Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Purism Librem 5 Pre Order (puri.sm)
102 points by ctulek 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 39 comments

I will buy it and I am sure I'm gonna love it. I will feel good having it in my pocket and knowing nobody gets my data if it's not me giving it to them. I will develop software for it and I hope others will too. I really hope THIS is the future of personal mobile devices, and I want to help make that happen.

I don't want to spoil your enthusiasm, but how do you know that?

"and knowing nobody gets my data if it's not me giving it to them"

As far as I know, the hardware is not open source, nor is the firmware.

So it is a nice step in the right direction, but we are not there yet.

> So it is a nice step in the right direction, but we are not there yet.

Even if it's not perfect, it's like a million times better than everything else around.

Perfection will come. Maybe.

I could see it being the future. I think expanse has it correct. In the future, mobile devices will essentially be commoditised. If you need one you get one. Once you’re done, you recycle it. They’re essentially shards of plastic with a connection to the internet. Who even cares who made them.

I used to be skeptical of non-mainstream products like this. Late last year I bought a Linux laptop from System76 that was by far the most expensive laptop I have ever bought (mostly because it has a 1070 GPU for machine learning) but so far it has been a great experience.

I love my iPhone/Apple Watch combination with perfect interop with my MacBook but I can see myself buying something like a Librem 5 in the future. The biggest drawback would be giving up my Apple Watch: it has been a game changer for me to be able to leave my cellphone at home, sort of disconnected but people can still get ahold of me while I don’t spend time staring at my phone instead of enjoying the world around me.

I would like more information about hooking a Librem 5 up to a monitor and Bluetooth keyboard. Even with a lower power phone, for me it is a compelling idea to have just one device.

I love that it exists, but I don't think I'll buy one. The processor having half the power of my 2016 mid-range phone is concerning me a little, especially for the price.

I hope they keep developing because I really do want a linux phone, but with enough power to emulate Android somehow (just can't go around it for some things).

Again though, congratulations for making it this far. The Librem 5 will probably be the standard hacker-phone for a few years.

I suppose it depends what you do with your phone?

Even with a slower processor I have no problems believing it may be better for certain workloads because you won't have a load of background tasks running, that don't need to etc. Will probably be worse for games though.

So the same situation that desktop Linux was in, in the naughties?

Thinking about your Android emulator. That should be fairly easy? Android is already basically a VM running on Linux. I'm sure Google will be working hard to prevent this use case though.

Jolla Phone already had a Android emulation for Sailfish OS

Alien Dalvik is a great idea and theoretically works well, but it's proprietary software and its developers don't seem to have any interest in anyone actually using it.

There doesn't seem to be any free software effort in prong porting ART to a real linux system (which shouldn't be hard at all), which could've happened for years and I'm not sure (though shyly hopeful) the Librem 5 will change anything about that (so the only realistic option would be full emulation, which would require a good bit of power).

Edit: Just realized that you could theoretically run Android apps via Chrome. But shit, that'll be slow.

You should check out Anbox. It's basically a containerization platform for Linux that hosts an Android userspace and shares your host kernel a la docker. All you need to do is load the ashmem and binder kernel modules or build them statically into your kernel.

So far I know that there's an Ubuntu touch port of Anbox that works. It's a pretty good all-around solution considering the low container overhead and support for OpenGL ES 2.0

> I'm sure Google will be working hard to prevent this use case though

They can't do much about the runtime. ART is part of AOSP so theoretically anyone can come along and just port it. It hasn't happened so far though, for reasons I don't quite understand.

What Google can do (and is doing) though is increase developers dependence on Play services, which they guard well.

> The processor having half the power of my 2016 mid-range phone is concerning me a little

Same. I don't know how much the "Pure OS" changes things, but I've built some STB/OTT devices using Android on the i.MX A53 platform, and performance sure felt like a Galaxy S3 from 2013 or so. Slow enough that you'll really notice, even if your just doing some light web browsing or Twitter reading.

That level of performance was totally fine for our needs on that device. But as someone's daily driver phone, there might need to be some carefully set expectations. Even low end $200 Android smartphones today are noticeably faster than this.

The question is, could you do more on this vs your 2016 mid-range phone?

If I install emacs with org-mode on this, arguably I can already do more than pretty much any task manager offered on platforms running on a more powerful hardware.

I'm curious to see how it feels running the basic software I need (mainly Firefox), I don't play a lot of 3D games of my phone.

Are we expected to order the phone without knowing its features/specs...? I can't find them.

