New Post: Shipping new SparkLAN Wifi cards with Librem 5

a) Does that mean the new modem is in L5’s shipped since January first or starting February first?
(I would think it is the first option, but the article seems somewhat belated if this really is the case.)
b) Is there a command to check which modem is on board?

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hmm damn I installed the Jail according to the instructions.
Something went wrong with the date so that apt now always gives an error when updating.

My real problem is that the battery now always shows 0% and also does not seem to charge.

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It would probably be best to contact support with these issues. They can be easily resolved but I don’t want this thread to veer off topic.


We started shipping the new wifi card some time in January once our existing inventory of Redpine cards ran out and we made the transition to the new cards. If you sudo dmesg | grep brcm you should see logs from the SparkLAN modem being initialized, if it is installed.


Thanks, Kyle. I can’t make much of the information that command generates, but having received my L5 in the closing days of January I have good hope the new one is in there.

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With WiFi on, nmcli -f GENERAL.DRIVER d show wlan0 will tell you which driver is being used.

brcmfmac means SparkLAN card; RSI-SDIO WLAN means Redpine.


Ah! I see. That’s helpful. Now I understsnd what Kyle’s command was doing. I didn’t realize ‘brcm(fmac)’ stood for SparkLAN. I’m good then :),:+1:

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I should have read the article a bit closer, maybe. :slight_smile:

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Having re-read the article, I must say it is really great to see how adaptable the L5 (and the team building it) is.


From the Matrix chat:

well, but that's only half of the question
the other half is in readme here:
the package should be installed by default these days, so it's just the flashing part that's relevant

@Kyle_Rankin, this is really cool! Reaffirms why I wanted to invest in Purism and the L5!

One question, the article has a link at the end about a sale or promotion for people that want to upgrade their existing wifi cards. The store shows it at $29.00 but no info about discount price. Is $29.00 the discounted price, and in the future, the price will go up? Or am I misreading the article? Basically, should I buy it now, since it is lower in price, even if my current wifi card is working fine?

Thanks again!


My L5, received a week ago, has the SparkLAN wifi card and that seems like good news.

But I found that it can only connect if it is close to the wifi access point (i.e. a few meters away), is this something I already know? Is there an update to do?



I had to look this up: Bluetooth Headset Profile.


The possiblity to repair is nice but inviting users who have the old card to switch to that card means inviting them to install the non-free firmware (whether on the NOR SPI flash or elsewhere does not matter, the user is invited to install it).

That is not promoted by pureOS but it is promoted by Purism, from the main website. It is not even mentioned on the product page that this means the user has to install non-free firmware. This is very disappointing.

I would feel enthusiastic if there would be a card that runs free firmware which could replace the current one.

EDIT: At the minimum, I would expect the product page to not only mention that the user has to install non-free software if replacing the previous card model but also to strongly educate the user about free software and warn about the compromises that are being made here.


Surely the firmware on the existing WiFi card is also non-free?

Whereas for all recent and new shipments Purism installs the non-free firmware.

I understand the general point that “non-free == bad” but for the four combinations of {user installs, Purism installs} x {old card, new card} … it’s always non-free.

I think the only commitment is to avoiding non-free firmware on the disk of the Librem 5 and if the user installs the non-free firmware via the documented mechanism (from a host computer, via uuu, direct to the flash) then that commitment remains.


Yes it is ridiculous to invite to install non-free packages, more ridiculously in the post they skipped the free-software for Pure, Pure what? Pure opensource or freesoftware? stop mixing, stop gaming otherwise i will STOP supporting Purism.
I know too that the redpine it using one blobs but it is come inside in controller.

It is a shame of company & team.

I guess that the new SparkLan controller it using free driver, but still need a firmware, this firmware is a Blobs and the SparkLan controller do not have space to pushing the blobs into the controller like redpine, then purism is moving this blobs to dedicated nand flash in L5 PCB so this technique is opensource, not freesoftware.

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The product page and the blog article are suggesting users who already have a Librem 5 to buy the card and replace the card on the phone they already have. If they do that, the card won’t work unless they install the software.

In my understanding, Purism makes no such commitment at all with the Librem 5. The only comittment I am aware of is about pureOS respecting the GNU FSDG.

These guidelines say:

A free system distribution must not steer users towards obtaining any nonfree information for practical use, or encourage them to do so. The system should have no repositories for nonfree software and no specific recipes for installation of particular nonfree programs.


Some applications and drivers require firmware to function, and sometimes that firmware is distributed only in object code form, under a nonfree license. We call these firmware programs “blobs.” On most GNU/Linux systems, you’ll typically find these accompanying some drivers in the kernel Linux. Such firmware should be removed from a free system distribution.

Purism advertises that “The Librem 5 phones are powered by the same PureOS that runs on our other computers”.

The trick here is to sell a wifi card that requires the user to install non-free firmware and provide the related guidelines for the user to install it, on the main site of Purism products and say it is Purism and not pureOS.

Sure, on the phones directly delivered (with the old or with the new card), non-free firmware was installed by Purism but it is not supposed to be modified by the user. This is a somehow a trick to say that the Librem 5 follows the certification criteria for the RYF Program that Purism mentioned more than once as a target.

Now, Purism invites the user to install non-free firmware, without mentioning that it is non-free and without any bit of warning or education on why users might not want to do that.


On another note: does his modem replacement mean we can now say that phones shipped from around mid-January onward are Librem 5a’s or 5.1’s?

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Once again. This anti blob fanatism just harms Librem 5 on its path to become a mass product.
Why don’t you take another perspective?
Librem 5 is completely blob free. You just don’t have WiFi and LTE.
If you stick the WiFi card in the device it is your problem, not Purism’s. Purism just provides you with the option to use the WiFi card. Does not force you to do it.
Sounds hard but it is really like that.

There is no great blob free LTE and WiFi hardware on the market that is suitable for a mobile phone. If you want a completely blob free device you have 2 options:

  1. Use Ethernet.
  2. Pay to a WiFi/LTE manufacturer to design, deblob, and manufacture suitable hardware.

Purism can’t do absolutely everything on their own.
And there are users who want well working device. Not a crippled one due to not fully utilizing the hardware capabilities.


Nothing about the closed blobs are changing, except for their location. In both cases, they are not running on the main CPU, in both cases, they do not reside in the OS. For the first WiFi card, it was within the card, for this WiFi card, it is within the mainboard. The mainboard also stores a binary blob for the DDR4 timing. In all cases, once the firmware is on the phone, the Linux distribution does not need to distribute or store it, unless you want to keep it updated via the distribution’s tools. This one time flash of the jail is like a firmware upgrade, and this does not infringe on anyone’s freedom as it is between the user and the manufacturer. The distribution might have to know something about the firmware jail, but hopefully this becomes an optional standard for dealing with the pesky nature of developing Respects Your Freedom hardware with modern wireless capabilities. Keeping the firmware physically with the component is more ideal, but it is less economical & compact than having a single jail storage for all of the components.