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Author Topic: PinePhone  (Read 622 times)

Offline Chipster-roo

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PinePhone
« on: July 05, 2020, 02:14:14 AM »
Mobile smartphones have become an important part of people’s lives in recent years :hannah They have become more than mere phones: they are essentially pocket computers :blackberry-buck But this convenience comes at a price: no meaningful control over the device, or privacy :woundwort

Enter Pine64 :tassel This small company produces a variety of inexpensive devices, ranging from laptops, single-board computers, and even a smartwatch :prince-rainbow And, as this thread is about, a smartphone :hannah2

The PinePhone is an alternative to the iOS/Android duopoly, and provides an interesting development model: Pine64 provides the hardware, the community provides the software :pipkin A wide variety of alternative mobile operating systems have been ported to the PinePhone, including Ubuntu Touch, PostmarketOS, SailfishOS, and more :kehaar The vast majority of these systems are developed by non-profits, for the users :bigwig3 Additionally, most are free and open-source, making it possible for anyone to look at the code and contribute to it, ensuring ultimate privacy :vervain

Pine64 is a small company, so obtaining a phone is a slightly complicated process :bigwig2 There is a pre-order period that lasts approximately six weeks, then the appropriate amount of phones are manufactured and shipped :vilthuril Each device costs 150$, plus shipping and (depending on your location) import duties :cowslip 10$ are donated to a community software project for every device sold :hazel2 Pre-orders for the first so-called “community edition”, supporting Ubuntu Touch/UBPorts, began in early April, and the devices started shipping in late May; just over 4000 phones were sold :holly

If you wish to buy a device right now, you're out of luck: they are all sold out :hickory Do not despair though: pre-orders for the second community edition, supporting PostmarketOS, are scheduled to begin later this month (I will post in this thread when this happens) :marigold2 Keep in mind, however, that regardless of which operating system the donations go to, you remain free to install another one if you wish :hyzenthlay2

I received my phone a few days ago (embleer coronavirus slowed shipping) :marigold Before we go any further, I have to mention that I have never used an iOS or Android smartphone before :fiver2 The closest I ever tried was my father’s flip-phone, running KaiOS :thethuthinnang

The PinePhone comes in a small box, wrapped in plastic film :katerina I hate it when this happens, due to how wasteful this is: the plastic, unlike the box, can’t be recycled, or reused :bigwig Fortunately, the box is small, so there is little plastic film to be thrown away :darkling

The phone is wrapped in a small bag inside the box, useful if you need to store it again afterwards :orchis4 You also get a USB-C charging cable (also in a bag, although this one is taped shut) :orchis3 You also get a nano to microSIM adapter (taped to the inside of the box) :orchis2 Be careful, it is very small and easy to misplace! :orchis I will leave it inside the box, as my SIM card is already of the proper size to fit inside the phone without the adapter :thethuthinnang Finally, there is a short quick start guide in four languages (English, French, German and Spanish).

The phone has a very minimalist design :captain-broom The logo of the partner project appears on the back, with the Pine64 logo by the camera :yona The screen has a piece of plastic film, that needs to be pealed off before use :speaker-of-the-past


The quick start guide is exactly what it claims to be :el-ahrairah It provides the phone specifications, regulatory certifications, and basic documentation :hickory2 Notably, it mentions the small piece of plastic film behind the battery, to prevent it from losing its charge during shipping :snowdrop The quick start guide tells you how to open the back case to remove the film :snowdrop2 The guide also documents the various kill switches (more on these later) and buttons :mallow

The back is easy enough to remove with your fingernail, and neatly snaps back on once you have finished, so it shouldn’t accidentally fall off :gilia The battery is also easy to remove and place back :fox2

With all this out of the way, let’s power on the device! :prince-rainbow First, I will explore the default build of Ubuntu Touch :glowingsw later on, I will try out PostmarketOS and other operating systems :glowingfiver

The boot sequence is simple and pretty: first the Pine64 logo, then the Ubuntu Touch splash screen :gluck

On the first boot, you have to setup and personalize your device :fiver First, you are asked to choose your language from a list :hannah3 I went with English (Canada) :owl You are then offered to setup the mobile network, then a WiFi network :fiver3 Both of these can be skipped and setup later on if the user wishes :silverweed which is what I did for the mobile network (I did connect to WiFi right away) :spartina Then, you are asked to enter your name, and your time zone :hedge Finally, you can choose to setup a 4-digit passcode, which I did, although this is optional :rabscuttle

The user interface is pretty simple: an application launcher on the left, and a status bar at the top :hyzenthlay On the first run, there is a brief tutorial; a nice addition, although figuring out the interface on your own isn’t too hard :hyzenthlay2

Here is the default desktop, with a custom wallpaper, courtesy of SaveABunny :primrose The default wallpaper is red/purple, and is aesthetically pleasing, if a bit boring :strawberry3 You can also see the charging cable plugged in :strawberry

Swiping from the left on the desktop reveals the application menu (pressing the bottom button on the sidebar also does this) :silver More about the apps later :cowslip

Swiping from the right brings up a list of open apps :buttercup2 tap on them to select, or swipe vertically to close :buttercup

Swipe from the top for notifications, and configuration options :red


Next up, I will be exploring the various apps on Ubuntu Touch :frith including that one FHC app you may have noticed :fiver
Have you considered making each day count - doing something meaningful each day - instead of letting the days and weeks and months and years fly into oblivion? --Bright Side

Thanks to Rosie Willowwater for the avatar!!


Offline Chibiscuit

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Re: PinePhone
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2020, 02:55:40 PM »
Interesting. I was surprised when you said you got a smartphone but somehow kinda assumed it wouldn't be a standard Android/iOS one.^^ Always nice to see these alternatives.

Very intrigued by that FHC app!  :strawberry2 :blackberry3
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Offline Minesweep

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Re: PinePhone
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2020, 03:12:11 PM »
Looks nice!
I like the sleek and simple design of the phone, and liniux (?) seems to scale well to a mobile platform.

My only concern would be not having as much mainstream support and compatibility (For example, Android and iOS both have millions of apps built for them and are compatible with pretty much anything).

Other than that, it looks like a great device!
I'm sure security and privacy are awesome without Google and Apple breathing down your neck all the time.

Every phone I've owned has been an Android (other than the iPhone 3G I played angry birds on as a child) but this is a interesting (and cool) alternative.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2020, 09:39:43 PM by Minesweep »
“I wonder why progress looks so much like destruction.”- John Steinbeck
"We never thought the day would come and when it did everything changed" -Unknown
"Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is a nightmare." -Takemura

Offline Chipster-roo

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Re: PinePhone
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2020, 12:11:14 AM »
Thank you both :fiver

Software support does indeed appear to be the biggest issue with these platforms :hazel There is a program called Anbox, which would make it possible to run Android apps easily :blackberry4 but further development remains needed for it to be fully useable :blackberryminiseries However, now that more people have the devices, perhaps development will speed up, and I hope to try it out later on :hannah

The only major thing missing for me right now is a native Discord app :marigold However, I am in the process of packaging one, although debugging is complicated :fiver3

Until then, let’s take a look at the apps currently available :blackberry3 starting with those that came pre-installed :blackberry2 Most of them have self-explanatory names :hawkbit3 There will be lots of images, in this post, so I will be using spoiler tags :hawkbit
Apps that start with C: ShowHide

