There's a new project currently undergoing crowd funding that might be of interest to the former Openmoko community: The Purism Librem 5 campaign.
Similar to Openmoko a decade ago, they are aiming to build a FOSS based smartphone built on GNU/Linux without any proprietary drivers/blobs on the application processor, from bootloader to userspace.
Furthermore (just like Openmoko) the baseband processor is fully isolated, with no shared memory and with the Linux-running application processor being in full control.
They go beyond what we wanted to do at Openmoko in offering hardware kill switches for camera/phone/baseband/bluetooth. During Openmoko days we assumed it is sufficient to simply control all those bits from the trusted Linux domain, but of course once that might be compromised, a physical kill switch provides a completely different level of security.
I wish them all the best, and hope they can leave a better track record than Openmoko. Sure, we sold some thousands of phones, but the company quickly died, and the state of software was far from end-user-ready. I think the primary obstacles/complexities are verification of the hardware design as well as the software stack all the way up to the UI.
The budget of ~ 1.5 million seems extremely tight from my point of view, but then I have no information about how much Puri.sm is able to invest from other sources outside of the campaign.
If you're a FOSS developer with a strong interest in a Free/Open privacy-first smartphone, please note that they have several job openings, from Kernel Developer to OS Developer to UI Developer. I'd love to see some talents at work in that area.
It's a bit of a pity that almost all of the actual technical details are unspecified at this point (except RAM/flash/main-cpu). No details on the cellular modem/chipset used, no details on the camera, neither on the bluetooth chipset, wifi chipset, etc. This might be an indication of the early stage of their plannings. I would have expected that one has ironed out those questions before looking for funding - but then, it's their campaign and they can run it as they see it fit!
I for my part have just put in a pledge for one phone. Let's see what will come of it. In case you feel motivated by this post to join in: Please keep in mind that any crowdfunding campaign bears significant financial risks. So please make sure you made up your mind and don't blame my blog post for luring you into spending money :)