Purism is a boutique seller of Linux laptops based in San Francisco. Their hardware ships with a custom spin of Trisquel, itself an Ubuntu derivative with only FOSS (free and open source) software on-board.
Now the company is looking to get into the smartphone racket with what they’re calling the Librem Phone, a free software phone running a bona fide GNU/Linux stack.
A truly FOSS phone has, historically, been a tough nut to crack. Ubuntu Phone, the other contender in this very niche space, still relies on binary blobs from Android. I’d wager that most hardcore freedom beards are already making do with CyanogenMod or some other custom Android ROM and F-Droid in place of GMS (Google mobile services).
Here’s the source—a popular Ubuntu blog—on the specific challenges that a truly free smartphone would face:
In an industry where companies like Google struggle to get hardware makers to offer free and open-source drivers, that’s going to be a very tall order. Most makers of smartphone chips, including radios, GPS and WiFi, only release code as a proprietary binary for Android. Getting a motherboard made using an entirely FOSS stack is a tall order.
If such things are important to you, Purism is currently conducting a advisory survey to anticipate the hardware specs and software choices that their customers would expect in such a device, and the wider interest in the project. You can participate by clicking or tapping that first link directly below.