Software Development on Librem 5 and PinePhone Linux Phones is Progressing Nicely

Several Linux phones are expected this year including Purism Librem 5 and Pine64 PinePhone. Both companies have sent phone development kits out to developers a few months ago, and we are starting to see some nice progress for both phones.

What made me write this post is an update from Purism comparing the boot time on Librem 5 running PureOS Linux distribution without specific optimizations yet, and HTC One Android smartphone.

Librem 5 smartphone devkit takes 13 seconds to get to the lockscreen, while the Android phone takes over 40 seconds. Fair enough, most people won’t boot their phone often, but it still nice to know it won’t take long to turn on the phone from power off state.  They also posted a progress report at the end of May saying calls are now working with better audio quality, fixed various issue with messaging in Chatty, work on Linux mainline is going well with Linux 5.2 expected to work on the devkit, more documentation has been written, and more.

The Librem 5 smartphone is slated to start shipping in Q3 2019, and can be pre-ordered for $649 until the end of July after which prices will go up.

Linux Phones: PinePhone with LuneOS
LuneOS on PinePhone Development Kit – Click to Enlarge

If $650 is over your budget, PinePhone should be a good alternative going for less than $200 once it comes to market later this year. Developers working one the devkit are posting their progress on Twitter, YouTube, and other platforms.

Martijn Braam posted a photo of LuneOS on PinePhone devkit (above), while Christophe Chapuis uploaded a video showing the same OS with patched Mesa/Lima (open source graphics driver) for QtWebEngine.

Others are working on a port of SailfishOS for the PinePhone.

recently uploaded a short video of Glacier UX, the user interface of Nemo project, running on PinePhone.

Other projects such as UBPorts are also being ported to the Linux phone. PinePhone’s target price is $150, and the first production batch is expected for Q4 2019. Pre-orders are not open yet.

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12 Replies to “Software Development on Librem 5 and PinePhone Linux Phones is Progressing Nicely”

    1. Why the downvotes? I think this is an excellent idea. If you get frustrated, just insert your android SD card and reboot. The more options, the better.

    1. What is the incentive for open source? If developers really cared about incentive, most open source projects wouldn’t exist.

      How many Linux distros does the world really need? And yet, new ones are launched all the time — without any reasonable incentive.

  1. Wait until the real hardware is out in particular that Librem 5. Don’t preorder and waste time waiting on progress with many TBDs since its not cheap.

  2. I detest overspecced, overpriced, closed, locked-down hardware too. But aren’t many of the killer phone apps (eg for chatting, mapping, podcast-catching, dating…) only available for mobile OSs?

    So availability of an Android-like system OR excellent Android emulation (if the hardware is sufficient?) OR an excellent Android wine-like compatibility layer could turn this into a budget daily driver for a broad group of semi-technical users – basically people comfortable burning OS ROMS – rather than the (relatively small?) group of Linux diehards it seems to currently target.

    I didn’t see any evidence of this…

  3. I still have in front of me my n900 running maemo and the power50 kernel. It’s working and it’s still my favourite smartphone. What killed Linux phones was the software support. There’s no Shazam, no Fing (plz don’t tell me about wi, nc etc) and and a dozen more simple and useful tools that are available for Android.

    It’s now 2019 and I can’t find the Nokia SDK to develop on Maemo, the Qt mobility API is long gone you can’t even find a proper toolchain unless you go with one the two alternatives, postmarketOS or Maemo Leste (which btw support the 5.0 kernel). But in those distros the phone is not fully operational (no GSM, no BT, etc). Also meego and Tizen died before they even released for the n900.

    I just want to conclude that I love Linux phones, but there’s no motivation for companies and devs to invest time on this mobile market. At some point I was hoping that maybe Firefox OS may change that, but also that didn’t happen. The market share is too small and is mainly for engineers and enthusiasts.

    And yes, it’s sad but in the end the Android market wins 🙁

    Nevertheless, I would definitely like to see a pure Linux phone again and if ever a *mainline* phone exists, I’ll be a buyer.

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