Buy an iPhone and you might get some sort of official support for software updates for up to 5 years. Get a Google Pixel and you get 3 years of support. Purchase almost any other phone and you’ll be lucky to get more than a year or two of updates.

PostmarketOS is an ambitious effort to let you use your phone for longer. In 2017 the developers of this Linux-based, open source operating system set a goal of creating software that would give smartphones a 10-year lifecycle.

It’s not there yet. But the developers did provide a progress update this week, detailing where they’re at after 600 days of postmarketOS.

The good news is that there’s a semi-functional operating system that’s capable of at least booting on 112 devices including old phones like the Google Nexus 5 and new/upcoming devices including the Librem 5, Pine A64, and Necunos NC_1 smartphones. It can also run on a Raspberry Pi 3 or Raspberry Pi Zero and some tablets and other devices (like the long-disctontinued Ouya game console).

The bad news? There’s little to no support for actually making phone calls in postmarketOS so far. You can sort of do it on some devices — but you have to open a terminal and enter a set of text-based commands to make a call on a Google Nexus 5, for example.

In other words, there’s a long way to go before postmarketOS moves beyond a proof-of-concept and becomes something you might actually want to run on your smartphone.

The team is making a few significant changes that could help move things along. First, the operating system is currently based on Alpine Linux “edge” releases, but the goal is to move to stable builds of Alpine Linux in the future to reduce the risk of upstream changes breaking postmarketOS.

Second, the tools that the postmarketOS team are using to build packages has been improved.

Developers are also trying several different touchscreen-friendly user interfaces including the Ubuntu Touch UI and Purism’s Phosh user interface (which will be used for PureOS on the Librem 5).

You’re probably not going to want to install postmarketOS on your phone anytime soon unless you’re a developer. But it’s nice to see that the project is still alive and kicking almost two years after inception.



Support Liliputing

Liliputing's primary sources of revenue are advertising and affiliate links (if you click the "Shop" button at the top of the page and buy something on Amazon, for example, we'll get a small commission).

But there are several ways you can support the site directly even if you're using an ad blocker and hate online shopping.

Contribute to our Patreon campaign

or...

Contribute via PayPal

6 replies on “PostmarketOS progress update: Boots on 112 devices, makes phone calls on none”

  1. “Buy an iPhone and you might get some sort of official support for software updates for up to 5 years.”

    The iPhone 5s was introduced in fall 2013 and gets updates until the fall of 2019. According my calculations, that’s not exactly “up to 5 years” of support.

    In other news, PostmarketOS got me introduced to Alpine Linux. Which is cool.

    1. “Get a Google Pixel and you get 3 years of support. Purchase almost any other phone and you’ll be lucky to get more than a year or two of updates.”

      Android One devices get the same 3 years of support, although in a somewhat less secure fashion than Pixel devices, which get their updates directly from Google itself. But the 3 years time frame for support is the same. This include all Nokia phones, most of them happen to be quite affordable.

  2. Even if phone support is nonexistent, this effort may still help people.

    For example, builder types can use their old phone hardware for projects that needs a touchscreen and computing power with a long-supported and secure operating system.

  3. phones with no support still get android roms on xda. I could run the latest version of Android (Pie) on my Galaxy Note 2 before I could officially run it on my Galaxy S9

Comments are closed.