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PinePhone KDE Community Edition is now available (pine64.org)
296 points by danielg0 51 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 196 comments



For the record, I received yesterday the new mainboard that will be in those phones to replace the one of my pinephone UBport edition. The boost in RAM (3gb instead of 2gb) does the trick for me, allowing to use firefox. Not to the point that the experience is even close to android, but at least usable (before that, I used elinks on the phone).

The system I use (mobian/phosh) still feels sluggish, but I suspect it's more a matter of software than hardware, now. I tried yesterday KDE neon/plasma with that new board, but had problems that the screen would black out after a few minutes of use (had to do hard reboot to recover).

I see in this release announcement that their build of plasma is on top on Manjaro, I'll have to try that one. It's especially interesting because someone from Plasma mobile team told on HN the other day that they support MMS.


I grew up in the C64 days - I still can't get my head around the fact that you need 3gb of RAM because 2gb is not enough to run a webbrowser these days.

I know that what's going on on a typical website these days requires an enormous amount of computational power, but I mean, come on. That shouldn't be the explanation, it's part of the problem.


Any content you see on the screen hasn't changed at all.

On a typical website all of the analytics are causing page bloat.

Sometimes there are frameworks like bootstrap but hypothetically those should be cached.

If you are looking at a web application then it has a framework that is a magnitude higher and the rest of it you see a significant increase.


Website bloat isn't the explanation. Firefox on the original 2GB Pinephone board is painfully slow even if you have uBlock Origin and Noscript installed. It is slow even to open and browse to a minimalist text-only website with. I'm not sure how much of this is Firefox, and how much is the whole Mobian UI that depends on GNOME components that have not been optimized to save RAM.

It also has a lot to do with the fact that the Pinephone CPU is underpowered compared to anything from 2020 (or almost anything from 2015, really).


Firefox on the original 2GiB pinephone runs just fine (Xorg/i3wm) even on a 1440p monitor with non-JS easy to compose websites (no complicated CSS filters, blur, etc.) with smooth scrolling.

It's only slowed down by storage access speeds mostly.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdKNugT-mTQ

And this demo is purposefully using both displays at once to stress the device more. With single display mode there's less demands on RAM, and more bandwidth is available to CPU.

Or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqJOs0YwjwY


It is too bad (in the case of parsing) most websites have dynamic HTML structures... I wonder how hard it would be if you had some browser/wrapper that made most websites into wire-frame boxes, text to be simpler to render


You do realize if you use ublock Origin and Noscript that actually degrades your performance because it has to verify to not load that information.


My apologies for not making myself entirely clear: even if you have no addons whatsoever, and you open Firefox and try to navigate to some bare-bones text-only website, even that is extremely slow on the 2GB Pinephone.

However, I would question whether uBlock Origin degrades performance – my own experience running Firefox on low-memory platforms like netbooks and the Raspberry Pi suggests that is not the case. Yes, addons use some amount of RAM, but if they prevent the device from loading a modern advertising-based webpage where the ads and analytics run into the many megabytes and the useless Javascript is CPU-intensive, it seems to work out as a net benefit.


It isn't the Bootstrap-like frameworks that are causing bloat. It's that websites are written as apps these days by people with relatively beefy machines compared to consumers who don't usually buy top of the line hardware every year.

For example, compare Twitter or Facebook to their recent SPA rewrites in React. I can't use either without sacrificing GBs of residential memory. Loading anything on those sites now requires many more CPU cycles than they did before.


Reddit is the worst offender for me. I don’t know if they use react? But whatever they’ve done, it’s horrific. It’s bad even on my top of the line 2020 Intel 13” MacBook Pro (the i7 one)!


Pretty sure they do, or at least they use another SPA framework. I would have mentioned Reddit, but forgot about its rewrite because old.reddit.com still works.


I did not know, that in C64 days you had a browser, with x WebAPIs to do various networking stuff, p2p, soundAPI, database, payment processing, complex - hardware accelerated styling and composite of layout, plattform irrelevant assembler subset, with a integrated IDE etc. etc.

A Webbrowser these days is simply much, much more than a static document viewer, despite this might be, what you want it to be.


I don’t think you need all that for the important stuff.


But other people think different of "important stuff" thats why it is there.

And those who really want only simple HTMl rendering, I believe there are lightweight alternatives (?).

And if not, well then maybe there is simply not enough demand, because most people apparently want to be able to have a email client in the browser and do online banking, or edit Wikipedia articles in a rich html editor, or play games, or watch videos and share and comment them or even do video editing, ... all in the browser.


> And if not, well then maybe there is simply not enough demand, because most people apparently want to be able to have a email client in the browser and do online banking, or edit Wikipedia articles in a rich html editor, or play games, or watch videos and share and comment them or even do video editing, ... all in the browser.

IMO they largely just want to do all these things in an open core VM, without risking installing malware on the ridiculously insecure proprietary OS most of them use if/when they use desktop computers.


Well yes and currently there is no alternative to a webbrowser which needs a lot of RAM for these tasks ... which was the main point, right? And not that we could do much better in theory. No doubt about that. But reality is the browser is usually the most pragmatic solution right now to most use cases. Which is good, when I can do online banking in a very niche project like pine, or do you think banks would port and certify their apps for the various linux distros?


I wonder if we could grade how much better a current system is vs something like the QNX 1.44MB demo disk.

http://toastytech.com/guis/qnxdemo.html


Thats easy: does the qnx meets the requirement of a modern browser?

No, then it is not.

Or do you mean in academical sense of functionaliy per byte? How useful is that?


Not to mention video.


It’s interesting because the original iPhone from 2007 managed pretty well with a half a gigabyte of RAM (or was it a quarter?).


An eighth (128 MB) in fact, according to Wikipedia. The original Galaxy S had 512 MB though.


