Librem5 as Work Phone

I thought it could be fun to publish my L5 experience in case this helps others. My goal in using the L5 is to get full replacement of my Android, but to achieve this I knew I was going to need:

  1. Slack messenger notifications from my work
  2. Microsoft Authenticator

Using a pinephone my preliminary expectation was that I was not going to succeed, but I had a weird experience. [My Librem5 Evergreen arrived a little over a month ago.] While living the life of using both the Android and also the L5, somehow I forgot the unlock code I had been using for my Android for about 5 years and got really stuck. This happened maybe about 4 days after I got the L5, and although I do not understand how I managed to do that to myself what I ended up doing was putting the Android in a Faraday cage for being evil (it would not even allow me to power it off) and while its evil immortal battery kept it going in the cage for a week I forced myself to find workarounds to these original goals that I previously anticipated wouldn’t work on the L5:

  1. For Slack messenger, their service identifies mobile-“ish” User Agent values from browsers and rejects them in order to force the user to “Download the App” but of course for L5 we have no such app. Instead, I was able to download Brave Browser nightly (a chromium build but it was compiled for aarch64 linux like we need) and then using this essentially Chromium build, I can visit Slack website and log in as if I were a desktop user then “Enable notifications” in the browser and start getting the work notifications I need, but as Phosh push notifications, which is great. The Zoom feature of the browser let me control how this desktop client renders and make it more usable, which was an improvement over Slack’s imperfect attempts to be responsive for a small screen.
  2. For Microsoft Authenticator, I didn’t find an exact answer at first but there was a hint posted somewhere online where a user said they were using ‘oathtool’ to generate OTP keys. And, sure enough, I went back to the Microsoft login portal that my job requires me to use for “two factor auth,” and it turns out that in fine print beneath the setup Microsoft allows the user to choose “use a different authenticator app” and they begrudgingly have a menu that tells the user what to do (supposedly) without saying what app the instructions are for. It definitely has the look of a feature they were legally required to offer or something. Anyway, in that menu Microsoft provides an alphanumeric key that I could not enter in the Gnome “2 factor auth app” that I got from PureOS ppg apt get, which conveniently for Microsoft was only accepting numeric settings, but in the terminal I was able to run oathtool with the alphanumeric key and guess at the available algorithms for OTP keys, and although Microsoft didnt say which one they were using basically I guessed options until one was accepted, and once that worked I popped the oathtool command in a shell script that I can run now whenever Microsoft asks.

So, it’s been about a month that I was living off of the L5. But last night I went ahead and factory reset my Android to have the option of that other device and feel that I regained some manner of control over the Android. It leaves me with that feeling like perhaps I should find some sort of AA but instead of Alcoholics Anonymous, it would be like Android Anonymous. People who get addicted to machines feeling smooth without taking a stance of wanting to control the machines, or something.

I saw a post somewhere from a few years ago where a user said that Microsoft Authenticator and Slack were not expected to work on L5, so I hoped that by leaving my experiences thus far it might help other users to brainstorm what is possible.


Another option for Slack might be bridging it to Matrix. You could then use any of the Matrix clients like Fractal, Nheko etc

Hear you on the browser issue. Blocked me from using a particular site I use all the time.

Found a post in the forums that told me how to install an extension for Firefox to add the “Show desktop version of website” option. Why Firefox didn’t have it on the L5 I don’t know, but it was easy enough to put in there.