Monday, 30 September 2019 06:26

First batch of new Linux phones starts shipping

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First batch of new Linux phones starts shipping Courtesy: Purism

The company that is building a Linux-based smartphone says the first batch of shipments of the device, known as the Librem 5, have been shipped.

Earlier this month, Purism emailed those who had ordered the phone, providing an iterative shipping schedule.

Initially, the Librem 5 had been expected to be shipped in the second quarter of 2019, but issues with the processor chosen for the build got in the way.

At that time, Purism spokesperson Sriram Ramkrishna said that the i.MX 8M Quad CPU had some known errata in the silicon and the project had been delayed due to this.

Thus, the development team had started looking at the i.MX 8M Mini which had an updated silicon process and a reduced feature set.

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The Librem 5. Courtesy Purism

The device will ship in six batches. The shipping windows are 24 September to 22 October; 29 October to 26 November; 3 December to 31 December; 7 January 2020 to 31 March 2020; second quarter of 2020 and quarter four 2020. There will be changes in hardware and software for each batch as development proceeds.

Purism founder and chief executive Todd Weaver said in a statement that the shipping of the first lot of Librem 5 phone was a big moment.

“Not just for us as a company, but for everyone concerned about issues of privacy, security, and user freedom. The Librem 5 represents years of work, building the software and hardware required to make this phone a reality," he said in a statement.

Purism raised the money to develop the phone through a crowd-funding campaign which had a target of US$1.5 million, but ended up raising US$2.279 million.

“Seeing the amazing effort of the Purism team, and holding the first fully functioning Librem 5, has been the most inspirational moment of Purism’s five-year history,” said Weaver.

“It has taken nothing short of each and every teammate devoting their expertise in earnest to get to where we are, plus a community of remarkable people who understand that we must succeed in creating a phone that offers society complete control and ownership to fully respect them as humans.

"This is what the Librem 5 stands for and, in my humble view, is a phone that represents the largest of visions shouting from the rooftops, ‘I will not give up my freedom!’ This is a personal note of thanks to the Purism team, the backers who have supported us overwhelmingly every step of the way, and the community who has volunteered from spreading the word, shared ideas, bought phones, and developed immense amounts of code.”

The project has been backed by both the KDE Desktop project and the GNOME project, the two organisations that put out the two major desktop environments for Linux users.

Development of the last Linux phone, which was built by Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu GNU/Linux distribution, ended in 2016, but the company only announced it in April 2017. The operating system that powered the Ubuntu Phone is now being developed by a team under the name Ubuntu Touch.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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