As the end of 2020 approaches, Linux phones still occupy a tiny niche in the smartphone market. But it’s a growing niche. Pine64 has shipped thousands of PinePhones. The Purism Librem 5 has finally begun to ship. And a handful of other phones powered by Linux are starting to ship as well.
While the software that runs on these phones is probably best described as a work in progress, it seems like that progress is accelerating as more phones designed for Linux hit the streets.
Case in point: at least three week two different Linux-for-the-PinePhone teams released major updates to their operating systems.
Manjaro ARM Beta 4 with Phosh for the PinePhone
The Manjaro ARM team has released their four beta just about two months after their first. This release brings faster wake from sleep, longer battery life, better support for the USB-C convergence dock, automatic media mounting, and more.
Some of those improvements come courtesy of these changes:
- Updated to Megi’s 5.10 kernel
- Phosh use interface updated to version 0.7.0
- Squeekboard virtual keyboard updated to version 1.11.1
Other updates include support for double-tap on the lockscreen thanks to a fix to the Phoc Wayland display compositor, a newer version of the Megapixels camera app, and updates to a number of other software packages.
Despite these improvements, there are still some known issues. You might miss some incoming phone calls because it can take too long for the phone to wake from deep sleep. The mic mute button doesn’t work in phone calls. The Megapixels app might not display your back camera. And, as with most Linux distributions designed for phones, you can run many desktop applications on a PinePhone running Manjaro ARM… but the user interface may not be well suited for mobile devices.
You can download Manjaro ARM Beta 4 with Phosh for the PinePhone from OSDN. There are also builds of Manjaro ARM with the Lomiri and Plasma Mobile user interfaces, but these aren’t as up to date and they’re still considered alpha.
Or you can read more about this update in the release announcement at the Manjaro forum.
Mobian December 15 release
This operating system also uses the Phosh user interface, so it looks a lot like Manjaro ARM (and a number of other GNU/Linux distributions for phone). But under the hood this operating system is based on Debian (Manjaro is based on Arch).
The mid-December release features a number of improvements, including: