Realistic support life cycle of Purism products?

Hi, I’ve read they always claim “lifetime support” for their products, I love that because I hate today’s phones that all having dead-on-arrival update system…
However nothing lasts forever, so do Purism’s update support I think. Would anyone give a approximately support life cycle of Purism’s products? Thanks.

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Well, Purism only started in 2014, but all of their products do still receive update support. And given how Linux is structured, I do expect the software updates to continue for life.

Even if Purism decides to close shop, everything they’ve done has been open-sourced, so someone else could pick things up. And even if someone else doesn’t pick things up, you can just install some other Linux distro, like Debian, and keep moving.

There’s a lot of old equipment out there that can easily run Linux, even when Windows has become too bloated to run properly.


If there are Linux drivers for your computer hardware, you will always be able to find a distribution that will work on it. If you have special requirements for OS (privacy protection, etc.), you will still always find the current Linux distribution you need - whether from Purism or not. This is true even for computers that are still manufactured in the Ice Age (if you have one).

I just watched “Iron Sky: The Coming Race” last night. The bad guys were defeated by an old Nokia with a green screen set in the year 2037. Which reminds me of the old adage I’ve used here before: “Just because it is no longer supported doesn’t mean it won’t work.”

Hard to say, but we can take some guesses. Ubuntu just recently tried (and then walked back) to drop support for i686 programs (P6 arch from 1995) on 64 bit computers. They dropped support for running ubuntu on them after 16.04. That puts it at 21 years (and other distros still work). Most binary distros don’t support 386, 486, or 586, even in their 32 bit builds.

Those are distros, you can run something like gentoo, which lets you customize your CPU target, as long as the kernel supports your hardware. We do see the kernel drop support for old hardware, once in a while. This happens after the maintainers for the old hardware go away, and then the internal APIs drift enough that the old drivers stop compiling. It will then be mentioned on the LKML that they are considering dropping support. If no one steps up to take over, usually because no one with that hardware cares, or often because no one has the hardware, they’ll drop support. Even then, if someone comes along later, it’s usually pretty easy to re-add it.

Bottom line is we can expect at least 20 years of software support, even if Purism folds next year. Replacement parts is the real unknown.


… and: just because it works, doesn’t mean it is supported.

Purism is doing a lot right to push back against the tide of electronic waste, and the 2 to 3 year upgrade cycle, but noone can really predict the future.

For example, let’s go forward 15 years(?). The 4G network is being shut down in urban areas - something that is outside Purism’s control and outside your control. There is only 5G (or later). You may or may not be able to get a suitable M.2 5G modem but you are having difficulty retrofitting the antennae and the time on standby is not so good.


So far, it reads to me that everyone is saying there will be third party software support for an indefinite amount of time.

Personally, I read the initial question as how long will FIRST PARTY support officially exist for BOTH hardware and software.

Third party software support does not count when discussing product lifecycle or the 2-3 year lifecycle of Android devices would be a lie as many have 3rd party software support for longer…

A question that clearly needs to be referred to Purism.

Purism software support policies are briefly defined here in the “An OS That Gets Faster with Age” section. This is enough for me. I hope for the success and prosperity of Purism. But no one knows the future. Therefore, when planning something for the long term, alternatives should be considered. And third-party software is such an alternative.
In terms of hardware support, in my opinion, Purism provides such support according to its current capabilities. And I have already spoken about the future.


The difference is the esoteric, undocumented, and blobfull android devices require significant effort for the community itself to maintain, inevitably leading to less popular devices getting dropped sooner, and all them getting dropped eventually. Heck, the entire OS can get dropped after a disagreement with a single dev (Cyanogen).

This is why the L5 running mainline Linux kernel and a standard GNU stack is so amazing. The work to get drivers mainlined is non-trivial, and getting a standard desktop software running on a tiny display is likewise time consuming and expensive. But that’s pretty much a one time cost, assuming Purism sticks it out long enough to do that (they are getting there), they won’t have much to actually do for long term maintenance (certainly little more to do than any other distro vendor has).


NXP has promised to sell the i.MX 8M Quad till January 2028 and NXP has been committing to the mainline Linux kernel, so we have a good chance of getting Linux updates from the manufacturer for the next decade.

Because all of the drivers are free/open source, the community can maintain them. Many of the components have proprietary firmware in them, so it is a question of whether the component manufacturers will keep offering firmware updates, but you can usually keep using devices without firmware updates.

Even if Purism goes bankrupt, we can count on the drivers for the i.MX 8M being in the Linux kernel for the next 15 years at least, which is probably longer than your hardware will last.

If Purism releases the Gerber files as promised in 3-5 years, any manufacturer will be able to make replacement parts. With a 3D printer you can make new cases on your own. For replacement circuit boards, screens, batteries, etc., I think it depends on how many Librem 5’s are sold. If a quarter million are sold, it is likely that some company will make replacement parts if Purism stops offering them. If only 20k are sold, I doubt any company will bother, but it also depends whether all the chips are still available in the future.

The G5 standard is designed to work with 4G (LTE), so I doubt that 4G will be phased out very quickly. 4G will certainly still be around in 10 years, and probably in 15 years, because 4G is needed in places where 5G doesn’t work well.


To be fair, I’ve seen this asked multiple places without a clear response. Would emailing support be more likely to get an official response, yes; does that invalidate the context when it is asked on the forum, no.

