The latest beta of Manjaro ARM for the PinePhone brings a series of software updates and bug fixes.

The kernel and default web browser, camera app, keyboard, and chat applications have all received updates. Phone call audio quality has been improved. And you you can now close applications by swiping upward on the thumbnail image in the task switcher.

Manjaro ARM Beta3 with Phosh for the PinePhone is available for download from OSDN, and you can flash it to a microSD card using balenaEtcher or a similar tool.

Beta 3 arrives less than two weeks after the second beta, and just over a month after the first. I don’t know if the Manjaro ARM team will be able to keep up the roughly bi-weekly release cadence, but they seem to be on a roll.

The latest release updates the Linux kernel to the latest version of megi’s 5.9 kernel, updates Firefox to version 83, the megapixels camera app to version 0.12.0, and audio call playback now uses 8 kHz for improved audio quality.

Like most software for the PinePhone, Manjaro is still very much a work in progress. It takes several seconds to launch some applications, like Firefox. There’s still a limited number of GNU/Linux applications optimized for phone-sized devices with touchscreen displays. And it’s easy to miss phone calls, because it takes a while for the phone to wake from deep sleep when a call is incoming.

But with updates coming in rapid succession, it’s just a matter of time before operating systems like Manjaro ARM become stable and feature-packed enough to serve as alternatives to Android and iOS for folks who value things like free software, privacy, and convergence (the ability to use your smartphone as a desktop or notebook computer by connecting a keyboard and display).

You can find more details at the release announcement in the Manjaro forum.

The Manjaro ARM team has also released a new build that uses the Lomiri user interface developed by UBPorts instead of Purism’s Phosh phone shell.

Manjaro ARM Alpha2 with Lomiri for the PinePhone is still a bit buggier (Bluetooth doesn’t work, phone calls are unstable, and there are issues with messaging), but the latest build brings support for:

  • 60 Hz screen refresh rate
  • 8K phone call audio playback
  • Megapixels 0.12.0 camera app
  • Bug fixes for volume buttons, text messages, and more

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