I found them: https://puri.sm/faq/#faq-Whatarethephonespecs

Edit: argh, I think their lazy-loading breaks the anchor link browsing position. I will just paste the contents here:

Development is still ongoing, so most of the specs are not finalized yet. What is certain at this moment is:

CPU: NXP® i.MX 8M Quad or NXP® i.MX 8M Quad Mini

GPU: Vivante GC7000Lite

RAM: 3 GB minimum (subject to change)

Screen: 720×1440 high-DPI 5.7″ (glossy)

WLAN: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n

Bluetooth: Yes

GPS: Yes

NFC: No (subject to change)

FM Radio: No

Card slot: microSD

Loudspeaker: Yes

3.5mm jack: Yes

SIM cards: One

Camera: Front and back

Replaceable Battery: Yes (with tools)

Smart Card Reader: Yes (OpenPGP-compatible)

Everything else is To Be Determined. This applies to: dimensions, weight, supported modem frequencies, internal storage capacity, maximum SD card capacity, camera specs, other screen specs, battery life, SAR values, etc.

>supported modem frequencies

They should really try to figure this out before selling the product. If I, as a European, buy it and it doesn't support the standard European frequencies, then I've already had a bad experience.

Whilst it's great they're pushing the whole privacy aspect, they need to understand that viability in different markets is the next important aspect to landing sales.

I won't pre-order a phone that I can't be certain that I can use...

Anyone know what the purpose of a "Smart Card Reader" is on a phone like this? I hadn't heard of OpenPGP smart cards before, are they similar to the PGP subset of functionality on Yubikeys?

> are they similar to the PGP subset of functionality on Yubikeys?

Yes. I understand it as providing something akin to the "secure enclave" on the iPhone.

All that TBD and subject to change doesn't exactly fill me with confidence that they will be able to make their April 2019 shipping deadline.

I confirm. The website is quite confusing, I am trying to understand but what the specs are but it seems to be impossible.

This phone is something I'd see myself using in the future. This way you could really have a Linux desktop/laptop machine for work and a Linux phone where it's a lot easier to bridge the gap between the devices. Imagine the ability to use most of the features of your phone from a Linux PC like MacOS has some features of: quick Bluetooth tethering, USB tethering, answering to messages, calling someone, and more! But it's missing some key features imo like responding to phone notifications from your desktop, using IR blaster, using the Bluetooth on your phone if your PC doesn't have it, sleep mode that's synced, and so so so much more that I cannot even think of.

But for now, I cannot afford a phone like this. Not only because of its price for what you get. But also because I want my phone to "just work".

I believe we've found our next phone! Replaceable battery, headphone jack, Linux support. Hello, indeeed.

That’s actually a pretty expensive phone: $600. I think it’s a fair proposition given what they are offering and attempting, but in this post they provide none of the phone specs. I suppose it’s not their target, but should probably still list it.

"Upon initial shipment of the Librem 5 in 2019, it will offer the essentials: phone functionality, email, messaging, voice, camera, browsing. The featureset will expand after shipment and over time to more free software applications. Your user experience will improve as we incrementally add commonly requested applications and features (such as calendaring, notes, calculator, PDF viewer, etc.) while keeping performance in mind."

A phone without a PDF viewer or calendar app? :)

I wonder why they very carefully avoid giving a hard minimum for how long the software will actually be supported. "For years to come" could be a third of your device's physical lifetime like everyone else does.

Maybe it's because the phone's just running Linux. I believe [1] they have upstreamed a lot of their work into the kernel and Gnome so really as long as those projects keep going it should be fine.

1. https://puri.sm/posts/librem5-2018-11-hardware-report/

I love this idea but without Signal and Whatsapp I basically will have a phone but no one to actually communicate with on it. Matrix is great but it's UI/UX needs work and barely anyone is using it.

Real question: does anyone see anywhere on the site where they say what LTE/3G/GSM bands it supports? Or TD-LTE vs FD-LTE?

I like to know before I pre-order if it will work in my region.

The device uses one of SIMCom SIM7100E or SIM7100A WWAN module.

Anybody know if this phone will be able to work on Sprint's network in the United States? It's always a pain to get BYOD to work with a lot of the carriers.

Is the baseband firmware open source?

It would be exciting to have an open source phone based on the risc-v processor. Until the hardware is open source, it will never be truly secure.

iirc its not (simply because there is no oss baseband) but they went through great lengths to isolate the basebands chips from the rest of the phone. Greatly neutralising the threat the it can pose. In normal phone designs the baseband has unfeathered access to everything.

... you mean, like flagship commercial phones already do? Because, no, it's no the case that iPhones basebands have unfettered access to everything: the iPhone baseband is a USB peripheral.

And the iPhone is one of the few phones that do this.

The main selling point of the Librem5 however is that it is not a restricted platform like iOS is, baseband separation is just a nice bonus, (plus hw kill switches).

It is a surveillance appliance by design. Even if it is Open Source. The operator has to know the location of the phone all the time.

It's highly likely that the baseband is closed source, because IIRC basebands contain telco's industry secrets.

However, I'm more interested whether the WiFi stack is open source.

Does this come with the same gnome 3 that I would install on a desktop?

Can I make apps that look consistent with the rest of the phone's OS just by using GTK?

No and kind of.

It ships with a custom Wayland compositor built with GNOME technology, but theoretically you could install GNOME. They have a custom widget library, but that builds on GTK.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact