Rob Braxman's review of the Librem 5

Jolla C Tablet, “C” ? Are you confused about Jolla C Phone?
Anyways let is wait for the upcoming Sailfish 4.6 supporting 5G, plus WPAN Tethering, HDR Cam, and huge more. :wink:

Also the upcoming fancy support for Sony Murray for Sailfish OS, to me will be the best ever elegance device for sailfish.

Oh sorry. I’m talking about the Jolla Tablet, not the Jolla C smartphone.

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… and neither is Purism’s refund policy. We don’t even know what that policy is.

But how is any of this relevant to “Rob Braxman’s review of the Librem 5”?

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Amos decides the topic of conversation since they are the OP, so if they go off-topic, I can follow it.

I hardly have anything to add to the main topic itself, since I do not use YouTube; the best I can do is do background research on Rob Braxman, and it is clear I am not very interested in them to begin with.

Right here.

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I meant … as it is being applied to historical “change of mind” orders. That link only tells us the policy as it is written now and would in theory apply to a new order placed today. There is anecdotal evidence that the current policy is being applied to historical “change of mind” orders but I haven’t seen any explicit statement from Purism to that effect.

Regardless though, Purism’s refund policy, for historical orders or for current orders, is not for us to decide.

Not that Purism has to care at all, but I actually think that Purism now has the correct policy regarding “change of mind”.

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Megapixels and libcamera were happening without Purism, so I agree on that point. However, NXP poorly documented the CSI interface on its i.MX 8M chips and other projects like the MNT Reform don’t need it, so I doubt that anybody would have bothered to figure out what Purism did with the L5’s cameras, since it took months of painful trial and error. For example, one guy posted on the NXP forum:

I’m not entirely sure where to go for documentation as well, because it seems like the iMX8M Reference Manual has almost zero information on the CSI interface, and there are only 1-2 replies in forums saying that this device is somewhat of a mix of the iMX7 and iMX6 interfaces, regarding MIPI and CSI (?!)

If Purism had dropped development of the L5 in Feb. 2020 (when they decided to stop giving refunds), there would have been so few people who saw Purism’s code working that I doubt that any volunteers would have arisen to carry on the code projects that Purism started. By early 2020, only the few hundred people who got the L5 dev kits, Birch and Chestnut had seen libhandy and Phosh in action. Remember that the Mobian distro with Phosh started in May 2020, Debian first added Phosh in June 2020, the Pinephone postmarketOS Community Edition with Phosh was announced in June 2020, Fedora added Phosh in July 2020, and GNOME adopted libhandy as an official project in August 2020.

Furthermore, the history of GNOME shows that it hasn’t incorporated mobile code in the past if that code was abandoned by the developer. GNOME announced the GNOME Mobile & Embedded Initative in April 2007, and a month later Nokia offered the GNOME Foundation its Hildon code from Maemo to be incorporated over time into GTK. Maemo’s hildon-gtk made GTK 2 responsive and touch friendly, in a similar way that libhandy did for GTK 3. GNOME officially adopted Hildon as a project, yet GNOME relied on Nokia to do the work to incorporate it into GTK. Nokia bought Trolltech in January 2008 and switched to Qt as its mobile toolkit, so development of Hildon was abandoned and it wasn’t incorporated into GTK. The GNOME developers largely ignored the ideas in Hildon when designing GTK 3 (although they did support touch screens).

Despite a great deal of interest from GNOME users over the years, the GNOME Foundation did little to make its code mobile friendly, which I attribute to the lack of interest from GNOME’s major contributors. Red Hat and SUSE make most of their money from software and services running on servers. Google had no interest in developing GNOME Mobile as a competitor to Android and Canonical was developing its own mobile interface based on Qt. It was Purism’s work on libhandy/libadwaita and Purism paying Tobias Bernard to work on the design of a mobile interface that led to Bernard and Jonas Dreßler applying for a grant from the Prototype Fund for mobile development in GNOME 40+, which kickstarted GNOME Shell Mobile in April 2022

Given that GNOME made little progress on its mobile initiative between 2007 and 2020 without Purism, I see little reason to believe that GTK/GNOME volunteers would have picked up libhandy if Purism had abandoned it. The essential difference between Nokia’s Hildon and Purism’s libhandy/libadwaita was the fact that Purism worked actively with the GTK/GNOME projects to incorporate their code, and that work started in the second half of 2020 after Purism was already having financial trouble.

