Everything you need to know about the next Linux phone

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What are your options when you go to buy a new smartphone? Android, iOS, and in some rare cases, Windows. There are a few other open source mobile OSs out there but they are far too rare.

As an avid Linux user, you might have dreamed of a real Linux based operating system on your phone. Looks like your dream can come true.

Purism, a company known for making high-end Linux laptops with a focus on privacy and open source software, successfully conducted a crowdfunding campaign for a brand new smartphone called Librem 5.

This 5-inch privacy-focused Linux phone will run on Purism’s PureOS Linux distribution. The price starts at $ 599, which places it among the high-end smartphones.

Features of Librem 5

Free smartphone

So what exactly sets Librem 5 apart from the crowd and what are its unique selling points? Here are some of the highlights of Librem 5:

  • Run PureOS or another Linux distribution of your choice. This means you can use Ubuntu, SUSE, Fedora, and even Arch Linux on your phone.
  • Privacy protection by default. Your data is secure and not shared by third parties.
  • No localization. Your phone is fully owned and controlled by you and not by your Big Brother.
  • The world’s first native IP mobile handset
  • End-to-end decentralized communications via Matrix
  • Design-driven security
  • Works with 2G / 3G / 4G, GSM, UMTS and LTE networks
  • CPU separate from baseband
  • Hardware stop switches for camera, microphone, WiFi / Bluetooth and baseband
  • HTML 5 applications

Book Specifications 5

Smartphones based on Librem Linux

Since this is an early phase, specifications may change over time. Right now, here is the proposed specification:

  • 5 ″ touch screen
  • I.MX6 / i.MX8 processor
  • Vivante GPU (Etnaviv free software accelerated driver)
  • Separate moving base band
  • 3 GB LPDDR3 RAM
  • 32 GB eMMC
  • MicroSD slot
  • Front and rear camera
  • Headphone and microphone jack (some Elite smartphones do not have this feature)
  • 802.11 Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4
  • USB Type-C
  • Sensors: GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, ambient light and proximity
  • Hardware shutdown switches for camera, microphone, baseband, WiFi / Bluetooth

Librem 5 release date

The first Librem smartphone is expected to ship in January 2019 and the Purism team is determined to meet this deadline. The the development kit costing $ 399 will be shipped before that if you ordered any.

So you have plenty of time to wait and watch.

Librem 5 has the support of the Linux community

The Linux community is definitely looking at Librem 5 with hope and anticipation. The Purism team is working with the KDE and GNOME teams to bring these two desktop environments to Librem 5.

UBports, the project extending the dead Ubuntu Touch, is also work with Purism to offer Ubuntu Touch on Librem 5.

What do you think of the Librem 5 Linux phone?

With the demise of Ubuntu Phone, it’s hard to imagine another Linux phone. If a large organization like Canonical couldn’t succeed with Ubuntu phones, can purism succeed with Librem? This is the big question that can only be answered in the future.

If I’m to speculate, I think Canonical’s inexperience with the hardware could be one of the reasons Ubuntu Phone failed. At the same time, Purism has a proven track record in producing top-notch hardware for Linux. Perhaps they will be able to do the same with the mobile.


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