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You Can Help Purism Build the Secure Open Source Linux-based Librem 5 Smartphone ( 109

BrianFagioli writes: Thankfully, consumers are starting to wake up and become more aware of security and privacy, and some companies, such as Purism, are designing products to safeguard users. The company's laptops, for instance, run an open source Linux-based operating system, called "PureOS" with a focus on privacy. These machines even have hardware "kill switches" so you can physically disconnect a webcam or Wi-Fi card. Today, Purism announces that it is taking those same design philosophies and using them to build a new $599 smartphone called Librem 5. The planned phone will use the GNOME desktop environment and PureOS by default, but users can install different distros too. Sound good? Well you can help the company build it through crowdfunding. "Purism, the social purpose corporation which designs and produces popular privacy conscious hardware and software, has revealed its plans to build the world's first encrypted, open platform smartphone that will empower users to protect their digital identity in an increasingly unsafe mobile world. After 18 months of R&D to test hardware specifications and engage with one of the largest phone fabricators, Purism is opening a self-hosted crowdfunding campaign to gauge demand for the initial fabrication order and add the features most important to users," says Purism.
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You Can Help Purism Build the Secure Open Source Linux-based Librem 5 Smartphone

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 24, 2017 @10:42AM (#55075189)
    I won't crowdfund it unless it has a removable battery. And it needs to work on Verizon. A plug-in keyboard would be nice, too.
    • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Thursday August 24, 2017 @10:43AM (#55075195)
      Plus a kitchen sink with a working garbage disposal is a must have.
      • I'm not buying it until it has a pop-up roof, a fold-out bed and a built-in fridge and stove.

        Oh wait, that's for camping trailers.

        Carry on.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Don't bother. This has been tried before, and failed. Over and over. It's one thing to get linux running on it after a fashion, quite another to get the telecommunications parts working. And no, being able to connect only via usb is not a viable alternative.

      As the article points out, these are just artist's renderings. Also, they claim to have an arrangement with a manufacturer, but since they won't say who, my guess is it's just an informal "okay, if you can actually get it working, we'll talk." Certainly

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Android is Linux, just not a traditional unix userspace. The hardware support and drivers already exist, you just have to be OK with firmware blobs and forked, older kernels (which is a big problem for a secure, open OS).

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Canonical couldn't make it work with millions of dollars and four or so years of effort. Mozilla couldn't make it work with millions of dollars and four or so years of effort, and half a dozen manufacturing partners.

        But I'm sure Purism will have something production-ready in two years. Definitely. </sarcasm>
        • by pakar ( 813627 )

          What both Canonical and Mozilla failed at was to get their respective OS'es attractive for consumers.. There where a number of devices launched, but they all failed to get any market-share so they where both canceled when they realized that.

          This device does have a niche market that may attract security-minded people.. Bringing a device like this to market in 2 years is fairly simple, depending on what SW you aim to run on it. In the video presentation they speak about running basically any linux-distro on i

      • Ah, so neither my N900 nor my Sailfish 1 actually exist -- that's good, means I'll be carrying less in my pocket from now on.

        • What does that have to do with yet another vaporware announcement? Right now they have nothing.

          There is nothing to give anyone reason to believe that they can produce. Obviously the phone manufacturer doesn't have much confidence, or they would let themselves be named.

    • Absolutely! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Thursday August 24, 2017 @12:38PM (#55076001) Journal

      I won't crowdfund it unless it has a removable battery. And it needs to work on Verizon. A plug-in keyboard would be nice, too.

      Yes, one million times this - please make the hardware repairable, with components easily replaceable, especially the battery!!!

    • I also need a 1 25 pin Parallel interface port, 2 Serial Ports (9 Pin and 25 Pin), USB, VGA, DVI, HDMI, Read Write Blueray/DVD, Ethernet, RAID 5 array, a 17 inch screen.
      Where every part can be serviceable,

      Oh wait I want a desktop PC. not a phone. Perhaps I would be happy with a bulky laptop.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      None of the Purism hardware has been.

      It's all a bunch of cheap gimmicks that don't live up to the hype.

      I mean for fuck's sake, they used an Intel chip with ME in their Purism laptop.

