The next community edition of the PinePhone is set to ship soon. The PinePhone KDE Community Edition has been up for pre-order since last month, and it will begin shipping in mid-January with Manjaro Linux and the KDE Neon user interface pre-installed.

While the PinePhone is designed to run free and open source operating systems like Manjaro, Ubuntu Touch, and postmarketOS, the phone does still use some proprietary firmware for components like the modem… but we’re one step closer to being able to replace that firmware with open source alternatives, because developers have managed to get the modem to run Linux kernel 5.10.


But it’s not just the PinePhone that’s seen progress in the past few weeks. Developers have been porting Ubuntu Touch, Arch Linux ARM, and other operating systems to run on new phones from F(x)Tech and UniHertz.

Here’s a roundup of recent Linux smartphone news from around the internet.

  • PinePhone modem now supports the Linux kernel 5.10 [@thepine64]
    This brings us one step closer to being able to use the phone without proprietary blobs, although developer Martijn Braam notes that the modem’s not actually usable while running Linux just yet.
  • PinePhone KDE Community Edition shipping update thread [Pine64]
    The next version of the phone will have the same hardware as the last few versions to ship, but it will have a KDE logo on the back cover and the box and it will ship with Manjaro ARM + KDE Neon software. Shipments should begin on or around January 18, 2021.
  • Manjaro ARM Plasma Mobile fixes wireless carrier issue [@ManjaroLinux]
    A recent development release resolves an issue that caused problems when placing phone calls on many wireless networks. It’s good to see this fixed ahead of the KDE Community Edition PinePhone ship date.
  • Ubuntu Touch ported to the Unihertz Titan (BlackBerry clone) [@Mariogrip]
    Launched in 2019, this phone has a 4.5 inch display and a BlackBerry-style QWERTY keyboard. It sells for about $350 and ships with Android 9 Pie. But an Ubuntu Touch developer has been porting the GNU/Linux distribution to run on the phone. Right now it relies on the stock Linux kernel that comes with the phone. A full port would require Unihertz to release its kernel source code, at a minimum.
  • Arch Linux ARM boots on the F(x)Tec Pro 1 {@DanctNIX]
    This phone is one of the only modern smartphones to feature a slide-out thumb keyboard and its makers have been pretty friendly to the custom ROM and mobile Linux community. Late last year F(x)Tec ran a crowdfunding campaign for a model that would be available with open source, Android-based LineageOS or Ubuntu Touch. Now it looks like Arch may also be an option, although this is just a barebones image with the Linux 5.10 kernel so far.
  • Manjaro ARM Phosh edition brings back Anbox support [@ManjaroLinux]
    Anbox is an Android-in-a-box utility that allows you to run Android applications on non-Android operating systems like Linux. While not all apps will work properly, this opens the door to getting more mobile apps up and running on Linux phones like the PinePhone.
  • Linux Apps for Creating Bootable Live USB Drive (or microSD) [LinuxHint]
    This is a handy list of tools for creating a bootable USB flash drive or SD card from Linux. The DD command may be the most versatile, but least user friendly. I’ve mostly used Etcher to test PinePhone Linux distros, since it’s recommended for many
  • Phosh user interface overview [Colors of Noise]
    A primer on the phosh “phone shell” user interface for GNU/Linux distributions that run on smartphones. Developed by Purism for the Librem 5, it’s also used by many distros for the PinePhone and other devices.
  • Maemo Leste end of year update [Mameo Leste]
    Under development since 2011, this open software picks up where Nokia left off when the company stopped developing Maemo for smartphones and tablets. Recent updates include a Qt5 port that allows more applications to work, rotation support for some devices, improved power management for the Motorola Droid 4, and more.

You can keep up on the latest Linux smartphone news by following Linux Smartphones on Facebook and Twitter or by subscribing to our RSS feed.

 

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