My Librem 5 has arrived

Well, it arrived two weeks ago, but I had a pretty terrible cold so I didn’t really take a look… Here are my initial findings:

  • It’s a brick. It thick, fat, heavy and feel awkward to hold. But it’s got three manual kill switches.
  • On startup, it asks for a disk encryption password, which the manual didn’t say anything about. I guessed it would be 123456, based on some quick googling, and it was. You need to press OK yourself, it doesn’t figure out that the password has been entered.
  • Then you get a bit of text scrolling past when the thing is booting
  • Then there is no wizard to set up accounts or anything — I got asked for a password and again it was 123456
  • Then I noticed that when it’s charging it gets REALLY hot.
  • And then I could start exploring the software a bit…

I know how hard developing for mobile Linux is. I worked with Nokia on the Maemo/MeeGo Documents application based on KOffice/Calligra. I’ve worked on Plasma Mobile for Blue Systems. I know that after the N900, with its mostly GTK stack, everyone until Purism has tried to build their mobile Linux UI on Qt and later QML. (Well, FirefoxOS was different, but Blackberry, Nokia, Ubuntu, Palm… That was all Qt.) And they all failed, for various reasons.

This thing runs GTK-based software again. And it’s really bad. It’s slow; even scrolling in the Settings application is not smooth. The browser doesn’t scroll smoothly. And its’s buggy. Starting the Usage applet randomly pops up a dialog asking whether this or that applet should be force-quit. There are two back buttons in the system update applet next to each other, but only one works.

  • And finally, battery life is abysmal.

I haven’t seen a Fairphone yet, but literally nothing in the Librem 5 is an improvement over the Nokia N9. Well, maybe the killswitches. It’s as if there have been no developments whatsoever for the past ten years. And in the meantime, since I first backed the 2017 crowdfunding campaign I have sort of lost interest in mobile devices…