The travails of updating and reflashing

A valid observation, but then there are users of mainstream smartphones, too, who don’t know a lot about those operating systems or settings menus, or even how to change a SIM card.

This thread has continued for so long, I think, mainly because Sharon had some gaps of time when she had to deal with other stuff and wasn’t focused on reflashing the L5. She mentioned that she had been hospitalized for a while, even.

But yeah, the L5 is a special case when it comes to complexity. Maybe the upgrade process will get simplified at some point.


But should they need to?

I’m pretty old (retired about 10 years ago). My mother is much older. She is not good with computers. She doesn’t know the difference between Google, a browser, or the OS. Despite 2 years of help, she can’t reliably use keepassxc (on windows) without help from me.

And yet she has never had a problem with her smartphone. She takes pictures. She texts them to me. She calls. She reads e-mails. She sets timers and alarms. Her OS upgrades happen automatically and have never broken.

Yeah. But even then, the thread is a bit of a train wreck. People are being helpful. Sharon is intelligent. And it’s still rather awful.


Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think your L5 was already on byzantium, right? You were reflashing byzantium in an effort to straighten out all the issues you were having in the last few months.

Judging from the “success” message you saw after the process completed, one would hope, I guess, that it worked, although the existing settings and history not being wiped out is kind of a mystery. :man_shrugging:

:+1: :+1:

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I think you disingenuously took the wrong conclusion from my message. In regard to your:

I rhetorically asked:

With the obvious answer being “no”. And “my mother” was an anecdote reinforcing that view.


I don’t know whether she is controlled by Google or Apple but taking the latter as an example … it wasn’t until iOS 5 which first appeared with the iPhone 4S that Apple was able to have iPhones update themselves at all. Before that you had to run the *****y iTunes software on a Windows PC (or I guess a Mac) in order to apply updates. And that from a bazillion dollar company.

In one respect the Librem 5 is ahead of those early iPhones - the Librem 5 can update itself - but in another related respect the Librem 5 is behind the iPhone 4S or later - the Librem 5 can’t reflash itself.


Yes. I had surgery to remove cancer, then 5 stents into a abdominal aortic aneurysm. And I had a business to get rid of.
I thought when I retired I could do as I wanted. But more time is spent going from specialist to specialist, CT scans yadda yadda. They are not excuses. I could have devoted more time to this thread, but I needed some breaks.

That’s because they don’t need to learn all that for the other phones.
I picked up a Samsung Galaxy A23 and had no trouble navigating. And I was handled a Galaxy TAB A8 SM-X200 and in a few minutes was bee-bopping around w/ no problems, except I refused to become assimilated, so it’s not of much use.

Now, can the discussion about me be moved to a new topic ‘All About Sharon’s Shortfalls’ would be a good topic starter. I promise not to peek. :smirk:




There are times when you do need to know how to change a SIM card. Otherwise you might incur the loyalty penalty of being unable to change provider. Even if you never change SIM, you may still need to know how to install a SIM card initially - unless you buy the phone from the provider, which comes with its own negatives.

Yes, it is true that phones that support eSIM don’t require the user to know how to install or change a SIM. However only relatively recent iPhone models contain an eSIM - and an eSIM comes with its own negatives.


and yes… those updates WORKED, for the most part, with very little fussing from the phone owners. PureOS/Linux/Purism/etc have a long way to go still…


Until they didn’t.

One of the reasons that I backed the Librem 5 was because I wanted to get Microsoft completely out of my life. One of the challenges was that Apple ceased to support the older version of Windows that I had for running iTunes. So it effectively became impossible to update the iPhone at all (and also impossible to get a later iPhone because the version of iTunes refused to recognise later iPhones) and also impossible to perform a backup of an iPhone at all.

If I wanted to persevere with Apple and Microsoft, I would have had to buy a new PC, with a new (then current) version of Windows. So my situation was a bit similar to Sharon’s in that before I could even think about applying updates / getting a new iPhone, I would have to tackle the host computer side (as she has now successfully done).