Calculator. Pretty basic, but it does the job, even beyond hrair :hawkbit


Calendar. I switched to the dark theme :inle-series




Camera :owl Unfortunately, there is currently a software bug that prevents this from working, but that should be fixed in an update soon :pipkin2

Clock. You can also use it as a stopwatch or a timer. :prince-rainbow




Contacts. :cowslip



Apps that start with D-L: ShowHide

External Drives. This manages the SD cards attached to the phone :red Currently, the slot is empty, so there’s not much to see :silver


File Manager. Dark theme :inle-series2


Gallery. :snowdrop2


Apps that start with M: ShowHide

Media Player.  I have not extensively tested it :strawberry

Morph Browser.  It is based on QTWebEngine, which is based on Blink, the rendering engine behind Google Chrome. :gluck Morph works rather well, and most websites I visited displayed well :gilia Additionally, there is the option of switching between a mobile and a desktop user agent, to see either the “regular” or the mobile version of various websites :glowingfiver



(link to video)
Video streaming, on YouTube :hickory2 and that CBC Gem webapp seen in a screenshot a while back :strawberryminiseries also work well :primrose However, streaming sites that require encrypted DRM, such as Netflix and Disney+, do not work :hannah3 But, to be honest, I don’t really see the appeal of watching TV on a five-inch screen :bigwig2

Music :thethuthinnang When there is no album cover detected, it displays a black screen when playing :woundwort

Messaging :bark Once again, dark theme :inle-movie



Apps that start with N-Z: ShowHide

Notes. :buttercup2

It can be easy to miss, but "fun" is written in pale blue here :blackberry


Phone. :kehaar


Terminal :violet Command line, woohoo! :hedge Annoyingly, that “man sudo_root” command doesn’t work because manpages aren’t installed... :bigwig


Weather :el-ahrairah Good thing I have AC :pipkin-oh You can change from Celcius to Farenheit if you wish :snowdrop


I have also installed a lot of applications from the OpenStore (the Ubuntu Touch equivalent to Google Play/Apple App Store).

Apps that start with 0-C: ShowHide

2048. Or, rather, hrair :blackberry-buck It saves progress when closed :orchis


Big Moving Text :vervain2 You can also select colour and font :orchis2 The GIF may lag, I'm afraid... :vervain-facepalm



Checkers :heather


Crystal Ball :hannah4 It is supposed to answer yes/no questions randomly.  It has some...interesting opinions... :woundwort3


Apps that start with D-K: ShowHide

Dice Roller :goat You can choose many different types of die, and also flip coins :spartina





Document Viewer :speaker-of-the-past An extremely powerful app that makes it possible to view (but not edit) all sorts of documents in many different formats, including PDF, MS Word, LibreOffice, spreadsheets and more :yona Here are some (minor) spoilers for next Sunday’s Possibilities chapter :vervaincarrot


Hex Explorer. :orchis3 Create colours and hex codes :orchis4


Apps that start with L-R: ShowHide

Logviewer :bigwig3 This allows you to access system and application logs, very useful for debugging :mallow Additionally, there is an option to automatically send a log to Pastebin :silverweed3



Mahjongg (Mah) :rabscuttle Many different layouts are supported :moss


Mines :strawberry3 This is a minesweeper game, and is not related in any way to the forum member :bluebell Touch and hold to place a flag :fox2


NightClock :glowingsw


Pluma :katerina A simple finger drawing app :darkling I’ll think I’ll stick with paper most of the time :silverweed2

Colour picker :frost


Apps that start with S-T: ShowHide

SensorsStatus :captain-broom Not all are supported on this device though :fox



Solitaire-games :silverweed You get not only the famous Klondike, but also FreeCell, Spider Solitaire, and many more :campion The cards can be a bit hard to touch though :campion2


Stellarium :frith A famous planetarium software that also runs on Android, desktop, and even in your web browser :clover


ThemeSwitch :blackavar Many apps give you the option to switch between a light theme and a dark theme :vilthuril  This app changes the system default for all apps (unless a specific app’s settings say otherwise) :hyzenthlay2 In the background, you can see dark Mines :tabitha


Apps that start with U: ShowHide

uAdBlock :aspen Morph doesn’t support extensions, so adblocking is done at system level :bark

Here you can see a list of filters that can be enabled or disabled :duster


UT Tweak Tool :dandelion This provides several additional configuration options that are not included in the main “system settings” app, including text size :hazel2



uText :flax This is a text editor :dandelion Scrolling isn’t always easy though :hickory The file open in this image is the FHC app’s launcher :pipkin


Apps that start with V-Z: ShowHide

We Do Need Roads :marigold We also need a hrududu emoticon :holly This is a game in which you have to raise or lower the ground to avoid driving into brick walls :campion2 My personal record is 6.2km :tassel



Webber.  This is a great app that makes it possible to easily create webapps: adding websites to the application menu.  Unfortunately, it currently suffers from a major bug that prevents webapps from working out of the box :fiver2 Fortunately, there is a simple workaround; I wish to thank “Javacookies” for bringing it to my attention :fiver Open the file manager and, showing hidden files, navigate to ~/.cache/webber.timsueberbkrueb/click-build where you should find a file with the name of your webapp and a .click extension.  Tap it, and select to open it with the OpenStore, where it can be easily installed :yona


WifiTransfer :orchis3 This one essentially turns your phone into an FTP server, in order to transfer files to and from the phone :thethuthinnang2 On your computer, open a FTP client such as Filezilla, or even your file manager, and login with the details specified on the phone, to copy files from one device to the other :hyzenthlay For safety reasons, the IP address and password have been edited out of the screenshot, I don't want unregistered guests hacking me :vervain


There are many more apps available, although I haven’t tested them yet :blackavar Soon though :calokhi

Next up, I will be trying out other operating systems for the PinePhone :fiver The device has the ability to boot from a microSD card, making it possible to easily try out other systems without disturbing the internal Ubuntu Touch installation, similar to desktop Linux liveUSBs :hannah
« Last Edit: July 28, 2020, 09:13:24 PM by Chipster-roo »
Have you considered making each day count - doing something meaningful each day - instead of letting the days and weeks and months and years fly into oblivion? --Bright Side

Thanks to Rosie Willowwater for the avatar!!


Offline Minesweep

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Re: PinePhone
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2020, 04:15:57 AM »
Very cool! I will keep an eye on this project as my phone has been unsupported for some time now and might be replaced soon. (I only wish it had a better camera)

Quote
Mines :strawberry This is a minesweeper game, and is not related in any way to the forum member :bluebell Touch and hold to place a flag :fox2
Ha!
Fun fact: I'm actually no good at minesweeper, I used to know how to play but I have been out of practice for too long.

Would you mind elaborating on Anbox for me?

