Yet another 'getting started' report

Hi all, I’m a little late to the L5 party, but I feel like I arrived at just the right time.

I got my L5 last week, with the BM818-A1 modem. I have been an Android user, but an open source developer and advocate for years, so I kind of already knew what to expect. What I didn’t expect, was that my transition would be relatively painless. I know, right? I’ve read so many negative threads here… I honestly wasn’t sure I would be able to use my L5 out of the box as my primary device.

I’m happy to say that I moved my SIM last night, turned off my Android phone, and life goes on :smiley:

Primary functions

For me, I needed the following to work - no room for fudging:

  • phone calls on T-Mobile
  • SMS on T-Mobile
  • Access to my calendars
  • Ability to read/write/sync notes with my nextcloud
  • A web browser
  • A podcast player I can use while driving
  • Access to email - Proton Mail
  • Some kind of maps

After that, everything is gravy, and I’m happy to say I’ve got all the basics covered. Phone calls & SMS work great - MMS is working with the MMSC set up in chatty. Contacts & Calendars are working with the Gnome apps, connected to Nextcloud via Online Accounts. I was able to add Nextcloud Desktop, use it to sync my Notes dir, and I’m using Paper to read/write the notes. Firefox works great for browsing, I’m using Firefox Sync for history & bookmarks with my desktop - that was a bonus. Proton Mail is installed as a PWA via Gnome Web for now (Proton sent me instructions on compiling their bridge for ARM - I’ll try that later). Gnome maps is fine - I don’t need turn-by-turn right now. Lastly, Gnome Podcasts has a very convenient “Now Playing” view that looks alot like the Pocket Casts interface I’m used to… Nice big play/pause button, somewhat smaller rewind/ff on the side. I miss the fine-grained auto-download control, but I will live :wink:

Happy Surprises

The lock screen plugins are awesome! My Android home screen was always just a clock & agenda list - having the “Upcoming Events” plugin mostly replaces that - and the newest versions of Gnome Calendar have a similar sidebar view - looking forward to that to round out my calendar experience.

I also did not expect the Nextcloud Desktop client to work - I figured I’d have to do some working around with webdav syncing, etc., but it works fine. Although I don’t have a status icon, it continually runs in the background and does it’s job, and the UI only needs a bit of scaling to work.

I will admit I played around out of the box - I flashed PostmarketOS on the L5, just to see if having bleeding edge versions of the apps would feel a lot better; sadly it lacks a lot of the polish that PureOS has on the phone, so I flashed back. It was nice, though, to be able to easily do so, know that I can, and have the choice.

Installing openssh-server, and having that switchable from Settings makes a lot of tinkering easier. While I may not be using my L5 as a convergence device, it’s pretty cool that I can run chatty over ssh to SMS from my desktop :wink:

I’m using the Terminal keyboard almost everywhere… I have a lot of difficulty with the long-press clipboard UI, so just using Ctrl-C/V instead is easier for me (Pro-Tip - keyboard shortcuts are great in Gnome Files).

Some Things Still Need Work

So, obviously, battery life is still a problem. My L5 will go almost 10 hours on a charge with 1 radio on. This is usable, but not ideal. I know it’s not apples to apples, but my Android phone - a Unihertz Atom L - went about 3 days on a charge. For me, I’m usually at my desk or in the car, so the battery life won’t be a problem… but I know I’m always going to be watching it, and I know that if I forget to plug in at night it will be dead in the morning. :crossed_fingers: that sleep states will improve.

I’m going to want turn-by-turn directions at some point, I’d rather not get navigation for my car.

Gnome Podcasts, as I mentioned, is sorely lacking in features. I’m looking forward to Vocal 4.0 - which will be on libadwaita and “fully responsive” according to the dev. I also tried KDE Kasts, but could not get the responsive views to work. Otherwise, it looked like a great choice, visually and feature-wise.

I added an SD card, but I don’t see any easy way to extend my storage onto it. It would be lovely to have some kind of setup tool to use LVM or something format and extend the storage onto SD, or move the home directory, or something.

