Rob Braxman's review of the Librem 5

He put out the phone, said he had no time to test it. His experience is from a device he got one year before in his hands … which he could not use after a minute. But he knows that “it’s very hard to turn it off” or that “the functionality is very limited” [6:50 both]. After that he spoke about camera - you already agreed.

Next he argued the last version could stay alive for 8 hours without charging and even if he didn’t say something wrong on the next sentence, he made a bias. He thinks the “current version” is not even better on battery life. He didn’t lie, because he didn’t know and because he did not take one or two minutes to search for it. At that point (I got my phone 1 or 2 weeks before this video) my phone stayed awake even much longer without suspend enabled. A quick research and he wouldn’t speak about “thoughts” that are one year old.

Btw, he is also saying “this is Android (shows Braxx device) and this is Linix (shows L5)”. Just a side node. :yum:

Then he’s speaking about “Android is really fast, L5 is really slow” (which is correct for current gens) and then he wanted to show this by swiping app grid up and down and said “look how slow L5 is”… all he changed was swiping fingers much slower. I mean I cannot see any difference in speed on swiping a scrolled-window-box element. I may see it on app start times or heavy processing stuff. But not on that what he showed.

“So many bugs here” (not totally wrong) … “I crashed camera, I crashed settings, you probably crash everything here” … like all the phone can do is crashing. Yeah, settings can hang if you go out of settings and do something like enable suspend. Yeah suspend is still experimental (but he didn’t know it even exists). But how much crashs do we really have? Most of the bugs are minor issues.

“You can use it only in a very minimum way … browsing, texting, calling … and you always have to keep it plugged in”. We all know that we have no Android apps that runs without a bit additional effort, but we have the whole desktop Debian stuff we can use. Music, taking pictures and videos, watching videos, coding, painting, gaming (at least a little amount - I know not much compared to Android) and even more “crazy” stuff. I don’t feel limited.

I’m now at 15min of 90min of the video. To make not a total wall of text and also save my own time, I make a cut right here. I just wanted to show that these are many little things. Nobody cares if he was wrong in one or two points. But it’s a mass of such points and the way he is talking about. Not one minute time to research anything, but a huge opinion.


Funny enough, the Linux Foundation also says “Linux kernel” to specify when it is talking about just the kernel and says “Linux operating system” when it wants to talk about the OS, so the LF doesn’t assume that people know that “Linux” means just the kernel. For example see this article on the LF’s web site:

The Linux Foundation: It’s not just the Linux operating system
Jason Perlow | 02 March 2020
In April of 1991, while as an undergraduate student at the University of Helsinki, Linus Torvalds began a personal project to create a free operating system. In August of that year, he announced the project to the comp.os.minix newsgroup requesting input on features.
The rest, of course, is history. In the past 30 years, the Linux kernel and its surrounding userspace tools have become the most popular open source operating system in the entire world.

This is hard to verify without getting your hands on a phone and checking with uname -a what kernel is running, because most phone manufacturers don’t publicize this info. However, I have upgraded half a dozen phones with LineageOS since 2015, and not a single one of them changed their major version number in the kernel. The Fairphone 2 got 7.5 years of support, which is longer than any other smartphone. It used Android kernel 3.4.0 for Android 5.1 - 7.1 and kernel 3.4.113 for Android 10 - 11.

I conducted a workshop for how to install LineageOS a couple years ago. Before we did the installation, I told everyone to install a terminal to check what version of the kernel they had installed and asked them how many OS upgrades they had on their phones. There were about 30 phones in the workshop which had had OS upgrades and not a single one was running the latest LTS kernel supported by their version of Android.

The Pixel 5 with Android 13 is using kernel 4.19 (which was originally released on 22 Oct 2018 by As I pointed out to strcat (aka Daniel Micay), GrapheneOS isn’t upgrading the kernel for the Pixel 3a:

I downloaded the Pixel 3a’s “bonito” kernel (GitHub - GrapheneOS-Archive/device_google_bonito-kernel: Pixel 3a and 3a XL kernel prebuilts.) and I see that it is using kernel version 4.9.292. Mainline Linux 4.9.292 was released on 2021-12-08 and 4.9.0 was released on 2016-12-11. Call me crazy but I prefer to use an up-to-date mainline kernel rather than one that is over 5 years old and takes 3 months to get the latest security patches from

So far I haven’t been able to find a single Android phone which has had a major number upgrade of its kernel by the manufacturer.


