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100 days of postmarketOS (postmarketos.org)
177 points by yuvadam on Sept 3, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 45 comments

Some comments on a more personal level about the project: I actually learned about postmarketOS 50 days ago when I saw the previous "50 days of pmOS" post here on HN, and since then I've become a pretty active contributor to the project.

I can't remember the last time I've contributed so intensely to a single FLOSS project and I attribute that to the community being built around developing postmarketOS and the first and foremost goal of having fun while developing, all the while keeping in mind that are much larger long-term goals we would want to get to some day that I very much support.

Props to ollieparanoid and all the other developers working on pmOS, I really enjoy their positive attitude towards technical and community development alike.

Having Google as such a huge controlling force over the operating systems on so many mobile devices has scared me for a long time, given Google’s business model of the customer and data about individuals - I welcome any well managed projects that set out to offer more ethical alternatives.

If you want to be more scared, and happen to own an Androdid device, check the data Google has on you by virtue of Play Services sending information every time your're online.

For example on location history in Google Maps.

And then go here, delete as much as you can, and turn off as many categories of data collection as you can: https://myaccount.google.com/activitycontrols

Is Apple any better on this (real question)?

Apple has their own problems, but their business is to sell products, not to track you. Google tracks you aggressively and that is their business model.

Suggest reading Aral Balkan on this topic [1]

[1] - https://ar.al/notes/apple-vs-google-on-privacy-a-tale-of-abs...

Interestingly, with Microsoft, it's like a weird mixed bag as if they haven't made up their mind yet. They do kinda want to sell you stuff, but they also want some of your data, but not the same data that Google wants, and they may or may not have a good plan on what to do with that data.

I suspect we'll end up in some weird freemium model offering with Microsoft. For the right price, everything can be shut off, but Windows 10 Enterprise is all said and done over $500 a seat.

Microsoft are busy trying to reinvent themselves, so they will do whatever gets them the most money, no matter the consequences or privacy concerns.

Love @aral and his aims. But privacy must not be only for the rich. (See Zuck having bought all houses in the street to ensure privacy)! But having discussed with Aral, Apple is available only for people that have the $$$.

You don't have to spend $$$ on an iPhone. If you want the latest factory fresh bling, sure. But an iPhone 6s goes for about 350$, a 6 for around 200$. Given that Apple supplies most of their devices with 4-5 years worth of updates that's something to consider. It ends up boiling down to how much is your privacy worth to you vs. how much do you want the latest and greatest, assuming you're comfortable with having an iOS device.

That said, Apple isn't the only one you can turn to for more privacy concious devices. And even on Android devices you can do a whole lot to stay fairly private, but you'll need to avoid Google services as much as possible. Unfortunately protecting your privacy requires much more (active) effort on Android.

One of the reasons I'm actually looking forward to postmarketOS is the ability to use a lot of my older devices in a much nicer, privacy sensitive way. If this takes off postmarketOS has what it takes to make privacy a lot cheaper. Unfortunately nothing stops you to then go around and continue using tools that have an interest in eroding your privacy, but Apple won't stop you from that either.

This project has come a long way, and it seems ultra cool. When I first saw it, I thought it was going to be more of a "turn your old phone into a Raspberry Pi type device" .. basically a little embedded machine you could use to control other things or maybe home automation.

However it now looks like a much broader project, with some big GUI and driver goals. It'd be pretty amazing if we end up with a Linux distribution you can just install on most old devices and continue using them as little usable Plasma devices.

That would be one future I would like to live in!

Off-topic: I subscribed to the RSS feed of your blog to get updates on postmarketOS development (just watching from the sidelines), but the new website doesn't seem to have anything like that.

Could you add a way to subscribe, or should I just watch the GitHub repo instead?

Thanks for letting us know. For now, you can subscribe https://github.com/postmarketOS/postmarketos.org - and I will make an issue to add a RSS feed!

Here we go: https://postmarketos.org/blog/feed.atom

(Thanks to new contributor marten-de-vries for implementing it so fast \o/ <https://github.com/postmarketOS/postmarketos.org/issues/29>)

While I like the idea of making old devices usable for a longer time, I don't like the approach they have choosen. Android has Java application framework developed by Google that is well tested and stable. It works great and there are many applications written using this framework. There is F-Droid. Why replace it with some linux desktop environment like KDE? It probably is buggy, unstable, not optimized for mobile devices, there are no apps and nobody is going to write them. They are just making another always-broken linux distribution. I am afraid they will also make some awful desktop environment with excess 3D effects and gigantic icons like Gnome 3.

The approach postmarketOS is pushing is that of Choice. You get to choose what you want to run on your device, just as with any other Linux distro. No apps, seriously? Take any Linux app, it'll run on pmOS. We're not in the business of building desktop environments, we just package existing software for use on mobile devices. Nor is this "another distro", this is Alpine Linux (is that also broken?) with some extra packages for device support.

> Take any Linux app

They are made for desktop, they have tiny text and buttons and I doubt anyone has finger small enough to click them. The commenters below have written that Android apps might be supported too which is nice. But I still don't like the idea of having a desktop launcher or console on a mobile phone.