      AND it took them what, two or three years to get Coreboot on it to replace the AMI Bios it came with stock because, as it turned out after pitching otherwise, it couldn't run libreboot on it because Intel ME, as had been known for a few years by that time, wasn't libre, and any device requiring it would never be supported by Lib

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Anyone? Bueller?


    • by BlueStrat ( 756137 ) on Thursday August 24, 2017 @11:08AM (#55075377)

      (How about a hardware keyboard?)

      Anyone? Bueller?


      More important than features is the distinct possibility that any truly "secure" phone won't be allowed on US carrier's networks either through carrier restrictions or by US legal decision. Can't allow the plebs to talk among themselves without the ability to eavesdrop and install whatever spyware US TLAs roll out. For the children, of course.


    • Most devices you can pair a blue tooth keyboard to it.

    • by jonwil ( 467024 )

      If you want a hardware keyboard on a phone that at least has the goal of being as open as possible, you want a Neo900 []
      It will be able to be used with NO closed blobs on the main ARM CPU for WiFi OR cellular modem. It will also be possible to use it with no closed blobs for the GPU if you dont need 3D acceleration.

      And there are hardware level security features built into the design. The cellular modem firmware has no access to the main ARM CPU, main RAM, the main filesystem, the microphone,

      • by jonwil ( 467024 )

        Oh and for those who need US frequencies, there are 4 different modem variants currently listed as options for the Neo900, one of which supports CDMA2000 for those unlucky enough to live in an area where Verizon is your only option.

  • OpenMoko 2.0? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Narcocide ( 102829 ) on Thursday August 24, 2017 @10:54AM (#55075265) Homepage

    I would have bought an OpenMoko phone too, if they'd you know, supported America. Another Euro-networks-only Linux phone isn't gonna help us at all over here though.

    • by Useless ( 11387 )

      The OM GTA02 worked on US networks.

    • I would have bought an OpenMoko phone too, if they'd you know, supported America. Another Euro-networks-only Linux phone isn't gonna help us at all over here though.

      Who'd bother making a Linux phone for America? Americans are sheep who worship at the altar of apple.

      (True story -- my first N900 was bought by a friend in NY as it was cheaper in dollars than in Euros -- smart move, Nokia).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The planned phone will use the GNOME desktop environment ...

    On the surface, this offering sounds compelling. But GNOME is a total deal breaker for me. I refuse to use any Linux distro that uses GNOME by default.

    The presence of GNOME is like a smoke test. If a Linux distro's maintainers voluntarily choose to use GNOME, then I can't trust the other decisions they'll have to make when creating a Linux distro, and so I refuse to use such a distro.

    There is no reason to use GNOME. No reason at all. There are many

  • by wjcofkc ( 964165 ) on Thursday August 24, 2017 @10:59AM (#55075327)
    I like this idea enough I may well go ahead and support it. I have been saying for a long time that Gnome 3 would be great on a tablet\phone. The interface is just about perfect for it. Past that, Google has spent the last few years falling out of my good graces. An iPhone is not an option. That said, this would probably be such a niche device as to fail. But I'm still going to back the project.
    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      I don't think it's got a chance in hell. Look at what it offers. Privacy. All the World's corporations and governments will hate it. It's doomed.

  • by Misagon ( 1135 ) on Thursday August 24, 2017 @11:13AM (#55075401)

    The planned phone will use the GNOME desktop environment...

    Oh, the humanity. (and I don't mean the desktop theme)
    It is going to be a total disaster out of the box.

  • (a) If it's using a Debian-based repo and hence SystemD (unless they replace(d) it in PureOS? Don't think so...

    (b) If the phone firmware is not also "free / open / whatever RMS is calling it these days..."

    If you want a *NIX 'phone, get an iPhone...

    • Oh, RMS would call any ROM in the phone a 'circuit', and give it a special waiver. Even while he trolls the likes of TiVo for putting their firmware in a locked flash memory device
    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      The CPU is separated from the Cellular Baseband. That alone makes it a great idea. A user controlled device. Nothing else fits that description, nothing in the world.

      • Actually back then, OpenMoko's GTA01/GTA02 design was exactly the same (trying to make it opensource friendly).

        The Golden Delicious' GTA04 upgrade board (same design then reused in other devices like Pyra) at least took the same "separate cell modem" design
        (though used the "binary-only" PowerVR GPU of the OMAP chipsets).

    • If you want a *NIX 'phone, get an iPhone...

      Either you're sarcastic, or you're trolling hard. iPhones are the exact opposite of open SW or HW.
      At least with most Android phones, you can unlock them, sideload apps, or even install a different OS.

    • You are seriously confused. The only phone that uses a Debian based distro uses upstart, not systemd.

      The phone that uses systemd is RPM based, not deb/apt based.

      (Personally, I'd take systemd over upstart any day).

    • There is only one Linux distro that allows you free choice of the init system -- Debian works with systemd, upstart, openrc, or sysvinit.

    • (b) If the phone firmware is not also "free / open / whatever RMS is calling it these days..."

      That's the whole idea for going after a Freescale i.MX 6 :
      according to them, the plain vanilla upstream linux kernel and upstream gallium3d's etna_viv can support this chip, no firmware blobs required.
      (they keep the eventuallity to switch to i.MX 8 if it ends up getting similar support).

      And regarding the other components (cell network, wifi, and camera) :
      the whole point of this phone is to have the functionality handled by separate chips that talk over a standard channels (camera as a USB UVC, Wifi as a net

  • Seems everyone keeps making Ubuntu/Android/Revolution Remix/ChromiumOS/FirefoxOS phones these days, and we've seen a dozen independent GNU/FLOSS/TOOTHPASTE phones in the past 3 or 4 years. Folks will fall for it again I guess?

    • postMarketOS is getting closer to running KDE's plasma mobile on older generic Android phones you might have lying in a drawer somewhere.

      The guy running this phone effort says he's a debian guy and committed to FOSS. So even if the crowdfunded handset is DOA, perhaps the software stack of Matrix may be portable to devices that people actually own rather than plonking down $600.

  • Who owns Pur.ism? Open your financials and crowd fund stock along with undeveloped products if really such a swell benevolent organization vs here is my money give me something of value maybe. Old thread below, maybe they have improved since a couple years ago. []
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I would rather see a port of OpenBSD on phones if was supposed to be geared towards security. I don't believe we will ever be entirely secure using Linux as our kernel for smart phones.

  • it's finest. Privacy is a complex political issue. There isn't an app or techy hardware for that.

    The other thing is that, even if there was a tech solution, what Purism are essentially proposing is to take on the Samsung-Apple duopoly and take market share away from them. If the succeed to any degree, it'll only take one frivolous law suit from either of these behemoths to bankrupt Purism. Good luck with that.

  • It's nice in theory. Very nice. But the obstacles to actually making it real are very, very high. So high, that I'm very skeptical that it can be done until there is a sea change in the phone manufacturing industry.

    I wish them well and a lot of success! I don't like the hardware they've settled on and so won't buy it whether or not the OS works properly, but if they're successful then perhaps the OS could be put on a phone that I actually would buy.

  • Suggestions:

    * Product differentiation is important. Instead of on-board flash, even though it'll make the product a little bit thicker, use an off-the-shelf M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD, like the Samsung 960 EVO M.2 250GB NVMe PCI-Express 3.0 x4 Internal SSD. They cost $119.99 now, which would be justifiable for a $599 smart-phone with 3GB RAM.

    * Make above M.2 SSD slot-installable.

    * Removable battery - maybe slot-load.

    * Dual or triple SIMs, even if only one is active.

    * Include one or more tiny cheap GeekPorts on the

  • I see the dev kit is available and only $299. That's a good price for something new to play with. The question is, what kind of form factor appropriate applications to develop on a full fledged computer OS? Yes, this will be fun.
  • They a joking ?! Who is their consumer
    - Most pro users don't use gnome. Gnome lost their souls long time ago
    - Other users have Android or iPhone
    Max 12000 gnome hipsters maybe can purchase this phone.

    • I'm not a big GNOME fan either, but it's silly to say it's not a widely-used DE (as Linux DEs go); it's the default in many of the biggest distributions. It's also about to be the default in Ubuntu, which is why it's going to be the default in downstream PureOS.

      The argument that Apple and Google have already cornered the market is a much better one. That companies with the resources of Microsoft and Canonical have failed to break in shows just how hard a market this is.

  • I applaud the idea around this phone. Spying on bad guys is fine... spying on normal people is evil.

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong