Day 6 with thediarygame: PinePhone64 OS testing - results (final part 5)
Heyhey folks! In today's diary episode I'm sharing the last part of my "testing experience" and wrapping up this topic for some time. I will need more time to carefully test the chosen platforms. What are they, you ask? Read on this post and you'll find out!
First, I want to say, that I was wrong about NixOS. It actually "works" (when showing Mobile NixOS logo). It just works differently: to make system boot whatever you request (like, for instance, Xorg), you need to fiddle with the filesystem and config files and add it manually. In that case, I see NixOS as somewhat similar to Arch experience. in meaning, that it can be used as a basis for crafting your own OS for personal tasks. But at least at this very moment, it's not some "out of the box experience".
Loading, lock-screen, system description
Writing method: as usual, with bmaptool to micro-SD card. It took less than 4 minutes.
As being the final article, I decided to try all that's left (with an exception for Arch Linux ARM): KDE Neon & Mobian.
I had a bad experience with mostly all Phosh-based distros before in this test. And although Mobian is being such, I've
checked out the image size - about 800 mb - and decided to try it, because the size means that something more is included. Not only the main OS, which should be around 200~300 MB but some apps also. So, I decided to give Mobian a try.
And I was right - it contained quite a lot of applications! Including the Chess and 2048 games as well as two web browsers. Also, Telegram is installed out of the box, as well as maps, image viewer, archiver, authenticator app, and plenty of other apps, totaling up to around 30 or so. Which is really nice. But what is not nice, that's still: the interface is laggy and unstable. And not such pretty is in Ubuntu Touch. For example, I could not open the top drawer (notifications) at all, and to open App Switcher, I had to try 10 or 20 times. From good points, I can tell that sound & mic works okay. But the wifi is, as usual, lagging. The whole OS experience is full of slowness and sluggishness. So, conclusion: all Phosh-based distros (GNOME forks) for Pinephone at this moment (June 2020) are TOTALLY unusable. Maybe, if you install ArchLinux and tweak the Phosh there, it will act better, but for my current testing, Phosh is really awful. But app selection is quite nice :=).
Fast Score of 6.75
Loading, main screen, applications menu, settings, widgets (black theme)
12. KDE Neon
Image is written with bmaptool (but without bmap file ;) in 11 minutes to 32 GB micro SD card.
KDE has a dark theme (and others as well). It works stably in general, but some animations are not smooth. And it has a button to close the app! Automatically found 70 updates for just 25 megabytes. The keyboard reacts very fast to presses.
I updated the software from the update manager and installed HTOP. It ran well, and I rotated screen to see it in more detail... When, sadly, after about 15 minutes of testing, the OS crashed. It just showed a fullscreen keyboard and then crashed into the console. Even more sadly, reboot didn't help: the device just doesn't boot anymore. Probably the update went bad. So, I think, if the stability issues will be fixed, this OS is one of the interesting options to seriously consider right behind the Manjaro ARM release.
Fast Score: 6.9
- I didn't test ArchLinux at this moment, as it's not "out-of-the-box" ready OS.
- I was able to compile NixOS mobile, but as Arch Linux it needs additional set-up steps after.
- All other distros were tested for not less, than 10 minutes, and not more, than a few hours.
- I didn't found any android (AOSP, Lineage, whatever) working recent builds so I was unable to test "more classic" mobile experience with Pinephone. If you do know such, please post a comment below!
- Camera hadn't worked in any of the tested OSes. Neither front nor back. Maybe it will with some tweaks from the Pine-wiki.
- Bluetooth left mostly untested. Works on Ubuntu Touch with connecting to android phone and Bluetooth speaker.
- Wifi glitched here or there most of the times, but I think it's also a problem with my router, because laptops, and other devices, are also disconnected from time to time.
- Ubuntu Touch looked the best with its great fonts everywhere and good resolution, responsive interface, stable wifi, and everything.
Places are according to "Fast Score". Fast Score is my totally subjective views on "is the distro ready for daily mobile usage?", ranked from 0 (worst) to 10 (best) points.
If you buy Pinephone, these are BEST OS at the moment (June 2020) as I see it:
|Place||OS Name||Reasoning||Fast Score|
|1||Ubuntu Touch||fully usable||9|
|2||Manjaro ARM KDE||needs more testing, but overall very good||7.5|
|3||Sailfish OS||best guestures & appswitching for the mobile OS, but you'll need to get used to it||7.5|
|4||Lune OS||interesting and unusual competitor||7.3|
WORTH CHECKING LATER
These are also worth checking, but maybe somewhere close to the new year time 2020~2021.
|Place||OS Name||Reasoning||Fast Score|
|5||KDE Neon||Worth checking when pinephone compatibility improves||6.9|
|6||Mobian||May also be worth checking later||6.75|
|7||Nemo Mobile||If you want a fully-opensource Sailfish!||6.5|
|8||Maemo Leste||Maybe, if it gets much more developed!||5.5|
|9||PureOS||Definetly need to re-check this out in a year or so||5|
|10 & 11||PostMarketOS||PmOS is chosen as main OS for Pinephone by devs. I don't know why...||5 & 4|
|12||Fedora ARM||For me personally, this was a bad experience||4|
OUTSIDERS or OS for SPECIFIC USAGE
These distros are made for specific use-cases. They are basically barebones.
|1||Arch Linux ARM||if you want your own mobile OS, just take Arch and make it.|
|2||NixOS||this is similar to Arch - you can build your own OS out of it.|
|3||Sxmo||if you're used to tiling window managers & your phone has hardware keyboard|
PinePhone OS Spreadsheet
I've built up a spreadsheet from experiences on the process. I hope you find it useful!
Personal conclusion, teams and unity
Q: So, WHY we're actually lacking a decent, working out of the box fully-Linux distro for the phones?
A: Of course, there are several (or maybe a dozen!) reasons behind it (lack of time, lack of money, lack of external support, lack of resources, etc). But I see clearly how this can be improved. I will elaborate more on that.
See, there are more than 10 Linux-phone distros. Of course, diversity is good, but I do really see that (Linux phone developer's) teams need to unite under the umbrella of fewer projects (let's say, 3~4 instead of 12) to pull all the effort and finally make few distros, that will perfectly work on some small subset of the phones (maybe like pinephone, librem and maybe some nexus/pixel phones). If the interconnection between team grows and we have like 3~4 linux OS on the phones leading the way, I can believe that something big and important can grow out of this.
How would I unite teams? It's easy as hell. Pick a favorite GUI/User environment in a few categories:
- GNOME on the Linux phone
- KDE on the Linux phone team (manjaro, ubuntu, etc.)
- Sailfish OS team and Nemo mobile teams
- WebOS and other more rare and specialized environments
There you have it! 4 teams picked. If there would be such 4 teams, each of the team working (mainly) on the same distro, I'm pretty sure we would have 4 out-of-the-box-ready Linux phone distros instead of having 12+, from which most are mostly unusable.
If you agree with that or want to discuss this important topic please run to the comments section below!
Thanks for reading, guys. The next episode of "pine phone" post will be probably in a month or so because I need to test out the stuff more with Ubuntu Touch, Manjaro ARM, Sailfish, and maybe also Lune OS. Bye for now!
@sxiii aka D. from O.