Also, while doing some research on the Pine Phone platform, it seems that it supports an OS named Replicant which is android based. If you do try it out (and don't feel pressured to do so) I would be interested to hear your thoughts on it.
“I wonder why progress looks so much like destruction.”- John Steinbeck
"We never thought the day would come and when it did everything changed" -Unknown
"Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is a nightmare." -Takemura

Offline Chipster-roo

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Re: PinePhone
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2020, 07:38:49 PM »
Thanks Minesweep :blackberry-buck

Anbox essentially runs a minimal Android system inside the main Linux system :glowingfiver The Android system is isolated from the main system as much as possible, for security purposes :woundwort2 Currently, it works mostly on desktop Linux systems; mobile is a work in progress :woundwort I plan to try it out soon though :orchis4

As for running Android itself on the Pinephone...Replicant for the device is still very early in development right now :marigold Another Android-based system, GloDroid, is currently more advanced :marigold2 I am in the process of compiling it; once this is finished, I will post further details :hyzenthlay

Until then, I am pleased to report that pre-orders for the next version of the PinePhone are now available! :frith It comes in two versions, the 150$ regular version (this is what I have :hawkbit3), and the “convergence package”, which costs 200$, and has slightly higher specs (3GB ram instead of 2, 32GB of internal stoage instead of 16) :hazel2 The convergence package also includes a USB dock that makes it possible to add a keyboard, mouse and HDMI monitor to your phone, and use it as a desktop :bigwig2 If you already have a USB dock, however, you can probably use it with the regular 150$ phone :bigwig3

Be careful: soon after pre-orders went live, the site crashed due to the large amount of traffic :strawberry2

I recently invested in a pair of Sandisk microSD cards to try out additional operating systems :hannah I also got an adaptor, so I could flash the cards from my laptop, which has a “regular” SD card slot :silverweed3 Until GloDroid is ready, let’s try Mobian :primrose

They say Debian is the universal operating system :prince-rainbow It supports many different processor architectures :speaker-of-the-past Whether you want a stable platform with extended support, or the very latest software available, Debian has you covered :buttercup It can be used on desktops, servers, and even at the International Space Station :hyzenthlay2 I have been using Debian as the operating system on my computer for the past four years, and I remain largely satisfied with its performance :heather I also installed it for my mother after her Windows 8 installation broke, and she also seems pleased :clover

Mobian is a more recent project, which aims to provide an easy-to-use Debian system for smartphones :silverweed It has access to Debian’s entire repositories, consisting of over 50 000 software packages, although not all of these are well-suited for touch devices :dandelion It features the Phosh (PHOne SHell) graphical interface by default, which is based on the popular PC desktop environment Gnome :blackavar You can also, if you wish, install standard Gnome, or a variety of other desktop environments (KDE Plasma 5, Xfce, MATE, Cinnamon, LXDE, LXQt, Budgie, Enlightenment, Sugar, Window Maker, Openbox, IceWM, i3, and more) :pipkin-oh But just because you can, doesn’t ncessarily mean you should: none of these are adapted for mobile devices :pipkin2 Not yet, at least.  Ubuntu Touch’s desktop environment, Lomiri, is in the process of being packaged into Debian, but it is not ready yet :vervain

Also note that a “Mobian” is also a type of creature in the Sonic universe, but here it’s just MOBile deBIAN :vervain-facepalm

Installing Mobian is a pretty straightforward process, simply download the latest image and follow the instructions on the Mobian website :darkling At the time, the 13 July image was the latest, and was approximagely 3.8GB in size once uncompressed :mallow I used GParted to resize the partition, rather than the command line; it worked just as well :snowdrop On Windows, you can probably use 7-zip to extract the image, and Etcher to flash it, but I haven’t tested it :gilia With my microSD card succesfully flashed, I inserted it into the phone and turned on the device :snowdrop2

The boot screen features the Mobian logo :fiver After the system has loaded, you are invited to slide up to unlock, then enter the 4-digit passcode to login (the default is 1234) :spartina Debian/Mobian includes an easy-to-use screenshot program called “grim”, which I will be using extensively from now on, rather than taking photographs of the phone’s screen :strawberrydoe

Setup: ShowHide

On the first boot, you are invited to configure your device :buttercup2 First, you select the language:rabscuttle The “welcome” text changes language every few seconds :kehaar


Then, the keyboard layout :gluck


Next, you are given the opportunity to connect to WiFi (no screenshot for this one) :goat Then, you can choose some privacy settings (I chose to leave both enabled) :vervain2


Finally, you can choose to connect your online accounts (I chose not to just yet) :tabitha


And all done! :blackberry3


With the initial configuration done, we are faced with the main Phosh menu :captain-broom

Phosh: ShowHide



At the top, you get a list of open windows: currently the King’s Cross terminal, the Nemo file manager (interestingly, Nemo comes from the Cinnamon desktop rather than Gnome, but it still adapts well to the small screen), and a game of chess :hawkbit2 Swipe horizontally to switch between windows, and tap one to select it :thethuthinnang2 To close, use the X in the top right corner of each window :thethuthinnang Below the open apps, you get the list of installed apps: first the pinned ones, then the rest :blackberry2 If there are no open windows, then you only get the app drawer :bark


This menu can be accessed at any time by tapping (not swiping) the black bar at the bottom of the screen :strawberry3

Tapping the black bar at the top of the screen brings up the notifications menu (currently the “command complete” message), and basic settings: WiFi, cellular, screen orientation (on Ubuntu Touch, the screen rotates automatically based on the phone’s position, but not here), brightness and volume :granite At the top right, there is also the power menu, to turn off the device or lock the screen :inle-series


If there are no open apps and you are not in a menu, you get the plain desktop :aspen


Pretty boring wallpaper, let’s change that :fiver3 Courtesy of the House Rabbit Society Facebook page :spartina To change the wallpaper, download the file, open it and, in the menu, select to set it as wallpaper :silverweed2


A more detailed view of Nemo :katerina The many files here are screenshots, and the menus provide options to copy, move, rename or delete the selected file :skree


If anyone knows any desktop Linux apps you would want me to try out, please let me know and I will post results! :vervaincarrot
« Last Edit: July 22, 2020, 02:36:56 AM by Chipster-roo »
Have you considered making each day count - doing something meaningful each day - instead of letting the days and weeks and months and years fly into oblivion? --Bright Side

Thanks to Rosie Willowwater for the avatar!!


Offline Minesweep

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Re: PinePhone
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2020, 11:11:14 PM »
Thanks Chipster! I appreciate you taking the time to explain all that to me  :dandelion

I don't really have any specific Linux programs for you to try out (As I don't run Linux) but I'm sure you will have no problem finding enough to test  :blackberryminiseries
“I wonder why progress looks so much like destruction.”- John Steinbeck
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"Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is a nightmare." -Takemura

Offline Chipster-roo

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Re: PinePhone
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2020, 02:35:14 AM »
Thanks Minesweep :fiver Don't hesitate to ask if you have any other questions :bluebell

I took a look at the pre-installed Mobian applications, and installed a few others :aspen To make things easier, I created a launcher in the app drawer to automatically take a screenshot in three seconds :orchis3 If you want to use it, first install Grim:
Code: [Select]
sudo apt install grimThen download this file, putting it in ~/.local/share/applications/ and setting it as executable :orchis2 You can edit the file, changing the number to change how many seconds you will have to wait before taking the screenshot :orchis4 Be careful though: it it’s too short, you will simply take a screenshot of the app launcher! :bigwig2

In the Phosh menu, you must tap and hold onto a launcher to pin or unpin it :orchis Here I pinned the screenshot program and am looking to unpin it :bark To change the order, unpin and repin :bigwig3
Phosh: ShowHide



I will now explore the preinstalled apps :blackavar
Apps that start with 1-B: ShowHide

2048 :blackberry-buck That same game we saw on Ubuntu Touch, but not the same code :blackberry3 This one lacks undo, but supports 3x3 and 5x5 boards :blackberry2


Authenticator :bigwig This app is for two-factor authentication :woundwort3 I have not tried any accounts here :blackberry

The new account wizard :hedge Don’t tap the arrow next to “provider”, that will crash the application; tap the text field and type instead :blackberry4


Apps that start with C: ShowHide

Calculator :blackberryminiseries


Calendar.  This is one app that is not adapted to a phone: the buttons are very small :pipkin-oh The “new event” dialog box is decent though :pipkin2





Calls :buttercup


Chatty :gluck This allows you to send text messages :buttercup2 I haven’t tested it :campion2

Chess :hawkbit


Clocks :hannah You can add world clocks :calokhi


Alarms :campion Also, a fancy numeric keypad! :hawkbit2


Stopwatch :captain-broom



Timer :frost The longest possible timer is 99:59:59, and you can wrap around :flax



Contacts :cowslip A very flexible app :primrose It has buttons to quickly call/text your contacts, if you specify one or more number(s) :clover





Apps that start with E: ShowHide

Epiphany :el-ahrairah A browser based on WebKit; I use it on desktop, and it works very well most of the time :rabscuttle Here it is viewing the communist rabbits thread :woundwort


The menu is especially useful for the zoom feature :gilia


You can easily make web applications for various websites; make sure you are on the main page first though :fiver3



Evince :granite This is an document (mostly PDF) viewer :hannah3 Here it is viewing a digital copy of the quick start guide :hickory2

The menu, with night mode enabled :darkling

List of all pages; you can also add annotations and bookmarks :hyzenthlay


Eye of Gnome :silverweed2 This is a basic image viewer :hannah2 Here it is viewing the wallpaper :speaker-of-the-past

The menu :hawkbit3


Apps that start with F-J: ShowHide

File Roller :holly This is an archive manager :strawberrydoe Here you can see it browsing a ZIP file containing a bunch of screenshots :heather

The menu :hickory2

Adding new files :hazel


Firefox :fox The famous web browser scales surprisingly well to a mobile device :fox2


Flashlight :glowingfiver This one is really simple: tap the button to turn on the camera flash, tap to turn off :glowingsw


Fractal :tassel This is an app for the decentralized Matrix messenger, which I don’t use :hickory

Geary :hyzenthlay2 This is an email client :mallow Unfortunately, when I tried logging in to my Gmail account, Google deemed it suspicious and blocked it; I have not succesfully been able to work around this :marigold


Gedit :nettle This is a text editor, and it works better than uText on Ubuntu Touch :pipkin Here we are viewing the Grim screenshot launcher :marigold2

The menu. :red


Gnome Software :silver This allows you to install and remove various applications :kehaar It is also able to update the system, and should notify you when updates are available :moss Alternatively, you can update the system with the command line: the first command checks for updates, the second one installs them :prince-rainbow
Code: [Select]
sudo apt update
sudo apt dist-upgrade

The first time you launch Gnome Software, you get a welcome message :woundwort2

The main page :snowdrop

Browsing games :snowdrop2

One game in particular :spartina


Installing...

Installed! :rabscuttle


Apps that start with K-R: ShowHide

King’s Cross :vervain2 Here the system is being updated :skree

Playing with the zoom feature :silverweed3


Lollypop :tabitha This is a music player, but I’ll be honest: I don’t like it :duster On my computer, I use VLC to play audio files, rather than a dedicated music player :strawberry2 On the PinePhone, KittehPlayer (more about this later) does the job just as well :strawberry3

Maps :strawberry The map data is based on OpenStreetMap.  Here we see the area around Watership Down :hazel2


Here it attempted to find my location :vervain It’s a few kilometers off, but since GPS is disabled, I don't really mind :thethuthinnang2


It also supports directions :thethuthinnang It was unable to find any route between my home and WD: kayaking across the ocean is only an option on Google Maps :katerina So I went with the BBC Broadcasting House as a starting point instead :vilthuril It’s a long walk...


But a short-ish drive :yona


It can also try to calculate routes using public transit, but unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be anything available :violet I’ll have to check again after the end of the COVID pandemic, when the service returns to “normal” :toadflax



Pinhole :thethuthinnang This is a camera app; currently only the back camera appears to be supported, so you can’t take selfies just yet :hawkbit3 It can also lag a bit, but it can still take pictures and record videos :gilia There is no video player preinstalled, but I will install one later on :vervain2 Here, you can see my computer; the house is really dark.


Power supply :rabscuttle This provides useful information about the battery :silverweed


Apps that start with S-Z: ShowHide

Settings :inle-series2



Sound Recorder :kehaar It has a simple but functional interface :inle-movie FLAC files are larger than the other formats listed here, but unlike the others, it is lossless :pipkin Unfortunately, there appears to be a bug that renders all recordings silent :inle-series hopefully this will soon be fixed :vervaincarrot



Telegram :vervain2 This is an app for the Telegram messenger, which I don’t use :vervain-facepalm

To Do :hazel I switched to the dark theme :woundwort2 Poor Vervain :vervain-facepalm




Usage :cowslip It’s a task manager/system monitor :orchis At the top, you see open apps using a lot of CPU :hickory


Tapping an application brings up a message asking if you want to terminate it :marigold


Now, apps by memory usage :hannah


Advanced mode :hawkbit3


Storage capacity :blackberry3 Currently, the 32GB microSD is largely empty :primrose


Temperatures :strawberry2


I also installed a few additional applications, but not many of them :speaker-of-the-past Most of the time, they can be installed either through Gnome Software, or with the command line :tassel There are a few others, however, that need to be manually compiled; I hope to package them soon, so other users can install them more easily :thethuthinnang
Spoiler: ShowHide

AisleRiot Solitaire :toadflax It’s a collection of card games :hickory2 It features more game types than the Ubuntu Touch version, and the cards are easier to manipulate :clover
Code: [Select]
sudo apt install aisleriot
This game is called Cruel, and it really can be :woundwort many games are unwinnable, and you won’t find out until the very end :orchis2


KittehPlayer :tabitha.  This is a video player that, by default, looks like YouTube, and work very well on the PinePhone :skree This one needs to be compiled :marigold2 The instructions for Debian on the GitHub work well, with one change: install package “qtbase5-private-dev” rather than “qtbase5-private” this has been fixed! :moss

Tap once to hide the interface, twice to bring it back up :silverweed Tap the gear to switch theme :fiver2




Link to the video; I downloaded it with Python :campion2

Iagno :campion This is a game of reversi :dandelion
Code: [Select]
sudo apt install iagno


SuperTuxKart :hannah A powerful kart racing game :hannah2 It takes a few tweaks to get it to run though :hannah3

First, you must resize it so it fits on the small screen, with the following command:
Code: [Select]
scale-to-fit supertuxkart onThis is still not perfect: the top of the window is cut off by the top Phosh bar, but it’s better than nothing :bigwig3 Then, you must tweak the settings (the wrench icon at the bottom) :bigwig2 In "controls", enable "touch device", optionally changing the scale; in "interface", set the minimap as centered or disabled :bark Then, go to "players", and select OK to go back to the main menu (the regular button is hidden by the Phosh bar) :bigwig

You are now ready to race! :frith The graphics are obviously nowhere near as good as on a PC with a powerful graphics card, but the game remains fully playable! :el-ahrairah The kart here is Xue, and the track is Hacienda :buttercup2

The cupcake is to be thrown at another kart with explosive results :hannah4

Race complete; I won, but the Phosh bar hides my time :fiver3

The addons screen :hyzenthlay2 I highly recommend the Dashie kart :hyzenthlay

Kart selection screen :blackberry


GTKCord3 :holly This is a Discord client :captain-broom Like KittehPlayer, it needs to be compiled :toadflax

The channel/server listing :hazel The server two lines below FHC is the Pine64 support server :tassel


Overall, I would say that both Ubuntu Touch and Mobian are great systems :frith At the moment, Mobian has more bugs, but once these are fixed, I think it will become better than Ubuntu Touch :fiver

Next up: GloDroid! :el-ahrairah Once again, I am open for app recommendations, in this case Android apps :goat
« Last Edit: July 28, 2020, 09:25:37 PM by Chipster-roo »
Have you considered making each day count - doing something meaningful each day - instead of letting the days and weeks and months and years fly into oblivion? --Bright Side

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Re: PinePhone
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2020, 09:12:34 PM »
Unfortunately, GloDroid has turned out to be problematic.  While the device boots, the screen remains blank.  Until I can figure out how to fix this, I tried another operating system, LuneOS.

