Yet another 'getting started' report

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:

Refer other topic in forum: yes, it works fine except when it doesn’t. Specifically, IIRC, if the uSD card is absent, it will not failover properly to use the original ~purism, I think due to some systemd idiosyncracies. For some use cases this could be regarded as a positive security feature but for many customers they would just want to have a working phone.

So, yes, if you are absolutely certain that the uSD card will always be there then this works (apart from the performance cost that you note).

I don’t believe this to be accurate. While I’m sure there are forum posts from people who have tried it and experienced a phone that stalls on boot when the uSD card is removed, becomes corrupt or is otherwise rendered inaccessible, that doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

I can say with certainty that it is possible as my own phone is set up using a home directory on the uSD card and the phone boots fine with or without the uSD card present.

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Yes, I didn’t mean to imply that it can’t be gotten working (with Linux, given enough knowledge and/or time, almost anything can be achieved), only that the direct approach will likely fail in some way if the home directory is on the uSD card and the uSD card is not present (looks like failed boot / stalled boot?) and so will require (?) fiddling around with systemd configuration.

You tell us. What config changes did you have to make in order to achieve this?

When this works, I guess the user would also need to think about the confidentiality issues of leaking data onto the eMMC drive (niche use case perhaps) and think about the data management issues (i.e. consistency between the two home directories).

I mount the uSD card as a systemd service unit rather than defining it within fstab. It sounds straight forward however…

…^^^ this. The uSD card has to come up and be mounted before any user services start, in part so as to prevent any leaking onto/into the home directory of the eMMC. This creates a bit of a problem as you want a hard dependency to come up before any user services but also a soft dependency in that only if the card is present, this is made a little trickier than normal to deal with as the Librem 5 automatically logs the user in during boot.

Additionally, you want the uSD card up before any user services so as to ensure the user environment is set up properly/fully, for example, if user services start before the uSD card comes up then any user configured login autostarts don’t get triggered, along with any systemd user units, timers etc,. and if you are using the internal smartcard for SSH authentication the SSH_AUTH_SOCK environment variable doesn’t get set and… and… and…

A potential further complication arises if you decide to wrap the home directory on the uSD card within a LUKS container.

I think this is true of most things not just the preserve of Linux.

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Ha ha. Well maybe but with proprietary operating systems sometimes the required knowledge is kept secret so that in theory given enough time you can achieve what you want to achieve but in practice your life could expire before that happens and, more likely, your patience will expire first anyway.

In other words, with Linux noone is deliberately attempting to thwart you - but there is still no substitute for knowledge and expertise, and it can take time to acquire those - whereas with closed systems they are sometimes deliberately attempting to thwart you - but sometimes you will succeed anyway.

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I’m very comfortable with Linux, but have not messed with links much. Please tell me if I am crazy, but I was going to create a sym link in /Home/Music, say “SD_Music”, pointed at the Music directory on the SD card. I would expect the link to fail if the card were not mounted, but everything else to work fine.


We are actually discussing moving the entire ~purism directory to the uSD card. That’s why we have to handle the situation much more carefully if the uSD card is not there.

As you correctly say, if you only have some parts of the ~purism directory on the uSD card then it can fail more gracefully. While your music may go AWOL, it should still boot normally.

I assume by /Home/Music you mean ~purism/Music. And yes it is much safer to symlink only a subdirectory of ~purism/Music. If “moving” the whole of ~purism/Music then a bind mount may be safer than a symlink.

I’m using Lollypop and frankly there’s no need to symlink or bind mount anything. Just plonk your music somewhere on the uSD card and point Lollypop to where the music actually is. Works for me. However there may be some subtle wider considerations for why you want the music to be “in” ~purism/Music.

Nothing subtle – just the first thing that came to mind. I was just thinking to offload big files from the eMMC, in a way that seemed natural. What could be more natural than downloading something, app defaulting to /Downloads, and clicking through to the corresponding folder on the SD card?

My choice of using /Music as an example was a poor one… I use Lollypop too, and know that I can just point it to the card, but it seemed like a nuisance to configure all the apps separately (assuming they all can even do so), when I could let the defaults do their thing.


Nicely written, thanks for that effort.

The list of the basics was especially useful for me. I haven’t gotten mine yet and the list was affirming my hope that it will even work for me.

Any need to tweak the phone has me very intimidated, it’s been said I can mess up a soup sandwich. ;o)

I have a couple things to add here…

I’ve switched podcast apps from gnome-podcasts to Kasts. Thanks to some quick work from the dev community I was able to get the mobile view working, and this is pretty close to ideal. I’m syncing to my Nextcloud with the gpoddersync app.

I’m using Pure Maps for navigation, and even the turn-by-turn directions are working well. I recommend getting an API key from one of the premier map providers (I’m using Mapbox).

I found there are still some things I needed my Android phone for, that I don’t expect to be resolved any time soon (curbside pickup with Whole Foods & Target, for example). These aren’t daily necessities, but things I do rely on, so I will continue to have an Android phone for the forseeable future. I did, though, find an elegant solution… as a T-Mobile user there is the free Digits app which lets you do calling and texting from another device… so my T-Mobile sim is in the L5, I have a cheap MVNO sim in my Android phone, using the Digits app so they both ring on the same phone number. I call this a win.

Incidentally, as far as I can tell, I’m using VoLTE, and with suspend on, the phone rings on the 3rd incoming ring, and I get notifications on incoming SMS… so I am using suspend as well, which makes the battery charge last a full day. Maybe I’m just lucky, maybe it’s my modem & batch… or maybe not enough people are reporting their successes, but this is working pretty well for me.


Nice getting started summary by the way but i would stay away from symlink or using the sdcard for anything important.

All this doesnt work so well because of lacking reliability and some keyring integration issue:

SDCard appears to be connected over USB mount and drops off frequently so there could be risk of data loss, and at times does not reconnect when mounted as LUKS or requires to renter the password at which point no other app has access.

What it should be doing:

  1. not unmount sdcard or power cycle USB connection to card,
  2. not require a password entry when already entered once, even if drive is remounted,
  3. it is USB 2 so maybe not fast enough or have low enough latency for some programs to use flawlessly

That said i use it reliably for backups, syncing with syncthing that is extremely robust, and store music collection ~30-40GB since it doesnt fit on eMMc. Playback of music from SDcard unfortunately suffers from issues described above. I am on kernel 6.1.0 so it is possible future updates improve the reliability.

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If you installed Waydroid you might be able to do without your android altogether.

It shouldn’t drop off anymore on an up-to-date system.


I just received mine. Using it a little bit before I post my getting started post. The initial experience is that using the L5 lifts a giant weight at a psychological level. Difficult to explain, but I no longer feel like I am under the thumb of someone else.


I got waydroid installed, and I was able to move 1 of those tasks over… but I do find the experience… lacking. It seems fragile - some of the commands seem to just lock it up, and nothing I could do short of a reboot would bring it back. I’ll leave it on and keep working with it, but I’m skeptical.

Regarding waydroid being temperamental: you know when you tap on the waydroid app icon and you subsequently stare at your desktop wallpaper for 30 seconds before giving up? That’s the experience I have. One reliable workaround for this (on my phone) is that I launch waydroid, lock my screen, unlock it again, then I see the boot animation.


True I have found that as well but like everything in this space it’s a moving target and I have a work phone that is android so it’s less important to me, but when it gets better I may revisit using it. I have it installed but I don’t really use it much at all at this point.