The next major release of the PureOS operating system that ships with the Librem 5 smartphone will bring a number of new features and improvements.

Code-named Byzantium, the new version of PureOS will bring a handful of new applications plus user interface tweaks that let you do things like enable automatic screen rotation, toggle WiFi, Bluetooth, or cellular functionality, or change keyboard styles.

And while some of those features are likely tied to the hardware of Purism’s $799 smartphone, it’s likely that some may eventually find their way to other Linux distributions for other phones, because Purism is the lead developer of the Phosh user interface that’s also available for other mobile Linux distributions including postmarketOS, Manjaro, Mobian, Arch, openSUSE, and Fedora.

Here are some of the changes coming to PureOS Byzantium for the Librem 5:

  • There’s a new restart/shutdown dialog prompt asking you to confirm.
  • You can enable or disable WiFi, Bluetooth, and cellular functions by tapping their icons in the quick settings menu. Long-press any of those icons to open the corresponding page in the Settings app.
  • Automatic screen rotation lets you flip the screen 90, 180, or 270 degrees and you can lock or unlock auto-rotation.
  • The virtual keyboard now supports custom CSS for changing the fonts, colors, and other visual elements.
  • There’s also support for different keyboard layouts (you can choose from different languages or switch to a terminal-specific keyboard or an emoji keyboard, for example).
  • Purism is also adding support for additional M.2 wireless cards for folks that want to swap the card.

Purism is also bringing a few new apps to PureOS Byzantium, including a new web video app called Stream that lets you search for videos and then view results in a simple ad-free, comment-free environment. You can also save the audio or video to your phone’s music or videos folder.

Martijn Braam’s Megapixels camera app, originally developed for the PinePhone, is also coming to PureOS Byzantium. Purism has been working on camera drivers and tuning the app to take advantage of the Librem 5’s camera hardware and @dos1 has been posting a series of #shotonlibrem5 photos to Twitter over the last few weeks. If you scroll through the timeline, you’ll see that image quality is getting better all the time (although most still look better with a bit of post-processing applied).

You can find out more about the upcoming Byzantium release at the Purism blog, or check out the publicly available source code for the latest updates to PureOS.


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