[Tinkerphones] Librem 5

H. Nikolaus Schaller hns at goldelico.com
Tue Oct 24 21:46:40 CEST 2017


> Am 24.10.2017 um 20:43 schrieb Matthias Weiß <info at codeandcreate.de>:
> Hello, 
> i also backed on one. 
> I like the cooperation with gnome/kde projects and the focus on matrix. 

Yes, this are important steps.

Gnome/KDE could theoretically just be some

	apt-get install gnome

on the GTA04. I never had the idea to try:)

Probably it will be a little slow and more importantly the applications and widgets
are not optimized for the portrait screen format and rather low pixel density.

So it will be almost impossible to operate. Unless someone is heavily modifying
the code. That seems to be the case with the KDE/Gnome & Purism partnership that
they now start to do something.

> With a i.MX 8 / 3GB RAM it has also enough power to run most applications with desktop features 

Do you need 3GB for a typical desktops?

> (for example with external display or just if i want a full firefox/libreoffice like on ubtouch/libertine).

Ok, Web rendering nowadays eats memory faster than you can provide it :)

> Also the kill switches and the „external modem“ are nice promised features.


Although I have significant doubt that they have any effect or use case.
Sometimes you want to make a phone call and then you have to switch them on
and rogue software could have waited for that moment.

A better strategy is to harden the user space and use only encrypted communication channels.
Then it is of much less importance what peripherals are doing or not doing.

Anyways, you never have a kill-switch for eavesdropping in the network or on your
peer's end. So I don't see the biggest risk in the remaining BLOBs of our GTA0x smartphones.

BTW: we always had "external modems" starting from GTA01... So it is nothing
new for the Librem 5 although it seems to be perceived that way.

> But indeed i liked it more with the gta04 form factor ;)
> The gta04 has (for me) just not enough power; 
> if it would based for example on the pyra boards i had backed/brought a „gtaPyra“ rather than on the Librem 5.

A Pyra-Phone :) Nice idea!

After thinking some minutes, I came to the conclusion that it is not impossible.
It seems to be doable. Probably even earlier than the Librem 5 since almost all
components are tested and designed in for the Pyra. And some are even in production
stock. So it is just a redesign of the PCB by thinning out unneeded parts (e.g. keyboard
matrix) and rearranging all components so that the form factor fits. It would be
a stripped-down and simplified Pyra in new shape.

But it will be:
* big (est. 150 x 66 x 15 mm) - more a Phablet with 5 inch screen
* ugly compared to modern phones (we can only build something styled similar to an Openmoko - unless a really talented industrial designer helps)
* not 100% blob free (you still need one for GPU, WiFi and Bluetooth, but not for LTE or doing voice calls)
* no (mechanical) kill switches
* gets much hotter than a GTA04 and CPU clock must be limited

On the other hand it could even get 4 GB of RAM, 32 GB eMMC, multiple USB (host) and µSD ports.

A good side-effect could be that it simply shares the kernel/user-space software of the Letux OS
with the GTA04, OpenPandora and Pyra.

I.e. new hardware for Replicant and QtMoko seem to be possible.

And all that mid of 2018 if we started tomorrow...

Nice dream :) Anyone sharing such dreams?

But we would also need a budget to do that. Not 2 Mio USD, but a significant portion
to do the development of electronics (easy) and plastics case (expensive).

The question is if there is anyone still interested to invest into a Pyra-Phone
after the Librem 5 did an excellent marketing job and has drained the pockets of the
FLOSS community.



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