Linux-based security phone to ship with source code

Jonathan MathewsPublic

Purism is crowdfunding a security minded “Librem 5” smartphone that runs Linux on an i.MX6 or i.MX8, and offers a 5-inch screen and privacy protections.

After the death of Firefox OS, the discontinuation of the Ubuntu Phone, and Samsung’s painfully slow rollout of its Tizen phones, the dream of establishing alternative Linux phone platforms not called Android appeared to be heading for the dustbin of history. Lately, however, several new projects have emerged such as the Raspberry Pi Zero based ZeroPhone and Halium OS project.

The latest is Purism’s Librem 5 smartphone. Purism, which offers a Librem line of secure, open source, Intel Skylake based laptops, has now launched a crowdfunding campaign for the Librem 5 smartphone. The $599 phone won’t ship until Jan. 2019. However, a $299 developer kit is expected in June 2018. The company claims to have a manufacturer already signed up — assuming the $1.5 million campaign succeeds within the next two months.

Unlike other phones that offer extensive security features and privacy controls, such as Bittium’s Bittium Tough Mobile, Silent Circle’s Blackphone 2, Motorola Solutions’s LEX L10, Sikur’s GranitePhone, TRI’s Turing Phone, and Sonim’s XP7 Public Safety, the Librem 5 runs Linux instead of Android. Like the Librem laptops, the 5-inch Librem 5 runs a mobile stack based on Purism’s security-minded, Debian-based PureOS Linux distribution. Billed as the world’s first ever IP-native mobile handset, the unlocked phone uses end-to-end encrypted decentralized communication, including encrypted calls, texts, and emails.

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