Plasma Mobile on the Librem 5

Matthias Klumpp matthias at
Tue Aug 29 13:28:36 UTC 2017

[ Please keep the CC list intact for replies ]


As some of you might already know, we at Purism are planning to
develop a mobile phone that uses only free software and Matrix[2] for
communication. We are currently running a crowdfunding campaign[1] in
order to be able to make the phone a reality.

One of the open questions for the phone is still which UX we will use,
and Plasma Mobile would obviously be a perfect fit for this kind of
project, since KDE and Purism share the same values, the UI is already
done in large parts, and nothing would have to be developed from
scratch (especially the Kirigami controls are great!).

## Some details about the phone software

The base operating system of the phone will be PureOS[3], our Debian
derivative that is currently pending endorsement from the FSF.
The plan is to use OSTree[4] for the base system, in order to achieve
atomic updates and easy rollbacks, as well as Flatpaks[5] for
deployment of applications. It is likely that we will have our own
Flatpak repository with apps specifically for the phone at some point
in the future.

The system will make full use of systemd and will use Bubblewrap[6]
for sandboxing of selected more critical components.

Due to the nature of the hardware, we will not need libhybris or any
Android kernel abstraction, which means that we can run stock Linux on
the phone, which greatly simplifies development and will allow us to
develop at a faster pace, due to not being bound to a specific kernel
The downside is that the i.mx6 ARM CPU isn't incredibly fast. We hope
that we will be able to update to the faster i.mx8 when it is
available and can be used with free drivers, but at this point in time
we need to focus on the i.mx6 as primary hardware target.

## What we need from a phone UI

Our scope for this project is limited, in order to be able to complete
it successfully and not end up in a never ending development loop: The
phone should be able to communicate via Matrix, have a web browser,
make calls, take pictures. We are not aiming for a massive amount of
apps, but instead want the basic functionalities of the phone working
well when we ship it - more apps and features can be delivered later
via Flatpaks and system updates.

The UI therefore doesn't need to be excessive and support each and
every feature that Android already has, having a more minimal UI works

## Purism and KDE

While Purism is using GNOME for its laptops by default for various
reasons, partnering with KDE for the phone does make a lot of sense
for us, and we are excited about it. There are a few ways we can think
of how to help the Plasma Mobile team, and this email is intended to
make first contact and allow you to ask us any questions.

What we would be interested in is knowing about the future plans for
Plasma Mobile, especially in the area of design and performance
improvements. I didn't have the opportunity yet to test Plasma Mobile
on one of our development boards, but I hope I can get to that

It is still not certain yet whether we will ultimately go with Plasma
Mobile as OS on the Librem 5 (there are also ideas to use GNOME), but
I think Plasma would be a good choice.

So, let's hope for the success of the campaign!
If you have any questions about Purism, the phone, Plasma on PureOS /
Debian, life, the universe, everything, please ask!

Kind regards,
    Matthias Klumpp (Software engineer at Purism)


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