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Author Topic: PinePhone  (Read 578 times)

Offline Chipster-roo

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Re: PinePhone
« Reply #15 on: October 27, 2020, 02:01:55 AM »
I will now be taking a look at the default apps of SailfishOS.

Apps from A to C: ShowHide

Browser.  A web browser with several Jolla bookmarks by default.  Unfortunately, none of the pages load; you simply get a plain black (or white) screen.

Camera.  A well-built app, but camera support hasn’t been implemented yet.

Calculator.  To access scientific mode, you have to switch to landscape orientation.



Calendar.  Swipe horizontally to switch months, and tap a day to select it.


Adding events.


Clock.  This is the usual: timers, stopwatch, current time...



Components.  This appears to be a settings manager, in addition to the regular settings app.

Apps from D to P: ShowHide

Documents.  This can view not only PDF files, but also MS Office and OpenDocument files.  I was unable to download any files to test it.

Email.  You start by choosing an account from the list.

I went with Google, and was brought to a login screen.  Afterwards, you are asked for permission to use this third-party app.  This takes a long time, but afterwards you can choose to sync contacts, calendar events, and emails.  Enabled by default is the signature “Sent from my Sailfish device”.  Unlike Geary, this one actually worked!

I won’t be posting any screenshots for privacy reasons, but the app is simple to use.  You start in the inbox; swipe left to switch folders.  When in an email, swipe up (as per the tutorial) to reply, forward or delete.  If you delete, a time-sensitive undo button pops up.  To create a new email, search, or change inbox ordering, swipe up while in the inbox.  Your recent emails will also display on the home screen.

Gallery.  An image editor, that also supports basic editing.

Media.  A music player, but I don’t have any music to play to test this.

Messages.


Notes.  You can create new ones by swiping from the top, and tapping existing notes to edit.


People.  This is a contacts manager.  It supports importing contacts, or adding some manually.



Phone.  This one was actually covered in the tutorial: when you get a call, swipe up to answer, swipe down to silence.

Apps from Q to Z: ShowHide

Store.  The Jolla app store, that famously needs an account.  I will explore it later.

Storeman.  This is another app store, for openrepos.net.  At first, it asks to update itself.  Afterwards, it finds a large range of open source applications, which I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to try out, as will soon be explained..

Terminal.  This is the same FingerTerm we saw on LuneOS!


Weather.  Unfortunately, it fails to load information.

Webcat.  This is a web browser, and it works!  As in, pages actually load.  But crashes are frequent, leaving me unable to download any documents for the document manager I mentioned earlier.


It also has a built-in file manager.

And the download manager.

Jolla account: ShowHide

When creating a Jolla store account, they ask for your email, your country, and your date of birth.  The date of birth is required to block adult apps from underage users, but it is so easy to lie.  The country is asked because some apps have only been released in some regions, which would mean, at least in theory, that you should be able to use foreign apps by lying again.

Once the account is created, you see there’s really not a lot of interesting stuff in here.  Some categories are empty; the home screen promotes several apps that are already installed, and an app that makes fun of scientology.  The Jolla Store is also agonizingly slow.

After trying to update, however, the device went to the lock screen.  Upon unlocking, I found that all apps, except Storeman, Webcat, Fingerterm and the settings manager, had been uninstalled, and only Storeman actually launched (the others quietly failed without any error messages).  At this point, I decided I had had enough, and reflashed the SD card.


Overall, SailfishOS has some good ideas, but a few weird decisions; a beautiful interface that is overly complicated at times; some good apps, with a few others notably absent; some open source components, but also samples of the same nasty behaviour you bought a Pinephone to avoid.  I’m glad it exists, but that doesn’t mean I want to use it.

Also, soon after I wrote this review, Jolla made the decision to shut down part of their infrastructure, including their old bug tracker and their build system, in order to save money.  This resulted in several long-time developers deciding to leave the project.  This also caused the Nemo Mobile project (essentially Sailfish without the closed-source components) to switch base system from Sailfish to Fedora, a popular desktop/server Linux distribution.  The shutdown of the build server may also make it harder to build images for additional devices.  Unfortunately, I don’t see much of a future for the system.
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 Chipster-roo

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Re: PinePhone
« Reply #16 on: November 09, 2020, 04:06:00 AM »
At the end of my Sailfish review, I mentioned Nemo Mobile.  This project is essentially Sailfish without the closed-source bits.  Notably, Sailfish’s default interface gets replaced with another, called Glacier.

Unfortunately, the latest Nemo Mobile image for the Pinephone is very old.  I therefore had to restort to an alternate method: installing Glacier on stock Sailfish.  This is an incredibly frustrating process, and it should be noted that every time Sailfish will update, it’ll remove Glacier and put back Lipstick, so you’ll have to do this all over again.  Additionally, this method mean that we’ll be stuck with the default Sailfish apps, rather than their Glacier replacements.

Firstly, when you setup Sailfish, you must skip setting a password, otherwise you will never be able to log into Glacier due to a bug.  Then, you must set a root password.  Then, open Fingerterm and enter this command:
Code: [Select]
ssu ar nemo-devel-ux http://repo.merproject.org/obs/home:/neochapay:/nemo-ux/sailfish_latest_armv7hl/
This is one command only.  Then, the following two commands:
Code: [Select]
pkcon refresh
pkcon install lipstick-glacier-home-qt5
Glacier should then start automatically.
The interface: ShowHide

At first, you get the screen locker, which doesn’t really lock since password input is broken.  Swipe up.


Once “unlocked”, you are faced with the app launcher.


You can rearrange the order in which the apps are displayed.


We can swipe left and right to switch between the three tabs.  We already saw the app launcher.  Here is the list of open apps, featuring Fingerterm, Webcat and Storeman.  To close apps, swipe from the bottom when focused on a specific app.


If you don’t have any open apps, Glacier will helpfully let you know.


The third tab features notifications.  If I had setup my email account again, notifications probably would show up here.


If you swipe from the top, you can quickly check Wifi, Bluetooth (currently not supported), broadband, GPS (not supported either), and enable quiet mode.


Screen rotation works, but it is very glitchy.  While Glacier itself will rotate, the screen locker will not.  If you are in landscape mode, and you lock the screen, the locker remains in portrait mode.  This means that the top and bottom of it will be cut off by the screen edges of the screen, and you still access the main Glacier interface on the left and right.  Very secure :sarcasm

Pressing the power button locks the device.  Pressing and holding it provides options to turn off or restart the device.


Overall, Glacier does a decent job at providing an open source alternative to Sailfish’s default interface, while remaining rather similar, but it is very glitchy, although I’m not sure which of these glitches would happen on regular Nemo Mobile.  Hopefully, there will be a first stable version of Nemo Fedora soon, that I could try out.
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 Chipster-roo

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Re: PinePhone
« Reply #17 on: November 26, 2020, 07:24:27 AM »
After the Sailfish experiments, I am going back to Mobian, trying out another desktop environment: Budgie.

Budgie is a newer desktop environment, created for the Solus Linux distribution.  Solus, unlike Debian or OpenSUSE, doesn’t try to do it all.  Instead, it has a single focus: 64-bit desktops and laptops.  It also features fewer desktop environments; you won’t find Xfce, Cinnamon or LXDE here.  While you can’t run Solus on a phone, Budgie has been ported to Debian, and therefore Mobian.

Spoiler: ShowHide
By default, Mobian does not provide any major configurations for Budgie, beyond autostarting Onboard.  Here is the default desktop.  I didn’t have to configure the wallpaper.  This is because both Phosh and Budgie are based on Gnome, and therefore share configuration files.


Onboard was larger than usual, so I resized it.  Diodon also launched (alhough, this probably wouldn’t happen if I hadn’t installed LXDE).  The foot at the top left is the Gnome logo; clicking it brings up an application menu.  As usual, it is sorted in categories, with an “all” option, and the search feature does not work with Onboard.


Next to the menu, you get the app switcher.  Each app is represented by its icon.  At the right, you get the Onboard toggler, nm-applet, notifications, battery settings, sound volume, Bluetooth (twice!), and a shutdown menu.


Unlike the other desktops we saw, tapping the clock does not bring up a calendar, but instead calendar settings, such as the option to show seconds.  At the extreme right, you get the Raven sidebar, which shows the calendar, notifications (none right now) and audio settings, but is extremely hard to tap.


To be pleasant to use on a phone, Budgie needs further configuration, through Budgie Desktop Settings, which is in the “system tools” menu category rather than “preferences”.  I enabled the “power strip” in Raven, which includes buttons for settings, screen lock, and shutdown at the bottom.  I also enlarged the panel, making it transparent.  I removed the duplicate Bluetooth icon, and moved the Raven trigger further to the left, where it is easier to touch.  I also removed the default application menu, and instead pinned Xfce’s app launcher (not the Whisker menu, but an app that supports the keyboard).  To pin or unpin an app, right-click it in the panel.


I also added the “rotation lock” applet to the panel.  Tapping it lock or unlocks it.  If unlocked, the screen will automatically rotate depending on the phone’s position. 


As with Cinnamon, maximizing takes Onboard into account.  You can also see LXMusic, LXDE’s music player, which works better than Lollypop.  Also, most windows (but not Budgie’s settings manager) cannot be moved beyond the screen’s borders.


Locking the screen is not recommended, since the “unlock” screen does not have an on-screen keyboard, leaving you unable to log back in, forcing you to hold the power button until the phone shuts down.

Overall, Budgie is pretty enjoyable to use.  It just takes a bit more time to configure, unlike Phosh, which is usable right out of the box.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2020, 05:25:21 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 Chipster-roo

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Re: PinePhone
« Reply #18 on: November 30, 2020, 04:47:23 AM »
Time for another interface on Mobian: Openbox.

Openbox is not a desktop environment, but a window manager.  All Openbox does is handle open windows; other utilities, such as a terminal, panel, notifications, and sometimes even the wallpaper, are handled externally.  LXDE uses Openbox as its default window manager; here we will be trying out Openbox by itself.

Openbox: ShowHide

Mobian’s configuration for Openbox includes the tint2 panel, which is very popular among Openbox users.  The panel is placed at the top of the screen.


tint2 features launchers for its configuration utility, Calls, Chatty, audio settings, a command-line terminal, and Onboard.  The Onboard button doesn’t toggle it: it merely opens Onboard if it isn’t already.  You have to close with enter + close, and then reopen with the panel button.  This means that, if Onboard is currently open, the button does nothing.  This is followed by the icons of open windows, although it can get crowded if there are a lot of them.


This is followed by a Bluetooth applet (which vanished after suspending), nm-applet for Wifi and broadband, the Xfce power manager, and a clock, with the date below.  Tapping the clock/calendar does nothing.  The power manager is meant to be right-clicked, but Onboard fails to do so.

The menu is accessed by right-clicking the desktop.  Unfortunately, the “other” category, which contains Calls and all Epiphany webapps, does not exist here, so you can’t launch them.  Good thing Calls are pinned to the panel.


The “settings” section of the menu is especially huge.  That’s what happens when you have so many desktop environments installed.


The desktop wallpaper can’t be handled by Openbox itself.  Instead, you need an external application called feh, which is not installed by default.
Code: [Select]
sudo apt install feh
feh --bg-max path/to/file
Replacing path/to/file with the path to the file.  You’ll have to add this to Openbox’s autostart file in order to keep using the wallpaper; otherwise, you’ll have to set it again with every boot.


Pressing the power button suspends the phone.  When resuming the session, there is no lock code to input, and as already mentioned, the Bluetooth icon has disappeared.  I also got frequent notifications that the battery was low, despite the phone being plugged in at the time.


You also can’t shut down from Openbox.  The “exit” button, after confirmation, simply brings you back to gdm3, from which you can then shutdown.

Overall, Openbox works well and fast, but still feels a little rough around the edges.  Hopefully these issues 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!!


Offline Chipster-roo

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Re: PinePhone
« Reply #19 on: December 22, 2020, 09:14:10 AM »
Time for an update!

The Manjaro-edition PinePhones have shipped, and pre-orders for the fourth edition are currently open.  It will feature the Plasma Mobile environment (rather than Phosh or Lomiri).


First, a little background.  KDE Plasma is a very popular desktop environment for Linux on the desktop.  Unlike Phosh, Gnome and Xfce, it is not based on the GTK toolkit, but rather QT.  Plasma Mobile (or PlaMo) is an attempt at bringing it to mobile devices, with the help or the Kirigami framework.  The project started in 2015, but moved very slowly because the developers had to rely an ancient Android devices.  With the PinePhone’s release, development has massively sped up.

PlaMo is currently available on three systems: postmarketOS, Manjaro, and KDE Neon.  It was decided that Manjaro will come pre-installed on the next batch of phones, but the software improvements should be available on all three platforms.

Various add-ons are also being developed.  The main one is a hardware keyboard that also features a more powerful battery; it is currently in the prototype phase and is expected to be available after the Chinese New Year, at a cost of around 50$.  One user has also created a thermal camera addon.  It requires a custom board that you can buy for 11$ or print yourself, and a custom censor (although, it isn’t supported by software yet).  There will also be a wireless charging case (scheduled for January, price to be decided) and a fingerprint reader (this one will take longer).  I plan to buy the keyboard once it’s available, but probably not the others.

Phosh has received several updates.  The most noticeable change is how you close apps.  Rather than tapping a little X in the corner in the menu, you swipe upwards.  The top menu now has two additional buttons: “torch” (which handles the torch, but implementation varies from one system to another), and “dock” (in case you plug in an external monitor to your phone).

Until then, I am going to try out one last Mobian desktop: Gnome Shell.  My mother uses Gnome Shell on desktop every day and is usually pleased with the experience.

Gnome actually comes preinstalled on Mobian, although with Phosh autostarting by default, it can’t be accessed.  Easy enough to fix, by installing gdm3.  On Mobian, Gnome features two sessions: “Gnome” and “Gnome on Xorg”.  I will start with the “Gnome” session, which runs on Wayland.
Gnome on Wayland: ShowHide

The default desktop, with the wallpaper preserved.


It is important to note that Gnome does not use Onboard or Squeekboard, but its own built-in keyboard, the same we see on gdm3.  It automatically detects text fields and pops up, but can’t be toggled easily.


The top panel features the “activities” menu at the top left, followed by the name of the current app.  In the middle, there is a clock (tapping it does nothing), and three icons at the right.

Tapping one of the three icons on the right side brings up a menu.  While automatic screen rotation, Budgie-style, is supported, doing this will break the on-screen keyboard, causing the bottom row of keys to appear below the edge of the screen.  The only way to fix this once you’re stuck is to log out and log back in.


Tapping “Activities” in the top left brings up the activities menu.  On the left pane, you get quick launchers for open and pinned apps.  The default pinned apps are Firefox, a mail client, Gnome Software, and the Yelp help system.  Open apps have a little dot beneath their icon.  To the right, you get the workspace manager, allowing you to have several “virtual desktops” with their own applications.  In the middle are open applications; to close an app, you have to swipe it around, then tap the X.  Yelp is useless, because the window is too large for the screen, and the resize button is out of bounds.


The bottom icon of the application bar, with the nine dots, brings up the full menu.  There are two options: “frequent” and “all”.  “All” is broken, but “frequent” is functional.


The search feature also works, although the keyboard is horrifying.


Overall, Mobian Gnome Wayland has great potential, ruined by the scaling and the subpar keyboard layout.

Gnome on Xorg: ShowHide

The default desktop is almost identical, apart from using Onboard instead of the Gnome default, and less scaling.


The upside of using Onboard is that you can use screen rotation without issues, and easily remove it if you don’t want to use it (you have to do this with the enter key, there is no toggler in the system tray).  The downside is that the search feature in the application menu no longer works.


The scaling makes some items harder to tap, notably in the top bar, but you no longer have to worry about windows being too large for the screen.  You can also use the full app menu!  You can long-press any app to get the option to add (or remove it) from the favourites (this feature also exists on Wayland, but the menu ends up out of bounds).



Some apps in the list are in subcategories, as seen here with “utilities”.


Several open windows.


Pressing the power button locks the screen, and there is a keyboard available for unlocking.

Overall, I would say that the X session of Gnome is better than the Wayland one.  It generally works very well.  The Wayland session isn’t horrible, it just has a horrible keyboard.
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!!