Why I will be cancelling my Librem 5 preorder (different reasons from other users)

As the title says, I will be cancelling my pre-order. I have read that customers have to jump though hoops just to get refund, so I hope, that I will get it. Bellow I will list all the reasons, why I do this. Before reading this, I would ask you to remove your pink glasses and only look at this as factual, practical and functional aspects of this. Please leave your biases and “It is the best, because phone runs full GNU/Linux” behind.

In short I believe that:

  1. Purism doesn’t and will not have resources to make L5 a practical device (aka matching Android in features etc), IF they doesn’t go AOSP route.
  2. Purism is heading in wrong direction in GUI design (no apps or widgets on homescreen etc). This is what happens when you have strong GNOME3 biases and have no resources to hire many regular user testers and listen to their unbiased feedback.
  3. L5 hardware is absurdly overpriced and inadequate for a “convergent desktop computer”. 3gb ram and 32gb flash in 2021 for $900+ is spit in the face. I understand that Purism have to cover development costs and have to cut corners, but there is a line and it is crossed. Unlike with the SoC, Purism could have used better specs.
  4. You don’t need GNU/Linux (which is missing critical and hard to implement features for a modern smartphone) to make a freedom respecting, privacy respecting, secure smartphone. AOSP (with other free and open source community made software) have everything needed to do that.

Here are my explanations in long:
I also want to point out that I have a Pinephone (the 32gb flash, 3gb ram version, with Mobian) to follow L5 development. I have actually used Phosh and I can’t express how bad it is, even when compared to very old Android versions. It is incredibly clunky, you have to try it to understand. Development is extremely slow. It is missing critical features, even after being in development since 2018, but that’s not all. Phosh have wrong DNA to start with, let me explain. Purism copied very backwards GNOME’s GUI choice, that there is no stuff on desktop (aka no apps on homescreen or widgets) (Aesthetics over functionality is bad). This doesn’t sound as an issue, but it makes phone painful to use, because it takes some seconds to find and open the app, do that many times per day and you will notice problem yourself. No wonder why company behind Pinephone choosed KDE (to be used as default GUI on phone) over Phosh despite Phosh being better funded.

Another Purism’s selling point of L5 is convergence. Ask yourself, would you REALLY would want to use a computer with 3gb ram, 32gb storage and a weak-ass cpu (performance is between Raspberry pi 3 and 4). I have RPi4 and it is slow as hell, laptop from 2010 is faster and lags less. Would you really want to place your phone on the dock when your are home when you could just use your main computer? I don’t know about you, but I am moving my phone around the home or room.

AOSP = Android open source project (the regular official Android, but without Google stuff and other bs) (yes, that’s right, the Android itself is free and open source software)
If I would have tasked to create a privacy and freedom respecting phone, I would either take AOSP, adding cool privacy stuff and put it on the phone or take AOSP GUI and port to GNU/Linux. In that way I would not have to reinvent the wheel. Just imagine the work to get Phosh (and GTK, compositor etc) to Android GUI level.

I think, that it is stupid, that Purism didn’t take AOSP as a base. They would fast and easily archived their goal of usable, freedom respecting phone, which is their end goal (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUiYmtGL1EE).

There is this Bittium phone (https://webshop.bittium.com/product/70/bittium-tough-mobile-2). It is almost 2x as expensive as regular L5. This shows that there is a strong demand for secure and privacy respecting Android based phone. And that phone is all closed source and locked down, they even claim that non-rootable is a feature. L5 would sell like hotcakes with it’s hardware kill switches, replaceable modems (useful to easily change IMEI) and open source drivers. Everything could be auditable and everything would work. L5 is the world’s first and only phone with such features. I also long time ago asked Purism, if they will support AOSP and they said that they have no interest and there would be issues getting RYF certificate (https://ryf.fsf.org/) for some reason.

Side notes (only slightly related to topic of this post):
Right now if you want privacy respecting phone, you should buy, ironically, Google Pixel phone and install AOSP based rom. CalyxOS would be a good choice. GrapheneOS is very hardened, but it is noticeably slower because of that. And Google Pixel because these phones receive updates for very long time and are have the best rom support. Of course, you can also use other phones. LineageOS is for you then, just unfortunately it doesn’t include default phone camera app, so image and video quality sucks. Another critical feature what these roms have over regular OEM roms is that you can natively turn off internet access per each app. iOS users have enjoyed this luxury for many years, but I doubt that Google will implement this feature, because of conflict of interest. Of course, drivers are not open source, but I think, that it is good compromise right now.

