After raising more than $2 million last year to build a Linux-powered smartphone with a focus on privacy and open source software, Purism hopes to deliver the first Librem 5 smartphones early next year.

The phone is expected to ship with an NXP i.MX8M 64-bit, ARM Cortex-A53 processor, feature 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a microSD card slot, a headphone jack, USB Ty[e-C port, and front and back cameras… but it will also have physical kill switches that disconnect the camera, mic, baseband, and WiFi or Bluetooth for security and privacy purposes when you’re not using those features.

One of the biggest challenges is software: the phone won’t ship with Android or iOS. Instead, it will run free and open source Linux-based software, which doesn’t have a great track record with being phone friendly. But now Purism has announced that the Librem 5 will support at least three different operating systems and user interfaces at launch: PureOS, a version of PureOS with the KDE Plasma Mobile environment, and Ubuntu Touch.

Librem 5 + Ubuntu Touch concept

PureOS is the company’s own Linux distribution, which the team is adapting to work on touchscreen devices with phone-sized screens. KDE Plasma Mobile is a mobile project from the team behind the KDE desktop environment for GNU/Linux. And Ubuntu Touch… is the version of Ubuntu Linux that Canonical developed for phones and tablets, and then scrapped when the company decided to shift direction.

But Ubuntu Touch is an open source project, so when Canonical stopped developing it, another team of developers calling themselves UBports decided to pick up the torch, continuing to working on the operating system, making it available for users to download and install on a handful of devices, including the Google Nexus 5, Fairphone 2, OnePlus One, and MQ Aquaris M10 tablet.

Now you can add the Librem 5 to that list… or at least you’ll be able to when the phone ships.

UBports and Purism are working together to ensure that Ubuntu Touch is fully supported on the phone and that future software updates remain compatible.

Out of the box the Librem 5 will ship with PureOS featuring a GNOME-based desktop environment. But users will have the choice of installing KDE Plasma Mobile or Ubuntu Touch if they’d prefer to use one of those alternatives.

Librem 5 prototype with KDE Plasma Mobile

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18 replies on “Librem 5 Linux smartphone will support Ubuntu Touch, PureOS, or PureOS with KDE Plasma Mobile”

  1. Purism is all in for pure os with gnome. However all screenshots one sees are those with kde, and now recently ubuntu touch. Also considering the difficulty of using gtk to code for mobile apps, its strange why they are so obsessed with gnome

    1. Simple – GNOME is prettier than KDE. And there are official screenshots of Phosh – their GNOME shell: puri.sm/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/l5-shell-18-9.jpg

  2. ” feature 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage”
    id just liek to say that purisim said thats basically a placeholder – they want to max out the ram to 8GB if they can and bump the nand to 256GB

    1. Sure, but they also want to make phones that enough people can afford to buy too, no doubt, so they can stay in business.

  3. Exciting time to be alive. A travesty that corporations run amok have created such a hostile environment for users that a solution like the Librem Phone is such a necessity.

    In the end, it’s the privacy-respecting and Open Source aspects that most appeal to me. Things have gotten so bad across the entire tech industry as far as data-mining/sharing, privacy concerns, backdoors and useless-encryption that Librem represents so much more than just a tool for the everyman.

    1. But let’s get real for a moment. While you might celebrate the release of this phone, the odds are still against it succeeding in the long run. Much of that data mining/sharing is done for the benefit of the users themselves, and as cloud services continue to expand into other areas of our lives, that dependency/benefit will only increase. Creating client devices that close off the spigot of user data is not going to be a viable solution in the long run. At best, it will allow a tiny percentage of users to freeload on the data of other users — like the real time traffic information on Google Maps, for example, and estimates for how long your trip is going to take, etc.

      The real solution will have to be some kind of cloud-based data broker — an intermediary that will work on the user’s behalf to share specific data in exchange for a service they need, and will keep user data truly anonymous where necessary.

      1. But let’s get real for a moment. Linux is up against a conglomerate like Microsoft with Windows and will never make it, everyone knows it doesnt stand a chance against Microsoft or Apple.

        Oh wait that’s right it is making it and in fact Microsoft is making a version based on linux and Apple has been based on linux for a while know. But hey a linux phone will never succeed.