LuneOS is an open-source continuation of webOS, which was initially created by Palm, then continued by HP, and then LG.  It is based on the Linux kernel, and uses a graphical interface is called Luna Next, which is built on QtWebEngine.  Unfortunately, it requires non-standard patches to QtWebEngine, which caused the old PostmarketOS port to break; these patches make it difficult to (re)port Luna Next to other operating systems.

PinePhone support for LuneOS is still experimental, so bugs and mising features are to be expected.  To install it, download the latest GZ image, extract it, and flash it to the microSD; I used dd as with Mobian, and once again resized the partition with GParted.

Unlike UBPorts and Mobian, LuneOS does not flash the phone’s LED when booting, leading me to wonder for a few moments if the phone was booting at all.  Fortunately, everything was fine.

The boot process starts with a blinking cursor, then a LuneOS splash screen.
First run: ShowHide
After the desktop has loaded, you are presented with a first use wizard, as with Ubuntu Touch and Mobian.

First, you select the language.  I went with Canadian English.

Then, the country.

Then, the timezone.  Despite being in Canada, LuneOS suggested that I was in Tahiti.

Then, I connected to WiFi (no screenshot for this one).  Unlike the other systems so far, there is an option to show the passphrase rather than just a series of dots; this is very useful to prevent typos.  After WiFi is configured, you are given the option to enable third-party repositories.  I decided to enable all five of them, despite the dire warnings.


Then, you are asked to accept a license.  Honestly, it feels pretty pointless: each program has its own license, which are listed in /usr/share/licenses.  LuneOS as a whole cannot be used for commercial purposes.

And done.


A sound is played when the splash screen comes up; the sound is played again after the desktop has loaded, again after the quick start wizard, and yet again when turning off the device.  As far as I know, the only way to disable this is to mute all sounds.

Luna Next: ShowHide


The default interface is simple enough.  At the top, there is a bar, containing the name of the open app at the left, a clock in the middle, and connection/battery icons at the right.  Tapping the icons brings up a few settings.  Here, we hit the first bug: if you set the brightness too low, the screen will turn off.  You can still turn it back on by (invisibly) raising the brightness level.


The search bar searches installed applications, contacts, files, Google, Wikipedia and DuckDuckGo.

At the bottom, you get five buttons.  The first four are application launchers, for phone, texting, email and calendar applications; as far as I know, there is no way to change and/or reorder them.  The fifth one is the app launcher.  There are four tabs: Apps (main apps), Downloads (contains only “Preware 2”), Favorites (no idea what this is) and Prefs.  It is possible to reorder the items in each tab.

Below the five buttons is another bar.  Tapping it brings up a list of open applications, and swiping up closes them.  Only a slight swipe is necessary to close.


LuneOS handles screen rotation automatically like Ubuntu Touch and unlike Mobian.  Additionally, whenever something is tapped, a small circle appears on the screen; a cool feature.

LuneOS suffers from an annoying bug, regarding the screen locker.  The screen will lock all the time, even when the phone is being used.  To make things worse, this cannot be disabled: all you can do is extend the delay from the two-minute default to three minutes.  The lock screen features three clocks: an analog clock with the date underneath, a digital clock, and an analog clock with a seconds hand and the date in the middle.  Only the third clock actually updates: the other two stay stuck at the time the screen locked itself.  To unlock, tap the bottom bar; by default, there is no passcode to enter.




There is also no obvious way to turn off the phone: no shutdown button anywhere.  If you hold the power button for a few moments, you get a few options, including turning on airplane mode and turning off the device, but the latter option doesn’t work.  This leaves only one option: opening a command line terminal and entering the following command:
Code: [Select]
shutdown now

I will now take a look at the apps.
Apps that start with C: ShowHide

Calculator.  This is really basic.  It doesn’t even show history.


Calendar.  The icon displays the current date.





Camera.  Decent interface, but the camera hasn’t been implemented yet.

C+DAV Sync App.  This is supposed to sync contacts and other such data with a web service.  I haven’t tested it.

Clock.  This is the third clock from the lock screen, and also supports alarms.


Contacts.  A decent contacts manager.


Of note is the “relation” field, which features a lot of options: Assistant, Brother, Child, Domestic Partner, Father, Friend, Manager, Mother, Parent, Partner, Referred by, Relative, Sister, Spouse, Other.  However, due to a bug, everyone ends up being your spouse.

Apps that start with E-O: ShowHide

Email.  Like Geary on Mobian, it failed to login to my Gmail account.

File Manager.  Unfortunately, it’s broken and doesn’t dispaly any files or folders.

Fingerterm.  A command line terminal with a powerful keyboard layout!



Maps.  It is based on Google Maps, but doesn’t work very well.  Searching, directions and finding your current location are all broken.  Additionally, the entire map is obscured by a “for development purposes only” message; that last issue (but not the others) can be fixed by switching to OpenStreetMap.  Also, it asks me if I own Google Maps, with the only button being OK...



Memos.  A simple notes-taking app.


Messaging.  This is to send text messages.  I haven’t tested it.

Messwerk.  Values for the sensors.  After selecting one, swipe left to return to the main menu.


Apps that start with P-Z: ShowHide
PDF Viewer.  I couldn’t test it because I was unable to download any PDF files to open.

Phone.  I managed to crash Luna Next by entering something that is not a phone number, and the app becomes nothing but a blue screen after hanging up; only a reboot fixes this.


Photos & Videos.  As with the PDF viewer, I was unable to download any photos or videos, preventing me from testing it.  My inability to download any photos also prevented me from changing the default wallpaper.

QML Term.  For some reason, two command line terminals come preinstalled.  This one uses the default LuneOS keyboard layout, making it a downgrade from Fingerterm.

Web.  A web browser.  I had mixed results: some websites such as FHC display well, apart from fonts, but other websites, like YouTube and Pine64’s website, fail to load or crash the browser.


Preware2 from the downloads tab.  It is a package manager, which shows us perhaps the greatest weakness of LuneOS: app availability.  There are only 30 apps available, at least 8 of which are webapps.  To make things worse, none of them install properly: even if you get an “application installed” message, they never show up in the app drawer.

I also tried updating the system.  However, this feature also appears to be broken: after waiting for it to load for 10 minutes, I gave up.


Overall, LuneOS has some interesting ideas, but the various bugs and missing features render it unusable at the moment.  At least some of these issues are specific to the PinePhone, due to how early the port is; hopefully these will soon be fixed.
Have you considered making each day count - doing something meaningful each day - instead of letting the days and weeks and months and years fly into oblivion? --Bright Side

Thanks to Rosie Willowwater for the avatar!!


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Re: PinePhone
« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2020, 12:26:32 AM »
The next operating system I tried out is OpenSUSE.

OpenSUSE is another popular desktop Linux distribution.  Like Debian, it supports a wide range of graphical interfaces and devices, and also serves as the base for the commercial SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES).  I tried OpenSUSE a while back on the desktop and, to be honest...it was boring.  While stable and functional, it seemed to lack meaningful features to make it stand out from other distros.

The PinePhone port of OpenSUSE is a newer project, sometimes known as SLEM.OS (Suse Linux Enhanced Mobile Operating System).  The image file is around 4GB in size and comes uncompressed.  Once it is downloaded, it can be flashed just like Mobian or LuneOS.  This time, I used the Gnome Disk Utility rather than the command line, and once again resized the partition with GParted.

The boot screen features scrolling text rather than a logo like the other systems we saw so far.  Afterwards, you are faced with a login screen (the default passcode, as with Mobian, is 1234).

Phosh: ShowHide

After logging in, you are faced with the default Phosh interface.  It’s the exact same interface we saw on Mobian, except that the shutdown menu features a reboot option (although, since then, an update to Mobian added the button there too).


At first, OpenSUSE thought it was midnight on June 24.  The date was fixed after connecting to WiFi, but not the time.  I had to adjust the time zone (the default is London), which for some reason requires the root password.  There is no root password by default, so I had to set one in the terminal:
Code: [Select]
sudo passwd rootWith this out of the way, you can now set the correct time zone.  Unfortunately, the map is too large for the screen, so you will have to type.  Switching to landscape mode cuts off the entire Southern hemisphere.


Apps: ShowHide

By default, OpenSUSE ships with a minimal set of applications.  All of them were already seen in Mobian: Calls, the Chatty messenger, the Epiphany browser, the Fractal Matrix client, Gnome Clocks, Gnome Contacts, and the King’s Cross terminal.  I have nothing against minimalism, but considering that the OpenSUSE image is slightly larger than Mobian’s, I was expecting more than what was provided.

In addition to these apps, you get the YaST system control panel, which could allow you to manage the time settings, the firewall, network settings, disk partitions, system language, users, keyboard, installed software, and more.  This is one of the main advantages of OpenSUSE on the desktop, but here, none of them load.

Unfortunately, Gnome Clocks is a bit too wide for the screen.

And King’s Cross has poor font rendering.

For some reason, Epiphany asks to become the default browser on first launch, despite being the only browser installed in the system.

But otherwise it works well.


Everything else, including a file manager, has to be installed (with the command line, there is no graphical software manager installed).  To install a package, use the following command:
Code: [Select]
sudo zypper install insertpackagenamehereTo remove a package:
Code: [Select]
sudo zypper remove insertpackagenamehereTo update the system:
Code: [Select]
sudo zypper dupI installed gnome-chess, the Firefox browser, the Grim screnshooter, and the Nemo file manager.  Grim and Nemo worked well.  The chess game is, like Gnome Clocks, too large for the screen, but remains playable.  Firefox is way too large, and unusable.  To make things worse, the scale-to-fit command we saw on Mobian does not work here.


Overall, SLEM.OS feels less polished than Mobian at the moment.  I suppose this is to be expected, since the project is newer and has fewer developers.  Hopefully, it will catch up soon, though.

Next up: GloDroid!  For real this time, I managed to get it to boot.  If anyone wants me to try any Android apps, suggest away!
Have you considered making each day count - doing something meaningful each day - instead of letting the days and weeks and months and years fly into oblivion? --Bright Side

Thanks to Rosie Willowwater for the avatar!!


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Re: PinePhone
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2020, 10:26:33 PM »
So...GloDroid.

Previous versions of GloDroid shipped as a single image file that could be extracted and flashed like all other systems tried so far.  However, starting with version 0.3.0, they seem determined to make it as complicated as possible.
First, you have to isntall Android tools on your desktop computer.  Then, download the 0.3 release and extract it.  You also have to download this shell script, putting it in the same folder as the extracted files.  Before the script can be used, it has to be opened in a text editor to remove the line about vbmeta.img.  With the line remove, you can set the script as executable and run it.  Once it has completed, you should
see a new file called sdcard.img that you can flash to your SD card and boot.

This is ridiculous.  Here is the image I built; simply download, extract, and flash.  The image is around 8GB in size once uncompressed.

The splash screen consists of the text “android” in white on a black screen.

Interface: ShowHide

Once the system has booted, you are faced immediately with the default Android interface; there is no initial configuration.  To take a screenshot, hold the power and volume down buttons for a second.

There are three buttons (back, home and overview) at the bottom.  Swipe from the top for quick settings.

I don’t recomment enabling auto-rotate: when I tried it, it got stuck in landscape mode.  Swipe from the bottom for an application launcher.


Apps: ShowHide

As you can see, by default, GloDroid has a minimal set of applications.
Calendar.  A super boring app: you can’t add events or anything, let alone synchronize with your Google account, you can only browse dates.


Clock.  It also provides alarms, a timer (seen here), a stopwatch, and a screensaver.


Contacts.  It nags to save it to your Google account, but I haven’t enabled that yet.


Files.  A file manager.

Gallery.  An image gallery, here showing the screenshots.


Search.  This allows you to search in Google, and opens the results in WebView.

WebView Browser Tester.  A super basic web browser.  It doesn’t support zoom, tabs, history, favourites, or saved logins, and as you can see, text size is pretty bad.


And...that’s it.  Nothing else, not even a phone call app.

By default, GloDroid doesn’t have Google Play services installed; instead, you have GloDroid, a third-party repository of almost 3000 open source apps for Android.  At first, F-Droid searches for updates, and finds only one: itself.

After it has updated itself, you can install apps.  In the settings, you may wish to enable “anti-features”.

I don’t know much about Android apps, so I only tried out a few.
Aurora Store.  This is a third-party front-end to the Google Play Store, making it possible to install these apps.  Note that using this app technically violates Google’s TOS, so be careful.

Fennec F-Droid.  This is a custom build of Firefox for Android, the browser we deserve, with all the features WebView is lacking.

Termux.  This is a powerful command line terminal, that also supports installing command-line packages through APT, the same package manager that powers Mobian.

Discord.  Not on F-Droid, I downloaded it from APKMirror instead.  It worked surprisingly well, much faster than the desktop application.


Overall, I would say that GloDroid is a decent system, but the lack of basic phone apps renders it virtually unusable for most users.  Anbox may be a better option, which I intend to try out soon.  If you really want Android itself, it would probably be better to wait until an /e/ or LineageOS port.
Have you considered making each day count - doing something meaningful each day - instead of letting the days and weeks and months and years fly into oblivion? --Bright Side

Thanks to Rosie Willowwater for the avatar!!


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Re: PinePhone
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2020, 12:09:34 AM »
Just a quick recap of what happened with the various operating systems I tried since my reviews.

Ubuntu Touch have managed to get the cameras and GPS working, although this is still experimental and only available in development builds.  A handful of apps have received mostly unnoteworthy updates, apart from the Crystal Ball app, which now has a “clear transcript” button at the bottom.  Or maybe the button was already there, and I had forgotten its existence?

OpenSUSE has not had any major release since my last test.

LuneOS has received several new test builds, but I’m afraid that all major issues previously reported still persist.  The only noticeable difference is the ability to re-order the launchers in the bottom bar, but you still can’t add or remove them, and the changes do not survive reboots.

Mobian has received a new keyboard layout, featuring ctrl, alt and arrow keys.  They also have added ZRAM support, which is the closest thing you can get to “downloading more RAM” (see here for instructions).

Also, I wish to correct a statement I made in my last review: the front camera DOES work on Mobian (and did at the time of the  review, I just wasn’t aware of it).  To access the front camera, you have to close Pinhole, then enter the following command in the terminal:
Code: [Select]
pinephone-camera-setup.sh frontTo revert back to the rear camera, use the following command:
Code: [Select]
pinephone-camera-setup.shThe framerate remains very low for both cameras right now, but it is being worked on, so it should improve soon!

Phosh may be the default interface in Mobian, but it is far from the only one.  There are many other options, and that is what I will be exploring here.

First, some brief notes.  Most graphical interfaces on Linux rely on the X Window System (commonly known as xorg or X) which dates back to the 1980s.  In recent years, another window system, Wayland, has been developed to fix various problems with X and, ultimately, replace it.  However, migrating to Wayland is very slow.  While Phosh uses Wayland, and Gnome supports both X and Wayland, virtually everything else is X-only.

Most Linux systems feature a “display manager”, which allows the user to login and select which desktop environment they want to use.  By default, Phosh launches itself upon boot, bypassing the display manager and loading its own login manager.  To launch other desktops, you’ll have to install something else.

Setup instructions: ShowHide

The most popular display managers are GDM3 (Gnome Display Manager), SDDM (Simple Desktop Display Manager) and LightDM.  LightDM is easily the most configurable, featuring a variety of greeters, including one designed specifically for mobile devices.  Unfortunately, LightDM currently suffers from a bug preventing logins on Mobian, and SDDM is not adapted for touch devices, so GDM3 it is.
Code: [Select]
sudo apt install gdm3 libgdm-dev onboard
sudo systemctl disable phosh
sudo systemctl enable gdm3
The first command installs GDM3, and also the Onboard on-screen keyboard (Phosh’s default keyboard, Squeekboard, only supports Wayland).

The next step will be to install other desktops.  Some build-scripts adapted for the Pinephone can easily be obtained with the following command:
Code: [Select]
git clone https://gitlab.com/rrico542/mobian-x-recipesThis provides recipes for many desktop environments: Budgie, Cinnamon, version Enlightenment, Gnome Flashback, JWM, KDE Plasma Desktop, LXDE, Matchbox, MATE, Openbox, and Xfce.  Regardless of which desktop you use, the installation steps are largely the same.

Open the file manager, and navigate to mobian-x-recipes/overlays where you will find a bunch of plain text files with .yaml extensions, one per desktop.  Open the file for the desktop you want to use.  At the bottom of the file, after the line “packages :” you will fine a list of packages.  In the terminal:
Code: [Select]
sudo apt install AAAAAReplacing AAAAA with the packages listed in the yaml file.  Then, install desktop-independent configuration files with the following commands.
Code: [Select]
cd mobian-x-recipes/overlays
cd common/etc/skel
cp -r ./.config ~/
cd ../../../DESKTOP/etc/skel
In that last command, replace desktop with the name of the desktop you installed.

The last step is the only one that really varies depending on which desktop you selected.  If you chose Cinnamon, enter the following command:
Code: [Select]
cp -r ./.cinnamon ~/
If you chose JWM, use the following two commands:
Code: [Select]
cp ./.conkyrc ~/
Code: [Select]
cp ./.jwmrc ~/
If you chose anything else, this is the right command:
Code: [Select]
cp -r ./.config ~/


First, I decided to try out Xfce, which also my favourite interface on the desktop.  Xfce is notable as being lightweight but fully-featured.

When faced with the GDM3 login screen, you must first tap the username, “mobian”.  Then, hurry up and tap the gear icon in the bottom right before it gets hidden by the on-screen keyboard.  This brings up a list of available sessions.  If you fail to tap the gear in time, just tap the left arrow and try again.

The screenshot launcher we created back in Phosh won’t work in Xfce (another Wayland vs X thing) but Xfce comes with its own screenshot program that works well.

Xfce: ShowHide

The Mobian version of Xfce has been configured for mobile devices, with this being the default layout.  Except the wallpaper, by default it’s just boring grey.


If you tap and hold the enter key on the keyboard, you get four buttons.  The first button opens settings.  The second moves the keyboard.  The third adds mouse buttons, for right-clicking and middle-clicking.  The last button temporarily hides the keyboard, although that can also be accomplished by double-tapping the Onboard icon, in the top panel.  Here is the keyboard with the mouse buttons:


The phone icon in the top left opens the Whisker application menu, sorted by category, plus search, favourites and recently used.  Favourites are theoretically edited by right-clicking launchers, but Onboard doesn’t play nicely with the menu, so the only option is to use a Bluetooth mouse.  The same goes for the search function, but with a Bluetooth keyboard.


The second icon, when tapped, brings up a list of open windows, allowing you to switch.  Apps are not restrained to full-screen mode, as you can see here.  To resize windows, right-click the top bar.  The buttons are very small, though, and it is easy to “misclick”.


Also visible is Oneko, a cute cat that chases the mouse pointer.


Next to the application switcher, you get the power manager.  You have to right-click it to get options.  You can change brightness, and enable “presentation mode”, which disables screen blanking, useful if you’re watching a video.


Then, the Bluetooth manager, Onboard toggler, Wifi/broadband settings (through “nm-applet”, standard tap is enough), and sound settings.  Then, a noficiations manager, with a “do not disturb mode”.  Finally, an anlog clock; tapping it brings up a calendar.


The desktop, by default, features a “Home” icon that would, in theory, open the user’s home folder, but it doesn’t work.  Instead, you have to go to the application launcher and select either Thunar (Xfce’s file manager) or Nemo.  Thunar also scales surprisingly well to mobile screens.  The side panel lists the devices and partitions available on the system; most of these are from the internal UBPorts installation.


For some reason, image files open in Firefox by default.  To change this, right click, “open with other application”, and select “image viewer”.

To exit, you have to tap the button in the bottom right corner of the Whisker menu.  If you choose to suspend, you can wake up later on with the power button.



Overall, Mobian Xfce works really well alongside Phosh, apart from the occasional overly-small button and lack of screen rotation.
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Re: PinePhone
« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2020, 03:03:22 AM »
The Cinnamon desktop environment was developed by Linux Mint after they became unsatisfied with Gnome 3.  By default, it looks like Windows.  I have been using it on my computer alongside Xfce for a few months, and overall it works well.  Here, I installed it on Mobian, using the instructions in the previous post.
Cinnamon: ShowHide

Cinnamon offers two sessions: “Cinnamon” and “Cinnamon (software rendering)”.  The software rendering session is abysmally slow to launch, and uses 90% CPU on idle; the regular session doesn’t launch at all.  By default, Cinnamon uses the printscreen key to handle screenshots, but this is a phone, so the key doesn’t exist.  I was therefore forced to fall back to Xfce’s screenshooter.

Here is the default desktop, with a lone panel at the bottom; the only change is the wallpaper.  I know it’s zoomed, but the wallpaper manager is abysmally slow, making it too much trouble to change.  Also, the bottom of Onboard is hidden by the pannel, but this isn’t too bad.  Also, there is no mouse pointer, or screen rotation.