While following Phosh development and GNU/Linux phones in general, I noticed that some users just use these OSes only because it is cool that you can run GNU/Linux on a phone. Here are few examples.
I saw users talking and using some old ass ancient Nokia device with qwert keyboard and saying that it is good and usable, because it runs full GNU/Linux.
I also saw one big distro developer saying or doing something with always-on proximity sensor (I can’t find that post anymore) like there was no problem with that and it was a feature. If you put phone in landscape, your fingers will be on proximity sensor and screen will turn black, this CAN’T be turned off in settings. It should only happen when call is happening, but it happens all the time. When I pointed out this issue on Reddit, I was told just to blacklist the proximity sensor in kernel. When I told that it is a bug, not a feature, my comment got down voted a lot. If I remember correctly, Purism recently fixed this bs.
I have seen many such examples, which are similar to these. It reminds me the hipsters, who use unpractical things just to be cool or different. Like driving old ass bicycle with big wheel (and crashing), typing notes at university with loud mechanical typewriter etc. These are real examples btw, there are videos of that.

I also want to point out that I am not some outsider, which still uses Windows, or god forbid Windows 10 (on Purism subreddit I have seen users with L5 which still uses Windows 10). I started using GNU/Linux (Ubuntu) in 2016 and switched to it for full time in 2018, when Lord Gaben released Steamplay (proton). No longer need Windows to play Windows exclusive games on GNU/Linux (I know that Wine exists, but it is not convenient).


That the L5 is expensive and the GUI isn’t very good are aspects which I can understand. In my opinion it is also sad that there are problems with refunds and that people have to wait very long 'til they get their L5.

The main reason why I ordered a L5 and why I’m still waiting for it are the kill switches. Another important reason is that it has a “normal” linux installed. I’m happy that Purism isn’t using AOSP because that would make them depend on Google, even though indirectly.


I support Purism with purchases and donations.

@Team_at_Purism, if you are reading this post - I want you to know that you are doing a great job with what you have! :+1: :+1: :+1:

Notify: @Kyle_Rankin, @nicole.faerber , @todd-weaver, @MrChromebox and all others


I also bought a Pinephone to hold me over until the L-5 was shipped. I got the weaker, 2-GB RAM, 16-GB eMMC model. I am running Mobian, which uses Phosh, and I have been enjoying watching its progress.

Phosh definitely isn’t iOS, or Android. But I can also say Linux desktops aren’t Windows, or macOS. A lot of people would say KDE, Gnome etc are not as functional or polished as the commercial OS’s.

Of course, it all depends what you want out of your computer, or smartphone :slight_smile:

I use the Pinephone as a desktop as well, though not on a regular basis. I have both the L-14 and a Librem Mini. But when I visited my parents (they live out of state), I intentionally left the computers behind and brought the Pinephone. When I wanted to show something to my father, I plugged it in using an adapter to his monitor, keyboard and mouse, and it was pretty slick :slight_smile: Not desktop quality, but I wasn’t expecting that either.

There are a lot of options out there, and I respect you choosing hardware that fits your priorities. For me, if the Librem 5 ends up being a Pinephone with better hardward (and the kill-switches on the outside!), that should work pretty well for me.


I’m sorry that it doesn’t meet with your requirements. Hopefully you get your refund quickly. To me the librem 5 is about control, and AOSP is really not designed to provide control to the user. At least not at the system level.

Why not the pinephone? The kill switches are control over the parts that I have no control over (the modem mainly). The camera/mic switch is nice should it be compromised. The wifi/bluetooth is more just nice to save power. Also, the Librem 5 has higher quality hardware, which is very nice.

Yes, today it’s not terribly impressive, and likely will lag behind the major players until the market fully matures (in my mind the desktop/laptop market has reached that point, but others might disagree). It’s a lot longer road, but in my mind in the long run it’s worth it.

I’ll note owning a Librem 5 right now, that phosh works much better on the Librem 5 than the pinephone. Though this is largely in the responsiveness of the UI.


Cool. Be happy.

This is a matter of opinion. I’m a casual Glade user for UI design and got a disappointment with UBports (KDE based) not supporting Gnome. (nevertheless used my Ubuntu phone happily for almost 5 years, till end of battery-live :cry:)
So I’m glad with Gnome and looking forward to try my little apps on the L5.


@Bum112, Let us know how your attempts to get a refund go.

Considering that the crowdfunding started in August 2017 and most people who preordered aren’t expecting to get their phones until Q1 of 2022, I can understand why people would cancel their orders for the L5.

However, I’m guessing that you want the community to discuss your points, so I’ll take a stab at it.

I agree that Purism, PINE64 and Jolla are fighting a very uneven battle by trying to develop mobile Linux, when Google and Apple offer well developed and very polished systems with 3.5 and 2.1 million apps in their app stores, respectively.

However, there are a number of reasons why I believe that mobile Linux will eventually succeed to become a viable alternative to the Android/iOS duopoly:

The work to add libhandy/libadwaita and Kirigami classes to desktop GTK and Qt applications so they can run in mobile Linux is far easier than creating new FOSS code from scratch, and we can see that it is already starting to happen.

Once you get serious about using only free software in an AOSP+F-Droid system, you will start to see a lot of holes in the system that need to be developed, just like in mobile Linux. For example, if you want decent speech recognition, text-to-speech voices, OCR and augmented reality that is FOSS, you will have to develop it in both AOSP and mobile Linux. Sure, there are a few areas, such as camera apps and virtual keyboards, where AOSP is ahead of mobile Linux, but on the other hand, desktop Linux actually has more FOSS games than AOSP+F-Droid, and it is a lot easier to to adapt the interface of a desktop Linux program to run it in mobile Linux than to port that same program from Linux to Android.

However, I don’t think that crowdfunding the development of Linux phones and going through the trials of being an early adopter is for everyone. If the goal is to get a working privacy phone as soon as possible, clearly an AOSP-derivative is the better solution for most people, and that is what a number of us on this forum have recommended that people buy.

I have used LineageOS+F-Droid on my phones since 2015, and for people who just want a privacy-respecting phone, an AOSP-derivative phone really is the best route. Today with /e/ Foundation, jolla-devices.com and Rob Braxman all selling phones with an AOSP-derivative preinstalled, it is easy for anyone to get these phones, even if they don’t want to install it themselves.

There are a number of organizations (/e/ Foundation, CalyxOS, GrapheneOS, etc) already working on AOSP privacy phones, so I don’t think that Purism would add much to current efforts if it decided to switch to making an AOSP-derivative phone, whereas Purism is playing a vital role in developing mobile Linux. Also, Purism has little expertise in AOSP and would have to fire most of the 11 developers it current pays to work on the Librem 5’s software, and it is often a bad idea for companies to try to do something outside their core competency.

AOSP may be better developed than mobile Linux and F-Droid has a decent app store, but it does little to address the 3 core problems that I see in the mobile phone industry, which are surveillance Capitalism, planned obsolescence and monopolization. I don’t see much hope of us eventually getting to a better place with AOSP, whereas I do have some hope that mobile Linux will solve all three of those critical problems.

With an AOSP derivative, we are still dependent on Google, which is the chief company in the world promoting surveillance Capitalism, and even if Purism forks AOSP, it is going to be very hard to find volunteers or companies that are going to take over the development, so that Purism doesn’t have to keep drawing code from Google’s latest AOSP release. If AOSP derivatives ever became a serious threat to Google’s business model, than Google could simply decide to not release the next AOSP version under a BSD licence, and then we would be screwed, because we don’t have maintainers for the AOSP code and it would be incredibly hard to recruit an army of volunteers to take over the maintenance of all that code. It is worth reading this article about how Google has progressively privatized essential bits of Android and AOSP has been stuck with outdated code. It is already a problem, and Google could make it much worse if AOSP derivatives ever start to pull any sizeable market share.

