Okay, I’ve been playing with this for less than 24 hours and it’s not my daily driver phone or anything, so… disclaimer.

If you’re not familiar with Purism, they’re the makers of absolutely gorgeous tech for the technoparanoid. (They also have social networking that proudly doesn’t spy on you.) Seriously, I have one of their Librem 13 laptops, which is fully user-serviceable and includes hardware kill switches for microphone, camera, and wifi. So when I heard about their phone kickstarter during those heady post-Snowden days, I said to myself, “Self, YOU are one of the technoparanoid, back this!”

So, I bought a Librem 5.

In 2018.

It just arrived a week or two ago.

I confess that some of my squee died in the intervening 4 years. This makes me very sad. I let it sit on my kitchen counter for a while before unboxing it. I, er, just bought a brand new iPhone, see, and… er. Um. Awkward.

So, on the plus side: It’s lovely, just like the Librem 13 is lovely. Seriously. I don’t have a SIM card for it, but… it’s beautiful, and it runs linux. It’s not part of the Google and Apple monopoly on phones, it’s a FOSS (free and open source software) operating system on a phone. I feel like this is something worth supporting. It’s gorgeous and secure, and fully convergent. (I think my squee is returning…)

Do I think it’ll catch on and save the world? I wish! but…

On the minus side: there’s no ecosystem of apps, so right now it’s a phone and a weather app and a web browser (Firefox!) and a camera labeled “experimental.” They’re supposed to push out software updates over time, but right now? this is for early adopters. I would not recommend this to, for example, my nontechnical friends. I mean. I never succeeded in getting my mother to get a freaking cell phone at all. Once I went to work and left my old Nokia cellphone–just a little bar with dial buttons–with her, and she said, “I’m afraid to use it. I’m afraid I’ll break it.” (Those things were indestructible!) Her head would explode if she tried to use this. Do I need to mention again that I’ve been trying to get people to send me encrypted email since, what, 1995?

And that’s how They [TM] get you. You could use the lovely phone with less features that protects your privacy, or you could get the latest iPhone or Android phone and let Facebook track your calls and location through their app, and people will choose their convenience over their own good. Me? Living with my paranoia–which is still real!–since 2013… the edges have worn a little bare.

(My thought processes behind buying an iPhone in 2017, btw, were “Where does Google make their money? Advertising. Where does Apple make their money? Hardware sales.” I held out on buying a new phone for a long time after that, waiting for my Librem 5! I finally gave up when the 2017 iPhone–pristine–developed near-complete battery death.)

Sadly, I’m not using my lovely Librem 13 as much as I’d like any more, either. I run QubesOS–it used to freeze horribly on the Librem 13 because I have a very early version without the virtualization support later versions of QubesOS want–or, alas, Windows for work things, the Sims 4, and a slew of writing software. PureOS, Purism’s linux distro, is fully endorsed by the Free Software Foundation because it’s fully auditable, but it doesn’t support Wine very well, so… right now the laptop runs Xubuntu for my writing apps? but I might get restless and switch things up again, we’ll see. Xubuntu does run all my writing apps fine with wine, though.

Do you want to be an outlier? This might be the phone for you!

Edited to add: After a system update, there are now games, email/calendar, etc. It seems unfair to not add that!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This