(Actually, iTunes for the purposes of administering an iPhone was always a bit balky for me but maybe that reflected how it ran under Windows. Maybe it worked better on a Mac.)

I don’t think anyone would argue that the Librem 5 experience is as polished as a current or even recent iPhone experience. But that’s like “10” hardware versions and “10” software versions down the track for Apple.

Let’s see what PureOS magenta is like running on a Librem 5 Oak batch. :slight_smile:


Can’t wait!


It was just a little comic sarcasm, to say that particular case may not be representative of every non-techie user (of which there must be many, judging from internet forums and social media). No offense.

Everything is easy with one of those smartphones and/or mobile service… until it isn’t, and one has to delve into the operating system, settings, or contact customer service.

But maybe the point you really wanted to emphasize was that Purism uses improper marketing, and that many non-techies don’t know they’ll need to learn how to deal with more involved technical problems on the Librem 5, which, unlike all those other smartphones, is definitely more complex as a GNU/Linux “phone-computer.” I would actually agree that Purism shouldn’t market the L5 as if it’s a similar device, albeit more privacy-respecting.


Yes. I gather that system software issues are rather rare these days. And even then, it’s so easy to do a factory reset that most people can fix system software problems by themselves.

Yes. Purism hasn’t been doing that for a while. However, there are some fans that do over-promise in regard to usability questions posed by Linux newbies. And that now-previous-thread would be a good pointer to give an example.

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A factory reset may remove whatever software problem the user is experiencing but it is hardly the ideal solution on any phone, resulting as it does in the loss of much config, apps and data.

It is true that you can mitigate the loss of data by storing as much data as possible in the phone controller’s cloud (e.g. iCloud) but that comes with its own negatives.

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Which is why I use separate microSD cards to isolate identities while ignoring flashing scripts.


As I said, it’s rare. But it’s easy. I will say that on my phone I don’t really have anything I really need that I don’t have a copy of elsewhere other than text messages — and it’s easy to download and save a history of texts. I’m planning on getting a new phone soon and I think I’ll just start fresh.

I should note that it’s essentially what gets recommended on these forums all the time. Isn’t that the point of the previous thread —> Sharon is reflashing the system image (not just firmware, but the whole system image … where it notes that This will erase the contents of the phone’s eMMC, including user data.).

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What are you thinking about using?

That is totally dependent on the use case.

I think that is @FranklyFlawless’s approach. Nothing on the phone (on the eMMC drive), so can reflash at the drop of a hat.

For me, definitely not. When I upgraded from amber to byzantium that had to be a reflash because amber didn’t come with an encrypted file system out-of-the-box and I wanted to introduce LUKS (and while it is technically possible to encrypt “in place” there can be issues). So that was a very careful plan of: copying lots of stuff off the phone, reflash, and then re-establish stuff on the phone. So, for me, no, I wouldn’t reflash unless I had to.

Or let’s say that the phone is bought second-hand with therefore unknown software, settings, … on it. So it should be reflashed on Day 1 of acquisition. Or, failing that, should be reflashed sooner rather than later.

For a dissident in a high-threat environment, yep, it may be wise to avoid putting stuff on the phone at all (and hence can reflash easily at any time).

If the user irretrievably breaks the contents of the phone then, actually, it should be restored from backup, not reflashed, but, failing that (e.g. if there is no backup), yep, reflash.

So I am not going to generalise as to what all users should do.

That can be true but it can still be mucking around to re-establish. (For example, I have ?hundreds of contacts on my phone. Am I sure that I can re-import all of them? To be on the safe side, should I export them before reflash and then re-import them after reflash? Should I be using LDAP? :wink:)


Probably a Pixel 7a. I can get a Pixel 7a for $250. The only issue is that I prefer to have an sdcard and an RCA [mini 3.5mm] port. On the other hand, it can run GrapheneOS and has wireless charging.

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I’m struggling to understand why someone would want an RCA port on a phone but maybe I am misunderstanding what you are referring to.


Right, both my Librem 5 USA and Librem 14 can be subjected to reflashing procedures at any time, as I externally backup anything important beforehand. Afterwards, I import any declassified databases and configurations as necessary.