Rob Braxman's review of the Librem 5

Purism essentially just copied the FOSS-only parts of a pared-down Debian. Purism IMO is really founded on FOSS and creation of hardware that is, as much as possible, FOSS-compatible. It says so in their corporate documents and I believe that have followed that. Some of those principles involve “Privacy”, but for the most part I think “Privacy” is really just there for the marketing. They also claim “Security” and we know that’s a mess and is only there for the marketing.

I don’t do it to “beat up on” anything. I’m here to stop advertising misinformation (Purism is a for-profit corporation) and group-think inspired misinformation. In general I think misinformation is a plague. Todd Weaver, IMO, was spreading that thick starting about Q1/Q2 2018 and so I jumped in to point out the obvious bits.

Nobody is paying me. I’m doing it for everyone’s benefit.

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Good luck with that public duty. I learned from the pandemic that people are only interested in subscribing to what they want to believe in.

Here you go.


I have also personally cross-verified this newsletter with the Wayback Machine.

It still has the typo; it has not been tampered.

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Ah. I see now. Thank you

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I looked at the crowdsupply campaign for the Librem 15, and found this (the bold is mine).

Hence, yes, the company was planning on building a phone from the beginning.


wow, please more hypocrisy, as a cultists we love that, please more
Of course everything sux when you compare it to the products with 16 years of development, made by billions $$ companies not losing time to reverse engineering some of the main components

You want to compare pears to oranges, L5 is a new kind of product which didn’t exist before : I can’t be an IOS nor Android user, because they cannot offer anything I’m interested in, which are provided by the L5

As leetaur proved it to you, you didn’t reject revisionism, you rejected history : you are the history denier here

I’ve worked in a non-profit organization which started as a company, the employees had to legally quit the job to be re-hired by the new structure
Guess what…when you create a company you don’t know everything about bureaucratic details, then later when you learn them, you make the changes that fit the most your profile

What you showed here, is that Purism corrected a past mistake: Good for them :+1:

It’s ok, you can have your fantasies, we all have some.

Funny coming from a user who chose ‘Privacy2’ as username, you don’t seems to understand what it is, or maybe, you just don’t know how much IOS and Android are spying on their customers

Here some information, because seems obvious you have a lack of it :

Read the article and then come back to us to claim again that the L5 doesn’t provide privacy, then provide us the information were the L5 is violating our privacy
YES that’s what you imply when you “think” it’s just marketing

But to defend your ego, you will probably spit on the author to dismiss everything said in this article, because it’s not an “approved expert”

Oh ! So you are in that cult : TOWTJRSCMBTC, the one where they just repeat some claims made by the competition
You say the L5 have a security problem not updating some firmware ?
It’s still 1000x more secure than Android, or IOS, companies which, at will, can access all your data (location, relationships, accounts, private conversation, political opinions, …)
They can lock you up from your own hardware, your own data, they can sell it, they can stop you from installing a software, or prevent you from taking a picture with your camera (there is a patent for this one)

Purism can’t do that, technically they could start and put things like this, but if they did, they would sign their own death

When I received my L5, it was not encrypted (awful), then is was available with a uniq encryption key (awful, but better), now it is with an auto-generated key.

YES making things happen takes time, welcome to reality

Yes you do. Maybe it’s not your intention, but you do. And seems to me I’m not the only one thinking it’s intentional

Just like Ubuntu, Mint, Peppermint, Kaisen, Raspberry Pi OS, BOSS Linux, SolydXK, Nitrux, Endless OS, etc.
They all “just copied the FOSS-only parts of a pared-down Debian” and added their own things, welcome to the FOSS community, welcome to reality
But hey ! No ! You are obviously not trying to “beat up on” anything !

aaaah here we go…It’s explaining everything now, you put those ‘scam’ lenses, so everything you look at is a proof of scam, and to prove you point, you took an anecdote that could be made about most of project managers in the world
I’m guessing you didn’t participate in many big projects in your professional life
overestimating and underestimating things are part of any project, unexpected things happen, welcome to reality
I’m sure that if you put the ‘racism’ lenses you could see how the L5 is a white supremacist tool

Fixed it for you. Don’t thank me.

You make me think of that guy, is that you ?


To give a scope of how far Todd was planning ahead, the Purism website goes as far back as November 21st, 2014 with the Wayback Machine, with the first Crowd Supply campaign update on November 24th, 2014.

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You’re just echoing marketing BS. I’ve addressed the “new kind of product” BS a long time ago. And what happened is that the person who asserted it essentially ended up being obtusely narrow in terms of “product features” to justify the phrase and even then failed IMO.

You’ve got to be able to deal with the following “old kind of phones”:

  1. OpenMoko was a FOSS-based phone project that far pre-dates anything you’re talking about. They had at least two devices.