I have no clue what to do with the smart card. I think I just need to look into this more, though.

Things I Can’t Make Work

So far, there’s only one thing I haven’t found a solution to - that’s communication via Slack. I’m in a fair number of Slacks, and I just can’t seem to get this working. Maybe it’s just a good thing I won’t get so many notifications on my phone :wink:
Seriously, though, a lot of people use Slack for work, and I cannot get the PWA working on the L5. Slack doesn’t support Gnome Web, Firefox doesn’t do PWAs, and even Chromium gave me trouble with it. I’m not anxious to try Anbox, as it’s deprecated as well (and I think the Slack app needs Google services). FWIW I will be trying to move some of the smaller communities to Matrix, but there’s no hope for getting my work to switch, and I don’t want to set up & maintain a bridge server just for that.

What About All the Other Things?

I still use my Garmin smartwatch - I’ve only ever used it for fitness tracking, though; I don’t use it for apps/notifications. So I just moved the Android syncing app to my tablet. The watch now syncs when I’m home. This is fine.

Same thing for online banking. You’re kidding yourself if you think I’m going to go back to depositing checks in person. I just moved that app to my Android tablet too.

So if you’re an Android or Apple person, you’ll probably find having some of those things on an Android tablet or iPad is also a great way to slide away from needing them on the phone. After all, while the Android/iOS apps are honestly indispensable for some things, I don’t need them on my phone.

In Closing…

… thank you Purism for making this device. Thank you for getting it to me, eventually :wink: The Librem5 has made so much progress since I funded it, I’m honestly not sad it took so long to arrive. If anything it seems I’m getting to skip a lot of the earlier adopter headaches. I’m looking forward to doing so work developing an app for it as well… I have a great idea for a tool (but that’s another post and this one is long enough).


Regarding maps, try PureMaps. I haven’t myself, but it’s supposed to have more features than gnome maps.


I put in a cron job that checks the battery charge level every X minutes and if below a threshold, it asks me to put it on charge. Other similar trivial scripts are around. (Search forum.)

You would need to decide your priority between having a flat phone in the morning or getting woken up during the night …


Various people have raised similar questions. (Search forum.)

LVM would be cool. I have no idea what would be involved.

Bear in mind though that there is some perspective that you want to be able to a) use the phone without the uSD card at all sometimes and b) have a set of uSD cards and swap them in and out. Those use cases aren’t really compatible with unifying the storage.

The downsides would be a) more single points of failure, and b) more complexity.

Also, booting can only be from the eMMC drive, not the uSD card, so that would need to be taken into account carefully in how you set things up. (For what you want to achieve, I don’t think this would be a showstopper.)

I think some use cases would be a) securely holding an email signing key, and b) (more adventurous) securely holding the disk encryption key for LUKS.

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I have set up an authorization PGP subkey on the Librem 5 Smart Card and use it to SSH into some devices from the Librem 5 without the need to turn on my notebook. For example if you want to reboot an IoT device at home.
This is really practical. I was used to do it on Android before Librem 5 using TermBot on Android + a smart card over USB (YubiKey). I definitely prefer the Librem 5 terminal experience over Android TermBot.

I still have not found a way to use a second smart card over USB in parallel and to choose between 2 smart cards when I want to SSH to something (I have an authorization PGP subkey on a YubiKey as well and it would have been nice to be able to switch between the 2).


Search the forums here there is a way to create bind mounts to each folder in your home directory to the SD card (actually here is the post I used to get my mappings set up: Mounting home folders to sd card) It’s dead simple all you need to do is edit your fstab file to create the mappings and voila all your data is being re-directed to the sdcard. Some have mapped the whole home directory but I have shied away from that because I heard it could complicate some programs.

So if you’re an Android or Apple person, you’ll probably find having some of those things on an Android tablet or iPad is also a great way to slide away from needing them on the phone. After all, while the Android/iOS apps are honestly indispensable for some things, I don’t need them on my phone .

