Open source phone OS

I have PinePhone the very basic model (2G RAM, 16G ROM) and it runs Mobian (Debian with mobile extensions) and Phosh as UI (based on GTK+). This combination fully satisfies me. Needless to say, it acts primarily as a smartphone with all GSM functions.

Additionally, Phosh allows installing and running any Linux arm64 application (not specially written for UI), even if it is not optimized for phone size and touchscreen. In this case Phosh is capable of scaling applications on per-application base. So, for me, this is the only mobile Linux UI which gives me access to all desktop Linux application out of the box, and Debian repository has plenty of applications.

Returning to this remark, it occurred to me last night that Linux could be considered a European alternative, being written by someone in Finland. As you say it does not feel like a European system anymore since Linus moved to the USA and most of the dominant firms using Linux are US. And it certainly does not count as “alternative” since the biggest mobile operating system is of course a linux distro called Android.

I suspect many of us as Haiku enthusiasts, whilst not opposed to Linux per se, are not especially interested in whilst accepting that smartphone-specific distros do meet our desire for non-commercial mobile firmware. That is why I follow the progress of Genode on the Pinephone with interest.

Good day,

I also own a Pinephone, the basic (2GB RAM, 16GB emmc -very, very, very low specs for a phone, even a linux phone-) Ubuntu Touch one. While the idea is appealing, it is sitll in a very early stage. I’ve tried almost all distros available on the Pinephone to end up that UT is the one that is “more targeted” to a phone. Also have quite some hardware issues with my device like screen flickering, device turning hot to the level of bending the simcard, issues with network stability… I was never able to use it as a daily driver anyway.
It seems that the Pinephone Pro addresses some of the issues of the original Pinephone, but at more than twice the price. At that price tag, the Volla Phone 22 is more appealing, having also the possibility of multiboot different distros. Also the finishing of the Volla Phone 22 looks more polished than the Pinephone, and priced very close to the Pinephone Pro.

Right now I’m using Lineage on an old Motorola G5s, though the process to get it installed is not straightforward, not as straightforward as loading any distro on the Pinephone. No experience with the Volla Phone as don’t have one.

Nonetheless, the biggest issue I have with any phone is the interface. Usually, interfaces don’t scale well. The only one that did scale properly has already disappeared, Windows Phone. By properly I mean that all the contents of any app resize to fit the window and expand scrolling down, or sliding to next page right, which I haven’t seen on any other interface. Besides the completely black background with white text. While not perfect, UT is the one that I’ve experienced has the best scaling and also has a black background/white text interface, instead of those trending shades of greys/browngreys/bluegreys of today.

The options are scarce and it’s not possible to test them all together to evaluate, as only option is: buy a Pinephone Pro, buy a Volla Phone, buy a regular phone that allows installing Lineage (or other AOSP ROM derivative), put them side by side, compare.

I’ll stick with the Lineage for the time being, while keeping an eye on the Pinephone Pro and the Volla Phone. If their price drops, I might go there.


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As PulkoMandy mentioned, there are open source degoogled Android ROMs, the most user friendly imo being /e/ by Murena, which I use myself and I found the experience excellent. It’s actually much better and faster than the bloated stock rom. You are trading some security (they are still a bit slow with patching vulnerabilities) for much improved privacy and a much wider range of supported devices than other security or privacy focused Android projects.

They also sell phones with the rom pre-installed, which can be recommended to novices who would struggle with unlocking bootloaders and flashing roms.

I haven’t tried their Nextcloud-based cloud offerings since I have a Synology NAS for everything I need, but it seems to work well for others.

@squizzler , actually, you’d get a few arguing with you about your “Linux could be considered European alternative, being written by someone in Finland”. The GNU people used Torvald’s kernel “Linux kernel” to build the GNU Linux OS on top of.

I don’t have a dog in this race. I’m just saying, Torvald’s kernel, with GNU OS on top. Luckily Richard Stallman isn’t here… lol

Very good point, and I am usually a bit of a stickler for terminological exactitude! To my defence I did say “Linux” was a European development, not “GNU/Linux”.

Your point also applies to Android. I am not sure how much of the broader “GNU” is included but since the popular desktop alternative is properly called GNU/Linux, perhaps Google’s mobile phone OS should really be named “Android/Linux”? :grinning: Actually, having written that, it strikes me not to be such a bad idea, since they could call their new Fuchsia system Android/Zircon (zircon is the Fuchsia kernel) and thus keep their Android branding.

Ultimately I agree a EU desktop/mobile system would be a fine development, and even if it is free to everyone, GNU/Linux is not it.