Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Thursday, September 9, 2021 at 23:34

This article is for you who wants to know about libre mobile phone. Continuing the previous overview, this article now briefly overviews the central technologies of this topic, namely Ubuntu Touch, and PostmarketOS, and Plasma Mobile. These are all GNU/Linux family and not Android. By discussing these software pieces we will understand and introduce ourselves to practical secure, private communication with software freedom.

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See also our Libre Software Phones.

What is Ubuntu Touch?

Historically, Ubuntu Touch operating system was born in 2011 in the hands of Canonical, the U.K. company who founded Ubuntu. It features convergence, that is, ability to chameleon itself as desktop if connected to a monitor. In short, by 2017, Canonical officially discontinued the OS and shortly after then the community took it over. Today, Ubuntu Touch is developed under the lead of UBPorts with the great help of Hong Kong based hardware manufacturer Pine64 that successfully made Ubuntu Phone a reality. All convergence OSes existed after it, like Librem 5's one, simply followed Ubuntu Touch's ideas.

- Ubuntu-based, Ubuntu user experience
- Convergence
- Lomiri user interface
- Canonical legacy
- Promised privacy and security
- Supported by Pine64 as well as Volla hardware manufacturers
- KLIK (.klik) package file format
- A lot of apps available at OpenStore App Center
- UBPorts Installer, desktop app to help user installs Ubuntu Touch to mobile phones


What is PostmarketOS?

A mobile OS with full GNU/Linux Desktop user experience based on Alpine. Just like our distros, postmarketOS can be used on our phone with choices, yes, choices of user interface, available between Plasma Mobile (KDE-like), Phosh (GNOME-like), and Sxmo (Openbox-like) and keep increasing! It supports hundreds of devices, far more than Replicant if you want comparison, so that you can install it to your Zenfone, Galaxy, or Xperia if you have one just like everyone installs Android. Technology-wise, postmarketOS is a very important yet revolutionary project everybody is admiring today in the mobile phone field. 


- Based on secure, small, simple Alpine Linux OS
- Promised security and privacy
- Available for a lot of mobile devices
- Mass produced (PinePhone)
- Friendly to GNU/Linux enthusiasts
- GNOME-like, KDE-like, and Openbox-like experiences
- APK (.apk) package file format


What is Plasma Mobile?

A user interface choice for mobile OSes that is mostly found with postmarketOS and Manjaro Mobile today. Thus, it is not an OS but a UI. Another choice is Phosh by Librem 5's company (that is not covered here) which both, thus, are similar to KDE and GNOME choices to us GNU/Linux users.

- Equal experience with Plasma Desktop
- Fully free/libre open source software
- Can be installed to either postmarketOS or Manjaro ARM
- Created with Qt and Kirigami
- Promised privacy and security
- Native applications available (akin to KDE Apps to KDE)
- Widgets


Afterwords and Further Readings

That's all the overview of the three. From this, we find postmarketOS Plasma, a combination other than postmarketOS Phosh, aside from the monolith Ubuntu Touch with Lomiri user interface. Both OSes can be installed to a lot of mobile devices you might have one or simply purchased from either Pine64 or Volla as of today. Finally, to learn more or join the development, you can read these readings:

- Ubuntu Touch FAQ
- postmarketOS FAQ
- Plasma Mobile FAQ

I hope you'd enjoy this all!

This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.