After Nokia pulled the plug on the MeeGo operating system, a group of former Nokia executives formed a startup called Jolla to keep the dream of a GNU/Linux-based alternative to Android alive.
The company’s had a mixed track record over the past few years. On the one hand, Sailfish OS is a real thing, and there are community-based ports that you can use to replace Android on a number of phones.
On the other hand, Jolla has pretty much given up on producing its own hardware. The Jolla Phone wasn’t exactly a bestseller, and the Jolla Tablet project was canceled with many backers of its crowdfunding campaign never receiving a device (although there is a new third-party effort to produce a tablet based on the original design).
Now Jolla is focusing on licensing its software to third-party device makers. But the company has also unveiled a new strategy with the introduction of Sailfish X: paid ROMs.
Basically Sailfish X is a version of the operating system designed specifically for Sony’s Xperia X smartphone (you’ll need a single-SIM, carrier unlocked model).
Sailfish X works with the phone’s cameras, supports mobile data, and even allows users to run Android apps as well as native apps designed for Sailfish OS.
At launch there are some features that don’t work yet though, including the phone’s fingerprint sensor, Bluetooth, FM radio, and some other sensors including the barometer and hardware necessary for step counting. But the developers are working to bring support for those features in a future software update.
Sailfish OS uses the Linux kernel and the open source Mer Core, but it also includes proprietary software from Jolla: the code for the user interface is closed source. So while Sailfish is a bit closer to desktop Linux software than Android is, it’d probably be inaccurate to call this an open source alternative to Android (which is also open source, but which ships with proprietary Google apps and services on most phones).
Sailfish X will be available for download by October 11th… but it won’t be free. Jolla is selling the software for 49,90€, which is about $59 (although US pricing hasn’t been confirmed yet).
That may seem like a lot of money to spend on a smartphone operating system for a phone that already ships with an OS… and which can already run plenty of custom ROMs. And it kind of is… especially wen you consider that Jolla is only promising 1 year of software updates “after which a continuation program will follow.”
But with very few companies offering a GNU/Linux alternative to Android, Sailfish X could provide a new revenue stream for one of the key players in this space. So maybe it’s best to think of the Sailfish X fee as more of a donation to Jolla than a payment for a ROM that’s not even fully functional yet.
In related news, B&H is currently selling unlocked Sony Xperia X smartphones for as little as $215.
Already did, could not be happier.
I’ve just read about Sailfish today. After about an hour of reading. No. I absolutely would not even consider Sailfish for free. No way. I have always used a Windows phone and I’m looking for something to replace Windows other than Android. I can’t get past the amateurish, cartoonish looking icons that resemble those on my daughter’s Leapfrog. Sailfish is definitely not a replacement. Not even close. Plus I have to use a Sony Experia? WTF? Maybe I’ll reconsider once Sailfish grows up and becomes a real OS.
Considering that this is the only non-US OS for phones, YES. I would like to have option to opt out from feeding CIA and NSA my private data. I’m talking about both, WP and Android.
I would gladly pay that if I knew it would keep Google and Apple from tracking my every move and keystroke
Happy to ditch the NSA SpyWare that is at the core of Android & IOS. Unfortunately I am nervous that Jolla will simply offer the same crooks access to my data too. If they offered the security guarantees I’d happily pay three times this amount. I’m certain that not alone, and this is a very solid differentiation.
I also notice that the novelty of the many thousands of Aps that use to be the big draw card for IOS and Android communities are becoming less important. A few quality Aps that work well and vetted / certified ‘safe & sound’ is worth much more than a library crammed full of crappy shovel-ware… There is definitely room in the market for more OS choices.
My opinions may be the most of the least credible here.
Having owned a N900 and being involved with Maemo/MeeGo means I am biased.
….however Android has come a long way.
If it was a choice between the CURRENT state of Mer compared to Android 5.1, I would say they’re equally matched in OS ONLY (NOT accounting for first-party and third-party support).
However, Mer still has some rough spots that need to be polished before it’s ready for daily/mainstream use. Despite the huge progress made in the last 4 years, it’s still very much a Beta. These won’t be done in at least 12 months due to the lack of active working developers and funding.
On top of this, Mer isn’t fully ported to the Xperia X yet. So this makes the choice easy: no.
If Mer was polished and ready for mainstream (hence equal footing to Android 5.1), and if this port was fully functional, and if the price was cheaper $49… then…. maybe.
Why? Remember Android 5.1 is relevant but a little old now, and it’s now advanced to Android 8.0 Oreo, so it’s still tough to say “Yes”.
On another note, this is the path Jolla was supposed to take YEARS ago. They fumbled and wasted time trying to do hardware as well, a field where they have ZERO expertise. It’s sad that choices fuelled by ego can affect a product for its entire life.
As it stands Jolla and Sailfish has died as a mainstream alternative, still clinging to an alternate-reality fantasy where Nokia continued with MeeGo Project. It will never surmount to anything above a hobby project of a couple guys.
Sent from my Nexus 5 Sailfish OS.
I’m with @Privacy Lover
I would pay $59 for my privacy as well as (I’m hoping/imagining) a smoother OS experience. I don’t particularly like Android. I find it’s always running things in the background which aren’t necessary and hard to detect which makes the phone kind of sluggish and makes the battery drain like it’s got a leak. This just gets worse with every successive update. My phone is a Sony Xperia Z3 Compact, which was known for having a decent battery life and a top processor at its release but is now a little dated.
YES of course I would pay 59 to get rid of android or IOS. Seems like a cheap transaction, they should have done this way earlier. Only question is: how many phones will be supported?
Just one: the Xperia X single SIM.
I would rather pay for a smartphone OS with money than with my personal data. Sailfish is the only existing option here… 59$ seems to me like a fair price keeping my privacy
you are right my friend, isn’t enough but better then nothing
I would pay for the OS, if it worked with all the hardware in the phone. Had nokia n800, n900, n9. really miss my true linux phone.
I loved Maemo when I had a Nokia 770, 10+ years ago, and I dearly wish that Nokia hadn’t botched that so thoroughly. Maybe I’d pay something to install Sailfish if I thought it’d work well on my phone. More to the point, I wish a lot of other people would install it. Python and QT is a supported stack on the OS, and app development seems as though it would be so much more pleasant than it is on Android/iOS.
I might pay if the OS giving me better user experience than my current Android phone(Android 4.4).
Considering they still owe people money for the tablet they never provided it is unlikely I would pay them anything.
Since I only paid about $59 for my Lumia 640, I doubt that I’d pay $59 for a worse OS than Windows 10. Sailfish probably won’t work on a Windows phone anyway.
NO, I would not pay $59.00 to install this OS on my phone. I have recently upgraded to Android 8.0 Oreo and am very satisfied with it. With their track record, they might cancel this OS like they did the Tablet, and then I’m out the $59.00 and probably can’t go back to Android without jumping through a bunch of hoops.
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