Purism Librem 5

Continuing the discussion from 2x16: Indeskribable:

I read more about this on their website.

Interesting concept, and it reminds me of a bunch of the goals with Ubuntu Phone. A few thoughts:

  • I think it is madness that they are not running this on Kickstarter or Indiegogo - they will get more traction there.
  • They seem to be focusing more on the HTML5 apps thing, which was a key element of the Ubuntu Phone too, and a way to get around the issue of porting native apps. What I am unclear of though is whether users prefer these kinds of apps and their availability - e.g. is there a Spotify HTML5 app?
  • Neat to see them doing convergence, but one bit of feedback I heard with the convergence story in Ubuntu was having to have meeting rooms plumbed with screens, keyboards, and mice for when you switch rooms. Obviously for individual users it is great though as you can have that set up at home.
  • It seems expensive.


There are perhaps five levels to that:

  1. Could there be an app, delivered entirely over the web, which provides the exact experience (slick UI, fast loading, access to hardware features, etc) that a current native app does, for various services (Spotify, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Gmail, Twitter, Facebook Messenger, whatever)? Answer, yes.
  2. Does such an app currently exist for most of these services? Answer, no.
  3. If such an app doesn’t exist, is it possible for a third-party to write such an app? Answer, generally no; it would be if these services exposed some kind of public API, but almost all of them do not (there is obviously a private API, but services such as these are at least mildly and in some cases litigiously hostile to reverse engineered API access).
  4. If no decent slick experience web app exists and none can be written, is there at least a crappy not-as-good-as-the-native-app experience so that people can at least do something? Answer, yeeees, mostly. Not always. (There’s no WhatsApp as a pure web client, and no proper Instagram, but there’s normally something).
  5. Are the companies in general open to someone with money paying them to build an app, or paying for the rights to build an app themselves? Answer, in general, no. Canonical couldn’t do it, Microsoft (who have approximately infinite money) couldn’t do it in any meaningful sense.

So, what you end up with is a world where a “third-party” phone (by which I mean “not supported by the upstream services”) has to live with reverse-engineered clients and not-as-good-as-they-should-be web UIs. There are occasional exceptions – I’ve been using the Twitter “Lite” version, which is a full-blown web app, as my twitter client on my phone for months now and it’s at least as good as the native Android app. There is also the point that if someone provides a great web app, it requires a prety up-to-date web browser; there’s a load of stuff that iOS Safari can’t do, for example, let alone someone’s weekend project of “chuck a five line python window around gtkwebkit”. But in general I can’t see how Purism plan to break this logjam; they aren’t a big enough deal to have services get on board without pressure, they aren’t a big enough deal to apply pressure, and what they’ll get is exactly the same as Ubuntu phones did: “there’s no WhatsApp so I don’t care” as a meme.


Nice break-down, pal. :slight_smile:

I agree, sad as it is. I wish we could not exist in this walled garden, but it seems it is what it is.

OMFG OMG OMG This is super hella cool awesome!!! This is exactly what the Free software social movement needs! Most of the people I know have phones, but no computers (most working class people don’t).

For end users like me the Freedom comes first. Why the hell else would I care about nerd shit? (sorry, ‘lovable’ nerd shit ;)) Sure I’m very thankful to people who are into technology and make cool Free softwares for me, but it’s all about the Freedom. I don’t want non-Free software and avoid it where I can. I don’t think it’s a walled garden any more than Trisquel or Debian sans non-free repos are walled gardens in that the reasons and motivations for unavailability of certain apps are different then why most walled gardens exist (good for society, not hoarding like others) .

As well, from their page:

Will you have a calendar app, maps app, notepad app, etc. by default?

Our first version will be focusing on phone calling, encrypted communication, and web browsing. However the free software community is encouraged to test, port, author, and get involved to take all the great free software applications that exist already and make it work on a 5″ screen.

So let’s see who steps up.

Yeah, it would probably suck as an open source phone, but hey, it’s not an open source phone; It’s a Free software phone :smile: Also, they got Garrett!

//edit: Ok, I stepped up in the one way I actually can.

I think this is really important and it has a good chance of succeeding because it’s not like all the other times. It’s not tech lust; It’s altruism and love :heart: :sparkling_heart: :heart:

//edit: Oh hey, they also have a ringtone contest where you can win one (you just have to scroll way down to find reference to it)

I woke up to a very pleasant surprise tonight, IT’S FUNDED ! :smiley: WOO HOO!!! Seriously though, I want credit for being very good and not getting all amway up in here during their campaign. That took a lot of restraint.

Since last posting, KDE, GNOME, PostmarketOS, and others have all teamed up with purism on this project.This phone is that important. So, if you haven’t looked at it yet, please do so because the need and concept are now proven (with like two weeks to go I might add). Personally I’ve been looking into plasmoids and flatpack, tee hee, and praying the good people at Kivy make a version of buildozer for that (I can’t package, code at all actually, worth shit :().

I want one too, I hope one day I could buy one

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Hopefully the price point (actually not expensive at all in Canada as we get screwed on the price of everything) will lower as adoption increases. That said, I think, that’s not going to be the truly hard part. The first ones are slated to ship in January 2019. Purism will probably have some sort of debut at this time. What I think will be needed most to help it “catch on” then is going to be a strong and plentiful apps. It can run many GNU/Linux distributions (I’m going to choose Debian) but for optimum usability existing apps will have to be ported. This where I think help will be direly needed. There’s no manual or how to guide yet though :frowning:

They just announced the shipping dates for the first Librem 5 s :grinning:

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