There is another post in here on how to install Waydroid, I’ve done it and have loaded my banking app in it by installing the apk, there are many ways to get the apk’s for your apps if you search. I used Aptiode within waydroid to install any of the android apps I used to use. Here are the instructions:


What is the advantage of bind mounts over symbolic links for this?

Yeah, I don’t see switching the SD card out very often… in my experience the contacts on the SIM slot & that little tray just aren’t made for it. If the L5 had a more traditional click-in SD slot, then yeah, I’d expect to change it regularly, but as it stands, it feels a lot more like a long-term decision to put something in there.

Yeah, sure, I’m fine with that, but it’s not easy, and not elegant. I’m not saying it’s a must have, or something I can’t live without or work around, it just seems like an opportunity to make a nice interface point, that creates a software behavior that matches the hardware expectation (which IMO is ‘don’t change the SD card very often’).

I’ll give that a try, thanks for the tip.

PureMaps is great! Thanks much for that tip!

I’m not really interested in getting Android apps working on this thing. I like the Adwaita aesthetic, I like how responsive the native apps are. For me, I feel like this is an opportunity to reassess what functionality I want to carry in my pocket, and what I can leave at home. I’m perfectly good with running my banking app on my tablet… I cannot honestly remember ever wanting to deposit a check when I was not at home… so why add the risks of carrying it with me? Again, just my opinion of how I want to deal with it… not implying anyone else needs to follow my path.


Nor me, if only because I have chosen a fairly large capacity uSD card and I only have one of them - but other customers have talked about using the uSD card in a more dynamic way (for example when travelling across international borders and your phone is at risk of seizure and examination).

So if you wanted to pursue an LVM approach, I guess the first step would be to confirm that the kernel that is in the boot partition has LVM support. Then you might use Jumpdrive so that you can rebuild the root partition to use LVM and do that from your desktop/laptop.

Oh and 100% for sure … image your phone before doing this because there is an obvious high risk of breakage. :wink: This is when it would be good to have a second phone …

If you read that thread it’s the preferred method, I’m not entirely sure why but I’ve read that elsewhere as well.

I think LVM is good for a SAN but not necessarily for a phone with a consumer level sd card, if you marry the sd card to the internal storage with LVM and something bad happens, you loose everything and you’re stuck re-imaging.

Maybe: symbolic links just don’t necessarily work, depending on what assumptions the software that is the user of the directory makes.

Yep. As I said above, more single points of failure.

I still use my Timex stupidwatch, funny thing about Batteries Plus/Bulbs is once you pay for the first battery replacement (and warranty) the rest of them are free.

I still go to my Credit Union, otherwise I’d deprive me of my 2 dollar bills. (I get them by the strap) Great for tips. And the 18 year old at the Dollar Tree checkout always has to call the manager and ask “Are these real?” (I also use a coin changer on my belt for exact change.) The grocery store cleark gets a kick out of it and wishes he had one.


Does the coin changer hold pieces of eight?

Nice post. I agree with pretty much everything you said. It nice to get a post from a user who knows what he/she is doing. Additionally, the phone has come a very long way since I got it about 9 months ago. It just keeps getting better.


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Thanks for the extensive writeup, nice to read.

Any reason you do not simply mount your homedir on the sd-card? Note that the sd-card is much slower than the emmc.

Not even the Slack app? Can you elaborate?

The company I’m currently in uses Teams, Slack, Pidgin, and is now replacing the latter with Matrix :partying_face:

I may do that, or just mount it and symlink a few bulky directories - the main reason I added it was to have a place for music & podcasts.

The LVM idea came out of my experience with how Android handles an SD card.

The Slack “app” is an Electron app, and not compiled for ARM architectures. The web app runs in Firefox, but then I can’t treat it like an app, since Firefox doesn’t really handle PWAs. The Slack app will not load in Epiphany, and Chromium had so much lag it was unusable (it took minutes for the cursor to show up editable, so I could post).

I have one more thing to try, and that’s the libpurple plugin. I have not, and don’t want to use an Android emulator.

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Oops, I was not aware, but indeed: error: Unsupported system: aarch64-linux :frowning_face: