Skip to content

Living with a Librem 5


Nearly four years after my order I've received my Librem 5 here in Hamburg, Germany. The last 3 weeks of delay have been completely my fault, as I was out of the country. Purism Support dealt with this quickly and no problems at all. After paying customs (and an amazing high fee to DHL for basically doing nothing) it finally made it to my home. Well, it is kind of big, but we all knew that before, right? The backside feels a bit cheap, thin plastic like, but in total I'm OK with it.


After charging I went through the steps at the This was pretty much straight forward. And everything seems to work:

  • Charging the device

  • Using the hardware switches

  • Using an SD card

  • WLAN

  • SIM (This was just a short test, the card was recognized, mobile data worked, I've made a call to and received a call from another device without speaking. That's probably most of the phone calling that I'll do with it, that's just not my compartment.)

  • The touchscreen feels a bit imprecise

  • Camera works (but with the known problems)

Trying to use PureOS

From here things went down the drain. The usability of the system is pathetic.

  • Purism shop for software works for delivering regular updates, installing more software, but it fails removing shit like a chess (and more stupid games), "parental control" (WTF?), Librem5 Tour and more. This can be done with apt, so I'm completely back to console using apt which is fine for me but a killer for non-nerds.

  • The mail client Geary is basically useless (not sure if in general or just on the phone)

  • Maps can be used for navigation if you don't care about some blocks difference between the displayed and actual position

  • The keyboard works, but I don't feel very comfortable with it, especially not for console.

  • Calender & contacts sync with Nextcloud but not with my IMAP accounts

  • VLC worked astonishing well

  • Sudo activity at /usr/share/applications to get rid of crap on the app menu again is no working solution for non nerdish users

  • Screen scaling is always starting with inconvenient 200% and needs manual tweaking  in the screen settings (maybe it is possible to make it permanent, I don't know yet.)

So my daily use cases (Mail, RSS-Reader, Threema, OSMand,Tusky, taking photos) are all either browser-only or not  really working. (I'd like to replace Threema with Matrix, but only one person in my private real life bubble is using it so far.)

This said, I may have to add that I use Linux desktops systems for more than 2 decades, including a phase when I did so called "disto hopping". But I never ever used Gnome and PureOS showed me again why. Gnome just don't wor for me and must be for another kind of user. (If you want to know: Mostly KDE for my workstation and XFCE for slower devices.)

I gave up for a while.

Convergence Mode

Actually after my first experiences with the phone I didn't feel like even trying the convergence mode. There is nothing that I couldn't do better & faster with a RasPi. That litlte thing is - including a  little powerbank - even lighter than the Librem5. OK, no fiddling with stuff on the way than, true, but as said in the section before, for most "on the way" stuff the phone is pretty useless anyway.

But as I use a 4K-Dell with USB C hub for switching between work laptop and my private one, I plugged the Librem 5 in two month later. While the charge sign popped up immediately nothing much else happened at first, but after several tries to of plugging of and in again (cheers to IT-crowd) and what feels like random clicking on screen settings it started to work: 4K screen, keyboard, mouse, LAN, charging. After a short period of time the phone feels hot (completely charged).

After shutting down and restarting the phone unplugged everything was fine. But it seems every time I plug in the USB C hub, I need to change the screen once (and back as it is initially correct), to make everything work. The position of the two screens to each other and application window settings are lost. This is much less convenient than using the monitor & hub with my laptops, but still kind of working.

Actually I'm writing this with a keyboard into Nextcloud notes in Firefox window on the big screen. It's OK, but a bit sluggish, I can type faster than the device is  displaying it. Same with mouse actions. And on the little screen from the phone some things work with mouse or touch only, some things with both - looks random to me.

Conclusion for now

I do appreciate the fact that the Librem 5 exists. And I know and value the endless work people have spent to make it like it is. Probably from all the information that is cluttering the purism forums and the web in general I missed a lot.

Nevertheless: So far the Librem5 is useless for me as a mobile device so far.


Are there any alternatives? After all for me it's mostly about Software not Hardware. Do I dare flashing the phone? I've read some stuff, thought a bit about things and finally decided: I'll try PostmarketOS with Plasma Mobile soon.

Update: Following the tip "uncomment & change the scale for output:DSI-1, from 2 to what you need in /usr/share/phosh/phoc.ini" just made the Librem5 unbootable, so I've got a good reason to flash it with something else.

Update 2: Due to massive spam comments in the moderation queue, I've disabled comments here.


Gentleman Bastards into the wild for "the worthy"

Some weeks ago a friend moving far away left me some books to read and pass on to "the worthy" . So here we go, another friend is visting tonight and although he didn't know yet, he'll take the first piece with him:

"The Lies of Locke Lamora" by Scott Lynch
"The Lies of Locke Lamora" by Scott Lynch - an entertaining read.

