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.
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.