This is what you already can do with Linux on a low-budget smartphone

By chance I got a used Samsung Galaxy S5 which already has good Linux mainline support. I was able to install postmarketOS with Phosh user interface enabled. Here’s a short summary on the usability of various apps.

Considering the device is an older phone from 2014, the overall user experience is already quite good. Sometimes the interface is a bit slow and unresponsive but I guess this is something which could be easily improved in the future. I was more impressed on how good convergence of some familiar Gnome apps is. Some of them are already working fine whereas others are still buggy.

Playing online radio via Bluetooth audio
  • The Gnome mail app geary is crashing while trying to configure my mail server. Not sure if the setup wizard will also support self-signed certificates and custom port configurations.
  • gnome-maps is working fine. Unfortunately the classic image tiles of the map are a bit slow, so I hope they could switch to vector tile rendering in the future.
  • The gnome-calendar is not yet optimized for mobile devices. I installed it but wasn’t able to use it.
  • Wanted to try gnome-podcasts app which is present in the Alpine Linux repository but unfortunately not yet for the armv7 platform.
  • gnome-shortwave is a simple radio app for online radio stations. Since integrated audio is not yet supported in the mainline kernel, I was able to listen to streams via Bluetooth audio.
  • The password manager gnome-passwordsafe seems to work fine.
  • Haven’t tried waydroid, a framework to run Android apps on postmarketOS. It would probably work but I guess my device is too slow for it.
  • The contact manager application gnome-contacts is already listing my address book which I synced with my Nextcloud server. I didn’t have to install any additional apps to support this which is quite nice.

Following applications need to get packaged for AlpineLinux: The music recognition app mousai and the native Signal client axolotl.

I’m looking forward to start packaging missing applications or fix build errors for Alpine Linux to improve the postmarketOS experience. Improving hardware support for the Samsung Galaxy S5 might be a bit difficult to start but we’ll see ;)

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