Librem 5 -- will it just do what I want

Like many people, I am dismayed at the way Google positions Android as a digital surveillance platform, and I’m looking for an alternative. I’m happy to pay for the services I use, rather than having Google fund them by selling my personal data.


The great thing about Android phones is that they just do what I want. In particular, because I use (with reluctance) all Google’s on-line services, stuff like email, calendar, contacts, documents just work from the moment I attach my phone to my Google account. I don’t have to do any set-up – it just does exactly what I want, without any fuss, immediately. And everything I do is synchronized, immediately and flawlessly, across all my different devices.

This works because Google controls the infrastructure as well as the handset. I can break free of Google’s email by using a paid-for IMAP mail service like MailFence. It’s not rocket science to set up on my Android handset, but it’s not very difficult. But I’m struggling to find non-Google ways to do things like calendar, to-do lists, contact list, and documents. It’s not that the client applications aren’t available for Linux – they are – but I don’t see anybody except Google providing the infrastructure to use them effectively.

Is Purism going to be providing this infrastructure as well as the handsets/tablets, etc? If not, who will be?

I think the Librem 5 is a wonderful idea in concept, but I don’t see myself being able to use one unless it can do all the stuff I can do on my Android phone without a load of hacking and attempting to synchronise a bunch of different services.

Or am I just being a pessimist?



There’s the services which are the start of some of that all in one infrastructure. I don’t expect you’ll be able to find a complete all in one solution for the same dollar cost to you because that infrastructure has to be paid for some how, Google pays for it by selling you to their customers, you pay for if you want more functionality.

With that said, there are other solutions with different levels of security and convenience. The more security the less convenience. Just like your home. It would be very convenient to walk in if you didn’t have a front door… But a bit less secure than you might like. Adding locks reduces convenience, adding a security door etc.


That convenience is exactly what Purism want to achieve. It will just take time and support for them to get there. As OpojOJirYAlG said, they are already making significant progress with the launch of Librem One and the Librem 5 coming soon.


Hi @lars,

as already written Purism is enabling this convenience by creating Librem One. Depending on how much configuring you like you could also set up those things as calendar, contacts and files yourself. There are free solutions for this which also will be used by librem one. Nextcloud as files, contacts, calendars, tasks, notes or so many more things, matrix or xmpp as chat and so on - you can even see what librem one will use as they don’t hide what they use and even contribute to those projects.

However setting them up yourself will not be convenient and you will need to maintain and also pay those services (if you host it elsewhere you will pay the host, if you host it yourself you will take care of hardware, electricity etc and in any case you will have to make backups!!! You will also need to do updates, there might be breaking changes e.g. with a new OS, a new version of the tool etc.)

So I guess the convenient solution would be backing librem one and in case they miss out a feature generate the demand here :wink:

Kind regards

PS: What definitely would be cool is to just set up one librem one account once on the phone to enable all services at once instead of adding the librem one account to the mail app, the contacts app etc. but I guess purism already plans this for the librem 5 (and not for the android or ios)

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breathe and take it slower then … Purism is an SPC also the librem 5 is an evolving platform as is the company. so what if lets say you can’t from the start to depend on it for everything you “need”. you could buy it and keep the other “dependables” as they are … WHEN you feel like you have gotten used to the free-but-not-as-in-free-beer software mentality you can jump in all the way.

the thing is YOU are in control … where’s the problem ? take it easy and steadily move your way UP without panicking or feeling lost. you got this ! we are also here for you and each other. things don’t work as fast as we hope in the free-software world but we have to persist somehow. there isn’t any law YET that will get you busted if you get caught with an ANDROID phone in your pocket and librem 5 one in the other pocket … support Purism because they are worth it and tell your friends !


This is an excellent point. The FOSS community can’t move as fast as companies with as much resources as Google/Apple. Simple reasons, bankroll and a lot of these open source projects are done by people in their own time. I couldn’t imagine going to work, family issues and maintaining a project on my own “free” time. Where did/does windows get their new “features” for OS releases? The open source community. I am hopeful that this project will be a force. I hope with all the privacy issues so many companies are receiving with leaks will be great PR for Purism.

We should be patient and try to understand the task that Purism is doing. This is not just slapping some hardware together. Writing drivers, integration, design, and functionality is a monumental task for a small company like Purism. Cheers!


A phone that will “just do what I want.” I expect it will evolve out of the combination of Librem 5 and Librem One. The 5 is on order, I’ve signed up for the free Librem Chat & Social, and will subscribe for the eMail/Tunnel when the phone arrives.

I think a big part of the evolved package will be a libre/privacy-respective search service. I don’t use Gmail, docs, etc. and it’s just not a big deal.

Search, however, is another matter. I try to use DDG, Searx, etc., but sometimes I just can’t find what I need without reverting to Google. Anonymizers and fingerprint foilers are really inconvenient, so I would be really happy if LIbrem One adds search to the portfolio. Maybe a Purism instance of Searx, with contribution to the project? :fireworks:

Thanks, and I absolutely get it – it can’t be easy to compete with the likes of Google and Apple, without their resources. I fully respect what Purism is trying to do, and hope it is a success.

And yet…

I’m just an ordinary working guy. While I’m entirely happy to pay for the services I need, I’m stuck if they don’t actually exist. For example, is anybody actually offering a synchronizable calendar service to which I could subscribe? Or a contact manager? If abandoning Android means, in practice, that I have to try to set this stuff up myself on my own servers, that’s simply a show-stopper for me.

I don’t what know what Purism’s business plan is – are they trying to produce mainstream devices that an ordinary person might see as a viable alternative to Android/Apple? Or something for tech enthusiasts?


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The goal is to provide mainstream devices that ordinary people see as a viable alternative. The current market is probably mostly tech enthusiasts. Purism is still a relatively small company, though they are growing, so it will take some time to reach the polish that people expect coming from Google and Apple. But I think Purism is making decent progress.

You can use something like Nextcloud for calendar and contact sync:

But I think it requires a little more manual set up currently. Still, Purism partnered with Nextcloud, so my guess is an easier version will be joining the Librem One suite eventually, but it’s just not there yet.


I haven’t used NextCloud and I expect Purism will get all the syncing going with that as mentioned by others.

Currently, I use KolabNow and on Android I use DAVx5 (from F-Droid) to sync my contacts, calendar, and tasks. A separate program can sync notes. I imagine that on the Librem 5 we should have compatibility to sync the standard applications with Kolab, though may need to connect each one up individually - hopefully relatively trivial. KolabNow does have GNU/Linux desktop applications as well, though I haven’t used them yet.


Lars, you’re not Appel are you?


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Apple is not a monopoly said the CEO in an interview.

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One important question though is whether there is any requirement to share that information with people whom you trust. For example, if your calendar is a work calendar, you may wish to share with your colleagues. If your calendar is a personal calendar, you may wish to share with friends and family.

Google does have many years head start. I wouldn’t expect Purism to be at functional parity immediately. (It is in the DNA of open source that you are not locked in to any one provider. So if Purism doesn’t provide a service that fully meets your requirements but someone else does then there is an expectation that you can go with that other provider, unlike say the Apple prison, um, ecosystem.)

If you want the most flawless experience then you probably do want Purism to provide the client side software and the server side infrastructure and software. Let’s wait and see.

In my opinion both users and service providers need to be especially careful with that - since the information involved is not yours to spread around the internet.

I note that my iPhone uses an IMAP server to store “notes”. A bit low-tech but it works.

Anyways … I’m just waiting for the phone. At Day 1 I will be happy with the basics.

(Appel, a german last name of someone I knew, not a mispelling of a company.)

Lars Appel, a german last name of someone I knew, not a mispelling of a company.

Well, that’s exactly my point. I want to be able to see and update all my potentially sensitive information on all my devices without spreading it all over the Internet. Android currently has the first part of that sorted, but the second part – the not-spreading-over-the-Internet part – is a complete mess.

I want all the information I need on my devices to be held securely by a single company, with whom I have a contractual relationship that stipulates my total control over that information. I’m entirely willing to pay for that service.

If I have to buy in separate services for mail, calendar, contact management, document storage etc. then, not only is that a pain to administer, there are far more potential points of privacy weakness, and different suppliers will have their own contracts and terms of service. It’s just too much of a nuisance for ordinary, day-to-day use.

I’m not a tinkerer – I just to buy something that just works, and doesn’t create a privacy hazard. At present there is not, so far as I know, any service I can buy, with a reasonable privacy guarantee, that will even allow me to see my calendar on my phone handset and my desktop computer.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter what software the Purism devices will run, if the infrastructure needed for routine, day to day usage doesn’t even exist.


PS. I’m not Lars Appel (whoever he is). Lars is a relatively common name round my way.


Thanks for the clarification The other Lars was on the HP3000-L listserv for many years.

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Me too. I think we’re currently in the minority on this forum. Most of these good people are salivating at the prospect of all the tinkering they’re going to need to do. I think if I wasn’t so busy, I’d probably also enjoy the process and find it educational. So, I can sympathize. But, until (i) I suddenly strike it rich and don’t need to work anymore, or, (ii) Purism becomes as easy and convenient to use as Apple, I’m not able to move over. But, I am eagerly watching Purism’s progress because I believe in their mission.

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Well, good to know it’s not just me. While I hope that Purism succeeds, my worry is that, without the necessary supporting infrastructure, it will go the way of the Sharp SL-5500. The SL-5500 was a pocket device with a recognizable, and fairly standard, Linux, five years before the first signs of Android. It was way ahead of its time, but only tinkerers were interested. I had one, because I was a tinkerer myself back in those days, but things have moved on. Now I can’t afford to make a purchase – and it won’t just be one purchase, it will be for a whole household – until I can buy something that will just do everything our Android phones do (even if at means extra expense) without spending my evenings fiddling.


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i’d say that the “fiddliness” will get better over time it just needs time for some elegant solutions to be put in place.

i for one am very curious to see how development proceeds once the L5 is out and into our hands. it’s an experiment and if it works i’ll be darn glad i didn’t hesitate.