Yes, I am biased, but that doesn’t change the fact that most people who preordered the L5 would be in a worse situation financially if Purism had declared bankruptcy in early 2020. Only those who cancelled their orders before Purism ran out of funds would have benefited, whereas the roughly 5400 people* who have received the Librem 5 and a sizable percentage of the 600 people who are currently waiting for their refunds would have been harmed financially. In contrast, today those 600 can either accept the Librem 5 and resell it or continue to wait for Purism to get enough new orders to be able to repay them. Either way, those people are probably better off financially with those two options than in a bankruptcy proceedings.

My position is to pressure Purism to make a public commitment to pay out the refund requests with the funds that it receives from new orders of other products, as Purism stated in its private letter to Rossman at 7:00:

The production of the phone ended up costing more than people had prepaid to order it. Another paradox that I discovered was that it was cheaper for Purism to refund the phone than to send the phone–the difference was financed through the sale of other products. Todd decided to honor his commitment to the majority and keep his investment in the R&D, while honoring the refund requests over time by funding them with other products.

Telling people to not buy Purism’s products makes it more likely that Purism won’t have new orders to pay the refunds, so I don’t understand what is your goal. If your goal is to prevent new people from being harmed, that doesn’t make much sense because people ordering from Purism today are not taking a risk like they did in preordering the L5, since the only new product for sale is the Librem 11 which Purism claims will ship within 10 days of ordering. If your goal is to punish Purism for its bad behavior, then continue publicly denouncing the company, but I don’t think that is going to help people get their refunds faster.

I can see the argument that Purism should be punished as a matter of principal, because it violated the rule of law and undermined public trust in the system of commerce. However, if we are going to look at this from the perspective of how many people were harmed financially, bankruptcy probably would not have resulted in a good outcome for most people who cancelled their orders.

As for your argument about a “fair order” in bankruptcy, I would say that customers who ordered a good or service from a company should have higher priority in getting paid than secured creditors (i.e. banks that loaned to the company), but that is not the way that the law works.

It is also worth pointing out that many of the people who refuse to accept the Librem 5 and resell it are not doing this for economic reasons, since most of them paid $599-$799 for a product that now has a list price of $999.

First of all, we should be grateful that anyone is willing to invest money in Purism considering how many business failures there have been with mobile Linux in the past. Investing in the development of mobile Linux is hardly a rational business decision considering that history.

The business owners and investors in Purism have taken a loss developing the L5, according to Purism’s letter to Rossmann. Given how tarnished Purism’s reputation is from developing the L5 and all the bad reviews it has received, Purism is unlikely to ever recoup what it invested in the project since it isn’t going to sell many L5’s in the future.

Purism reported that it received $2.81 million in preorders for the L5 by 2018-11-01, so let’s guesstimate $4 million total in preorders (since the preorders slowed down a lot over the course of 2018, and $4M would be 6000 preorders at an average price of $667, which aligns with the numbers in Purism’s letter to Rossmann*).

If we assume that Purism pays developers $5k per month, then I calculate that Purism has spent around $2.2 million developing the software in the L5.

Purism employee Title Work Started Stopped Months
Guido Gunther Distinguished Engineer phosh, phoc, libhandy, feedbackd, gtherm, linux-next 2018-05-07 65.4
Mohammed Sadiq GTK Developer Chatty, gtk 2019-06-04 52.3
Adrien Plazas (purism) GTK Developer libhandy, geary, epiphany, libadwaita, pureos-store 2018-02-01 68.6
Sebastian Krzyszkowiak Shell Developer mobile apps, phosh, millipixels 2019-07-03 51.4
Dorota Czaplejewicz Application Developer Squeekboard, camera configuration, Millipixels 2017-12-08 70.4
Julian Sparber (½ time) Application Developer Calls, Fractal, Phosh 2019-06-23 2023-04-27 23.4
Alice Mikhaylenko Application Developer libhandy, epiphany, kgx 2020-09-22 18.2
Tobias Bernard (1/3 time) Lead UI/UX Designer design of Phosh and future camera app 2018-05-30 2021-11-22 14.1
Andrea Schaefer Application Developer chatty 2018-05-28 2020-07-20 26.1
Bob Ham Phone Developer Calls, ModemManager, haegtesse 2018-02-01 2020-03-05 25.4
Sam Hewitt (1/3 time) UI/UX Designer Design of chatty & millipixels 2019-07-30 16.8
Martin Kepplinger Kernel Developer linux, 2019-05-31 26.2
Evangelos Ribeiro Tzaras Application Developer GTK4, libadwaita, chatty, calls 2020-12-03 17.0
Angus Ainslie Full Stack Developer uboot, agps, zephyr, linux 2018-05-07 32.7
Total months 432.3
Total cost (assume $5k/mth) $2168k

If we estimate the bill of materials was $400 per phone, that would cost $2.16 million for 5400 phones. Then add in the cost of designing the phone, which includes paying some design firm in Taiwan or China and the salaries of Nicole Færber and Eric Kuzmenko. Faerber reported that the main circuit board went through over a dozen iterations. With some back of the envelope math, it isn’t hard to see how Purism spent over $4M on the L5. Canonical estimated that it would have needed $32 million in preorders to pay for its Ubuntu Edge phone, so its hardly surprising that Purism ran into financial trouble.