Scott Lynch's "The Lies of Locke Lamora" turned out to be a quite entertaining book. The setup of the book is kind of medieval, but also includes fantasy and even science fiction elements. Think of Charles Dickens, subtract the moral instructions and add a small dash of Terry Pratchett. Well, compared to Dickens/Pratchett it's not that well written. Basically it tells the story of Locke Lamora, an orphan stealing for a living and over the years becoming the mastermind of the gentleman bastards. This group is smart, well educated and trained, but also calls for trouble by making their schemes bigger and bigger. Desaster calls. If you like it, there is more: Several sequels are planned, but only one is published so far. I'm in the middle of it right now and it's also a nice read.

So, the book is out there and when ever _YOU_ get your hands on this book, let me know (gentlemanbastards @ gegenglueck . org - remove the blanks)

PS: Yes, I know about bookcrossing, I like the idea, but first of all I don't want to print labels.

Some more technical hints for #Egypt

Cleaned up stuff from here

* How to circumvent the communications blackout in #Egypt in Arabic
* TOR Bridge 04FD6AE46E95F1E46B5264528C48EA84DB10CAC4
* #Egypt hams are on 7.050-7.200 MHz LSB
* Egypt Gov only blocking by DNS. So try IPs:
-> Twitter try or
-> Facebook or
-> VPN Server is now stable and open for FREE to ALL
-> FREE VPN Server to bypass ANY Blockage on ANY ADSL or Cell Network. Domain: User: FreeEgypt Pass: #Jan25
* Tor: Help the Egypt Revolutionaries by overcoming the Firewall
* Dialup:
-> We are now providing dialup modem service at +46850009990. user/pass: telecomix/telecomix (only for #egypt, respect that PLEASE!).
-> People of Egypt ONLY! Use this dial-up provided by friends in France to go online: +33172890150 (login 'toto' password 'toto')
-> Nour DSL is still working in Egypt, Dial up with 0777 7776 or 07777 666

Take care.

Working around Egyptian Censorship

While the news from Egypt are both encouraging and horrifying, it's hard to get in touch with people within the country. Internetaccess, phonelines, tv - all this is target for egyptian attempts to censor and block information. So gegenglueck - worrying about friends who where online at least yesterday - spreads some ressources / hints. Maybe it helps.

A collection of good ressources for news at iRevolution.

Internet access seems to be possible via dial up! A good ressource is werebuild - if you can check for updates there! Below a copy of the dialup info:

* A more updated pad with modem pools here:

* A dialup guide for cell phones and lots of numbers: Manal and Alaas

* A french ISP, offer a free dial-up internet access against egypt censorship.
Number : +33 1 72 89 01 50. Login/Password: toto

* We are now providing dialup modem service
Number: +46850009990. user/pass: telecomix/telecomix

* “free” PPP dial-up access on Madrid, Spain:
+34 912910230. / pass:internetforegypt

* Dutch non-registred dialup ISP. Non-hidden phone number required, SMTP blocked
Number: +31 20 7155593. Login:, no password []

* Massive list of american ISP dialups:
Login/pass: guest/password

* Bainbridge: (206) 312-1000
* Bainbridge: (206) 312-1500
* Bainbridge: (206) 312-2500
* Bainbridge: (206) 312-3700
* Bellevue: (425) 786-1000
* Bellevue: (425) 786-1111
* Bellevue: (425) 786-7777
* Bellevue: (425) 786-5073
* Black Diamond: (360) 469-1000
* Black Diamond: (360) 469-1111
* Black Diamond: (360) 469-2000
* Black Diamond: (360) 469-2222
* Buckley: (360) 761-6000
* Buckley: (360) 761-6111
* Buckley: (360) 761-6101
* Buckley: (360) 761-6102
* Centralia: (360) 523-1000
* Centralia: (360) 523-1111
* Centralia: (360) 523-1001
* Centralia: (360) 523-1002
* Graham: (253) 780-1000
* Graham: (253) 780-1100
* Graham: (253) 780-2000
* Graham: (253) 780-2020
* Hoodsport: (360) 717-1000
* Hoodsport: (360) 717-1111
* Hoodsport: (360) 717-1122
* Hoodsport: (360) 717-1133
* Olympia: (360) 515-3000
* Olympia: (360) 515-3001
* Olympia: (360) 515-3030
* Olympia: (360) 515-3131
* Seattle: (206) 495-1000
* Seattle: (206) 424-1111
* Seattle: (206) 337-5050 *
* Seattle: (206) 337-5252

Es wird nichts mehr geloggt / No more logging

Ich habe die Einstellungen für die Domain so geändert, das keine Logs / Userstatistiken mehr geschreiben werden. Das häufigste Suchwort war bislang "Kacki", in Zukunft ist das nicht mehr festzustellen.

I've changed all settings for the domain in a way that no logs or usage statistics will be written. The most common searchword was "Kacki" so far. In the future I can't find out anymore.