horrible battery life. I suspect the Atheros chip is also manufactured by TSMC in Taiwan. Maybe you can find an 802.11n chip that uses proprietary firmware but a free driver that was fabbed by GlobalFoundries in the US. Are you willing to live with that tradeoff? If not, you will have to use some ancient 802.11g chip, and you still might not be able to find one that was fabbed in the US.

OK, let’s look at the SoC. NXP is a company based in the Netherlands (which bought Freescale in 2015, which was spun off from Motorola in 2004). The i.MX 8M Quad processor in the Librem 5 was probably designed by engineers in Austin, Texas (it is hard to know, but that is where Freescale designed the older i.MX processors), It is fabbed by TSMC, a Taiwanese company. Maybe it was fabbed in Washington state (as @Quarnero thinks), but it also might be fabbed in Taiwan, Singapore or China. Over 50% of TSMC’s production is 28nm, so you have ask TSMC where it makes the chip.

If you don’t want to use the i.MX 8M Quad, then the only other decent options (if you care about software freedom and don’t want an included Wi-Fi/BT or cellular modem) are the RK3288 or RK3399 from the Chinese company Rockchip. GlobalFoundries is the principal foundry for Rockchip, so there is a 50% chance the chip will be made in the US, but you have to ask GlobalFoundries exactly where it makes the chip.

Now, do that same thing with the hundreds of components in the phone. Do you see how difficult this would be?
Maybe if you make 10 million phones per year, you can convince chip companies to switch their foundries to ones that will fab their chips in the US, but you certainly can’t make these kinds of demands when you have a company that makes 10k of phones per year.

Maybe if you didn’t care about free software or hardware kill switches (which require separated components), you could manage to build a phone with components only made in America, but the requirements of the Librem 5 make it impossible.


I agree with this post. And there was a proposal in the forum once to corporate with a project like the fairphone.

However if I look at the following:

  • regular Phone with Android and not highest specs amount 200 - 400 €.
  • high end phone with latest spec add another 200 - 500 €
  • cost for a phone with hardware kill switches, privacy main factor, running linux instead of android add another 200 - 500 €
  • cost for a phone which is produced fair, some kind of modularity but still running android (holidays, social security, no conflict materials, fair paid workers, …) like fairphone or shiftphone add another 200 - 500 €
  • cost for a phone produced ± complete in the US add at least 1000 €

amounts in € but will be ± in $ aswell I guess

if you combine all this you will:

  • probably not get any phone in the first place as you don’t have a focus
  • if you get a phone have to pay too much - remember that even with the focus they had the amount of buyers is rather low

I think we have to get to this final goal in steps.

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FSF workers are UAW (united auto workers took them under their unbrella) :slight_smile:

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Considering the pinephone will have a retail price of ~$200 this isn’t really accurate

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I see what you’re saying. I guess my perspective is different from yours. They’re letting users beta test their hardware, and it appears that while you may not have a problem with that, you dislike that they’re trying to expand in other areas while the phone still isn’t ready for mass production. I think this is an underestimation on your part, perhaps brought on by impatience, which has been demonstrated in this forum to be the source of a lot of negativity. I don’t have much to offer you except to relax and be patient. There’s no evidence they’re going under, and the bug trackers posted around the forum show that they are still actively working on the software. Them expanding at the same time isn’t a bad thing to me, I see it as them not struggling as hard as you might think. This apparent perception of yours is the hazard of a growing business running what is effectively a public beta of hardware.


well it is, because pinephone falls into category

as it’s really just a lowspec unlocked andorid phone, which just happened to be finally mostly mainlined after almost decade.

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I don’t like assuming things either, but aren’t we both assuming some things in order to have this conversation? You have conjecture in some of your conserns, but not evidence from first hand reporting, right? Not that it’s bad to make conjecture from past experience and so on, it does lead to public discourse that often finds truth.

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That is a relativistic position though. Perhaps it would be enlightening for you to describe what you expect a new project to be like because the words we use to round off or summarize an opinion like chaos or great hide the metrics that landed us at that conclusion. I saw another reply to this by @Gavaudan which I find matches my position on your concerns.

While trying to do my suggested homework in your linked reply, I followed through to this link:
and it didn’t give me pause. The things that were inconveniences for the reporter detailing his first hand experience are troubles I have had with large producers of hardware. My Nexus 6p spy brick just gives me a, “fuck-off, I’m rebooting”, every so often, sometimes more than a few times a day, sometimes none. I’ve had a Nexus 7 LTE tablet on it’s own decide to not wait to be on WiFi to synch video of a wedding to the cloud and because the file was to big for the remainang free storage repeated the loop of uploading it my entire long drive home resulting in a potential $250 data bill by Google FI because Google fucked up with their software; they didn’t admit fault but did credit the charges and changed their software. I have had LG’s in the past with removeable batteries that would freeze and need the battery removed to reboot. I have many friends who were so frusterated with their smart phones provided by Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, etc. that they literally destroyed the devices out of frusteration. They have a different bar for their expectations than I do because I just swear aloud like an angry truck driver.

Thread Hijacking

Them’s is Fightin’ Words!
Oh don’t you dare disrespect my hero John Maynard Keynes!

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Sorry, the lolz should have had an explaination. I loved the modification of Kickstarter. Thats a type of perfect joke, e.g. when a writer reveals a greater truth of life in a way that you can’t trim off any more words without destroying the message.