  2. The N900 phone with Maemo far pre-dates anything you’re talking about.

  3. Tizen OS phones – there were several. Tizen - Wikipedia

  4. The pinephone was released as a consumer product (see required FCC ID info) before the Librem 5 and has probably sold 5 to 10 times as many units as the Librem 5.

  5. Canonical sold a phone with Ubuntu Touch. It’s a FOSS GNU/Linux phone.

  6. Jolla has sold and still sells GNU/Linux phones.

  7. Mozilla sold phones with a FOSS operating system called Firefox OS. It was not Android or require any Android kernels. It’s basically an OS based on the Linux kernel and a GUI built over their Gecko engine. [ The original project was called “Boot2Gecko” and had the banner: “Mozilla believes that the web can displace proprietary, single-vendor stacks for application development. To make open web technologies a better basis for future applications on mobile and desktop alike, we need to keep pushing the envelope of the web to include, and in places exceed, the capabilities of the competing stacks in question.” ]

I believe it’s possible that I know more about privacy, security, and Linux than you. I’ve been using Linux since 1995 and have contributed to the EFF probably long before you even knew it existed. It’s just a guess since I don’t know much about you.

On the other hand, you don’t know much about me either.
But you don’t seem to be able to even imagine that someone might know more than you and still disagree with your viewpoint. It’s kind of a presumption that is common amongst cults with the
group-think to have the view that “those heathens just don’t know any better.” [Think about Catholic Missionaries and that particular cult.]. Maybe you should start with the presumption that I do
understand privacy and that I can deal with it without a Librem 5.

Nope. I based my view on a comment from Purism’s previous CTO:

I gathered enough information to realize that PureOS at the time was not an independent distro but merely an rsync of Debian with different wallpaper and no real handling of archive, updates and development. …

Now, of course, that CTO changed the worst parts of that situation and PureOS is more independent these days … but at its core for Laptops/Desktops it doesn’t really add much value over Debian.

Weaver is the CEO, not a “project manager”. I understand (one source) that Weaver fired the marketing team sometime around Apr 2019 because they knew that “begin shipping Q3 2019” was only going to be a prototype release and they thought he should be more transparent and reveal that detail. I haven’t verified this story, but one of the people that was allegedly fired in this dispute is Sriram Ramkrishna, a GNOME Community Organizer — you could ask him since his NDA has probably expired.

Also, go ahead and try to defend Weaver’s "like 50,000 units by the end of Q1 [of 2020]” comment. As I’ve said before, if Purism had been a public company that kind of lie would have come with fines or other punishment from the SEC. It’s inexcusable IMO. IMO the CEO seems scammy.

Nope. I was outspoken right away … because I thought I knew why “it was coming.” I warned people early to watch for possible bankruptcy and to not trust the “refund policy” promises. It was completely predictable that, unless there was a new large funding source, one of the two would have to happen. I had seen such a scenario before with the Jolla Tablet. I’ve already expressed my opinion that Jolla chose the more honorable (and, IMO, legal) option of bankruptcy.

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Unique features of Librem5:

  1. Only phone with external hardware switches for sensors/radios. Pinphone has hardware switches, but they are inside the phone, so to use them the back cover must be removed, and they do not turn on nearly as reliably–the phone often must be rebooted. Further, they are too small to be switched conveniently by hand: another small object such as a key must be used. I own and have used both devices. The hardware switches are not the same.

  2. As far as I know, only phone with support for a fully-free OS recommended by the FSF. I have tried several OS’s on the Pinephone, but there is no support for using PureOS or any other OS recommended by the FSF.

The Librem 5 is a unique product, your examples notwithstanding.

You talk about marketing B.S., but on the other hand, most of the examples you mentioned of non-L5 phones have failed or never provided any interesting features. Mozilla, Canonical, Nokia, and OpenMoko all gave up on their new operating system efforts. Is that marketing B.S.? Tizen runs on android hardware and is more or less Samsung’s attempt to create their own android because they are tired of Google having control. Jolla develops their own operating system that is not free software.

Unlike your examples, Purism has delivered a fully free operating system and a phone that runs it to thousands of people like me. It is more fair to describe your list as marketing B.S. than it is to describe Purism or the Librem 5 that way.


I was actually very excited by the Ubuntu Touch, but it failed before I could buy one
All those products you mention are just obsoletes/unfit phones with a GNU/Linux base

The L5 provides much more innovations than anything you presented, even though each one of them would be a better choices than IOS and Android phones

But to satisfy you, maybe I should have said something like:
“L5 is a new product that provides (and/or plans to provide) much more than the competition”
aaaah it’s much less clickbait, I’ll give you that !

Yep, I agree with you, with imagination, everything is possible, We could put Paris in a bottle !
But, let’s resume this one :

  • You said ““Privacy” is really just there for the marketing”
  • I called your BS waiting you to explain where the L5 violates privacy
  • You said that I should not assume you don’t know about privacy, and that I made some kind of argument how you can’t deal with privacy without a L5 ? (I really don’t know where does this one comes from)

I’m still waiting you to show were the L5 violates privacy

Interesting, when was that ? have any source ?
But anyway it’s irrelevant, the main point of Frank was about privacy which you claim is just marketing

Hum…I’m sorry there is probably a language barrier here, maybe I used the wrong term “project manager”, which is of course not the official title job of Weaver, but AFAIK he is the one who created and drives the project (or is painting the road if you prefer)

With great pleasure :
First : he said 5.000, not 50,000.… that’s an awful lot less of what you claim, and is much more realistic compared to their orders
Second : Q1 of 2020 is the start of the chip shortage

Well, that’s where we have different world view : I prefer an imperfect growing project with living legacies(hello upstream), to a perfect dead one with dying legacies.


Librem 5 has TRUE HKS. Pinephone&Pro has FAKE HKS, Why? Pinephone hks does not capable to turn on the sensor after OFF Why? SoCs does not permitt either layout.

Yes Librem 5 is unique capable to run gnu oses.

By Purism :wink:

Sailfish OS it using 30% of propietary software, many core apps of sailfish it closed plus libs, etc.

Purism is the best!

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Like I predicted, you are backing off of “new kind of product which didn’t exist before”.
So now it must not be “obsolete” or “unfit”, whatever “unfit” means.

In regard to “obsolete”:

  1. Can you imagine that the Librem 5 will become obsolete at some point? I’ve discovered that many modern Christians don’t understand that pre-Christian Greeks were as fervent in their beliefs in their Gods as modern Christians belief in theirs.
  2. Jolla is still alive and selling SailfishOS on some Sony phones. Why do you discount that? I’m aware of the small amount of non-FOSS at the top level.
  3. Pine64 is still alive. Why do you discount that and their Pinephone and Pinephone Pro?
  4. One can buy a nice Pixel 6 and install GrapheneOS. GrapheneOS is FOSS.

Sure. I thought you would be aware of this interview. It’s a good read. An Interview With Zlatan Todoric, Open-Source Developer & Former Purism CTO - Phoronix

I linked the video of him saying it. He said 50,000. It’s out of his own mouth. I think the video is revealing — to me it screams deceit. The article you linked was one that presumed he was off by a factor of 10, since the 50K number was ridiculous. Other articles and discussions talked about the 50,000 as well as the possibility of what he meant. I discussed this on reddit and on the forums at the time. It still doesn’t matter, he wasn’t on track for 5,000 either regardless of Covid. Also, Covid didn’t really have any impact on their delivery estimates until near the end of Q2 2020.

Jolla is still alive. The point of bankruptcy is to have a formal and fair process to deal with debt obligations that can not be met in a legal and timely manner. Bankruptcy restructuring (Chapter 11 in the US) is there to allow the company to legally deal with their debt while still allowing the company to run.

I agree that the “external hardware kill switches” are unique. But that, IMO, is just an example of people narrowing down the requirement of “new kind of product” until it only fits their product. Everyone noted that you had to add “external” and talk about how inconvenient the internal HKS are.

I’m waiting for somebody to come up with a device and describe it as “new kind of product” and have the only thing that makes it unique is their logo.

Are you saying that Pine64’s pinephone isn’t fully free? It’s as Free as Purism’s phone. Maybe even more Free since one can use Free firmware (unsupported) for their cellular modem.

Are you saying that OpenMoko wasn’t fully free? It was as Free as Purism’s phone.

Some of the others have non-open-source drivers, but are otherwise just a Free. That makes them a little less Free. But then one should be clear that the Purism phone has proprietary firmware — i.e. it’s not “fully Free” either.

Like I said, I’m talking about a fully free operating system and a phone that runs it. Here is a list of operating systems listed as available for the pinephone: ( PinePhone Software Releases - PINE64 ). Notably absent is PureOS or any operating system endorsed by the FSF. Why? There are probably several factors, but one is that Purism put a lot of work into making a phone that can run PureOS. Pine64, while doing an admirable job of getting phones into people’s hands, has done relatively little operating system work.

As a result of Purism’s efforts, the Librem 5 has support for a fully-free, FSF-endorsed operating system. Some people may not value that very much, but I do, and I think many of Purism’s customers do.

As far as I can tell, this is an example of significant effort paying off, not marketing B.S.