Nonetheless they have clarified that Android is a Linux distribution and that they include Android when they say “Linux operating system”. Furthermore they clarify what that means when they say “the Linux kernel and its surrounding userspace tools have become the most popular open source operating system in the entire world.” i.e. any OS with a Linux kernel is a Linux based operating system.

If you can’t back up your claim with anything more than anecdotes, don’t make the claim. Also, your claim wasn’t about “major number upgrade of its kernel”, it was about “kernel upgrades”. The only anecdote you provided that I found surprising is that the Pixel 5 upgrade to Android 13 didn’t have a kernel version bump to 5.10 (the lowest original release version for Android 13).

And speaking of Fairphone, I just read that the Fairphone 5 is coming with 8 years of support guaranteed and that they are discussing with the chipset manufacturer whether they can extend that to 10 years.


I like Rob, but I also think that sometimes his videos are a bit narrow sighted. Also some of the things he omits lead me to question his credentials. People who talk about security but never point to a real application of the need for that security are kind of like digital snake oil salesmen. At least I have kind of suspected that a few times.


I would love to see the Linux Foundation explain how we can use the drivers for a Snapdragon, Exynos, Dimensity or any other chip whose manufacturer only supports Android in a mainline Linux kernel or explain to the developers of libhybris why their code is unnecessary.

If you are going to claim that Android really is Linux, the authority on that question is Google, not the Linux Foundation, since Google is the developer, and Google’s documentation calls it ACK for “Android common kernel” or “andoid-mainline” and studiously avoids using the word “Linux” and instead calls it “LTS kernel” when it gets code from the Linux kernel. Here is how Google describes its kernel:

Before 2019, Android common kernels were constructed by cloning the recently declared LTS kernel and adding the Android-specific patches. This process changed in 2019 to branch the new Android common kernel from android-mainline. This new model avoids the significant effort to forward port and test Android patches by accomplishing the same result incrementally. android-mainline undergoes significant continuous testing, this model ensures a high-quality kernel from the day it’s published.

When a new LTS is declared upstream, the corresponding common kernel is branched from android-mainline. This allows partners to begin a project prior to the declaration of the LTS version, by merging from android-mainline. After the new common kernel branch is created, partners can seamlessly change the merge source to the new branch.

In other words, the Android kernel since 2019 starts as a seperate kernel that merges in code from the latest Linux LTS, so it is no longer a derivative of Linux LTS with added patches. Since 2020, Google has been naming its kernels with the specific version of Android it was originally created for, such as android11-5.4, which further indicates that its kernels now start as separate from Linux and then merge in Linux.


A minor version number change in the kernel (such as 3.4.0 → 3.4.113) is not a “kernel upgrade”–it is adding bug fixes and security patches. An upgrade is moving to a new LTS such as android11-5.4 to android12-5.10, and I can’t find a single example of an Android phone making that kind of upgrade to its kernel. In fact, the Android kernels since 2020 no longer include the minor version numbers and just list the date such as android12-5.10-2022-03.

I just provided you with proof that the Fairphone 2 stayed with the 3.4 kernel for its entire existence between Dec 2015 and Mar 2023 and that Google is not upgrading the kernels in its Pixel phones. I can’t give you web links to the other manufacturers to prove that they aren’t upgrading their kernels because they aren’t publishing this information and the chipset manufacturers also don’t publish it.

You haven’t been able to point to a single Andoid phone model with an upgraded kernel and your Quora link isn’t evidence in my opinion, since it isn’t clear that the responders understand that a kernel upgrade means a new LTS. I have seen pretty good evidence from my workshop that Android phone manufacturers aren’t upgrading their kernels, but the sample of 30 phones was admittedly small and only included phone brands sold in Bolivia (which is mainly Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei / Honor, Sony and Motorola).

In the interest of resolving this debate, we should ask everyone run uname -a on their Android devices and post their results to see if we can find any with a kernel that is newer than the year of the original release of the phone. I will start by posting new threads here and at r/purism to ask that question. Feel free to suggest any other public forum where you think I should post this question.



  1. As I already said, The Linux Foundation controls the Linux trademark.

  2. You should really say “… claim Android really is a Linux based OS” rather than “… claim Android is Linux”.

You’ve ignored the first sentence of their (Google’s) document. Perhaps you don’t know what “downstream” means??? I’ve seen you make repeated mistakes when you’ve used “upstream” and “downstream” before. That must be it.

