One week Librem 5 field trial – day 1

In this article I will describe my experiences with using the Librem 5 Linux phone. I will use the Librem 5 for (at least) one week as my primary phone. The Librem 5 is a Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) GNU/Linux phone that is produced by Purism.

Today, 2022-05-01, I took out the SIM card of my Android phone and inserted it into the Librem 5. I had the Librem 5 already have for quite a while, but did not use yet as my primary phone.

One of the main requirements for me to use the Librem 5 as my primary phone is the possibility to use Signal. I already installed Signal Desktop a while ago as a flatpak on the Librem 5, and I will see in the coming week if it works well enough.

The first thing I noticed, after inserting the SIM card is that there is a little exclamation mark next to the mobile phone signal indicator. I’ve no idea yet why it is there.

I wanted to take a screenshot of it for this blog with the default GNOME screenshot app. It worked, but I had to use the Librem 5 in landscape mode to be able to press the Save button.

But here is the screenshot (copied over with scp from the Librem 5 to the Fedora 35 computer on which I am writing this blog) :

Exclamation mark next to 4G signal strength

Personally, I’m not a fan of enabling automatic screen rotation, so I locked the screen rotation to portrait mode again.

Let me now see if I can figure out why the exclamation mark is there…

Update 1:

Maybe, the issue of the exclamation mark is that Mobile Data is not enabled:

Mobile Data not enabled

When I try to switch on the Mobile Data slider, I get this screen:

Unexpected access points

These Access Points are unexpected for me. Ben is a service provider in the Netherlands, but I use Simpel. I added the access point that I according to my provider should use:

Manually added Access Point

After doing this, the exclamation mark disappeared, and the Mobile Data slider is on. I will test soon if mobile data really works.

Edit: See for more information this bug report.

While typing an update on this blog, my nice pet rat Juno came to me to ask for a snack. I took this photo of Juno with the Librem 5:

Photo of rat Juno, shot on Librem 5

Update 2:

I tested the Mobile Data via 4G by disabling the WiFi. It worked, and I could send a few Signal messages.

Usually, at home, I have my Librem 5 in a Digitus DA-70882 docking station. The Librem 5 does not fit perfectly, but it works. Apparently the Baseus B07T1M2KKV is the same thing, but with some spacers in the box. See this tweet for a photo of my setup. Via the docking station I can use a Logitech MX Anywhere 3 mouse and a Logitech K400r keyboard. Normally I will use mouse and keyboard, because I prefer these over using the touchscreen and on screen keyboard.

I have also an external monitor connected, via HDMI, but I am not using that often, because the Librem 5 does not remember the display settings after being disconnected, and I am too lazy to set the displays settings every time again, so basically, I use mainly the screen of the Librem 5 itself.

Another important setting that I did in the past is enabling zram. The issue I created has been resolved two weeks ago, but I’m not sure if this change is already in the repositories.

A small inconvenience that I currently run into is that I cannot use ssh-copy-id. I get this error when trying to use it: /usr/bin/ssh-copy-id: ERROR: No identities found. I did not investigate how to fix this. Actually, I also do not like the fact that the default user on the Librem 5 is purism. I would prefer to set my own user name, and not have the purism user at all.

As a side note: You can find a lot of information for using the Librem 5 in the Librem 5 Tips & Tricks section and the Librem 5 FAQ on the Librem 5 wiki. Also the Purism forums provide a lot of information.

Some other information about my current setup: I have a personal Nextcloud server. I use GNOME Online Accounts to connect to it. You can find the GNOME Online Accounts in Settings > Online Accounts. Using GNOME Online Accounts with Nextcloud means that I automatically got all my contacts and calendars on my phone. I use Firefox as a browser on the phone. Note to self: install the firefox-esr-mobile-config. I am not using email on the Librem 5 (yet).

Update 3:

I have a normal Librem 5, so no Librem 5 USA that I pre-ordered on 2017-10-06, and received on 2021-10-04.

Update 4:

Someone on Twitter asked me if I could test the DigiD app and my banking app. DigiD is the Dutch system to log in into government web sites. I never used an app for this, so I will not test that. I’m banking at the sustainable ASN Bank. On Android I use an app for banking. However, they also provide the option to register browsers with what they call a browsercode. I registered Firefox on the Librem 5 with a browsercode. I received a verification SMS correctly on the Librem 5, and Firefox is now registered with my bank. Fortunately, the online banking website of the ASN Bank is completely adaptive, so I can see the overview of my bank accounts and the details of the bank statements very well. I did not try to do a transfer yet, but I will to that later. So it looks that online banking from the Librem 5 works well in the browser.

I will update this blog post with more info and tomorrow I will create a new blog post for day two of this test.

Read the report of day 2 here.

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