Questions PureOS on Librem phone


#1

Hello,
I think I want a Librem5.
I have been using Linux (Arch) for many years now, and I’m pretty excited at the prospect of having a full-featured, unhampered true GNU/Linux operating system on my phone.

Is this excitement justified?

To clarify: Regardless of physical usability (small screen, no keyboard/mouse), will I be able to install & run ALL applications that any debian user can use? to what extent will those softwares support the phone’s dimensions?
What will the terminal be like? Any thoughts on improving that experience?
Will I be able to ssh into my server, or NFS, or sshfs? => no more mediaserver required…

etc.

i hope you get my gist.

while i’m at it, i want to ask how sure i can be of dual sim support; i saw something on a reddit AMA, it sounded pretty confident, but no guarantees. are there guarantees now?

thanks.


#2

Hi @ondoho,

It depends on whether you’re into:

  • Running a phone with a full GNU/Linux distribution endorsed by the FSF
  • On hardware running free software for the most part
  • With the ability to sever power source of the different sensors for privacy.
  • Having a convergent OS (apps displaying for small screen when in phone mode, and full desktop computer when plugged to an external screen and keyboard)

For GTK+ 3 based applications, Purism developped a GTK+ 3 widget to make apps adaptive (responsive to the screen size). You can have a demo in Purism’s Adrien’s blog post about GNOME Web. As for the Qt based apps, Kirigami is the way to go.

At launch few apps will sport an adaptive mode. It’s up to each application maintainer to:

  1. Define its mobile UX/UI
  2. Upgrade its interface with such a capable framework

Purism hired GNOME developers to port GNOME apps to their framework so the phone will have a decent set of applications at launch.

Definitely.

From Introducing Calls on the Librem 5:

Where Next?

Deal with multiple SIMs and bringing the modem online. At present, Calls is a pretty dumb frontend on top of oFono D-Bus objects and only makes use of modems that are already in a usable state. There needs to be some mechanism to configure which modems Calls should make use of and to bring them online automatically when the device starts. Similarly, there need to be mechanisms for configuring and selecting between multiple SIMs.


#3

thanks for a dedicated and detailed answer.
it seems i’m not the only one who considers at least dual SIM cards a must - good.

and this:

Will I be able to ssh into my server, or NFS, or sshfs? => no more mediaserver required…

Definitely.

is music to my ears.

The UI pep talk is also interesting, but i haven’t the slightest doubt that devs are doing their best to make this a sellable mobile product.
I was really more interested in standard debian repositories, and to what extent i’ll be able to use them - maybe this is considered a given, i.e. the answer is “just like on a standard desktop install”?

And - do avid command line users have any say in UI development?
not sure what the improvement would be; standard virtual keyboards work well enough in a smartphone (android) terminal. Maybe some special mode for ncurses applications… just curious about that one.


#4

As far as I know, you should be able to install Debian or any distro you choose on the Librem 5, though you shouldn’t expect the UI to look good unless it’s GNOME or KDE, since Purism is working with those teams to make them adaptive. Purism has also partnered with UBports to bring Ubuntu Touch to the phone (does Ubuntu Touch still count as Unity?)

Part of the plan for the phone is to have it plug into a monitor, and then you literally have a traditional Linux desktop environment.

So, far as your original points go, I would say

Yes, you can install and run all applications that any Debian user can use, because you should just be able to straight up install Debian. The extent of how well the software actually supports the phone’s dimensions will vary, but default GNOME and KDE (and Ubuntu Touch) programs should work out of the box given the partnerships (or so we can hope anyway).

It follows that I would expect the default terminal for those environments to be functional, and you should have all your favorite tools like SSH available as well, though the terminal might be a lower priority for “mobilizing”


#5

Are you sure that all the software can be installed? I mean the librem 5 will be arm and not x86-*


#6

Given the team’s progress reports with the I.MX 6 test board they’ve been using ( here, here, here, and the one @thib posted), yes, I’m confident the software will make it’s way to ARM.

There’s also this: https://news.softpedia.com/news/gnome-3-30-desktop-environment-receives-support-for-arm64-hardware-architectures-521287.shtml


#7

ok sorry let me rephrase again:
will PureOS repos contain everything that the debian they’re based on contain?
can i fully benefit from debian’s software without installing any other OS (than the preinstalled pureOS, i presume)?
in other words, is pureOS debian plus the xtra stuff needed to run a smartphone?

thank you for bearing with me.


#8

From what I know about Debian, all of its default repositories are GPL or similar - which means that even if they don’t maintain an ARM binary, the source and associated makefiles will be available and you can just compile it as you would do on your desktop machine. Yes, it’s more time consuming, but the option is there.


#9

I am not an expert on PureOS, but as far as I know, yes, you can enable the same repositories as you can on Debian, and they should work.
As far as “the extra stuff needed to run a smartphone”, I believe Purism will be making that available for all distros. It might be up to the distro maintainers to pull it in or something, but there won’t be any a priori reason that you have to use PureOS.

And as @TungstenFilament mentioned, in principle, you should be able to compile everything yourself, though I understand most people have no interest in doing that.

Your questions are all very good, though, and that’s what these forums are for!


#10

thanks.

i’m trying pureos live in a vm now - should’ve thought of that earlier.
i assume that’s the dektop version (prometheus 8.0 beta one) - can i install the librem5-specific stuff just to get a feel for it?


#11

I don’t think there’s currently much Librem 5 stuff readily available to the public. The development boards should be shipping this summer, and then those who purchased them can start working and developing for them, which means I think we can expect to see more Librem 5 software start showing up in the late summer or fall.