        1. I detect a modicum of snark in your comment 🙂

          Never is a very long time, but as much as I would be happy to see another major player competing in the mobile space, there’s no real evidence that Librem will have any more success than previous efforts in the long run. We’ve seen it all before, many times.

          You also kind of missed the point of my comment, which was to rebut the idea that Linux mobile devices are a solution to issues with privacy and data mining/sharing.

          Even if open source Linux becomes a major player in the client space, companies like Google and Amazon are just going to port their data-mining/sharing apps to it and we’ll be back to square one.

          1. I am slowly ever so slowly trying to migrate to linux precisely because of privacy concerns.

            I despise both the ad supported internet and the identity driven models promulgated by the dominant players and adopted by Microsoft with its release of Win10.

            I firmly believe that the both models will die within the next few years. Ads can’t support the internet without real products to sell and Facebook and Equifax data aggregation have been big news encouraging more people to control their data and privacy.

        2. Apple has been on linux?
          no, no, no,
          you are mistaken.
          bsd-ish darwin is behind macos and ios.
          – unless they made that iwatch-you-call-it run on gnu/linux???

      2. Data mining for the benefit of the users? I get your example of Google Maps, but can you tell me why Google Maps needs access to everything on your phone? Literally everything. Check out the permissions:
        This app has access to:
        Location
        precise location (GPS and network-based)
        Identity
        find accounts on the device
        add or remove accounts
        Contacts
        find accounts on the device
        read your contacts
        Location
        approximate location (network-based)
        precise location (GPS and network-based)
        SMS
        send SMS messages
        Phone
        directly call phone numbers
        Photos/Media/Files
        read the contents of your USB storage
        modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
        Storage
        read the contents of your USB storage
        modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
        Camera
        take pictures and videos
        Microphone
        record audio
        Wi-Fi connection information
        view Wi-Fi connections
        Contacts
        find accounts on the device
        read your contacts
        modify your contacts
        Phone
        directly call phone numbers
        read call log
        read phone status and identity
        write call log
        Device ID & call information
        read phone status and identity
        Device & app history
        retrieve running apps
        Phone
        directly call phone numbers
        read phone status and identity
        Photos/Media/Files
        modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
        Storage
        modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
        Other
        download files without notification
        receive data from Internet
        view configured accounts
        Google Maps
        view network connections
        measure app storage space
        full network access
        control vibration
        prevent device from sleeping
        read Google service configuration
        view network connections
        pair with Bluetooth devices
        access Bluetooth settings
        send sticky broadcast
        connect and disconnect from Wi-Fi
        disable your screen lock
        measure app storage space
        full network access
        control Near Field Communication
        read sync settings
        run at startup
        use accounts on the device
        control vibration
        prevent device from sleeping
        toggle sync on and off
        install shortcuts
        read Google service configuration
        view network connections
        send sticky broadcast
        connect and disconnect from Wi-Fi
        disable your screen lock
        measure app storage space
        full network access
        control Near Field Communication
        read sync settings
        run at startup
        use accounts on the device
        control vibration
        prevent device from sleeping
        toggle sync on and off
        install shortcuts
        read Google service configuration
        view network connections
        send sticky broadcast
        connect and disconnect from Wi-Fi
        disable your screen lock
        full network access
        control Near Field Communication
        read sync settings
        run at startup
        use accounts on the device
        control vibration
        prevent device from sleeping
        toggle sync on and off
        install shortcuts
        read Google service configuration
        view network connections
        connect and disconnect from Wi-Fi
        disable your screen lock
        full network access
        control Near Field Communication
        use accounts on the device
        control vibration
        prevent device from sleeping
        read Google service configuration
        view network connections
        connect and disconnect from Wi-Fi
        disable your screen lock
        full network access
        control Near Field Communication
        run at startup
        use accounts on the device
        control vibration
        prevent device from sleeping
        install shortcuts
        read Google service configuration
        view network connections
        connect and disconnect from Wi-Fi
        disable your screen lock
        full network access
        run at startup
        use accounts on the device
        control vibration
        prevent device from sleeping
        install shortcuts
        read Google service configuration

  4. I cannot wait for the day when we get a smartphone running Linux that can run all of the full versions of desktop applications, just adding the “phone” app, camera app, etc.

    1. It is already possible with UBPorts – see: docs.ubports.com/en/latest/userguide/dailyuse/libertine.html

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