Linux phone battery bug: Purism’s Librem 5 delayed until April 2019


Purism, a maker of Linux-based laptops, has encountered an issue with its upcoming Linux smartphone, which will delay production for three months.

Purism’s crowd-funded smartphone, the Librem 5, was due to ship around January 2019, but the company has now said he expects a production delay until April 2019.

The reason for this is a silicon bug in the system-on-a-chip which caused “extreme” battery discharge. By extreme, Purism means that the device would have had a battery life of only one hour.

For those interested in the exact issues, Purism has provided links to documentation from its silicon supplier, NXP, describing two issues that affect power management and consumption.

The Librem 5 will ship with PureOS, a Debian Linux operating system, which supports GNOME and KDE Plasma Mobile interfaces as well as Ubuntu Touch, originally developed for Canonical’s abandoned efforts to provide an alternative to Android. and iOS.

The phone is available for pre-order for $ 599 and comes with a number of features security-conscious people might appreciate, including hardware kill switches for the camera, mic, as well as Wi-Fi. Fi, Bluetooth and a cellular baseband modem for anyone concerned about carriers possibly sharing real-time location data with the police.

SEE: 20 quick tips to make Linux networking easier (Free PDF)

Purism also hopes to capitalize on concerns about Google’s tracking of Android users’ locations, even when location history is turned off.

Unfortunately, the cause of the battery drain issue is related to the company’s decision to ship the Librem 5 with an updated NXP SoC.

Originally it was planned to ship with NXP’s iMX 6, but now it will ship with the newer iMX 8, bringing a 64-bit processor and more GPUs. However, it was in this new chip that the battery drain bug surfaced.

The Librem 5 will come with a five-inch display, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of on-board storage, front and rear cameras, 3.5mm headphone jack, USB Type-C port, and hardware shutdown switches. already mentioned.

The company also provided a detailed summary of the difficulties to produce a non-Android smartphone that runs a Free Software Foundation approved operating system, mainly firmware and software to run components, such as cellular baseband chip, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc. .

“The difficulty is with the firmware and software that run these devices,” says Nicole Faerber, CTO of Purism.

“The firmware needed to run the cellular modem, Wi-Fi, BT, etc. is provided by the chipmaker, including drivers for the GPU and more. Included firmware and software are proprietary, without source code and with little or no alternatives. “

Faerber said there was a possibility that the phone would be ready sooner, but production likely could not take place in February due to disruption caused by the Chinese New Year where “in fact the whole country is closed for that month. “, leaving March as the only realistic ramp-up phase before full production in April.


Purism emphasizes that the design of the Librem 5 is a work in progress.

Image: Purism

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