Hasn’t Android always needed more though due to its use of an interpreter/JITer (JVM initially) instead of native code? That doesn’t explain why the PinePhone would need more than two gigabytes for a browser.


Android never used the JVM.


Reminds me of garbage bins. The larger the bin I have the more rubbish I find to fill it.


Boat has sailed. Recently told an intern to setup a simple notification system at work between Linux desktops and Android phones. He ended up downloading 2 GB of Android tooling and 600 MB of kdeconnect to build basically a TCP connection.


Especially since on PC it doesn't even need 1gb. With 7 add-ons (one being an adblocker) and Firefox having spawned 9 processes in Win10 it still uses less than 1GB RAM for me (even though two tabs are chats, so background-active). Something is clearly either wrong in the Firefox he run, his add-ons or Phinephone.


Or maybe that the os needs some ram, too?

And no, the firmware and drivers are sadly not memory optimized (or barely run at all), as ar as I know.


Supposedly improvements in hardware acceleration have changed this but IME a window manager with no compositing is way faster than phosh. I use fluxbox and on that firefox scrolls in real time for example.


Thanks for mentioning it.

How does fluxbox works on mobile? Is it basically the same than the desktop on a small resolution, or it can receive phone calls and have a notification bar?


If it's the compositor that causes the problem, can't it be disabled? I don't know phosh but in Plasma you can disable the compositing from the system settings.


Nope, there's no option for that in phosh settings. Actually, it's the compositor (phoc) that starts gnome-session in /usr/bin/phosh. I've just tried to edit the startup script to launch gnome-session directly, but it would refuse to start.

It's also a pure wayland system, so it's quite unlike what we're used on desktop.


> It's also a pure wayland system, so it's quite unlike what we're used on desktop.

When you say "pure", do you mean "no XWayland"?


All Phosh distributions I’ve come across have Xwayland.


I see, thanks for your explanations :).


Yes, which means you can actually see the windows for things running in the background which can be nice when your eg reading something from firefox while writing an email. All the phone stuff is handled by chatty and calls, notifications are handled by libnotify, alert sounds are handled by feedbackd etc.


Have you tried Sxmo? It's a very lightweight UI based on suckless programs but seems like it would make the phone functions calls, sms, very intuitive & easy to access. It's based on postmarketOS anything supporting that should also work.

https://wiki.pine64.org/index.php/PinePhone_Software_Release...


I’ve been using Mobian on the UBport edition for the last month. Sluggish doesn’t even describe the usability.

I bought a few data only sims in hopes of leaving the house for short errands with different devices. There is no way I could leave the house with the pinephone. It isn’t usable yet. Could an extra gig of RAM solve this? It seems like it needs years of work.


As you noticed, it's not just a RAM issue. The problem is that Linux GUI and apps generally expect laptop/desktop-ish levels of hardware capabilities because that's what they were developed on/for. You're literally running the same code base that the x86 versions run, just recompiled for ARM. Most mobile SoCs, especially the ones that are Linux-friendly in terms of being open enough to be viable, are not even remotely that. On iOS and Android, widely used apps such as browsers are extensively optimized for mobile.

On the Pinephone, and all other ARM-based Linux devices, we're still running applications like web browsers that were written expecting to run on multi-core I/O monsters with lots of RAM, beefier GPUs etc. (the main exception being the main GUI shell... it would be so much worse if you had to boot the phone into a full Gnome/KDE environment) We're still in the late stages of getting the pile of software that is a typical Linux distro running at all on a mobile device. Then assuming these devices get enough traction, you'll start to see more effort put into mobile-optimized software.


> The problem is that Linux GUI and apps generally expect laptop/desktop-ish levels of hardware capabilities because that's what they were developed on/for.

I remember running x11 and Java w/swing on 8MB 486 laptop... So something is off if multiple cores at 30-100 times the frequency can't run a gui?


Yep. But on mobile, Linux seem to run fine on the n900 and Ubuntu Phones.

The FreeRunner and Zaurus were sluggish, but they’re also on hardware that’s about 15 years old


My Nokia N9 ran a Debian derivative quite well. Gosh I miss that phone.


I have an old 32-bit machine from like 2005 with 2GB of memory running MATE Desktop that Firefox sails on, and that you can open several tabs on without it being a problem.


Yeah, it's obviously software related issues ... rather than having so many different distros running on it, it would be far more impressive to me if there was an demonstrable clear focus on improving performance!!


Relatedly, I've had a much better experience with Chromium than Firefox on my Pinebook -- I'm willing to bet this is because of Google's investment in Chromebooks.


Is it possible the Raspberry Pi ecosystem could move things forward for ARM based linux devices? I know they aren’t mobile, but it is a strong ecosystem with some traction.


In a sense it already has. I suspect the reason that Linux ARM support is as good as it is currently has a lot to do with devices like the Raspberry Pi. In 2010 (i.e. before the Pi) I was using a BeagleBoard-xM and things were both rough and spartan. Today the ARM packages in the repos are nearly at parity and things work much better.

However, the Pi has never gotten much beyond being a forky port of Linux software (back then they had to: they were an arm6hf device in an arm7hf world) and since they seem determined to stay forked (i.e. they no longer need to be a fork, but rather seem to want to be), I don't expect much more from the project in terms of broader Linux enhancements. I'd love to be proven wrong on this.


In that regard pine64 is better, they attempt to get things upstream.


Hmmm great points. Is this a "call for mobile versions" of classic Linux programs in a way?


Definitely... that's part of the reason I chime in when this topic comes up. Having done both Linux and mobile development, I don't believe that the entirety of the answer is going to be 'just throw a more powerful SoC in the device'. Sure, that will help to a degree in some areas but there is a lot of work that has been put into iOS and Android to achieve a balance between battery life and performance that most developers who have only worked in/on Linux haven't appreciated. Which is understandable since it wasn't 'their' problem... now with the Pinephone/Librem 5, it is.

