iOS and Android dominate the smartphone market and things are going to get even more exciting with the arrival of the iPhone X. However, there are a lot of people who want full control over their smartphones. While iOS is a very tightly controlled platform, Android does fulfill that requirement to some degree.

To get complete control over your smartphone, you need a platform that’s designed for that purpose.

The KDE community (an Open Source Community that produces many open source projects, including the Plasma desktop environment for Linux desktop and BSD), is partnering with Purism to create a fully open source mobile platform.

Purism is a manufacturer of high-end open source devices. The company is currently running a crowdfunding campaign to raise 1.5 million USD. The successful campaign will allow them to build the Librem 5 smartphone.

The campaign page makes it clear that, “This is an “all-or-nothing” campaign. If there is not enough backers, credit cards are not charged. What this means is there is no risk to support early and spread the word. Your credit card is only pre-authorized to show support, once we cross the funding goal then your card is charged the amount.”

Purism will be using KDE’s Plasma Mobile to power their Librem 5 smartphone. The phone will run on PureOS, a Debian based operating system, which is It’s based on OSTree.

The platform will use Flatpack to deliver applications. “We’re planning to expand the apps that KDE has already available for mobile devices with more convergent apps, for example using the Kirigami framework, which makes mobile-friendly apps possible,” said Sebastian Kügler, a KDE e.V. board member and core developer of the KDE project.

Here’s a demo of Kirigami:

“KDE has created an evolved, completely free platform in Plasma Mobile,” says Todd Weaver, CEO of Purism. “We feel that Plasma Mobile will become a serious contender that may break the current duopoly and bring a full-featured, fully free/libre and open-source mobile operating system to the market. We look forward to trying out Plasma Mobile on our test hardware and working with KDE’s community.”

Plasma Mobile is an open source, full-featured graphical environment for mobile devices. Plasma Mobile can run on many existing Android devices, but many hardware components used in Android devices still use non-free software, as these components vendors are still warming up to the idea of open source. As a result, many details of the hardware are kept secret, preventing complete access to all the components.

“Building a Free Software and privacy-focused smartphone has been a dream of the KDE community for a long time. We created Plasma to not just run on desktops and laptops, but for the whole spectrum of devices.” says Lydia Pintscher, President of KDE e.V., “Partnering with Purism will allow us to ready Plasma Mobile for the real world and integrate it seamlessly with a commercial device for the  rst time. The Librem 5 will make Plasma Mobile shine the way it deserves.”

If the campaign is successful, users who want a privacy respecting smartphone, may get their dream device.

  • Michał Dybczak

    Wow! I thought they were going with Gnome but I am happy that they decided fro Plasma! Especially that Kirigami project starts to be more and more visible on the scene and KDE programs are being rewritten to suit the needs of desktops and mobiles.

    I love Plasma more and more with every update, while I like Gnome less and less with every update, although initially I liked it very much.
    I just distrust Gnome developers because they tend to brake things and don’t provide solutions for them for years. They took two panel file management and nothing comparable so far on Gnome side is to be seen. They broke legacy icons without any real replacement for them. Their answer is just: install Top Icon Plus. And they still are not having Gnome Tweak integrated with DE… Very classy solution…
    Plasma developers listen to community and work with it. Gnome tries to push their utopian ideologies as if they were Apple or Microsoft thinking that all third party program developers will adjust to their vision, while users are left screwed… Uh…. had to vent out. Just the new Gnome was released recently… Sorry for the negativism. Shutting up now…

  • The campaign still claims that the OS is going to be PureOS, which is based on GNOME3. So, which one is true?