If you use F-Droid, you will see a lot of apps that have been abandoned and haven’t been updated in years, whereas Linux applications have a much better history of code being maintained, and it has an ethos that encourages volunteers to join existing projects, rather than creating new apps as in Android/iOS. There is the constant temptation for Android/iOS app developers to privatize their code or to start working on another app whose code is proprietary and/or monetizes users’ data, whereas it isn’t nearly as easy to do that in the Linux world, since there are few Linux distros that will accept those kinds of apps and there is strong community disapproval of that kind of code.

Most phones running AOSP-derivatives don’t get driver updates because Qualcomm, MediaTek and Samsung only support their mobile processors for 2.5-3.5 years (and most HiSilicon and Apple processors have locked bootloaders don’t allow the installation of AOSP). Google uses outdated kernels in Android and it can be very difficult to upgrade the kernel since the chip manufacturers often don’t release firmware/drivers for new kernels, which is why each new version of Android supports 3 different kernel versions so the kernel doesn’t have to be upgraded. Look at all the problems with the Fairphone 2 using a kernel from 2012 in the year 2019, and you start to realize why Android/AOSP makes it hard to fight against planned obsolescence: https://source.puri.sm/Librem5/community-wiki/-/wikis/Frequently-Asked-Questions#311-how-can-purism-provide-lifetime-software-updates-for-the-librem-5

Yes, Purism could have used AOSP with the i.MX 8M Quad and it would not have had the same planned obsolescence problems as other phones, since NXP promises to support both Linux and Android on the chip till Jan. 2033. However, that is a special case with NXP, and the goal as I see it is to create a new market for phones that have long-term support, and that will be much easier to do with Linux than Android/AOSP.

I don’t understand your point about “no apps or widgets on the homescreen” of Phosh:

Which screen are you talking about?

Considering that Phosh uses its own compositor and it is an entirely different shell from GNOME3, it shouldn’t be that hard to convince Purism to alter its interface if you file issue reports and explain what changes you think it should have.

Considering that my poll on the PinePhone forum found that 56% selected a distro using Phosh as their favorite, versus 17% for Lomiri and 14% for Plasma Mobile, I’m not sure that most mobile Linux users agree with you. (My poll has an admittedly small sample size of 36 voters, so it may not be representative.)

I agree that $799 and the coming $899 price hike is a lot to ask. The specs were OK in 2017, but in 2021, they are very outdated. I saw the Tecno Pova on sale for $140 last week with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage.

The i.MX 8M Quad processor limits the video processing for the camera to 1080p@30 and the RAM to 4GB, so Purism is limited in how much it can upgrade the specs. My advice to Purism is that if it is going to raise the price to $899, it should offer 4GB RAM and 128GB storage. My web searches find that the cost of that upgrade is far less than the $100 price hike, and I believe that better specs will generate enough extra orders to justify the extra expense.

One thing that many people may not realize is that there wasn’t any better option to design a phone with hardware kill switches in 2017 than the i.MX 8M Quad, even if Purism had decided to use proprietary blobs. Every processor that Purism could have used either sucked way to much power (like the RK3399) or had built-in WiFi, Bluetooth, GNSS and cellular modem that would not have worked with the hardware kill switches. Today, we have the RK35xx processors on the market, so Purism has more choices for future models, but if you look at what Nvidia, Allwinner, Amlogic, Rockchip, Broadcom, etc. were offering in late 2017, I think that Purism made the best choice available at the time.

Considering that my poll found that Plasma Mobile is less popular than Phosh, Lomiri and Sxmo among PinePhone users, and only the last one of the six PinePhone Community Editions shipped with Plasma Mobile (vs three with Phosh), it is clear that PINE64 didn’t choose Plasma Mobile because it was the best or most popular interface. I believe that PINE64 chose Plasma Mobile for the PinePhone Beta for the following reasons:

  • Plasma Mobile works on a community development model that PINE64 promotes,
  • Manjaro, which is PINE64’s partner, is willing to provide support for Plasma Mobile,
  • PINE64 didn’t want to promote the interface of its chief competitor,
  • It allows the PinePhone to distinguish itself from the L5 in the market.

There are a lot of advantages to Phosh over Lomiri and Plasma Mobile in my opinion. See: https://source.puri.sm/Librem5/community-wiki/-/wikis/Frequently-Asked-Questions#310-why-did-purism-decide-to-create-the-new-phosh-interface


I keep on reading people say shit like this. And I keep on having conversations with people that tell me that this model or that model has more cores, more gigs, whatever.