Something I have found worthwhile has been listening to the UBports podcast over the last 6 months or so. They really do seem to be 'getting it' faster than most re: what's left to be done. That's partly because they're in the rather unique position of coming from a place of having the Android kernel (which isn't just a vanilla Linux kernel) do a lot of things for them (i.e. UBports on Android phones) and now that they're running on bare metal (i.e. UBports on Pinephone) with (mostly) the same code base they are able to see 'oh, yeah... the kernel and/or apps need to be able to do Y' in order to replicate the functionality they get on Android phones.


UBports relies on 2014-era Ubuntu-specific software that even Ubuntu moved away from. Consequently, I expect a lot of UBports to bit-rot before its maintainers can make it a reliable and competitive option. Mobian's stack isn't what I would have liked (it is a lot of unoptimized GNOME libs), but at least it seems to have enough corporate backing for development to keep going.


Yeah, both projects have their challenges. It's been good to see them, as well as the Librem developers, working with each other to advance their respective projects where it makes sense.

Just curious, what corporate backing are you referring to? I hadn't heard that before.


Historically so much of the GNOME tech stack which Mobian is based on, has been developed by Red Hat employees.


RAM will not solve this. Extra RAM will only allow you do do more things at once.


I tried Mobian but eventually switched to https://github.com/dreemurrs-embedded/Pine64-Arch - the phone is much more usable for me including Firefox. I am waiting to receive my updated board and look forward to further improvements.


> It's especially interesting because someone from Plasma mobile team told on HN the other day that they support MMS.

I'm curious about this too, as I explicitly tried plasma mobile on several distros (PostmarketOS, Manjaro, KDE Neon), and MMS did not work for me at all. It seems to work on the ofono stack, which seems to be closer to supporting MMS versus ModemManger + Chatty, but I'd love to hear from that same person again to hear their set up.


For reference, this was the post, in case you come around the author : https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25101199


IIRC (not a MMS user, it never took off in Germany) MMS requires provider/carrier specific settings (e.g. a special MMS APN) to be set, meaning that it may not work for you even though it’s properly implemented.


The screen blacking out thing might be due to DRAM speeds or timings being too aggressive. I received a manjaro CE phone the other day that does the same thing.

https://forum.pine64.org/showthread.php?tid=9832 has more info


Elinks has known vulnerabilities in JavaScript (Spidermonkey) and possibly other parts. It is abandonware, and should not be used. You could use a terminal, mosh, and Browsh, allowing you to use Firefox remotely.


I've been trying to run my pinephone (mobian) for more things.

Since I work from home, this means mostly podcasts, and the occasional call.

Well... calls don't work for me, but that might be my (secondary) SIM. I'll try it with the primary soon.

Podcasts... I set up gPodder (while docked, because the UI doesn't adapt to the screen) and then use mpv to actually play the episodes which... is surprisingly usable. Next I'll see if I can adapt Podbird or such. It should work, really...

I also find myself late-night hacking in vim (again, surprisingly usable with onscreen keyboard, with minor tweaks) at night-time. xD

In a nutshell: I love the project. It's not "there" yet, but it's making progress, and I'm finally happy again to get update notifications to my phone.

Edit: also chat of course. The reason I didn't mention that is that I simply didn't think about chat as an issue. 99% of my chats are on telegram these days and that works pretty flawlessly on the pinephone, since it runs the exact same (efficient) codebase as the desktop app. In fact, just resize the (Qt) desktop app to simulate how it behaves on the phone. :)


regarding podcasts, I am getting a pinephone in a week or two and am building a podcast player as a side project. It is the first gui/app I have ever made and currently it cant even play anything, that is when it compiles, but if you take a look in 2 weeks I might have something (ugly and) functional. https://github.com/dskleingeld/pods


This looks exactly like what I would do, if I had any bandwidth to spare. I'll be watching this space. :P

I did look at the different frameworks/libs on areweguiyet.com and also arrived at iced at the beginning. Have you tried actually compiling this for arm64 yet? I don't see the target set in the project itself, but I usually set it in `.cargo/config`


I was actually planning on cheating by compiling it on the pinephone itself. Since cross compiling (using cargo cross) gets stuck on building a C dep. I will probably look at solving that in the future though. First got to get a basic player working!


Nice! May I add it to https://linmobapps.frama.io?

WRT to podcasts in general: Gnome Podcasts (not packaged in Mobian) is ok, and Rhythmbox (which is kinda adapted for phones), has podcast support too (with Apple Podcasts directory search).


Of course though it is FAR from done yet, currently biting my teeth into streaming the audio.


Cool.

It looks empty because there's no README.md and you could mention it's using Iced as it's ui library.


Yeah I will definitely acknowledge the great rust crates that make this possible


I love KDE, it's been my daily driver since I had to reinstall a desktop in a hurry and my awesome-wm config was too old.

Dolphin et gwenview are speed killers (I love Gnome's ethos but Nautilus is a snail and is missing many features I use hourly).

Can the KDE pinephone be used as handheld computer for reading PDF, taking pictures, scanning bills and invoices, media player and that kind of things ? I am not ready to rely on it for SMS and phone calls, I can't afford to miss any calls or messages.


The UX of Dolphin is my least favorite part of KDE.

I don't like how, in list view, the clickable portion of a file/folder is only as large as that file/folder's text label.

In all other "list view" UX I've ever used, the entire row is selectable, but in Dolphin, files with shorter names are harder to click because the clickable area is as big as the name...


Wouldn't that break rubber band selection? In list view you can click and drag anywhere to rubber band select, but if the whole row were an active click region for the file, you'd be dragging the file instead. (I just tried this in PcManFM, and it does indeed behave this way).

I agree it's inelegant to have shorter file names be harder to select, but on the other hand they all have a great big icon; the text being clickable too is just icing.


On Windows Explorer, dragging on filename to drag the item, dragging on empty space to select range, and click/doubleclick on empty space is same as on filename. I think this is reasonable.


TIL. I've always wondered how to select range besides starting from totally empty space (below the rows). Never imagined so much thought needs to go into this!


I got a landline when I switched to the pinephone and set it up to ring both. I do miss MMS messages but people who really need to get to me call or email me.


We use VoIP.ms for our landline and it emails us when someone sends an sms. I think they support mms too.


did you use mms in 2019-2020? where are you?


If you're in the US, you are using MMS in 2020.


In France too, you might. These discussions about how strange it is to still use MMS in 2020 are starting to get old quick. Among all people, those interested in the Pinephone are probably more likely to not use WhatsApp and its friends. And there are very cheap mobile plans without much data, but on which MMS are free.

Yesterday, I wrote a script to retrieve MMS "easily" on the Pinephone (in the spirit of janky-mms [1] which does not work well on my phone and of which I'm unable to read the code properly), I need to take the time to release it at some point.

[1] https://git.sr.ht/~amindfv/janky-mms


Yes. Assuming this also inlcudes SMS, it's the only thing I use.


In reality it is likely more realistic to ask where are you as most places still use MMS.


Probably in a developing country. Most of latin america uses WhatsApp, a result of carriers charging a lot of money (compared to median salary) for SMS/MMS, while WhatsApp has always been free.

When I came to the US (mid 2010's), I was surprised a large number of people never even heard of WhatsApp.


In the US they use Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts and iMessage for sure (though not WhatsApp as you point out), but the only thing everyone is sure to have access to is SMS.


In Belgium they are quite expenseive (ç24 to send one MMS) but are more often than not bundled for free in the mobile plan.

But it never took off, I don't know of anyone using it. I must have received two in my whole life.

edit: I just checked. I can send MMS. This could have been useful. I sill send and receive SMS and I'd feel like I wouldn't try to send an MMS out of fear of the other side not getting it.

edit 2: ah, looks like it doesn't deliver. shrug


Reading PDF works with Okular.. but I doubt the (5 MP) camera is going to fit your needs. Maybe my latest video can help you to make a decision: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ8V0lRxKgM


Well I got mine. I'm torn between "will it just sit on the counter/will I use it" as I use a Moto 5 already(low end phone with 3GB ram). Still it is a dream of mine to have everything on a phone as far as dock/develop on it. I mean I don't know if you'd ever be able to do vms but if you could run generic environments, pull down a repo/work on it, that would be pretty cool. Also will try to get more into Linux specifically I'm after some kind of i3-wm toggle for performance gain. Mostly hoping my support can help speed up the 8GB device ha.

A bunch of my old phones are sitting around doing nothing.

Edit: I guess maybe part of it is a "future development/emerging market" thing maybe I can develop apps people would want on Linux phones in the future.

In particular Qt/some native GUI/hopefully cross platform and to get more into C++ as I'm coming mostly from JS "wHy CaNt I uSe DyNaMiC tYpInG" ha that was a struggle.


> $199 — 3GB RAM; 32GB eMMC (includes a bundled USB-C dock)

This could basically be a daily use PC + Phone for 199$? Quite impressive.


"Daily use" might be a biiit of a stretch with this hardware, but it'll be functional.

I think Pinephone 2, whenever that happens, will be a much more practical convergence device. Pine64's plans to upgrade to the RK3566 SOC in their low-power devices look very promising.


I made a couple videos on convergence already (https://linmob.net, my video channels are linked). In a recent live stream (I’ll definitely publish that segment) I used Gnome 3 on the docked PinePhone and it was surprisingly good.


If you are waiting for "Pinephone 2", take a look at Librem 5: https://puri.sm/products/librem-5


$800? The ram is 3GB so wondering what the huge jump in price is.



Yeah those are valid points about the better quality material/more capability/development/non-outsourced hardware/people. I guess that's tough though as you can get a nice Android/other phone for $800 but yeah.

Tinfoil-hat engaged... the Shenzhen thing idk while it has physical switches have I personally routed those switches to check the devices are actually off. I've kind of given up on that kind of thinking anyway since I don't tape up my phone's webcams/mic/battery off/faraday cage/led container/etc haha.

Anyway sorry tangent, I'm not really getting Linux phones with privacy as main intent just the idea of a "desktop experience" on a phone is great.


> Tinfoil-hat engaged...

This is a valid concern. Purism publishes schematics and x-ray images, so anyone can search for hardware backdoors themselves.

https://source.puri.sm/Librem5/community-wiki/-/wikis/Freque...

In addition, there is "Made in USA" version of the phone for $2000.


It is a dumb argument on my part since while you can read through source code say assuming it's publicly accessible/not compiled... am __I__ personally going to scan through code line by line to know what's in there...

> Of course nobody alone can review the millions of lines of code that are required to make a modern operating system and its software, but having a large community of people who can look at the code and fix problems when they find them provides far more transparency than a security model based on trusting giant tech companies.

> "Made in USA" version of the phone for $2000

Yeah that's tough too man... it is nice regarding supporting domestic development but man.

Anyway as a whole I hope it becomes more ubiquitous although I imagine most people just want their phone to work not something they have to program/assemble/etc(I mean it does work OOB) but still not mainstream like Android/iOS. The app market share thing too as I remembered that may have been a big contributor to why the Windows phones died which I loved the design at the time I had a Lumia 920.

But yeah thanks for the info/providing both sides.


Profit margin expectations.


Unless you're used to running on a low-end Chromebook as a daily driver, no.