AOSP common kernels (also known as the Android common kernels or ACKs) are downstream of kernels and include patches of interest to the Android community that haven’t been merged into mainline or Long Term Supported (LTS) kernels.


What you described is not a minor version number change. That’s called a subversion number change. A “minor” version change would be from 5.10.* to a 5.15.*.

And even that ignores the fact that the Linux kernel doesn’t actually rigorously use Semantic Versioning.

Right. You just gave anecdotes to support an assertion that " … almost none of the Android phones that get OS upgrades will ever get a kernel upgrade". As I said, if you can’t show your assertion, you shouldn’t provide such strong assertions. Stop over-asserting.

And, actually, you only showed that the Pixel 5 stopped at 4.19.*. That certainly doesn’t encompass all Pixel phones, does it? Again: Stop over-asserting. It’s exactly that behavior that got Micay pissed off and got you temp-banned from reddit. It’s a problem. Stop it.

The Pixel 6’s HW and drivers is more controlled by Google and their releases make it easier to put different versions of the kernel on the device. The Pixel 6 was released with 5.10.* and Google has mainly made that available, but some developers quickly put 5.15 mainline on their Pixel 6. Maybe you should read and explore this: . You continue to confuse “what is typically done” with “what can be done.”


Here are the links for anyone who wants to help us resolve this question:

Rather than continuing this annoying debate with Redrumsir/Privacy2, it is better to gather data and see what it shows.


I suggest adding Hacker News, since they seem to be referenced a lot here on these forums.

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Yes, some Google developers did it, but you have to ask why didn’t Google make that kernel part of Google’s official release for the Pixel 6. It costs chip manufacturers a lot of money to develop separate drivers for Android and Linux. Why bother if Google hasn’t implemented differences in the kernel which cause problems for standard Linux drivers?

Where have I confused upstream and downstream? I explained that the Android kernel used to be the Linux LTS with added patches (i.e, it was a downstream derivative of Linux LTS), but since 2019 Google has maintained its own kernel that merges in new code from Linux LTS every year.

My point is that Android is incompatible with Linux because they can’t share drivers, so it isn’t correct to say that the Android kernel is Linux. I think that most accurate term would be an “incompatible derivative”. Your pedantic arguments don’t change the fact that chip manufacturers have to make separate drivers for Linux and Android, and trying to add support for the Android mobile SoC’s (Snapdragon, Exynos, etc.) to mainline Linux has proven to be a long and difficult process.

Yes, it does. I can’t find a single Pixel or Fairphone model which has had an official kernel upgrade. I started this whole discussion speculating that Samsung might have to offer a kernel upgrade, and Pixel’s SoC is based on Samsung’s Exynos, so maybe Google will offer kernel upgrades in the future, but they haven’t so far. I can’t verify this for the other phone manufacturers, because they aren’t transparent like Google and Fairphone, which is the whole point of me asking a large number of people to post their kernel versions so we can verify whether they are upgrading their kernels or not.

That is baloney. I got banned for 30 days from r/purism because I posted a link to Techlore’s video which proved that Micay has made false accusations against many FOSS communities, just like he made the false accusation that I was organizing raids against the GrapheneOS community. All you are doing is trying to stir up trouble by repeatedly bringing it up. Stop it.


You’ve asserted that. Now show it.

  1. What do you think libhybris does? It allows a kernel of the same version that was used when compiling the Android driver to uses that Android driver. The fact that libhybris works shows that you are incorrect regarding assertions that “they [Android and] can’t share drivers”.

  2. I actually believe that for the most part Android and Linux can share driver source.

Background: The issue about not being able to share binary drivers is true even between two kernels —> they can generally use the same source, but they can not share binary drivers. Specifically, loadable kernel models [.ko’s] compiled for one kernel will not load for a different kernel — it’s an intentional feature. It usually only requires a recompile, but it requires that. Read up on DKMS – it’s a system set up to try to automate such recompiles. And realize that it’s even more difficult for drivers for Android kernels vs. kernels because Android uses Bionic instead of glibc … which is where libhybris comes in for non-Android use of Android drivers.

As you can see, the difficulty with sharing binary drivers has nothing to do with whether
Android is a Linux based OS … since two different kernels can’t share the same
binary driver. Similarly, the whole point of libhybris is to allow Linux kernels to use Android binary drivers (linked to the exact kernel version numbers).

You keep trying to pretend that Android isn’t downstream from and that Android releases aren’t based on LTS releases. They are. The only change they made in 2019 is in the process of having one extra step (which allows more concurrent testing of Android releases with the rc kernels rather than waiting for a LTS release ). You’ve completely misinterpreted what they are doing.