Will Pokemon Go run?

Don't do this here

Why can't I point out that running desktop Linux ARM programs is not a useful?

You can use anything you'd run on a normal distro, and per the other commenter Anbox allows you to run normal android apps. I'd encourage you to avoid knocking KDE Plasma, last time I installed it on a x86 tablet it wasn't half bad at all, and that was a few years back. Its only apt to have improved since!

It's not one or the other, these devices can run Anbox.

If I knew anything about kernel or operating design, I would try and port this over to the Nexus 6. Is the developing community for PostmarketOS amenable to newbies in that space?

There's really not much to know! If you find a good supported kernel on similar projects like LineageOS / CyanogenMod then you're already that much closer to a working device. The rest is packaging, testing and occasional patching.

As a general overview here's the documentation on how to go about porting a new device: https://wiki.postmarketos.org/wiki/Porting_to_a_new_device

For anything else, come over to Matrix/IRC and you'll receive all the help you need :)

I would love to install this on one of my former phones, but... both of them had some kind of fatal hardware failure.

this is such an awesome product, but the name "postmarketos" is too descriptive and sterile.

it's probably the least of their concerns, but i think a name / branding would be helpful.

any HN brand experts? maybe you could make a contribution (in the form of expertise/suggestions)

I think it's a perfect name.

I hadn't really heard about this before, and when I skimmed the HN front page, I read the name as "postmarkOS", only to realize on opening the post that it's "postmarketOS". IMO, the name is too long and isn't catchy or understandable. As an observer on the Internet, I'll stop with these opinions. I don't have any suggestions for what it could be.

how come?

i think it could be better because

1. it's kind of long

2. it's sterile, devoid of emotion, and hard to link emotion to via marketing or branding

3. it's too technical - the common phone OS consumer doesn't know what postmarket means, and don't know what an OS is

4. it works against itself if it becomes wildly successful, and OEMs want to put it on the phone at the time of sale... at that point it's just "MarketOS"?

None of these are a huge deal, or detract from the overall value of the project (it's awesome!); but I can't see an argument for keeping it. what makes it perfect, in your eyes?

And i'm not a brand expert; i would love to see points by someone who knows a lot more about marketing and branding.

I don't think it's "perfect", but I think it's named better than most projects are.

1. There's a shorthand "pmOS". "postmarketOS" is at least easy to Google (PMOS has too many meanings).

2. It's descriptive and tells me more about what it is than most names do. Maybe they could rebrand for wider appeal later.

3. The common phone consumer wouldn't pay more attention if it had a flashier name, either. They'll buy a phone based on rumor and what their friends have, and they certainly aren't going to look at replacing the OS with something new.

4. I imagine that the company might fork the repo and rename it whatever they want, in that case. "Mobilios\", then a tiny text at the bottom "powered by postmarketOS".

I'm not a branding expert either, but I know that it pisses me off when there are 3 layers of branding and marketing before I can get to what the product actually is*.

I also find the name good as it is. When I first heard of it, I read up on it only because it had that weird name. If the name was yet another generic OS name, I would have just scrolled on, thinking that it's just yet another OS.

I agree that it's not that well-suited for outside of the geek community, but I doubt we're anywhere close to that. If it gets picked up by a manufacturer, they'll just as well market it to geeks. You're not getting around that, unless Android and iOS disappear from the face of the planet.

Obviously we will name it postpostmarketOS then ;)

The name is good to attract developers, to gain traction, which is the current goal. Any users are a bonus (beta testers), and with a name like this you may gain the type of user who's OK with tinkering.

As someone who ran Maemo (and its successors in past) I am happy to see my old N900 would gain new life. However, running Linux terminal apps on a phone isn't very useful. They need to be ported to get gesture support etc as normal applications are made for hardware keyboard and hardware mouse as HIDs. Phones lack these (tho N900 does have a hardware keyboard, the other input device is resistive screen + stylus or finger).

I've done some thinking and preliminary work about brand identity and the psychology of use. Find me on the matrix channel, @AndrewMcSwain.

What's the alternative? A vaguely exotic-sounding name that doesn't mean anything to anyone, like Haskell?

Names should be descriptive.

> like Haskell

Haskell is named after the mathematician Haskell Curry. The concept of "currying" functions is essential to the language, and is named for the same person.

Whoops. Bad example, I guess.

What about ReOS, as in reuse and recycle, which fits the mission (and logo)?

Short sighted. What if it becomes big and you want to ship a new devices with this OS ? It's not reuse or recycle then. Not to mention, both of those words are uninviting to anyone looking to pick this up.

Fair enough, but just to be clear, I wasn't suggesting using the words 'reuse' or 'recycle', only to be inspired by them to use the 're-' prefix.

The current logo certainly seems inspired by common recycling icons.

At the same time your first point seems to me to apply to the current name.

How about a pithy take on postmarketOS, something like pOS or PMS?


Sure, if you want to annoy potential female contributors for no good reason.

pmOS is the semi-official shorthand

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