I'd like to be optimistic wrt future software performance on this model as well. Linux isn't Android where user apps are written to run under a virtual machine and development has to deal with the Java monoculture (Android still doesn't have low latency audio for this exact reason). However, some Python apps that on a powerful desktop run at high speed might be taxed by the Pinephone comparatively slow hardware, so native compiled code would be the solution to give a significant speed bump to most Pinephone userland applications.


C++ apps tax the Pinephone hardware. It's just not very fast vs user expectations today. More generally you can't just recompile desktop Linux apps on mobile and expect much in terms of responsiveness/battery life. While I'm with you re: not wanting to be stuck in a proprietary ecosystem, it does have one advantage: you must specifically target the platform in order to do much useful on it which typically includes platform-specific optimizations so it performs well.

It's an interesting conundrum: right now I can probably get 90% of Linux GUI software running on my Pinephone. The problem is, it's so slow and painful to use that I don't want to. I'd much rather see the critical 5% of the software (browsers etc) optimized for mobile. I think we'll get there in time, but it's still early days.


I started coding in C++ back in 1992, with Turbo C++ 1.0 for MS-DOS, followed by Turbo C++ for Windows 3.1, with the Object Windows Library.

A 386SX running on 20 MHz with turbo mode on, with 2 MB RAM.

Something has gone quite wrong when the Pinephone hardware cannot keep up with C++ apps.


> Android still doesn't have low latency audio for this exact reason

It surely does, https://developer.android.com/ndk/guides/audio/aaudio/aaudio

Also Java and Kotlin on Android are native compiled code since Android 5.

GNOME shows me where the Linux "performance" is heading.


I could fall in love with such a phone. One where I can easily run Python processes inside screen sessions, which gather GPS and other sensor data for rapid prototyping, stream that data over a WebSocket connection, then some Bluetooth stuff in Go. Computing stuff.


I own the 3GB Manjaro edition of the PinePhone (same hardware as this one, AFAIK) and, while in theory you can do everything that you describe with it, it is hardly something you could use as your only smartphone for the day. (I still love it, though, and love hacking away with it!!)

However, as of today, there's a much better way of achieving what you're describing in an Android phone: Termux (1)

With Termux you can use an amazing number of regular Linux/UNIX tools, interface them with phone specific functionality (like GPS or other sensors) and still enjoy having a modern smartphone in terms of apps available, performance and battery life.

(Shameless plug: you can watch Termux in action in this talk from last year (2). It's centered around Ruby, but Python works just fine, too)

(1) https://wiki.termux.com/wiki/Main_Page https://wiki.termux.com/wiki/Termux:API

(2) https://vimeo.com/482309000/1534e97efd

(edit: typo)


As of today yes, but who knows about tomorrow. Termux might be facing a harsh future given the changes in Android 10.[0]

Actually switching to a pure Linux phone and might be the more viable long-term solution.

[0]: https://github.com/termux/termux-packages/wiki/Termux-and-An...


This is important, but sadly a lot of people don't seem to notice/care what Google is doing to Android. The question in my mind is whether the quality of devices like the Pinephone can get high enough before the functionality of Android drops below a point where certain things simply become impossible.


Sadly true, indeed.

It's a shame we're losing so much useful functionality there.

Security is a worthy goal but getting rid of useful features just because Google wants to handhold Android users so much seems to me like throwing out the baby with the bathwater.


I was using SL4A [0] back in the days, had a Twisted server running on it, until the development on it stopped.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scripting_Layer_for_Android


You should have a look at Python-for-Android, it's maintained and works quite well.

https://python-for-android.readthedocs.io


"Linux Phone"... music to my ears!


Did you ever get a chance to play with the Nokia Python phone? It was pre-iPhone days, but it looked very promising.

https://www.artima.com/weblogs/viewpost.jsp?thread=148064


Back in 2006 you could run Python on Maemo. Which, true, was neither a phone nor smartphone. However, a little bit later they released the Nokia N900 and the Nokia N9.


Pretty much all their Symbian S60 phones ran a version of Python called PyS60. Fun times, I used to play with it a lot.


I use my pinephone as a portable privacy focused Debian server. It establishes an ssh tunnel to a VPS with a static IP and forwards port 443. This provides end-to-end encryption for my private services.


Does anyone here have experience with actually using the pinephone as a daily driver?

I know plenty of people that ordered one, but they are all laying on a drawer somewhere with the intention to play with it a bit. Basically how most RPi's end up.

Just curious if this phone is actually competitive with android devices in the same price class.


> Does anyone here have experience with actually using the pinephone as a daily driver?

I do. I have been using my pmOS edition as my daily driver since the day i gott it.

> Just curious if this phone is actually competitive with android devices in the same price class.

That depends on your needs. It is not going to have any of the proprietary app that are on Android. So, what works?

- Camera: stills only

- Phone calls: Yes. Sometimes calls don't come through but it usualy works.

- Messaging: SMS works, unless you need MMS. If people send you group SMS or picture messages, these are MMS. MMS not only don't work but disable the ability to receive SMS. The user must use command line tools to fix this.

- GPS works. However the default pmOS maps app only works with an active internet connection. Further it does not do navigation. You can get directions but you cannot do turn-by-turn navigation on the road. There is an app that works for this called PureMaps. It works as expected.

- Web browsing works great with desktop firefox even on mobile.

- Convergence. The phone advertises that you can plug in a monitor. This is technically true, however it only works while the phone is running from battery power. Further using the dock drains battery extremely quickly and is therefore only recommended on wallpower. So this is still a work in progress.

- Bluetooth. Bluetooth headphones work for music but not for phone calls.

If you have any questions, ask and i'll try to answer. Whether its "competitive" with Android phones is opinion. For me, its way better and i am glad to have it.


> Camera: stills only

Are you saying it can't record video? Curious what kind of stuff you've installed. I'm assuming I can do `$dpkg -i package.deb` and it will work?


Camera can record video, 720p will probably be a limit unless you don't mind lower than 30fps framerate.

Here's my test recording from a few weeks ago: https://megous.com/dl/tmp/vid-720.mp4

You can only encode via CPU for now, and at best you may be able to encode to x264 at the ultrafast profile. (don't remember which one is fastest, but it's the fastest one) Encoding with the fastest available profile just happens to run at 30fps, so it's still not enough to for realtime encoding even via CPU, if you account for the fact that CPU will start throttling soon after you start loading all 4 cores at once to the max.

So I recorded the above by saving raw frames. :)

Video image quality sucks of course. (that frame counter is all white uniform background in reality)


Don't mean to be nosy ha, what is the code you were working on/had on screen? Perhaps not specifics but language/context the grouping seemed interesting. (the indents are insane is it Go/Linux?)

I guess when you say "saving raw frames"... are you saying this video you made was not simple by "push record button, .mp4 comes out"?

Oh the white background comment is about the iso/bad balance?

Anyway thanks this is pretty cool... I just ordered mine so won't be able to play around with it till January.


That's part of the C code running on the phone, recording itself. Kinda meta. :)

There's quite a lot of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vignetting going on. Camera sensors have anti-vignetting circuitry that is supposed to eliminate this, but it needs to be calibrated to each module and maybe even enclosure the module is in.

I recorded this via a C program, but you can do the same via v4l2-ctl command line tool and encode the result with ffmpeg.


> That's part of the C code running on the phone, recording itself. Kinda meta. :)

Oh man that's cool. I'm working towards that level (C/C++) but coming from JS/Python where you can pretty much "do anything" it's challenging(typing problems in particular eg. array of assorted things of any length).

Oh interesting about the Vignetting will have to read up on that not familiar with the term.

> ffmpeg

Yeah that's something cool I gotta work with too at some point.

Thanks


Yes, it can't record video yet.

> I'm assuming I can do `$dpkg -i package.deb` and it will work?

Well, not on PostmarketOS as that's based on Alpine Linux. Mobian on the other hand is based on debian so you can dpkg to your heart's content.


Yeah that's fair sorry I was under the "KDE/Neon" pretense, I did briefly check that out seems like it is related to Debian or at least able to use .deb... I'm hoping. At least there is the Mobian as you mentioned.


How much memory do you have? On my 2GB Firefox is very slow.


I tried using Mobian as a daily driver, and found it usable but not necessarily ideal. Audio calls were comprehensible but sounded tinny, and people I was calling complained of an echo. Text messages worked, although I would have preferred Signal, and voicemail notifications came through as semi-cryptic text messages. As a portable terminal and web client though, it was perfectly acceptable albeit a bit pokey.


I am using it as a daily driver. However, it does not survive a day with an average use. I use a second battery or switch it off when not using. Calls can occasionally be missed (Mobian Phosh), but you get a notification immediately and can call back. Desktop Firefox with all plugins is amazing.



July isn’t exactly recent with a project that’s so much in development. I have been following the PinePhone intensely since July for my blog linmob.net and often found that what I experienced two weeks ago is not worth talking about today, because development progressed a lot since. (Occasionally, regressions happen, too.)


How well does Anbox work on the PinePhone? Does it work well with modern Android apps? What about apps that integrate with Android security like banking apps?


Is there a summary of functionality for pinephone?

I’m not clear if for example the degraded mms support is an issue in all variants of mobile gnu Linux distros or oif only some suffer.


Since there are so many distros, it is honestly hard to keep up with (even if you are involved with the commuity). In (very) broad strokes (i.e. if you use a well supported distro), you can expect:

- Calls and SMS seem stable, even when the phone is asleep

- Battery life Screen on time is measured in hours, and sleep time is measured in ~1 day

- Anbox is usable, but not easy to install

- convergance is stable

- MMS is non-functional: https://sr.ht/~anteater/mms-stack/

- GPS/location is only usable if you have a GPS signal

- Camera is pretty stable (though the front camera had a green tint)


Which distribution are you using? (Asking because there are differences in feature support and reliability .)


I tried PostmarketOS, Mobian, and Manjaro.

PostmarketOS edge had Plasma Mobile 5.20.3, which was considered to be the latest plasma mobile at the time.


I've been playing with my pinephone a bit (2GB postmarketOS). Overall I think it's awesome and I love having a real linux machine in such a nice package. The build quality is much better than expected.

That said, Firefox is extremely slow and crashes a lot. Getting a fast stable browser seems like priority #1 to me. If these things are ever going to take off they need apps, and I think web apps (for better or for worse) are the quickest way to get a decent number of apps.

I'm not sure if it's simply a hardware issue (can't expect too much for 150USD), or a software optimization problem. I don't have a cheap Android phone to compare to.


I would bet its software issue. Cheap androids are more than OK. People who only buy high-end don't realize how good cheep phones like xiaomi mi a123 are. It's mostly worse camera... they are solid metal build and don't even feel slower.

I've had the pleasure with pinephone manjaro edition and its ok build. Once the software is better i will go for it.


Just a reminder: You can just write an OS to SD card and quickly try it out, and when you've found one that's quite good (I really like Mobian and ArchLinuxARM) you can settle on that. No need to stick with what your PinePhone shipped with :)


I really wish it was possible to have flagship class phones that supported open systems well. The closest any phone is that I can find is the Pro1 X, which hardware wise is a Pixel 2, but it isn't open hardware, it's just documented so that you can more easily run what you want.

I'd love to see a current Snapdragon, Mediatek, Exynos, etc. chipset in one of these open phones. I'd even be willing to pay flagship prices for one.


OT: Is Pinebook worth it to RDP with remmina? I'm currently using a fanless 13.5" Acer B115m but It's getting old and deteriorated (the screen plastic is peeling off...).

I've been trying to find a replacement, but with better screen, which my main complaint about the B115m (I use it mainly outdoors with 4g, I need brightness), but most laptops use fans, which I'm trying to avoid. Had no luck in the <500€ range.


I've got the pinebook pro. If you want something that "just works", it's not quite there. The community is constantly working on it though. I think with full driver support it can be a great little machine.


Agreed, and will add that the trackpad on the PBP is terrible. The keyboard is barely acceptable. For real work I’d pick something else.


I'd definitely consider the trackpad terrible on my Pinebook Pro, but I'm surprised to hear you find the keyboard barely accepable, I thoroughly enjoy it.


Pinebook Pro user here, trackpad is indeed terrible, I thought the keyboard was great though.


I had to update my keyboard firmware to get functions to work right. Maybe that's your issue?



I've been using the Pinebook pro for that since June and it works flawless


The obvious thing that comes to mind for fanless laptops given recent news is the Macbook Air with the M1 chip, but clearly that isn't offering a similar thing in terms of freedom and user control of the hardware/software.


I wish I could have something like MacBook Air (a durable stylish laptop to carry around for coding, writing and browsing the web wherever I go, full HD screen to fit more text, as much RAM as possible - to load complex editor/IDE configs) but 100% Linux-compatible and at a fraction of the price.

Here is what I'm ready to sacrifice:

I don't need fanless, I don't need crazy battery time (half a day is more than enough), I don't play games nor do I need videos to play in resolutions exceeding 720p (360p is more than enough for me unless I try to watch a video on coding where I need to read the code), I don't need any OS but Linux. I don't need it to be new (can be refurbished) as long as it still is easy to find in the EU (US would add import taxes).

I thought PineBook Pro can kind of fit this because it seems being a RaspberryPi-like in a MacBookAir-like shell and RaspberryPi4 actually feels Ok.

Can you suggest something that fits better than PineBook Pro and MacBook Air do?


I hear some/old macbooks does support linux quite well. I think even linus was using an Air at one point in time (still?).


It's way out off my budget.


Aw, it's 6" screen and 160.5mm tall ... so too big for one-handed operation. I hope they'll eventually make either a 4" 125mm size or a flip phone, because that would be exactly what I would want to use. It's for the same reason that I'm also holding on to my old iPhone SE because the new SE is too large.

Like this, it's sadly more like "Linux that almost would have fit into your pocket".


I was hoping this was a phone based on the old Pine email client. :-(


What with app development? Can I use Dart/Flutter there? What tools are used for app development? Is there a compatibility layer or something similar to adb?


Like other commenters said, it's just Linux so you can do pretty much anything.

For Qt, the current stack seems to be Kirigami, which is KDE's library for convergent apps. There's also the Mauikit framework, which is built on top of Kirigami (I don't know enough to know the exact differences).

For Gtk, it's libhandy, which adds a few widgets for convergent apps.

It looks like Flutter doesn't support ARM yet, I found this after a quick search: https://github.com/flutter/flutter/issues/60678

There's also a few Electron/Webkit-based apps (especially for UBPorts), which is a nice temporary solution to get an app on the device while there isn't yet a native equivalent.


Have a look at https://mauikit.org/ and https://develop.kde.org/frameworks/kirigami/ - the main tech stack there is Qt


It's Linux with KDE. You can use almost anything.


Can this phone run WhatsApp? That is one of the few things that prevent me from making phones like these my primary one


If you can run it in a web browser or generic Linux, then yes.


Is it using all native driers or libhybris?


All drivers are FOSS and native.


That's great, thanks!


Is is able to run Android apps? Like Signal for example? Or maybe the Signal desktop app works?


Yes, Anbox is working pretty well on Arch Linux ARM [0][1], although I haven't tried Signal specifically.

[0] https://github.com/dreemurrs-embedded/Pine64-Arch/releases

[1] https://github.com/dreemurrs-embedded/Pine64-Arch/wiki/Anbox


Anbox is so RAM-heavy that it really isn't a realistic solution for running Signal (or OSMAnd, another app that I need on my daily driver), at least not on the 2GB Pinephone board. Yes, Anbox support is moving right along so that you can open an Android app on your Pinephone, but not in a way that you can also use e.g. the web browser at the same time.


Ah, fair, I think I've only ever used it on a 3GB board with ZRAM enabled. It also looks a bit blurry on Wayland, hopefully that gets fixed soon (it looks like there's a bounty for it [0]).

[0] https://github.com/anbox/anbox/issues/1270


It can work, but it's definitely no fun to use it without ZRAM and/or swap (and better not wear your eMMC out by swapping to it).


I had no luck getting Signal for Android working in Anbox (too crashy). There are unofficial ports of Signal Desktop to aarch64 available here and there online, and there's also someone who got some sort of unholy Signal-Matrix hybrid working (https://old.reddit.com/r/PINE64official/comments/jusbk3/upda...) but the whole Signal situation is very much a work in progress.



Will KDE succeed where ubuntu didn't?


They have wildly different definitions of success.


does this phone work on LTE networks?



The title should be changed to "PinePhone KDE Community Edition is now available"; the article is about PinePhone, not KDE.


Seconded. Pet peeve: whenever I see those comments after having the title changed, I'm curious: "what was the original title?". In this case, it was: "KDE Community Edition is now available". I just feel like it's a good idea to include this context when making a comment about the bad title so that the future readers can compare.


You might appreciate https://hackernewstitles.netlify.app/ (doesn’t help far future readers except when archived on Wayback or similar though).


Apologies, I've edited it now. I did consider this initially, but the guidelines ask that the original title is used, and I wasn't sure if this fell under misleading.


Thanks.

I'd say it's "confusing" rather than "misleading"; this is because of lack of context. Reading "KDE Community Edition released" when you're on a Pinephone website is more meaningful than reading "KDE Community Edition released" on Hacker News, with only the pine64.org domain being available next to the link.


Agreed, "KDE Community Edition" sounds like the libre variant of a hypothetical open-core KDE.


I can't believe KDE can be run in a phone, when I tried to run KDE in my desktop it always felt sluggish and unstable


You have probably tried it in 4.0 days. Plasma 5 is nowadays actually one of the lightweight ones and it is very fast. Especially when you consider how many features/flexibility it has compared to other lightweight desktops.


Not only 4.0, also 4.5, etc. but it was also probably nvidia driver's fault.


I have used KDE through Kubuntu and Arch for some time after trying virtually every DE/WM out there. It's not perfect, but it's really good. I don't know how people use the stock Ubuntu DE. It's tragic.


Another Ubuntu based distro with KDE, and one that I think most people haven’t heard about, but which I am personally fond of is KDE’s own KDE Neon.

> More than ever people expect a stable desktop with cutting-edge features, all in a package which is easy to use and ready to make their own.

> KDE neon is the intersection of these needs using a stable Ubuntu long-term release as its core, packaging the hottest software fresh from the KDE Community ovens.

https://neon.kde.org/

I run this on my desktop.


I've found KDE Neon to be WAY more stable than Kubuntu. And this has been the case on multiple LTS versions. I just think this is odd since, in theory, they should only differ by the KDE apps that are installed.


Primal Penguin explains the differences here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_rP3ZaTn5Y


tldw; neon has rolling release of packages and kubuntu uses lts packages.


I wish KDENeon was around when I was kde-crazy, back in 3.x/4.x times. Finding a distro that was both reliable and able to run nightly builds of KDE apps was really really difficult. Despite all efforts of some outstanding maintainers, Kubuntu always felt like a hack, with unavoidable GNOME stuff popping out all over the place.

I've tried Neon in virtualbox and it looks nice and consistent. Performance wasn't great but that's more or less a given under VirtualBox. I might give it a go on my next laptop.


You can boot the live image from USB to take it for a spin without installing it. This way you can try it out on your current laptop even.


I normally find the screenshots page fascinating when perusing new distros but theirs 404s.


I'm using Ubuntu+gnome in the hope integration issues have been worked out faster compared to Ubuntu with an alternate DE that just isn't exposed as much, and that'll give me just trouble and less info on askubuntu.com etc. But since gnome doesn't cut it for me, I'm going to switch distros alltogether anyway. OpenSuse or something else having KDE as preferred DE? Don't know yet; would be cool to have a mainstream systemd-less distro with KDE.


I'm using KDE for years, and it's a great collection of software. The main issue I have about performances is Akonadi, it's eating CPU, memory and lot of disk space (and I have disabled files indexing in settings, as I don't need it, so I don't get why it's taking GiO), so I often just kill the server and it works well after that.

By the way, does anybody know a method to disable it cleanly, or at least make it for resources friendly? The article I've found after quick search are years old and not relevant anymore.


It seems like you are confusing two pieces of software: There is Baloo, which is the KDE file indexer. And then there is Akonadi, which is the storage service for all PIM related things (so emails, contacts, calendars etc.). If you disabled Baloo in the settings it should not show up as a process anymore and certainly shouldn't be using any system resources.

Akonadi is required for the usage of KMail, KOrganizer and such (because they use it to store their data, so that is rather essential). If you don't use those applications, you can simply remove it with your package manager. Otherwise we'd appreciate a bug report with regards to the high CPU / memory usage on bugs.kde.org. Thank you for using KDE software :)


> It seems like you are confusing two pieces of software: There is Baloo, which is the KDE file indexer. And then there is Akonadi,

Oh right, seeing those Gio in my ~/.local/share/akonadi, I was supposing that it was for file indexing and that was somehow the storage for Baloo or something like that.

I haven't investigated more than that as I don't want to spend too much time on it and just killing Akonadi server from its console is enough (the downside is that after killing it I can't use KMail anymore, which otherwise is a really great MUA).

So maybe it has something to do with my email settings then? I'll try to find time to investigate and check if I haven't activated anything like offline storage, otherwise I'll create a bug report.

Anyway thanks for the great work over the years, beside this little issue, KDE works flawlessly and I like to be able to customize just what I need when I need.


I'm guessing it is seen as poor taste to not praise KDE in a thread with lots of people that like KDE since you get downvoted. I have the exact thoughts you did. It is amazing because in my experience KDE was one of -if not the- slowest desktop in Linux when I tried it. I'm guessing it was KDE 4. Gnome was way better and faster back then for me, both in Ubuntu and Debian. Great to hear it has become faster. Not so great that KDE users would downvote someone for speaking the truth.


After failing to get XFCE to run without terrible tearing on my Ryzen 3400G, I recently installed KDE for the first time since the early KDE 4 days. And I have to say I was really really impressed. It is all around much faster and better these days. In fact it might just become my new favorite desktop


The saddest part of it is that I was a happy KDE user back in the KDE3 days


Same I also dislike activities I would much rather hack actual desktops or workspaces I can switch between.


You can have desktops that you can switch between in KDE. How are activities different from workspaces? I've never really used any of the two.


Activities are like a new set of workspaces for you to switch to. Like let's say you use your laptop for work and for fun at home. At work you use 4 workspaces and plain desktop backgrounds and conky to watch processes. Then when you punch out at work and want to relax you want just one workspace with cycling wallpapers or whatever. You can set up a "work" activity that fits those needs and then a "home" activity that is much simpler for at home. I think of it as like a third dimension for workspaces.


Okay so as I understand it: virtual desktops are additional space that add screen space that you can jump to ; workspaces are like a more malleable version of virtual desktops ; and activities are an additional dimension on top of that with which you can switch between different virtual desktops and/or workspaces configurations.

Thanks :).




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