LOL. As I’ve said above, the same can be said with any binary drivers (given as .ko’s) between different versions of kernels. Those are both Linux and they can’t share binary drivers.

You would know this if you ever had to maintain source for your own drivers. I had the source for one of my network cards that wasn’t part of mainline. Every change to the Linux kernel on my distro required me to recompile my driver before it would load. This is intentionally a feature of the Linux kernel and Linux kernel loadable modules.

LOL. You just asserted that showing something about the Pixel 5 proves it for all Pixels (e.g Pixel 6, Pixel 7, …). That’s absurd.

Furthermore, I showed that Google released a kernel upgrade to their source archive for the Pixel 6. Google hasn’t done so for an official release that got pushed OTA, but nonetheless people have used that to release images for the Pixel 6 using kernel 5.15 and/or 5.10. i.e. It is on some people’s Pixel 6 phones.

Your incorrect over-assertions are, IMO, exactly why you repeatedly have pissed off Micay. The fact that he was already pissed at you is why he reported you for harassment — which is exactly what it was IMO. You have a problem. In almost every interaction I’ve had with you, I’ve tried to point out your over-assertions. You never seem to get it. The pattern is:

You make an assertion. Someone says that it’s not true and you are challenged to prove your assertion. You create a wall of text, but you never prove your assertion. You later make the same assertion … and still don’t prove your assertion. It’s as if you never learned that your assertion might be wrong and that you shouldn’t make it if you can’t show it.

IMO Techlore’s video was deceptive and incorrect. And you believed their video and spread it without even reading Micay and other Graphene dev’s comments —> they were actually able to prove that some of the evidence presented on Techlore video was faked.

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Actually now Linux 6.4.14 for those brave enough.

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To add some anecdata aside from what has been mentioned regarding newer Pixel devices: I recall that Sony has been bumping devices to newer kernel releases - it was mentioned in this FOSDEM talk: FOSDEM 2023 - Sailing into the Linux port with Sony Open Devices 

See also: Supported devices and functionality | Developer World



Specifically, the speaker in the linked FOSDEM video at around 2min in says:

… And also the lifetime is really long. Whereas for some other devices you may be stuck on one kernel, Sony Open Devices actively upgrades the downstream kernel that they have to the devices …

The linked chart showed that they have been typically providing 2 or 3 kernel upgrades over the support lifetime for the Sony Open Devices.


Neither the maintained devices list nor the chart are updated to reflect all Sony Open Devices; use the link below instead for that.


This is disappointing. Why are they stuck on old kernels?

I would not know: I am only pointing out an observation while I was browsing through the links.

If you want to actually make some progress on your question, you may want to contact Sony’s Developer Portal for a more informed response.

Given the context, I believe Vertebra’s question is disingenuous. That said, it’s possible that some people don’t understand that while the structure and features of these kernels might be considered “old”, the kernels themselves are up-to-date in terms of bug fixes.

For example, kernel 4.19 was originally released in Oct of 2018. It’s an LTS release and the 4.19.* kernel version(s) is patched for security and bugs by through Dec 2024. Its most recent patchlevel is 294 which was released 3 days ago (Sept 2, 2023). . What that means is that the 4.19 kernel series has had 294 releases for bugfixes.

This brings up the question: Are people here being slightly irrational by placing a high value on the “most recent major.minor branches”? I think so. I actually think people are assuaging their disappointment in having a slower SoC (and stone-age power management, camera software, modem reliability, …) by over-inflating the importance of having more recent major.minor branches. Do most people even know what recent major.minor features are useful for their phones? The only feature that comes to my mind is exfat being mainlined in, I think, the 5.10 release. The only real advantage IMO is that eventually the LTS support on these “old kernel releases” ends. If that support hasn’t ended, it’s not a big deal IMO.


To be fair, Micay/GrapheneOS seems unusually thin-skinned.

I have another example of that, from this podcast (in Swedish) from three months ago, where at 01:35 the Swedish security expert Karl Emil Nikka says that while he was earlier planning to make a podcast episode about GrapheneOS, he is no longer going to do that because of their extreme habit of blocking any kind of criticism. Apparently Nikka was posting something potentially critical about GrapheneOS on social media and then they blocked him on both Mastodon and Twitter.

So, if @amosbatto got banned by GrapheneOS he is in good company. :slight_smile: