The Librem 5 Kicks Ass

After more than 2.5 years of waiting, I have finally received my Librem 5! Here are my initial thoughts:


High quality build, COMPLETELY UNMATCHED hardware privacy features, blazing speed.

Where I Am Coming From

I have been using the Pinephone as my daily driver for over a year at this point, I think, and I have put a lot of effort into trying different configurations and making it usable for me. I got to the point where it was basically usable, but the experience was still not great. What I would say regarding the Pinephone, is that I am very thankful for it, as it remains the only reasonably accessible GNU/Linux-first mobile device on the market. Pine64 has done a great job of getting devices into the hands of people who want them. Still, I could not fairly recommend the Pinephone to my friends or family. The quality of the device is below what I could call “good.”

Receiving the Librem 5 and Initial Configuration

While using the Pinephone, I have gotten used to sxmo as a mobile interface. I love sxmo and would recommend it to anyone willing to learn a new way to use a phone that is a bit more tech-y. So, after unboxing the Librem 5, I first removed the battery and inserted a microSD card flashed with postmarketOS+sxmo. I plugged in the L5 and held the down-volume button to boot from the microSD card. I had a new OS running on my Librem 5 in a few minutes.

The build quality of the Librem 5 feels great. People have commented on the heft of the L5, but I don’t find it super heavy. I have handled the Fairphone 4, and I think it is a similar weight. The metal frame feels solid, and the buttons and kill switches all do their jobs as they’re supposed to.

Using the Librem 5

From there, for me, it was basically super-speed bliss. While using the pinephone (which is… slow), I have gotten used to mostly using more efficient tools (w3m web browser, in-terminal mpv for playing media, st terminal, etc), so, many of the tasks for which I am using the L5 happen nearly instantaneously. Even dino, which is on the bulkier/slower side of applications that I use, works beautifully. I knew that the Librem 5 would be a step up for me in terms of performance, but it has truly exceeded my expectations. My initial assessment is that everything I need just works flawlessly:

Wi-Fi: Perfect.

SSH Client: Perfect.

Web Browsing (w3m): Perfect.

Hardware buttons and touch screen: Perfect.

Hardware kill switches: Perfect.

Camera: Does not work with pmOS+sxmo

Calls (dino/XMPP/ Perfect.

Texts (dino/XMPP/ Perfect.

Music: Perfect

Bluetooth: does not work with pmOS+sxmo

Bluetooth and camera would be nice to have (and I could have them by switching to PureOS), but they are not very important to me right now. I was already using the Pinephone as my daily driver without using either of those features.

What the Librem 5 Means to Me

Finally, Purism has made it possible to have a convenient mobile device that does not compromise freedom or security. In my mind, no other device meets this criteria right now. Of course, I appreciate the efforts that have come before. For example, CalyxOS allows people to use a freer, safer OS on android devices, but CalyxOS is still built almost entirely with Google code (AOSP). CalyxOS and all other Android forks still have MANY features designed by Google to limit people’s freedom and security and to facilitate Google’s stalk-and-control-humans-for-profit business model. A different (good!) solution is postmarketOS installed on an Android device. However, this also has some drawbacks including that none of the best supported Android models have a removable battery or any kill switches.

Among mobile devices, only the Librem 5 has a convenient set of kill switches for turning off all radios, cameras, microphones, and other sensors turned off in lockdown mode. In terms of both quality and performance, the Librem 5 easily outclasses its only competition (Pinephone) in the GNU/Linux-first phone market.

I Hope Purism Continues to Succeed

To me, the Librem 5 is a great success. Some loud voices on a Google-owned video platform (YouTube) have recently been very critical of Purism, calling them a SCAM, while also shilling hard for GrapheneOS, an OS that only officially supports phones literally made by Google. I cannot endorse Purism’s approach to refunds or shipping time estimates. But Purism is not the scam. The scam is that if you use an iPhone, Apple and other companies use that iPhone to stalk you and record information about how you live without your knowledge or consent. The scam is that if you use Android or an Android fork, Google has designed out functionality of that device (e.g. root access) that you could use to protect yourself from Google relentlessly stalking you. Too many people have bought into the scam of locked-down mobile devices for too long.

Thank you, everyone working hard at Purism, for creating a real alternative that enables freedom and security. It has been a long wait, but I have finally received my Librem 5, and it has exceeded my expectations.


They are already. Your support and others have proven Purism can achieve it. Those loud YouTube voices failed to stop Purism’s momentum. It is no longer a matter of time at this point.

Enjoy your phone that you truly own.


Huh? I didn’t know you could boot that way on the L5!

Did you take microSD out of your PP and put in your L5?

My experience was similar to yours, but I was using Mobian-Phosh… then the PP modem died after a year of daily driver.


For you and other new Librem 5 owners, I recommend checking out my Firefox guide:

And be sure to check my most recent comment in that post, which includes updates.


NB: Requires a somewhat recent uboot.

Reflashing your phone will automatically pick up a reasonably recent uboot - but that of course may be completely impractical for you, in which case you can update uboot from a running system. Your starting point though would be to check what version you have. Status of Suspend for Librem 5 - #288 by tomoqv

Thanks for the review and summary. I am tempted to try sxmo properly :slight_smile:

Curious, and probably to be fixed in the future because both work in PureOS? Do you know if this sxmo specific, i.e. do camera and bluetooth work when using pmOS+phosh or pmOS+plasma?

Judging from the subject line I thought you found a way to use the metal casing for self-defense!


No, postmarketOS provides separate images for the L5 and the PP. I’m not sure what all the differences are, but at least I remember something about an offset being different. Like, how many bytes in the device looks for the boot image.


I don’t know that, but I’ll let you know if I get the chance to test it out. I am using the most recent release, so the issues may already be fixed in edge. I’m not sure.

Who are you using as a carrier?


i’ve unfortunatly had a different experience with these points. For me both the pine and librem are not ready for daily phone use because the modem blurps out at super inconvenient times. I’ve missed important calls and have not been able to call when i really needed it. In short after a year of using the pine and librem back to back, i’m back to windows phone 10. Which i trust fully to work when i need it most. I cannot give the linux phones that trust, in their current state i actively distrust them to work. This is from my personal experience.

Conclusion the GSM modem still needs a lot of work (at least the EU one that i had gotten)
I’m working with support and sending logs.

I hope the librem/linux phone space will succeed because i think the world needs a alternative to the horrible google/apple duopoly. I still think its such a shame microsoft’s windows phone was haunted by it’s horrible .net version and failed because of lack of software .Those nokia are as solid as they come. If only microsoft had gone the way the linux phones are going: pc in your pocket + you can call.


Sorry you have had such trouble. I had the same trouble with the pinephone, and I have heard that the Librem 5 modem can die sometimes and require a reboot. Fortunately, that does not effect me, as I have never used the Librem 5 modem, instead relying on a mobile hotspot device (Franklin T10) and for phone calls.

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Of course it’s better to have a 3rd big player, but since Microsoft is not even better in terms of privacy etc, it wouldn’t make much difference. Okay I would prefer a convergent Windows phone above a not convergent Android, but I think you get my point.

Hopefully things will become better for you with Linux pocket PCs, so that you can get enjoy those.


Amen to this. Well said!