Maybe I’ve missed something, but when I’ve looked through that page I’ve seen a significant amount of talk about androids 2-3 year lifecycle but no actual definition for the Purism lifecycle. Not much of an answer really.

This also only talks about the software, which is tracking both Debian testing and Debian stable which has a defined lifecycle; what about the rest of their products, the hardware, especially the new server?

This really only addresses the Librem 5 ignoring the rest of the product line.
Also because it’s easier to provide the support it automatically has a longer support cycle? I mean sure it could result in longer support, but that’s not the same as a defined longer lifecycle.

Is it very likely the Librem 5 will have better and longer lasting 3rd party support than any Android device released this far, yes; does that mean the Librem 5 has a longer defined lifecycle, no. This far the best I’ve found for the Librem 5’s lifetime is that it will be “long” but if we’re being honest, that’s very vague.

I would also point out I’ve seen it brought up more than once that parts for the librem 13 and 15 can be hard to come by and sometimes Purism staff will point customers to third parties because Purism doesn’t have the parts to sell. In most industries that would be considered to be outside the lifetime of the product and while third party support may allow you to keep the device working that doesn’t mean it’s officially supported.

Also, just because new software works with old hardware doesn’t mean it hasn’t reached the end of or even exceeded the end of its lifecycle.

I’m not disagreeing with anything that you said, but it is hard for Purism to make more than a vague statement. The way that I interpret “lifetime support” is that Purism will make a reasonable effort to keep providing software updates as long as the company stays in business, and it has no plans to ever stop providing updates, but there are many things outside the company’s control.

Purism can’t guarantee that BroadMobi, Gemalto (and Qualcomm who provides the cellular baseband for their chips) will keep supplying firmware updates for the cellular modems. Likewise, there is no guarantee that STmicroelectronics and Redpine Signals will keep updating the firmware for their GNSS and Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, respectively. These firmware updates are less problematic than with other phones, because these components are operated over standard serial interfaces and aren’t part of the Linux kernel, so it is unlikely to become a security issue, and being able to update the free/open source drivers means that we are less dependent on the original manufacturer.

The real question is what happens when there are major changes in GTK, GNOME apps, Wayland and the Linux kernel which break compatibility with the software for the Librem 5. If it is 2 years after Purism stops manufacturing the Librem 5, I expect Purism to do the work to update the Librem 5’s software. If it is 5 years after the last Librem 5 is produced, I’m not sure what we can expect from Purism. I suspect that a lot of it depends on how Purism is doing as a company, and how successful the Librem 5 has been. So far I’m impressed by how Purism has continued to support the Librem 15 v1, which was produced in 2015, with updates to CoreBoot and PureOS, so I’m hoping for something similar with the Librem 5.

As for being able to buy replacement parts, I’m less optimistic. Fairphone had to order a bunch of extra parts be made when it manufactured the Fairphone 2, just so it can guarantee that it will have replacement parts to sell, but that requires a large outlay by the company and there is no guarantee that the extra parts will ever be sold. My hope is that Purism will follow the same strategy as SHIFT, and make future models that have parts which are backward compatible with previous models. The case hasn’t changed and the board from the Shiftphone 5.3 can be used in the Shiftphone 5.1, so it is not necessary for SHIFT to stock extra parts for the Shiftphone 5.1.


I completely get where you’re coming from, the only thing I would like to point out is that, Purism should have contracts in place with their respective vendors and in turn should be able to guarantee some amount of time based on the shortest contract term.

This to me is no different than the “lifetime” guarantee of a refrigerator or other appliance that if you read the fine print says 10-25 years depending on manufacturer. This lifetime as defined by those appliance manufacturers doesn’t mean that their appliance will stop working at that point just that their contracts expire and they may no longer be able to provide first party support after that time.

For what it’s worth this is more of a footnote to what you’ve said than a counterpoint or argument.

It seems to me that we’re on the same side just viewing from slightly different angles :blush:

My lifetime map updates on my TomTom navigation device were just terminated because they decided that they don’t support the device anymore. This is around 3 years after its purchase. I stopped believing anyone who claims to provide lifetime support…


I wonder what is happening with this class action lawsuit against TomTom for terminating their lifetime map updates.

It seems that there is some justice in the world, since fewer people are now buying the TomTom devices. In January 2018 when TomTom announced that it would stop the updates, the company made 6.4 million euros in profit for the quarter, whereas the company lost 43.4 million euros in Q3 2019, and its revenue has dropped.

The difference with the Librem 5 is that the community can keep supporting the device if Purism fails to keep providing updates, whereas I assume that nobody but TomTom can provide updates for their devices.


It is interesting that TomToms definition of lifetime support with

lifetime as “the period of time that TomTom continues to support your device with software updates, services, content or accessories”

could easily be restated as ‘we support the device for as long as we support it.’ Showing how little sense their definition makes.


Exactly. It is a circular definition. It is ridiculous.

It will vary from country to country as to whether such consumer abuse is tolerated. There are two general issues.

  1. Is the actual lifetime reasonable?
  2. Has the company misled consumers?

Do we need to add “open navigation device” to the Purism product wish list? :slight_smile: Your Purism products wish list Perhaps though a suitable cradle for the Librem 5, with appropriate software, would be adequate.