Linux computer maker Purism hopes to ship their smartphone in January, and the corporation has been providing updates about development of the upcoming Librem 5 smartphone periodically since launching a crowdfunding campaign last September (that campaign eventually raised more than $1.5 million through pre-orders).

We know that the phone will feature an NXP i.MX8 processor, that it will ship with a custom version of Purism’s PureOS operating system, and that it will support several different user interfaces and operating systems including Ubuntu Touch, KDE Plasma Mobile, and Purism’s own GNOME-based user interface.

In the latest Librem 5 update, Purism provides more details about that UI, along with plans to push it upstream for use as a GNOME mobile shell… which means it could be used on other phones running other GNU/Linux-based software.

Purism is also announcing a few changes to the design of the upcoming smartphone.

The Librem 5 was originally expected to feature a 5 inch display, but now Purism is planning to go with a 5.5 inch or 5.7 inch display with a 2:1 aspect ratio, which would result in a taller smartphone with more room for a large battery.

The corporation has also refined the design of the phone’s sides a bit, giving it chamfered edges rather than round ones, another move that Purism says makes more room inside the case for components… but which also gives the phone a slightly more distinctive look.

As for “phosh,” the new GNOME mobile shell, it currently includes many of the basic things you’d expect from a touch-friendly smartphone user interface including a lock screen, support for PIN-based unlocking, a home screen with icons for installed apps, a status bar with time, battery, audio, and network indicators, and a button bar with a home button. There’s also an on-screen keyboard for text input, and a modified contacts application, as well as an incoming call menu that lets you accept or decline a call.

The user interface is still a work in progress. It doesn’t yet support notifications or multitasking, but Purism says those features should be coming in “phase 2” of its development.

If you’re looking for something a bit further along, there’s always Ubuntu Touch or KDE Plasma Mobile. But it is interesting to see another alternative emerging.

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3 replies on “Purism wants to create a GNOME mobile shell for Linux smartphones (and other Librem 5 phone update)”

  1. 2:1 and large size are not for me but I hope that many more manufacturers will offer Linux phones and tablets with phone functionality because Android (privacy violations, security problems, missing updates) and iOS (some security problems, missing working general file management, expensive battery replacement / repair) are bad. Therefore, I wish Librem good luck.

  2. Even though I might never buy one, it’s really nice to see Linux on mobile, we need more solid players against the Apple/Google stranglehold.

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