But, I HAVE NEVER EVER seen a person EVER max out whatever their phone is in any given generation. In every generation of phones (spanning maybe a release or two of android or ios), you have a lower and a higher and spec and I have never ever seen anyone either run out of space, not have enough processing power, and on and on and on. Virtually all the complaints are about battery life and occasionally iphones slowing down or maybe an android interface being a bit slow or an android device not being able to run the newest android release. But, no user EVER in the history of smartphones has ever managed to max the computing power of a smartphone and what moves the computing power forward, is the artificial market pressure of new bling always outselling old bling.

I know there are some smarty pants here that will want to raise their hand and tell us about how that one time they maxed out their phone or some bs like that, but the reality is that your phone either died way before it was not able to do what you wanted it to do or you got bored of it and wanted a newer model because your friends had newer models. Just admit it already.

Computing power has outpaced our average usecase requirements loooooooooong ago. Devices are no longer sold based on the computing usecase, they are now status devices and keeping up with the joneses devices. That is all (mostly).

On the other hand, GNU and the GPL are not technologies, they are political vehicles. The Linux kernel is purely a technology because Linus is entirely apolitical and the kernel is merely part of GNU by virtue of the historical hiccup where HURD could not keep up for whatever reason. Because most Linux users are not well versed politically (and no young person should waste their youth on politics) they often don’t have the skills or the insight to make the distinction between the marketplace usecase and the political usecase.

This is the problem with OPs post. He is complaining about something he doesn’t understand at all. He is making a VERY GOOD case for a marketplace usecase (only for him and people like him, of course) but he is missing the entirety of the point of GNU/Linux and the L5. The L5, like the Librem laptops, is a political vehicle. It attempts to give users the GNU politics with as much polish as is possible given the current economic constraints. Much like Librem laptops, it is merely a set of political vehicles with a dream and hope in their heart that there are enough passionate people that care about GNU politics that they will be able to make a living at it.

So far, it seems that not only are there enough people that care about Librem GNU polticial vehicles in the form of laptops, the demand for the L5 is so high that people here on the forum can sell used or broken devices for some eye watering prices if we are honest.

In other words, OP is correct only about his particularly limited, and honestly entirely shallow, understanding of technology, politics, marketing or the different demographics that use mobile devices. The use cases that he described did not even remotely begin to address my wants and needs, and if anything, were superficially presumptive of what the “marketplace” wants or needs.

And so, the planet makes another revolution around the sun. OP will sell his device and be happy. For those not in OPs demo, just like in the early days of the linux desktop, we will push through and hit all the same roadblocks and technical issues we hit way back when. This is a road most of us have traveled before, we will travel it once more. And just like the last time the matrix was rebooted, when some future L5 device is good enough, these same people will jump on board and claim they are OG GNU / Linux users just like they did with the desktop. And that is good, for there shall be light.

Because, we aren’t buying a product, we are buying GNU politics.


@holycow, I think that 3GB RAM / 32GB storage is enough for most people to run a Linux phone, but the point that @Bum112 was making is that it isn’t enough if Purism is going to market the L5 as a convergence device to use as a desktop PC. I agree with his assessment that the L5 needs more RAM and more storage for it to be used as a desktop PC. I regularly open 20 tabs in Firefox when web browsing. If you open Firefox, LibreOffice, Chats and a terminal at the same time, I suspect that you will run into the 3GB RAM barrier. My previous phone had 32GB of storage, and I regularly had to delete files or transfer files off the device in order to make space in order to shoot video. On my desktop PC, I have 400GB of files.

If you look at the 305 bar-style mobile phone models that have been introduced so far in 2021 (according to the gsmarena.com database), only 37 of them have 32GB of storage or less, and only 45 of them have 3GB of RAM or less. Even for people who believe in the vision, it is a hard sell to pay a premium price for a phone that is in the bottom 15% of the market in terms of its amount of RAM and storage.

