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    misc thoughts:

    • Pine is successful, but they sell toys to enthuiast. The fact they’re successful at that is good (a LOT of companies failed even selling those; see CHIP or Pandora), but they’re still tinker toys.
    • Purism looks stretched way too thin. However, if they can pull it off, they’re aiming for ready-to-use - something you can recommend to someone non-technical.
    • I think ecosystems may have become too entrenched to challenge as competitors, without some act-of-god (or the European Union).
    • Fundamentally, you need to make a good phone. I loved my N900, but it was good regardless of the fact it ran Linux.
    • Obvious omission of Android, but I know why - it’s the monkey’s paw version of a Linux phone :)

    I have a draft sitting around that touches on a certain aspect that some ecosystems went for; more to come.

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      Obvious omission of Android, but I know why - it’s the monkey’s paw version of a Linux phone :)

      That is the most perfect summary of Android I’ve ever read. Bravo!

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        Pandora successor is already shipping, so I wouldn’t say failed, just that small underfunded teams are slow

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          Obvious omission of Android, but I know why - it’s the monkey’s paw version of a Linux phone :)

          I’d just like to interject for a moment. What you’re referring to as Linux, is in fact, Android/Linux, or as I’ve recently taken to calling it, Android plus Linux. Linux is not an operating system unto itself, but rather another free component of a fully functioning Android system made useful by the Android corelibs, shell utilities and vital system components comprising a full OS as defined by Google.

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            Just checking: are you poking fun at rms or is this actually something you care about?

            (Sorry, tone is hard over text.)

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              80% poking fun at RMS, 20% seriously pointing out that the “linux kernel” bit is far less relevant than the choice of userland.

              I am pretty interested in a portable-device OS in the “GNU/Linux” tradition (eg pinephone). Being able to e.g. use the same offline mail setup as my desktop would be really nice!

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                Makes sense, thanks!

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                This is yet another case where “RMS was right.”

                Although he is mocked by the original GNU/Linux copypasta, GNU/Linux is substantially different from Android/Linux (and much more similar to GNU/Hurd).

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                  Android/Linux still uses several GNU components, to the point where (based on my extremely limited knowledge of Android) you could argue that it’s actually Android/GNU/Linux.

                  The real problem with “GNU/Linux” is that it’s just plain bad marketing. “Linux” is catchy and memorable where “GNU/Linux” isn’t. It immediately invites questions like “is that ‘GNU or Linux’, or ‘GNU and Linux’? What is their relationship?”, and the answer turns out to be “a bunch of irrelevant technical details, they’re just two sets of components that you’re generally using as a bundle anyway”.

                  The point is, if the first time you become aware of “GNU/Linux” is when someone tells you the name (which it usually is), then your first impression is “PREPARE FOR IRRELEVANT PEDANTRY” and not “here’s a product that solves your problem and helps you!”.

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                    Android/Linux still uses several GNU components

                    Really? It doesn’t use a GNU shell or GNU libc, GNU coreutilities. The SDK now uses clang and lld instead of a GNU toolchain. As far as I am aware, there is no GPL’d code in AOSP. What GNU things does it use?

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            Not sure why call these “Linux phones” instead of “open phones”.

            The highest appeal of pinephone is, to me, that it is the target of genode’s mobile efforts.

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              The open bit is really critical, and I hope that some of the current antitrust investigations of Google’s Play Store will address this. I can install an AOSP-based distro on my phone (I run LineageOS), but I can’t even install the vast majority of apps that I need without running Google Play Services and the Play Store. I use a throw-away account that doesn’t have a credit card associated with it and I’m not even trying to install any paid-for applications.

              I don’t care if the phone runs Linux. I’d actually prefer something based on something more modern such as Fuchsia, but I want to be able to:

              • Remove or sandbox any proprietary tracking things
              • Install any applications that I want
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                Play Store

                Regarding this bit, you may wish to check out Aurora Store (available at F-Droid), an alternative Google Play client that also has built-in “anonymous” Google accounts pool.

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                  I’ve tried using Aurora Store, but ended up installing OpenGAPPS because most of the time it simply failed.

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                I mostly agree, though on top of open I would add hackable and extensible. I had a Motorola A780 that ran Linux, and I guess it’s open in the sense that all the source code is available, but the amount of effort it would take me to change anything almost made that moot. Apps were written in JavaME and ran painfully slow. It was fun to be able to get a shell prompt, but with no documented way to interact with the UI, I found other projects more appealing to work on.

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                  BTW the A780 was unique in that it was a clamshell Linux phone and used a stylus. There’s something very satisfying about that thud when you close the phone to hang up.

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                Hardware specifically produced for Linux distros will keep being a niche. However, Linux on already existing phones might become a big success. It’s way better maintainable than Android ROMs which keep trying to hack ancient vendor blobs on newer versions.

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                  I thought Project Treble was supposed to help with that. Did it?

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                    Yes, but only with the newest phone models. There are billions of phones produced in the last 10 years.

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                  What about KaiOS? It’s the OS that powered a big number of feature phone and it’s derived by the old FirefoxOS.

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                    As a proud owner of one, I agree that Pine are still - for now - tinker toys.

                    But I think one thing that’s fundamentally changed since the days of the OpenMoko phones is that more and more people are coming to understand the dangers of proprietary and/or surveillance-funded mobile ecosystems.

                    Not most people, for sure, but possibly enough when combined with the availability of cheap SoC to support a niche ecosystem.