GNOME and KDE Join Librem 5 Linux Smartphone Party

Brief: Purism is making a true Linux smartphone called Librem 5. KDE and GNOME have just lent their support for Librem 5.

You probably already know that Purism has launched a crowdfunding campaign in a bid to create a Linux smartphone. The goal is to raise $1.5 million to bring the world’s first truly free and open source smartphone with enhanced user protection and end-to-end encryption into the market.

Librem 5 wants you to be able to run any major Linux distributions such as Debian, Arch, Ubuntu etc on your smartphone. And to support this ‘dream’, two big Linux desktop projects, GNOME and KDE are joining hands with Purism so that Librem 5 would be able to run KDE and GNOME desktop environments on it.

These announcements came at an interval of a few days and we have covered both news in this one article.

Librem 5 and KDE

The partnership with KDE is for KDE to adapt Plasma Mobile for Librem 5 smartphone. Plasma Mobile is a full-featured graphical environment developed by KDE for mobile devices. It has been tested on some devices but since it is free and open, it clashes with most smartphones as their hardware needs proprietary software to work.

Purism and KDE have a shared vision of “freedom, openness and personal control for end users”. This common goal has brought them together, as announced by KDE.

Building a Free Software and privacy-focused smartphone has been a dream of the KDE community for a long time….Partnering with Purism will allow us to ready Plasma Mobile for the real world and integrate it seamlessly with a commercial device for the first time,” Lydia Pintscher, president of KDE said.

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Librem 5 and GNOME

GNOME Foundation has announced that it will create emulators, tools as well as build awareness in moving GNOME/GTK onto the Purism Librem 5 smartphone. If everything goes on well, the GNOME Foundation will enhance GNOME shell and its system performance with Purism that will enable features on the Librem 5.

It should be noted that GNOME technologies have been used in embedded devices like Nokia 770, N800 and N900 even though the developers had some challenging experience with the devices.

According to Neil McGovern, the executive director or GNOME Foundation, “Having a Free/Libre and Open Source software stack on a mobile device is a dream-come-true for so many people, and Purism has the proven team to make this happen”.

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What it means for Librem 5

For Purism, getting an endorsement from such communities means the world is getting closer to a phone that “avoids the handcuffs of Android and iOS”. “Purism is excited to work with many communities and organizations to advance the digital rights of people,” Founder & CEO of Purism, Todd Weaver said.

At the time of writing this, the crowdfunding campaign had raised 47.70% ($625,464) of the required $1,500,000 with 31 days to go.

The initial plan was to ship the smartphone with a GNOME desktop environment and GTK toolkit-based custom user interface. Now they are partnering with both the GNOME and KDE teams in order to “test, support, and develop with KDE and the KDE community” as well as using the Qt toolkit and GTK to develop apps.

Purism had already used GNOME for its PureOS software which is used in its tablets and laptop computers. They say they will continue to test both GNOME or KDE-based software and will decide after the project is funded which of them to use to ship the phone with.

If you want to make Librem 5 a reality, please contribute to the project:

Support Librem 5