Purism could save money if it switched from 3GB of specialty automotive RAM to 4GB of standard RAM. 40% of the 2021 new phone models have 128GB of storage or more, because NAND Flash memory prices have fallen over the last couple years. It wouldn’t cost that much to offer better specs, and I think it likely that offering better specs will generate more orders than trying to raise the price without offering better specs. For roughly a $30 rise in the bill of materials, Purism would probably get twice as many orders as keeping the current specs.


I do not find the comparison with established smartphones useful at this point. But I can understand the need to have functionality like deploying existing systems, but IMHO that is primarily the job of the entire Linux community.

In my opinion, Purism should stabilize the hardware platform as it is very close to being unusable and then try to find promised features. The battery is a disaster in terms of charging behavior and consumption, I’m sorry when I get to the point, but that’s THE problem on the phone and nothing happens.

I notice every day that some hardware decisions have turned out to be mistakes in retrospect and I would wish that everyone else didn’t have to live with these mistakes, so it would be more than fair if the next shipments were made with better and more powerful chips would. I think sticking to the current decisions is fatal to the project.

If Pursim would tell me, send me 500 € and we will send you a fixed board, I would be there right away. Money doesn’t matter to me in the project - it just has to work. #shutupantakemymoney

My 2 cents


I have thought about cancelling mine. Life and the world changed and I do not have as much time and motivation as I once had to really get involved with development of a phone OS, which was my intent at the time I ordered. That said, I won’t, I still like supporting Purism and what they stand for and I hope it will be a success.


This one, perhaps?


OP contradicts himself here. On Reddit, he says he never really expected the convergence when buying the phone:

I though that it would be workable for a phone (100% trust and killswiches were worth it), but certainly not for a desktop pc

Also this:

At that time, when I ordered, the costs was also lower ($750) and it was 2020, so it was cheaper and slighly less outdated hardware. But now it is almost late 2021 and price is $900 which will go up to $1000 acording to Purism themself. This is now insanity.

How does it matter if you have already paid the lower price?

This is not what you see when you boot the phone. Also AFAIK this view will be removed later.


That is a great point.

I have reduced my expectations so low that if I can get reliable phone calls and texting I will be happy. If I can just get a full linux environment + calls / text + external switches, it will be a good start and I will try to make it my daily.

Beyond that, I don’t know. Let’s see what happens.


I only keep on posting contra points on these threads to fight the “pink elephant” problem. When someone says pink elephant, you can see it in your head, and once the idea is placed in your head all kinds of strange things happen. Like clicking on a file on a usb stick you found in a parking lot.


It doesn’t mean the ideas are wrong, but context usually brings balance to the conversation.

Humans also have this really weird need to pick a negative and so overfocus on it that they end up drowning out all of the other ideas out there. I had to join this forum because the Reddit and other places are full of this kind of stuff and it was hard to tell what was actually going on.


Thank you everybody for the usual passion around this issue. I thank the OP especially for alerting me to the bittium. I like the look of this phone.

I’m probably going to do the same and cancel my order and go with a company that has a good track record and a solid product. I suppose that Purism, with all of the half truths, and that whopping change of refund rule, has undermined my faith.

Yes its a noble cause and all that, but the above combined with poor support I encountered with some Librem suite inquiries has got me to this point.

I hope Purism can make a go of this, but it will not be with my money. Unless the fortunes of the company preclude a refund, and that would not surprise me at all.

No way, dude!

I would lose all perspective as well.

I never will accept Free Software is called a “bias”.
I’d rather call my country “Richard”.

On my planet we aim for slightly more. You may apply with some main stream company. You will die anyway, some day.

However, there is plenty of fish in the sea.
Never mind freedom - not your issue.

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This topic has opened my eyes to what is out there. I can purchase a Pixel 4A for about $349 plus tax and get a phone with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of flash and with 802.11n and recent modems.

The promise of the Librem 5 was that I could upgrade the phone modem and the other card but not the memory and the CPU and memory.

I think I will spend my money on a Pixel 4A and then compare what I can get now to what I will get in 2022 (or later) when my Librem 5 arrives.

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This is far from the only promise of Librem 5, see here: https://source.puri.sm/Librem5/community-wiki/-/wikis/Frequently-Asked-Questions#11-why-buy-the-librem-5


But what will you do with those specs? Android will not give you convergence or freedom to run any Linux software. Nobody ever reaches the limits of the hardware on Android and iOS anymore.