The need for supporting Librem 5 developers


There is good reason why multi-billion $$$ smartphone developers
keep silent about their development process.
There is a tradeoff between the need for clear communication to
Purism backers and the interest of promoting L5 reputation & PR .

Your constant dissatisfaction with Purism’s communications has
a negative impact on L5’s image and PR - reducing marketing
& sales potential / cash flow - less income = a direct blow
to L5’s continued development funding - which is the opposite of our mutual goal -
Assuming that the continued development & success of L5
IS an interest shared by clear communications advocates …


I disagree! To recognize the reality of a situation is better than ignoring it. We talk about it, discuss the pros and cons, and learn from each other’s inputs. Maybe some people feel some consolation for reasons that they hadn’t considered previously. This has no affect on sales that wasn’t already affected by Purism’s decisions, for better or worse. Negative subjective opinions don’t do any good and are unfair to everyone. Objective discussions about dysfunctional communications can be productive when warranted. But dis-satisfaction? Yes, there will be dis-satisfaction when communications are insufficient. Purism is running what appears to be a successful business with a worthy cause, not a cult. Healthy communications are good and we don’t need people telling us to not ask honest questions or even to complain. If the people at Purism want different things to be communicated, they can conduct their communications differently. That’s how business works.


With Engineering tasks, things do take time. Sometimes, it can be difficult to know how long something will take. Maybe it will start working five minutes from now. Maybe it will take another six months. Who knows? And for the most part it’s all okay. Poor communications… not so much. New ground is being broken here though. It can be difficult to go by previously established paradigms when customers play a dual role as semi-informed investors at the whims of the company. I am willing to take some risk because the cause is good… if there are adequate communications.


I agree with ahartman. Information about every step takes time which is missing in the development. It is impossible to answer every single question and it is most important that the development goes on.

We cannot and should not request the same kind of information and communication as from the big companies (which are not very good at that either).

With limited resources it is the question of information or development. I prefer development.

Once the L5 is out there will be opportunities for people outside the development group to help informing. But first thing first - and that is development.


How is this an issue of communications vs development being mutually exclusive? And how long could it possibly take for one person to write a few sentences for a status update with critical information (one person, ten minutes)? When Purism says they’re going to ask everyone in the Aspen group which modem they want and then weeks go by on the forums and no one says they’ve received that communication nor have they received any product, doesn’t that transmit that something is not going as planned? Worst yet, it sends a message that they knowingly choose not to tell us what is going wrong (a much more important issue). You can’t communicate this way and not be willing to take responsiblity for the questions that come up as a result, without drawing suspicion upon yourself. No one is asking specifically which chips are being used and how they are wired up. It’s much more simple than that and is non-technical for the most part. Our questions are more like “it is obvious that something is happening differently than would be reasonable if things were transpiring as you told us they would happen. What has changed?”. It’s like you get up one morning and there is a pink elephant in your living room. Then when you ask about it, your parents say “I don’t see any pink elephant. To ask such questions makes people look bad. You shouldn’t ask”. Are you then not suspicious, regardless of what they say about it after that? All we learn when communications are not clear is that we trust them less. At the same time we should support the developers and at least Purism does sponsor an open and free forum here. Purism hasn’t told us that we shouldn’t ask these questions. But it doesn’t look to me like the company is supporting the developers very well either when they communicate poorly when things appear to be going wrong. Support the developers, yes. Good communications, yes. The two are not mutually exclusive.


Sorry, but I have to disagree. I have been working in research and development for 35 years and also done a lot of communication and information. I strongly disagree that communication is just a few sentences in ten minutes. Information and communication is hard work and it takes a lot of time. Even if it is a project that you are working on you must check a lot of things before you write something because you do NOT want to make mistakes. You should double check all the time. And you must probably look at other papers and other similar projects to have some reference.

Point is: Communication takes time and thus it is time taken from your work if you are a developer. My experience is also that you do not want to be distracted when you are doing R&D. You must focus on your task completely. So, yes, they are mutually exclusive in my experience.


That is how mom and pop operations work. I have led new product development teams for a much larger company. Every product development team member is an expert in his or her specific area of expertise. One member of the team is the marketing manager. He or she is supposed to know everything in-general, about the product and about how that information is or should be shared with both potential customers and with customers and with the media. If he or she needs to, they consult an attorney. This is in the course of normal operations, not something that they scrape together when they think they should or might need to communicate with customers. When these people go to bed every night, they are supposed to be fully informed about all of these issues from that day. When these people communicate, it’s more like pulling an appropriate trigger as opposed to quickly scraping together information.


