Who asked for the L5 schematics?

There are several posts across the Forum where users asked about the schematics of the Librem 5. It’s a bit hard to track all the threads where people asked for them, so here are the schematics of the Librem 5 Birch batch:


Take that, haters! :grin:

P.s. congrats and thanks for following the values you stand for.


That came unexpected :hushed:

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Purism needs to find a proper stitching software so you don’t get those ugly seams where the tiles come together.

maybe adopt a standard for post-processing the files so they look professional.

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The publication of schematics and Xrays of the L5 boosted my trust and respect to Purism. And to Todd too. So many people blame him. I do not know the guy, but to allow the publication of schematics and Xrays shows a great personality.


Any chance of getting the computer data version of those X-ray images? While the pictures are nice, anyone actually trying to verify their board against the reference board will have an easier time working with the raw dataset than with the flattened images.


I want to send a big thank-you to Purism for publishing the schematics under the GPL 3.0+ license. That basically says to other companies that they can use the Librem 5 schematics, but they also have to share their changes with the world. I hope that this becomes the standard for mobile Linux devices.

Too bad the KiCAD schematics files weren’t released for Birch like with the Dev Kit. I assume that Purism doesn’t want to make it too easy for Chinese copycats to create copies of the Librem 5 until Purism has recovered its development costs.

I wonder if any other companies will use the Librem 5 schematics. I kind of doubt it, because the i.MX 8M Quad is expensive and its CPU performance isn’t very good. If another company decides to make a Linux phone in the future that competes with the Librem 5, I expect that they will use a chip like the Rockchip RK3588 or the Broadcom BCM2711, that has Cortex-A7X cores.

The x-ray images are interesting.

I’m guessing that the purpose of the x-ray images is to:

  1. Prove that Purism has made sure that someone (like the Chinese government) didn’t add any spying device to the Librem 5,
  2. Allow people to compare the PCBs in their phone with the published x-ray images to verify that nothing has been added to their phones.

In order to realize the second goal, maybe we should label the parts in the x-ray files so they are actually useful for people who want to compare the x-rays with their boards.

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This is exactly the reason. I believe Todd even stated this in one of his blog posts. IIRC, the plan is to release the Gerber files in the future when we’re not threatened by this.


Awesome! Any chance of getting the CAD files for the case/chassis so I can design a cover? I’ve written a script which makes it easy to change dimensions, so I don’t mind if they’re not the final dimensions.

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There are currently no plans to release CAD files for the chassis.

Sean said, it’s likely to happen around Evergreen. I assume both statements are true :wink:


Let me correct: there are no such plans that I know about :stuck_out_tongue:


Hm, that’s something of an interesting question… Does the physical phone count as a derivative work of its schematic? If so, anyone who gets a copycat phone could expect to also get the schematic under the GPL.

Unfortunately, while that would apply to the CAD files, the schematics posted above aren’t what you’d use to make a copycat phone. Sure, you could use them to dramatically cut down the development cost and time on your own CAD files, but that would count as a re-implementation of a spec, not a derivative work.


As I understand it, a company which uses the Librem 5 schematics to create a derivative product legally has to provide the schematics to anyone who buys the derivative product and asks for the schematics.
Or is hardware different from software?
However, it would be very hard to prove that they used the Librem 5 schematics just by looking at the derivative product, so I doubt that anyone will take them to court to force them to release the schematics.

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Hardware isn’t different from software, but documentation is not the same as source code. In this case, the CAD files are the source code. You can send them to a printer and get a circuit board out the other end. Anyone distributing that circuit board must then provide the CAD files on which it was based.

The schematics are more akin to Doxygen output, describing how various bits work together and what public interfaces exist. Just as there is no way to compile Doxygen output, there is no way to build the PCB from the schematics.

If you read a project’s Doxygen documentation, and re-implement all the functions, the GPL does not compel you to release your clone under the GPL. Similarly, using the schematics as a reference to make your own CAD files wouldn’t bind you to release those CAD files under the GPL.


yes but if by chance both our resulting CAD files look the same and it’s a known fact who was first then it might be a bit of a problem … unless i dress it differently and modify a few things at the higher level and call THAT an end-product-fork …

Aye, if the CAD files look alike it often leads to problems for the re-implementing actor. You see this happen once in a while with projects like ReactOS, where they get accused of using non public information sources or outright duplicating parts of the original product.

And all of this only covers copyright restrictions. If there are patents involved it can get messy, having to accomplish the same goal without duplicating the algorithm directly. Also, while names (including function names) cannot normally be copyrighted, they can be trademarked, which can lead to compatibility problems too.

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It would be fair to point out that there is one component that is not on the schematic and which can’t readily be copied: trust.

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Hold on, am I missing something here? Isn’t the whole point of what Purism is doing to make hardware that is incapable of abusing your trust? From the social purpose side of their organization, wouldn’t it be effing awesome if someone in China started cranking out cheap phones that were incapable of violating user trust? Or at worst, cranking out cheap phones with software/OS that perhaps could violate trust, but onto which users could easily flash FLOSS OS (like PureOS) because it was designed that way by Purism? I mean, they explicitly state that they don’t want a monopoly on this hardware – no monopoly, no ability to make a “walled garden”, right?

I am not a hardware engineer. Therefore I can’t verify that Purism’s design or Purism’s implementation is sound. Therefore I choose to trust Purism.

If Szechuan Electric China Trading decides to use the schematics to make an identical phone, I likewise still can’t verify the hardware.

So the only discernible difference between the phones may be the entity producing it - and the trust that the customer places in that entity.

Bear in mind that even with identical schematics and someone who is a hardware engineer, it may be difficult to prove whether a component has intentionally been substituted in the design. (This point is different from the discussion over whether someone on the Chinese side could, unbeknownst to Purism, substitute a component. This instead would represent an intentional substitution made by the Chinese clone manufacturer itself, or known to that manufacturer.)

Nothing in the above is specific to “China”.

If another US company ran with the schematics and produced a clone, you are still entitled to ask the question about whether you trust that other company. Does it have an established reputation? What are its motivations? What are its past actions? Case in point: If Microsoft decided to replace its dead or dying Windows phone :slight_smile: with a Linux phone based on Purism’s schematics, would you trust it?

While a laudable goal, that is definitely not fully achieved today. Some parts of the design work that way (e.g. ensuring that the modem has no access to main memory). Some parts of the design still rely on trust e.g. the CPU, the memory. The modem itself is taken on trust so any unencrypted traffic passing through it could in principle be compromised. As I understand it.