I think you misinterpret a lot of things, I didn’t back off, I translated it in a non-clickbait way
Let me reiterate : The L5 is a new kind of product which didn’t exist before, it’s a catchy thing to say, I have no shame about it

You are the one dismissing all the innovations of this product, treating it like the other Linux based phones (OK, not all, you just barely aknowledge the HKS, that’s a good start)

1 That would be dumb not to (but I guess that’s how you see everyone here), any complex technology become obsolete that’s a fact of life
2 Pinephone feels more like a POC, it’s a very slow GNU/phone, one of my colleague had it, it’s unfit to be used as a daily driver, even if it wasn’t slow, very very far from what Purism is doing with the L5
3 Jolla, not GNU, probably a better usable phone than pinephone… Again very very far from what purism is doing with the L5
4 Pixel6 + GrapheneOS : :rofl: LMAO, no thanks, I would not touch that with a 10-foot pole

Damn, that’s so bad, but that’s still goes to what I said before :
“overestimating and underestimating things are part of any project, unexpected things happen”, now I could assume he also wanted to create some hype around the product, just like everyone other company does.
But we known the end of the story here: he was wrong about the how and when, but he delivered the product (it’s written in my Purism Christian bible, page 42)

Oh ? interesting differences, in my country bankruptcy is the end of the game, you’re dead (not litteraly)
Good for them (Jolla), but still not convinced, not interest, nor impress by this product.

I’m still waiting about that claim that the privacy on the L5 is just marketing, how does the L5 not provide privacy ? Will you back off ? Or cowardly ignore it again ?

Notably absent is PureOS or any operating system endorsed by the FSF. Why?

Lots of the distros for the Pinephone are fully Free.

Endorsement by the FSF is ad-hoc and depends more on features + lobbying rather than features. For example, the reason Debian isn’t endorsed by the FSF is because they have a non-Free repo that is, by default, not included. The fact that these forums (including Purism employees) have shown/encouraged Librem laptop owners to use that non-Free repo to get non-Free drivers.

So … again, rather than just having “fully Free”, you’ve said “fully Free and endorsed by the FSF” to create a, IMO, artificially narrow category.


Firefox OS devices (and KaiOS ones these days, based on the same stack) actually use Android kernels and hardware abstraction layer. This is the only way to get good chipset vendor support unfortunately.

The open source Capyloon project ( uses the same base for Android devices and also has images for the Librem5 and PinephonePro, but many hardware related apis still need implementation on the “linux mainline” devices.


I guess you are right because fully Free does not mean fully Libre. :wink:

You are right again, Purism it has some Cheaper Opensource employees, they is reject Gnu+. It shame and i will not delivery names, but I have them in magnifying glass


Naw. There have been lots of products that fit the general category of the Librem 5. You’re just trying to add adjectives/features to artificially (and non-meaningfully) create a category with only one example.

  1. You rule out the Pinephone because it “feels more like a POC”. It was shipped before the Librem 5 and should be in the same category. You’re artificially ruling it out because you don’t think it’s the same quality.

  2. You rule out Jolla/Sailfish because it’s not GNU. That’s not true. It is GNU/Linux. GNU describes the OS being dependent on GNU Project tools and libraries (glibc, bash, chmod, chgrp, …) that many confuse with “Unix”. See The GNU Operating System and the Free Software Movement. But in terms of Sailfish/Jolla see Architecture | Sailfish OS Documentation


Sailfish OS is a mobile operating system based on GNU/Linux.

The only issue with Sailfish are FOSS issues:
a. There is a superficial top layer of qtquick code that is not FOSS.
b. Just like Android, many drivers are not FOSS (in fact is uses the Android drivers, using libhybrid).

  1. You rule out Pixel6 + GrapheneOS with only fear and not a rational reason. It’s probably one of the most secure phones Linux based phone out there.

This is far worse – it would have been a case of criminal market manipulation if a public company said something similar. IMO, it’s not an exaggeration, it’s an intentional lie. Did you notice the smirk and eye contact with the interviewer? It’s not just this one occurrence. It means that I feel justified in not believe anything he says.

To be clear, what I said was:

I never said that Purism degraded privacy, did I? I said that IMO “Privacy” was mostly for marketing.
In my opinion Purism does not provide more privacy than any other Linux distro or de-googled Android.
On the basis of “actual effort to meaningfully improve privacy” / “using privacy as a marketing keyword”, their ratio is low. i.e. IMO it’s mostly for marketing.

Compare that with where I applauded Purism:

I know from experience how hard it is for a for-profit company to spend resources to upstream FOSS code. It’s incredibly difficult — upstreaming is time intensive and has very little (none?) short term payoff. They should be applauded for that continued dedication toward FOSS. This is especially true for their original libhandy work.