The icon in the bottom left launches a semi-transparent application menu.  Like the Xfce menu, it is sorted by categories (although an “all applications” menu is also available), and the search function is broken by Onboard.  There are also quick launchers on the left; these can be modified by dragging to and from the left pane.  Here I added the screenshot tool.


The second icon on the panel minimizes all windows, showing the desktop.  The third and fourth icons launch Gnome Terminal (another command-line terminal, it does the job well) and Nemo respectively.  This is followed by a large blank space, which contains the icons of open windows.

Some windows treat the edge of the screen, and Onboard, as obstacles and cannot be moved past them.  Others, however, do not.  All maximized windows do so, though.

To the right, you get the system tray.  It should be noted that there is no Onboard icon in there; the only way to toggle the on-screen keyboard is to hold enter, then exit, and reopen through the applications menu.  Instead, the tray contains a Bluetooth applet, a printing queue manager, a removable media manager (listing all those Ubuntu Touch partition), a Wifi/broadband manager, sound settings, battery/brightness, and the time.  As with Xfce, tapping the clock brings up a calendar.


To turn off the device, select the button in the bottom left of the menu.

Overall, Cinnamon is a great desktop environment, for the desktop.  Running it on a phone is not a very good idea.
Have you considered making each day count - doing something meaningful each day - instead of letting the days and weeks and months and years fly into oblivion? --Bright Side

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Re: PinePhone
« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2020, 03:59:18 AM »
LXDE is the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment.  I tried it out a few times on my computer, but ultimately I just couldn’t get used to it.  While lightweight, it felt a bit too strict for my liking.  Additionally, a few years ago, the LXDE project merged with another lightweight desktop, Razor-QT, to form LXQt.  There is no special configuration for LXQt on Mobian, so I am stuck with legacy LXDE.

LXDE: ShowHide

On first launch, I get a message saying that ClipIt (a clipboard manager) has been deprecated and has been replaced by Diodon.  It also explains how to migrate ClipIt settings to Diodon, but I never used ClipIt before on this device, so there are no settings to migrate.

With this out of the way, we can see the default desktop, with a custom wallpaper.  LXDE’s wallpaper manager was refreshingly fast following the Cinnamon fiasco.


The icon at the top left with the LXDE logo opens a basic application menu.  This one simply has categories, no search.


The “run” menu option makes it possible to launch a custom command without using a command-line terminal.


To the right of the panel, you get the sound mixer, then nm-applet for Wifi/broadband manager, which we already saw in Xfce.  The creepy fish is the Diodon clipboard.  This is followed by the Xfce Power Manager icon, the Onboard toggler, Bluetooth manager, and a clock.  Clicking the clock displays the current date, but there is no full calendar.  Window switching is performed by really tiny buttons next to the sound mixer.  They are really hard to tap.

It should be noted that the Onboard toggler does not work with double-tapping: instead you tap once, then “Hide Onboard” or “Show Onboard”.


LXDE’s main applications are LXTerminal and PCManFM.  By this point, we’ve tried a lot of terminals, but they’re all more or less the same.  PCManFM is a file manager, that also features an application menu, mirroring that in the panel; a pretty cool feature.  As with Cinnamon, maximized windows do not underlap with Onboard.



Right-clicking with Onboard doesn’t work in LXDE.  Pressing the power button causes the screen to flicker intensely, rather than suspend and/or lock as with other sessions.  Additionally, there is still no screen rotation.  And, finally, the logout menu.


Overall, LXDE is really fast and lightweight, but feels much less polished than Phosh or Xfce.  Considering the lack of active development, I wouldn’t recommend it.  If an LXQt recipe appears, however, that could be very interesting.
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Re: PinePhone
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2020, 02:47:55 AM »
It has been way too long since my last post in this thread.  Since then, virtually all PostmarketOS community phones have been shipped, and pre-orders for another community edition, running Manjaro Linux, are currently open.  I still intend to try out both of them, but until then, let's have SailfishOS.  I've had this review typed up for a while, but I procrastinated...

SailfishOS is basically the last corporate holdout from the Apple/Google duopoly.  It is developed by Finnish company Jolla, based on Mer and OpenSUSE, and uses the Wayland-based Lipstick interface.

It also features an Android compatibility layer (independent from Anbox) on some devices.  While this is not currently available on the Pinephone, it is theoretically possible to copy the necessary files from another device, where this is officially supported.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any such device, so I won’t be able to try it out until official support for the Pinephone becomes available.

While the core of the operating system is open source, several components, including Lipstick and the Android compatibility layer, are proprietary; the code is only available to Jolla’s commercial partners.

At the moment, SailfishOS installation is different from the other operating systems seen so far.  You have to download a shell script, set it as executable, and run it.  The script will automatically download the latest image (at the time, that image was dated 1 August; a few others have been released since then bringing greater stability, but no new meaningful features), extract and flash it.  You are only asked two questions: which device you are using (choose 2, Braveheart), and the path to the SD card.

The boot screen features the SailfishOS logo.

First boot: ShowHide

The first step is to select a language.


Then, the EULA.  It’s a big mess.  It deals with trademarks, patents, privacy policy, third-party tools (notably HERE Maps), and periodically mentioning the various open-source components.  The Android compatiblity trick mentioned above is also forbidden by the agreement.  Also, if you violate the agreement, you are obligated to delete the software.  Predictably, you have no choice but to accept in order to use the device; the “reject” button turns off the device.

After a reboot, you are asked to setup a lock code, with a minimum of five characters.  You can skip this.



Then, Wifi.


Then, you have to select the time zone.  Jolla is a Finnish company, so predictably the default is Helsinki.


Then, you are asked to login to your Jolla account for “apps and updates”.  I’ll skip this for now, much to their disappointment.



And then, the interface tutorial.  The tutorial is more like a video, featuring stock images with the Helsinki time zone and cusom settings; I took the pictures afterwards, when in the main interface.  Also, the tutorial has a few mistakes, such as the clock app being labeled “mediaplayer”.  It also periodically tells you “well done”, which gets rather annoying.  The tutorial can also be relaunched later on from the applications menu, or dismissed by holding all four corners at once.

The interface: ShowHide

The lock screen displays the date and time; swipe horizontally to unlock.


The default desktop.


The home screen shows minimized apps.


Swipe right for notifications, weather, and events; you can swipe left to return to home.  The tutorial doesn’t tell you this, but you can always swipe in either direction.


Swipe from the bottom for the app list; swipe from the top to close.  The tutorial doesn’t tell you this, but if you tap the desktop, the top row of apps pops up.

On the home screen, you can tap an app to maximize it, then swipe horizontally to return home.  Swipe horizontally but not as much to browse between app subpages.  Swipe from the top SLOWLY for various options, and release when the desired option is highlighted.

The tutorial doesn’t tell you how to close apps.  It turns out you have to swipe from the top corners.  If swiping from the top middle, you get quick settings.


The brightness, like on LuneOS, turns off the screen if too low.  This area is highly configurable; you can also add ringtone volume control to it.

The tutorial also doesn’t tell you how to turn off the device.  It turns out you have to press the power button for a few moments.  This brings up the quick settings, but with a power button instead of a screen lock button.  This feels very dumb; why not put both buttons in quick settings all the time?  After you tap the button, though, you get a “goodbye!” message.

Next time, I will be looking at the available apps.
Have you considered making each day count - doing something meaningful each day - instead of letting the days and weeks and months and years fly into oblivion? --Bright Side

Thanks to Rosie Willowwater for the avatar!!