#12

Debian does support several varieties of ARM. See https://wiki.debian.org/ArmPorts for details.

I’m currently running Devuan (a systemd-free Debian derivative) on a Raspberry Pi 3B.


#13

I just had another round of online research for the librem 5 and open source hard & software for smartphones.
then i came back here, and i realise that my most important question has not yet been answered in a satisfactory manner.

so maybe i will try to explain better:

what gets me so exited about the prospect of having real gnu/linux on a smartphone is the idea of having an actual, real, tiny computer with me in my pocket, one i can do everything with that i can do on my linux computer at home.
plus, i don’t need a separate device for making phone calls/sms, so this one minicomputer is enough to carry around.
to some extent i can do this with my current lineageos phone, but the problem with android is that there is always some technical limitations, for example video/audio codecs when streaming online is very limited, often something doesn’t work that i know should work.
and i can’t get inside there and fix it, because to me, android’s deeper layers are completely opaque.
and there’s always a few things i’d never dare do on an android phone, e.g. online banking.

so, in a few examples:
i’d love to be able to use mpv as my media player, because it has never failed me in playing both local & remote content, and in concert with youtube-dl it’s simply genius.
i’d love to be able to use gimp straight on the phone. I know the UX would probably be a horrible pita, but still. there’s nothing even close to that on f-droid.

these are just illustrating examples, saying: i’m more concerned about technical usability than UX (user experience, i.e. mobile-friendly interface blah).
not saying the UX isn’t important, though.
will it be possible to pinch-zoom every application? take the gimp with its non-responsive ui as an example.

i already own an ARM laptop with a version of armbian, which, in spite of its name, is based on ubuntu 16.04, and these and many, many more programs are available.
i also happen to know that debian’s ARM repos are (almost) as large as the ones for normal pc architectures.

is PureOS based on debian?
the usual way for distros based on debian is to use the debian repos, plus their own repos. this means that the whole debian universe (for ARM) would be at my fingertips on a Librem 5 with PureOS installed - is that so?


#14

Yes, it is. https://puri.sm/posts/what-is-pureos-and-how-is-it-built/


#15

I think your question is quite clear. Unfortunately, you will not like the answer. Many (if not most) graphical applications will not work on the Librem 5. Most graphical applications for linux were built to work with X11. X11 is the “display server”. All graphical applications must talk to the display server to be drawn. In recent years X11, is being replaced by Wayland. Some linux distros have switched to Wayland (Fedora, Ubuntu 17.10 but not 18.04). These distros provide a library called xWayland to run old X11 programs (read: most of the applications in the “Debian Universe”). The Librem 5 will not ship with X11 and will thus be unable to run such applications. It will run all GTK3 applications and modern KDE applications if I understand correctly. Otherwise, it won’t run much.


#16

The good news tho is that almost everyone agrees on the fact that Wayland is much better than X11 from many perspectives including security-wise which means that programs will get rather quickly developed under Wayland.
Also let’s not forget that PureOS will only be one of the many distros available. So some other distros might run under X11. Come on, it’s GNU/Linux, we have no limits here :slight_smile:


#17

Many (if not most) graphical applications will not work on the Librem 5. Most graphical applications for linux were built to work with X11. X11 is the “display server”. All graphical applications must talk to the display server to be drawn. In recent years X11, is being replaced by Wayland. Some linux distros have switched to Wayland (Fedora, Ubuntu 17.10 but not 18.04). These distros provide a library called xWayland to run old X11 programs (read: most of the applications in the “Debian Universe”). The Librem 5 will not ship with X11 and will thus be unable to run such applications. It will run all GTK3 applications and modern KDE applications if I understand correctly. Otherwise, it won’t run much.

why wouldn’t xwayland be available for pureos for librem 5?
it is available on debian stable, as is wayland as such.

still i feel my actual question:

is PureOS based on debian?
the usual way for distros based on debian is to use the debian repos, plus their own repos. this means that the whole debian universe (for ARM) would be at my fingertips on a Librem 5 with PureOS installed - is that so?

hasn’t been answered unambiguously.
i think i will contact support about this.
maybe i’m just not seeing the forest for too many trees…


#18

This article i already linked above for you. Explains in detail which repos from debian are used for pureOS. (No one even clicked on the link till now.)

Spoiler: PureOS = Debian Testing main + Purism additions for hardware and security improvements.
"… PureOS merges packages from the Debian “testing” main archive… "

The compositor, the part which implements the x11 and/or wayland protocol, will on which only supports wayland, i think a modified version of wlroots. As far as i remember this is due to power saving concerns, security and the need to tune it for good touch experience, which would be much harder to achieve on the existing compositors of gnome or kde as they have huge code bases.


#19

I’d LOVE to be able to use GIMP on this, and I don’t see why it couldn’t be made to work (I used it at work daily on one of my Raspberry Pi’s and it worked fine, though it was hampered by the 1gig of ram).


#20

@ramnasko, at first i didn’t see your previous reply, but i have since read the article.
it is now clear that pureos, while being based on debian, creates its own repos and adding debian’s repos might break it.
i had a look at what is available for amd64, on my pureos vm, and it looks just fine.

will pureos on the librem5 offer the same variety?

i didn’t understand the second half of your post about xwayland, is it available or not?
this seems to be the crucial point to answering above question.
the links you provided seem to suggest that wlroots does provide xwayland, which, afaics, would be essential to use many apps that weren’t made specifically for pureos.
are you saying that for the librem5 wlroots will be compiled without xwayland (and thus X11) support?