Purism’s Librem 5 Phone Starts Shipping. It Can Run Linux Desktop Apps

See the original posting on Slashdot

On Tuesday Purism announced their first Librem 5 smartphones were rolling off the assembly line and heading to customers. “Seeing the amazing effort of the Purism team, and holding the first fully functioning Librem 5, has been the most inspirational moment of Purism’s five year history,” said their founder and CEO Todd Weaver.

On Wednesday they posted a video announcing that the phones were now shipping, and Friday they posted a short walk-through video. “The crowdsourced $700 Linux phone is actually becoming a real product,” reports Ars Technica:

Purism’s demand that everything be open means most of the major component manufacturers were out of the question. Perhaps because of the limited hardware options, the internal construction of the Librem 5 is absolutely wild. While smartphones today are mostly a single mainboard with every component integrated into it, the Librem 5 actually has a pair of M.2 slots that house full-size, off-the-shelf LTE and Wi-Fi cards for connectivity, just like what you would find in an old laptop. The M.2 sockets look massive on top of the tiny phone motherboard, but you could probably replace or upgrade the cards if you wanted…
[Y]ou’re not going to get cutting-edge hardware at a great price with the Librem 5. That’s not the point, though. The point is that you are buying a Linux phone, with privacy and open source at the forefront of the design. There are hardware kill switches for the camera, microphone, WiFi/Bluetooth, and baseband on the side of the phone, ensuring none of the I/O turns on unless you want it to. The OS is the Free Software Foundation-endorsed PureOS, a Linux distribution that, in this case, has been reworked with a mobile UI. Purism says it will provide updates for the “lifetime” of the device, which would be a stark contrast to the two years of updates you get with an Android phone.
PureOS is a Debian-based Linux distro, and on the Librem 5, you’ll get to switch between mobile versions of the Gnome and KDE environments. If you’re at all interested in PureOS, Purism’s YouTube page is worth picking through. Dozens of short videos show that, yes, this phone really runs full desktop-class Linux. Those same videos show the dev kit running things like the APT package manager through a terminal, a desktop version of Solitaire, Emacs, the Gnome disk utility, DOSBox, Apache Web Server, and more. If it runs on your desktop Linux computer, it will probably run on the Librem 5, albeit with a possibly not-touch-friendly UI. The Librem 5 can even be hooked up to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse, and you can run all these Linux apps with the normal input tools…
Selling a smartphone is a cutthroat business, and we’ve seen dozens of companies try and fail over the years. Purism didn’t just survive long enough to ship a product — it survived in what is probably the hardest way possible, by building a non-Android phone with demands that all the hardware components use open code. Making it this far is an amazing accomplishment.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.