New Post: Disassemble Librem 5

Disassembling the Librem 5:


All week while David was working on this post all I could think was: “No disassemble! No disassemble Librem 5!”

Fortunately enough people inside the company had seen Short Circuit that they were able to tolerate my jokes…


The video puts me in a suspense - is it actually working after reassembly :scream:


You’ll have to wait until David’s next video to see!


Lots of metal shields that cover (all) the components on the motherboard. Nice! That should be enough for passing you know what.

Do I see right that cables with U.FL connectors have connectors at both ends (i.e. not soldered to anything and thus are easily replaceable)?

1 Like

One way that I might be able to contribute is with the modems. I anticipate being able to shop the modems by specifications and pin per pin compatibility. If there are any other compatable modems out there, I could find them and design and layout small modem boards with the new modem chip and any supporting components, to fit in to the Librem 5 modem slot. I am pretty much mostly a hardware guy. But if I can distribute them (probably at only my cost) to others here who like writing drivers, then the software guys that probably don’t do hardware, can get their hands on them and make them work in the L5.

The sky is the limit when it comes to what the L5 might be able to do, given the right modem. If there is enough physical space available, one might even put more than one modem chip on a single modem card. Some companies will special order sell bare unpacked dice (cut right from a wafer). There are ways to stack and bond dice directly to a PCB. using unpackaged dice and very small PCB components, the L5 modem card might eventually be able to host a lot of complex circuitry. This might allow an ‘all frequency’ combination CDMA/TDMA, 4G/5G modem card to be built for the Librem 5, even though no one available (and RYF) modem chip can do all of that. I just need to get my hands on my L5 before it feels real enough to put any effort in to this.


I have sometimes wondered if all it takes to make hardware RYF compatible is simply storing the closed source firmware on a small flash chip, and letting the open source OS simply download the contents of the chip, and giving it to the open source driver of the hardware for upload into the hardware. In other words, RYF is often a distribution problem, so if the binary blobs are distributed in the hardware and not in the OS, then it is fine. The problem with this is that it adds unnecessary cost to the device for the blob storage. In theory, a single flash chip (a small I2C or SPI one, for example) can store the blobs of multiple devices with a file system and some convention for identifying which blob goes with which device.

I would prefer a new WiFi chip that uses the WiFi 6 target wake time (TWT) to increase battery life. When on battery, only 2.4 Ghz is used. If there is room for 5 or 6 Ghz, then those can be active when the device is being powered externally.

The Librem 5 seems to be a great modem development platform. I wonder if some of the newer 5G modems can be run in 4G only modes and save more power than an older 4G modem through the use of a smaller process size.

It think that most programmers might be able to get the proprietary blobs to run with open-source software. The problem is that you can’t trust the blobs to respect your rights. Even if the blob does respect your rights, you don’t know that they do respect your rights. The only way to trust proprietary software is on hardware that you do control, so you can force the software to play nice. Sometimes that is possible and sometimes not.

I don’t think that Purism is that far behind the rest of the industry when it comes to 5G. Even the big players are spending Billions of dollars and they aren’t there yet either, despite their advertising claims. If you take away all of the 4G and 3G towers five years from now, the industry itself would collapse. For political reasons, the cell providers might require that all phones on their systems have 5G capability. But from a technical perspective, it’ll be a while yet (several years) before 5G can be capable of replacing 4G. By the time that happens, there will be 5G chips available that Purism can use. The silicon manufacturers won’t just leave that market un-served.

True, which is why the other requirement is to keep the blob away from the CPU and RAM that the OS runs on. But modems often have their own CPUs and RAM and the code that runs there can be reasonably firewalled without direct access to the main CPU and RAM via USB or SDIO, and disabled when not in use. Of course, if part of the blob is to run on the main CPU, then that cannot be made RYF compliant.

1 Like

That’s when Purism disables bad features, like they do to the Intel Management Engine.

This video and demonstration are good things - fixing possible! :slight_smile:


I hope you didn’t injure yourself taking the phone apart. :wink:

Hello Kyle, Thanks for this post. Could you pleace create a PDF version of this and put it somewhere for download to store it for longer time. FF does not make a nice printout of the pages, perhaps due to the chain of pictures. Thanks again.


1 Like

I was very pleased to see this:

The Librem 5 is designed for longevity with software updates for life, but part of longevity is also being able to repair a device outside of warranty. We plan to stock replacement parts in our shop in case you need to replace your modem, camera, or even the main PCB.

Nicole Faerber mentioned that Purism planned to provide replacement parts in a forum post in 2019, but this is the first time that Purism has mentioned it on its web site. If Purism sells replacement parts, I will rate it as one of the most environmental phones on the market, despite its high embodied carbon costs, because it should in theory last longer than any other phone currently being sold.

Probably the most environmental phone is something like a recent Nokia 3310 4G with VoLTE, because it has low embodied carbon, it durable, it is easy to get affordable replacement parts, and Nokia will probably sell it for years, so it is likely to get many years of security updates. However, if you want a smartphone, the Librem 5 is looking pretty good in terms of environmental criteria.


This is how mobile phones should be made - designed from the begin to be easy to repair. And now we have a workshop manual too. I find the trend to build phones with batteries you cannot change very disgusting. There are some third part instructions how to do that anyway but it is often very risky. Thanks again Purism !