However, there is a larger argument that Purism’s dev work benefits society as a whole, which should be taken into account because sticking it to the rich Purism investors means harming a lot of other people. For example, the Pine64 survey in Jan 2022 found that roughly 35% of PinePhone owners are using Phosh. Given that the 3079 respondents to the poll represented “less than 5%” of the PinePhone owners, that works out to over 60,000 PinePhone sales in 2 years, or about 100,000 by now, so roughly 35,000 PinePhone users are benefiting from Purism dev work. In addition, there are roughly 30 million desktop Linux users in the world, and the majority are using GTK/GNOME software that has been improved by libhandy/libadwaita.

Then consider the long-term goal for mobile Linux to become a viable alternative to Android and iOS, so people have the option to not be controlled and manipulated by powerful companies and big moneyed interests. People should control the technology in their pockets rather than it becoming a means to spy on their personal lives and monetize them through targeted advertising.

When big tech companies design cell phones to only last a couple years, they are pushing millions of poor people to keep buying expensive planned-obsolescent devices. To get to a world where cell phones can last 10 years rather than 3 years, we need mobile Linux to succeed and that will only happen if companies like Purism are paying developers to work on it, rather than driving those companies into bankruptcy.

As I see it, the goal is for mobile Linux to get good enough that it goes beyond the Linux enthusiast market and starts reaching normal people. At some point there will be enough demand to convince the makers of the leading-edge mobile SoC’s (Qualcomm, MediaTek, Samsung, UNISOC and HiSilicon) to start supporting Linux, rather than just supporting Android. If the bootloader isn’t locked and the SoC is fully supported by Linux, then people can switch their phones from Android to Linux to keep using them for many more years and avoid the harvesting of their personal data. Extending the life of mobile devices with Linux will dramatically lower their economic and environmental costs.

I see little chance of mobile Linux succeeding in a reasonable time frame without paid developers working on it, and I see little hope for AOSP derivatives ever reaching beyond a niche market, because Google can simply stop releasing new AOSP versions if it ever becomes a true threat to Google’s profits. It is for these reasons, why I advocate for people to support Purism despite its flaws, because I don’t see another company that is willing to invest in mobile Linux in the right way. Unlike Palm/HP/LG’s WebOS, Canonical’s Ubuntu Touch, Mozilla’s FirefoxOS and Samsung’s Tizen, Purism has tried to upstream its code as much as possible, and get its code incorporating into the principal Linux distros, rather than building unsustainable code silos, which is why the majority of the 344k lines of code in projects that Purism started are now part of GNOME.


* Purism’s letter to Rossman said that 10% cancelled their L5 orders and there are 600 outstanding refund requests, so we can calculate 5400 orders that weren’t cancelled, but that ignores the number of refunds that have already been paid, so the number of uncancelled orders might be larger.

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I am honored to report some of my posts were hidden I am not sorry.
I will continue to defend Purism and the Liberty 5 phone to my dying breath
The Champions of gogle MS and Fruity Coy will and are doing everything in their power to stop Purism.
Since when is calling Purism scammers and criminals allowed by forum rules. Stop

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By the way, I know that this is just a dream at this point. Realistically, the leading-edge mobile SoC manufacturers probably won’t upgrade their firmware blobs and proprietary binaries to be compatible with newer kernels, regardless of whether of whether Android or Linux, so there will probably be some functions that don’t work, which is what we see currently with postmarketOS on Snapdragon phones.

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You admitted bias and, without even pausing, proceeded to assert something as “fact” when it is “speculation.” It’s speculation because you don’t know how much money Purism had because you have no transparency as to their funds. You have no way of knowing whether they could have honored all of their refund requests or done so after reorganizing. You aren’t convincing me, you are only consoling yourself.

I doubt it … and you repeating it doesn’t make it true or excusable. e.g. As part of bankruptcy there would be a sell-off of the remaining inventory to help with the refunds. e.g. Any money left, including from the convertible loans, would be dispensed in an orderly manner.

As long as you make excuses for their behavior and minimize blame, I think you are decreasing pressure. I find it unlikely that Purism will publicly commit to refunds. IMO Purism had choices and made the choice to not honor their agreement with regard to refunds. They are to blame because they are the only party here to make a choice to act poorly.

I haven’t told people not to buy Purism products. I’ve only told people what I would or wouldn’t do. There is a difference between sharing advice and directing behavior. I’ve only told people the following (and, for the record, I’ve mostly done this on reddit and not here):

  1. Caveat Emptor “buyer beware” (and why).
  2. “I don’t trust Purism” and why.
  3. “I’m not sure why anyone would buy a privacy and/or security product from a company who has shown they aren’t trustworthy.”
  4. Even if it shows “in stock” and you are determined to buy it, I would be sure to use a credit card and file a charge-back if you don’t get it in 30 days and never wait past 90 days. I wouldn’t buy it at all if it isn’t listed as “in stock”.

My goal is to make sure that Purism customers know that they can not necessarily trust Purism to honor their commitments to their customers.

On products that are “in stock” I’ve basically given the advice of 3 and 4 above. If/When the Librem 16 comes out, I will continue to point out those greater risks as well as Purism’s new policy ( which includes “Once an order is placed Purism will deliver that product to you, no refund is offered nor given for an order in the processing queue.” ). I do this because a potential
customer deserves to know this.

There is a risk, even on the Librem 11: See (4), from above and ask yourself what one should do if you buy the Librem 11 and Purism doesn’t ship in 10 days and makes some excuse saying that it will take an additional 30 days because of [problems with coreboot, problems with the EC firmware, we discovered a HW problem, …].

It was a private letter from, AFAICT, the new marketing guy at Purism. I don’t trust marketers. My opinion of that letter matches Rossmann’s. I’m not going to repeat it here.

  1. And yet you think it’s OK for the customers to be last —> because that is exactly where Purism has effectively placed them.
  2. secured creditors are not necessarily “bank loans”, it’s collateralized loans from any source. The point here is “collateralized” and it’s key because the whole point of Chapter 11 is “reorganization” and so their collateral can not be liquidated. Nobody would provide a collateralized loan at a reasonable rate if they didn’t have some priority in a bankruptcy reorganization where the collateral can not be claimed.
  3. The most important part is equity investors are last. Convertible debt investors are next-to-last. Unsecured debt (investment debt) is before convertible debt. These are all “investors”.

Part of what makes it “fair” is that the business doesn’t get to put their investors ahead of their customers … along with the fact that “priority” is transparent and was set to be as fair as possible by people who understand bankruptcy/debt/customers/investments more than you do.

“benefits society as a whole” == irrelevant and doesn’t excuse them from not honoring their commitments. I can guarantee you a bankruptcy judge wouldn’t let you blather on about that because it’s irrelevant.

And then you go on about “sticking it to the rich Purism investors”. I didn’t say they were rich. Investors are taking risks for rewards. It’s exactly the people that signed up for the risks. It’s exactly why they are last in priority when it comes to bankruptcy … and they know that in advance.

Is that relevant to the conversation at all? As I said before, a bankruptcy judge wouldn’t think so and neither do I.

Also, go through that paragraph and see how much BS you are shoveling. Arguably, poor people are better served by either not buying a phone or buying a $150 motorola G and have it last 3 years supported and longer unsupported —> all of that is cheaper and more useful than spending $999 on a Librem 5 that will probably die in a few years. And that’s only one thing. I could and would go on if it were relevant. If you reply with your screed about “the environment” and go further off topic, I will block you.

As I see it, you are shoveling this BS for a for-profit company where you have turned their marketing into some sort of dream utopia that can’t exist without them. Because of that I’m going to end this with a true story. Take from it what you will.

I am friends with several Mormon families. The Mormon church recently changed the age and length of service for their missionary program for young men: younger (from 19yo to 18yo) and longer (from 18months to 2 years). I asked why. Curiously, they were honest and truthful: Too many children were “losing their faith” after being in college for a year. I also found out that a mission was a success if they had even one conversion. And, with a wink, I was told that the real point of the mission was to convert the missionary. It turns out that two solid years of trying to convince other people about their religion mainly worked to cement their own beliefs. And, even more surprising, is that this is not really a secret. When the missionary returns, that’s often exactly what they see as their greatest accomplishment. They basically spent 2 years convincing themselves and are happy about that result.

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A self-fulfilling prophecy, but does it stand up in college/university thereafter?

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