Somewhat important feature missing

I don’t know if anyone noticed but L5 cannot read contacts from SIM card. This is rather a shock to me. I appreciate the devs are working on multiple fancy things like convergence and full disk encryption but they should get the basics out of the way first. And this is super basic feature, even Nokia 3310 can do this. Imagine someone with 200 or 300 contacts on their SIM and when they stick it into Librem 5 their first impression will be like “WTF…why is that not working.”

I don’t want to spam the forum with every single issue I encounter but I thought this was rather important to raise.


I think you are correct that this is a gap.

I think most people have imported contacts in another way e.g. export from SIM on the source phone and then import on Librem 5 using the Contacts Importer app (or weren’t using the SIM for contacts).

I don’t store any contacts on my SIM (which I did directly move from my previous daily driver to the Librem 5). However I did successfully use the Contacts Importer app.

Could you edit the topic title to better reflect the content?

In any case, the search function will bring up earlier discussions of importing contacts, including trials and tribulations.

I suggest you do spam the forum, after confirming not already raised, unless you choose to raise an actual issue - which is a more formal way of getting developer attention (and again you should search to confirm not already raised).


IIRC, I have stored contacs on SIM last time 20++ years ago on my Siemens S10 cellphone. Since I use smartphones they are stored in the app, for example gnome evolution. The number of contacts in SIM is very limited, some 16 IIRC. I would not waste time for such a feature.


I’ve got many more than 16 on my SIM card. Personally, I like keeping them there, as I can easily take them to a different device when I want. Of course, I also need to copy them to the device, in case I change SIM cards while traveling abroad.

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Someone already raised this issue. That’s good. At least they know about it. Thanks.

On my SIM I have around 80 maybe 100 contacts.

If your phone breaks and does not turn on anymore and all contacts are locally saved there instead of SIM, how are you going to get them on your new phone?

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You should think your smartphone as an UNIX laptop and ofc you should do backups of your personal data (photos, messages, contacts). The contacts exported as VCF file before the backup to have them in a form whih should understand any other app:

$ grep BEGIN:VCARD utcontacts-guru-20210911.vcf | wc -l

And in case your SIM breaks?

(elaborating on what @guru wrote)

Three answers:

  • We all do comprehensive backup, right? That will pick up the actual contacts database - and everything else.
  • Selective backup / export specifically of the contacts.
  • You don’t need the contacts locally anyway e.g. use LDAP or other network-based solution (Nextcloud?) - more for advanced users (and the support may not even be available yet on the Librem 5)

Same for me. But Linux likes to give users the freedom to organise themselves as they see fit. So if @Poseidon wants to store contacts on SIM, perse should have that possibility.

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Yes some SIMs do stop working after few years of use. I have no idea why. And L5 has killed one of my SIMs already. I took it out while the phone was switch on and since then the SIM no longer works.

No I don’t think of my smartphone as UNIX laptop because it isn’t laptop in any shape or form. My pictures are on the SD card so that’s not a problem but contacts I keep on the SIM and the phone. I never to had to backup contacts before every single phone I had before could read contacts from SIM directly. Expecting people to know commands that export contacts to VCF file is ridiculous. And by the way my current phone is Blackberry Q10 so it’s not even possible to run that command in the first place.

I don’t have a nextcloud server. I don’t have any server. I just want the phone to read and display the contents of the SIM. Is that really too much to ask?


  1. I have already said that, consistent with the spirit of Linux, if that’s what you want to do with your phone, that’s fine. Unlike a Google or Apple spyphone, you own and control your Librem 5.
  2. Purism has already accepted your request. I can see from the response so far in that request that there must be at least some interest in this within Purism. You should check in with that Issue from time to time in order to track the progress.

There is nothing wrong with other people telling you that a) they don’t use contacts on the SIM and b) why they choose to do contacts differently and c) what other approaches can be taken.

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I have finally received my Librem 5 and wanted to switch from my old dumb phone (I don’t trust any other smart phone, so never made the switch), put my SIM card in and hoped to be able to get my contacts in, but was disappointed by the lack of any importer for SIM contacts. I always kept my contacts on the SIM card because if a phone dies or if I wanted to switch to another phone, I would have the contacts available. It’s really quite a portability issue.

My old dumbphone before the current one even had a feature that allowed you to sync contacts between SIM and phone and back again. This made it easy to make use of extended features on the phone like grouping multiple phone numbers per contact and still have the ability to put it back on the SIM for easy export.

This is really a feature I miss, because now I’ll have to put the SIM back in my old phone, copy all the contacts by hand to the Librem 5 and then switch the SIM again.

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Keep an eye on the above-linked Issue then, depending on your timing. If you can wait a bit, maybe that feature will get implemented.

Depends on how technical you are. The above-linked issue tells you how to get the contacts out of the SIM once the SIM is in the Librem 5. Then an e.g. awk script to convert that into VCF. Then Contacts Importer to import the VCF file into the Contacts database on the Librem 5.

There will be hurdles at each step, so it also depends on how determined you are.

Adding: I can confirm that the AT commands given in that Issue do work in the Librem 5. Even though I don’t use the SIM to hold Contacts, the SIM must have arrived from my mobile network operator pre-loaded with some support etc. phone numbers.

It mentions the AT commands, but it doesn’t explain how to issue such commands. How does one do that?

I personally prefer the second method (Method B, using e.g. minicom).

Related discussion: Importing contacts from VCF

The first L5s shipped with amber repository, which included the ability; the latest L5s ship with byzantium repo, which does not yet.

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