The Marketing Manager is also supposed to work with Executive management to coordinate such information as new product release date announcements. They shouldn’t publish schedules with a low level of feasibility of success. They should take more time than anything else, making sure that their published schedule is something they are likely to be capable of fulfilling. If they realize later that they are going to miss the mark, they immediately let customers and the media know what is going on. That announcement is the most difficult to make but is the easiest task to perform. You’ve already lost face by then and just need to let others know what you did wrong and what you intend to do going forward. That only takes a few minutes to do. Anyone who can’t do that, isn’t going to stay in business for long anyway. Take your money and run the other way if your supplier can’t do that. Relationships of trust are worth more than any technology. It doesn’t take long for a qualified team leader to articulate the issues, for the marketing person to apply the appropriate filters, and for the CEO to communicate appropriately. These communications are a part of the brand and thus, of the product. The product will ultimately fail (even if it functions properly) if the company and the brand are mis-managed.


Until recently, I worked as the community manager for a commercial open source web software project, meaning that I was in charge of communicating with the public. Whenever I had to say anything about a future version of the software currently in development, I was supposed to send an email to half a dozen people in the company and get each one to approve the text that I was going to post on the forum. People would make different edits to the same bit of text, and I had to resolve the differences and make sure that everyone was OK with the changes. I recall us having a 2 hour meeting just to resolve the procedure how the company would approve these communications.

When customers can get spooked and you can lose orders, companies have to be VERY careful what they say publicly about products in development and it does take time out of everyone’s schedule. Even a two paragraph announcement on the community forum could involve 25 different emails back and forth inside the company where I worked just to get the text approved. If Purism says that feature X currently doesn’t work and the developers don’t have a clear date when they will fix the problem (which is the case with a lot of technical problems), then it is often better to say nothing. It might be fixed in 2 days or 2 months and nobody is sure how long it will take, and nobody is sure how many orders you will lose if you say it publicly.

I have been there and dealt with these sorts of issues, and it isn’t nearly as easy as you imagine to communicate these sort of issues, especially when dealing with a public that doesn’t understand the technical details and are likely to freak out.

From the latest Gardiner video, we know that Bluetooth, the cameras, and video out over HDMI aren’t yet working, and the game Animatch is only playing at 10 frames per second. We know that heat pipes will be added to the next batch (Birch) and later, so heat is an issue with the i.MX 8M Quad processor. Purism is clearly working on these problems, and they will probably be resolved soon, but technical problems like these are often very tricky and take lots of trial and error to figure out, so you often can’t give a clear date when they will be solved, so it is better to simply say nothing. If Purism posted this on their web site, tomorrow’s headline in the tech web sites, slashdot and reddit would be “The Librem 5 has serious problems and isn’t ready,” which may be true for the several hundred customers who are receiving the Aspen batch, but it won’t be true for the 10,000 customers who will receive later batches and many of them will needlessly freak out and cancel their orders.

By demanding that Purism communicate every problem to the public, we are actually decreasing the number of orders (which can harm the finances of the company) and distracting the company from solving the current problems with the Librem 5.


I am really glad I have never been working with real products for a real company (35 years in the technical university). Anyway they would have fired me within a week because I would never be able to work in such a system.


I felt the same way, which is one of the reasons why I quit that job. My boss yelled at me and told me that one of my posts on the forum had lost an important client for the company. Balancing transparency with the need to make a profit is not easy.

Considering that every company (Montevista, Motorola, Nokia, Intel, Mozilla, Canonical, Samsung and Jolla) that has tried to develop mobile Linux has failed, we do have to keep in mind how difficult the task is and that Purism is a tiny company that might be destroyed if a couple thousand customers suddenly demand their money back.


is it just me or have i understood that transparency in Purisms case is more about gnu/free-software and the open nature of the code and contributions rather than pure communication on the forums/social-media for marketing ?

i mean unless you have a review out or something for the L5 how are we suppossed to figure out if this communication happening is “transparent” or not ?

imo better wording is required here since transparency (when it’s clearly about marketing and social interaction) is not directly related to code auditing/contributions for the average-joe.

for the hardware aspect the CEO already stated that it’s going to take some time before everything can be made available. some already is but not everything just yet …


Hm, Sailfish OS is currently my daily driver, and it looks like the next version (3.2.x) will be released in a few weeks. There are glitches, but it doesn’t feel like a failure to me.


they failed to create linux phone that is. Jolla with SailfishOS is much more linuxy than android, that’s for sure, but it’s still running android + bionic with all that mess hidden by hybris.
And they failed in that because the failed to produce own hardware platform. J1 was one and only - but that was qualcom’s low-profile android soc.


OK - if you are talking about the hardware platform or the lower-level stuff that interacts directly with the hardware, then you are right. The tablet project was also very unfortunate. It was a pity that they had to pull out of the hardware business, here’s hoping that Purism do better :slightly_smiling_face: