There’s a new player in the smartphone operating system space: the folks behind the KDE desktop environment for Linux-based desktop computers have just unveiled Plasma Mobile.

plasma mobile_02

Plasma Mobile is basically a mobile version of the desktop Plasma user interface. It’s free and open source software, and while there aren’t any phones that ship with Plasma Phone OS, you can download and install the software on a Google Nexus 5 using the same tools you would use to install Ubuntu Touch.

The software is based on the Kubuntu operating system with an Android graphics driver, the kwin/Wayland display server. Plasma Mobile isn’t tied to Kubuntu though — it should work with other operating systems. The Nexus 5/Kubuntu software is just a reference implementation that makes it relatively easy for anyone to test the software.

The software can handle typical smartphone functions, including phone calls, notifications, a customizable app launcher, and more.

There’s also support for KDE Plasma widgets, and eventually the goal is to offer a “convergence” experience that will allow you to run desktop apps on your mobile phone. While that might not make a lot of sense when you’re using a 5 inch screen, it could come in handy when you connect your phone to an external display.

If you’ve used the desktop version of KDE Plasma, you’ve basically used 90 percent of the code that can now run on smartphones. The difference is that the mobile version uses a new shell/workspace designed for smartphones. That’s where you get the app launcher, settings, task switcher, and other features.

So what can you actually do with Plasma Phone OS? In addition to Plasma apps, the software currently supports apps developed for Ubuntu smartphones, devices running Jolla’s Sailfish OS, and eventually there are plans to support Android apps.

via vizzzion and Hacker News


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35 replies on “Plasma Mobile: Linux-based smartphone operating system”

  1. I personally have high hopes for KDE doing this. KDE’s software is awesome in a lot of ways, and if they can make their visual styles and Linux work for them, I’d bite on that. Linux as a basis has a lot going for it too. Android has issues with security because both idiots are using the system and the system isn’t built to be secure. That’s not the fault of the Linux kernel, but the devs and the users using it.
    Anyways, KDE on a mobile phone = awesome. I might have to get a Nexus 5 just for this!

    1. I cringed reading this stuff Android is constantly updating it’s security, Android runs applications in individual sandboxes, doesn’t allow the modification of system files without root intervention by the user, warns users of permissions that applications have access too, even allows you to block applications from accessing specified permissions of your choice. You can easily un-zip apk’s or use one of hundreds of really good apk editors to check out what an application is accessing and how it functions. Are people oblivious? Look things up for yourself check how few vulnerabilities are found consistently on a monthly basis and total yearly basis as opposed to iOS.

      You can build your own AOSP or Cyanogenmod build and it can be modified to make the perfect security suite, it’s like saying Linux is not secure because one operarting system based off of Linux wasn’t secure.

      1. No, Android isn’t secure. Check Google News, and type in “Android Security” and tell me how many crapdroid devices are vulnerable to attacks. Last I looked 80% are. That’s not security. That’s vulnerability. Go educate yourself before you comment making yourself look like a complete idiot.

        1. Yeah 80% of devices are vulnerable from being owned by inept idiots like you. Know how many of my 28 android devices are vulnerable to stage fright which is the 80% vulnerability bullshit your quoting 0 because all of my devices are already on Lollipop even my original Droid Razr is on CM 12.1 and it’s only running a Ti-Omap and is circa 2011.

          If you want security don’t own a phone because you don’t seem to have the intellect to protect yourself just my two sense.

          1. No, I go and buy a secure device called a BlackBerry. I also get a physical keyboard, the BlackBerry Hub, and BlackBerry Blend.

            You stay vulnerable, because you’d rather be and idiot using an Android rather than a phone that’s actually secure.

          2. I honestly don’t have time to debate with a child that calls android “crapdroid” take your own advice “Go educate yourself before you comment making yourself look like a complete idiot.”.

          3. Yeah I guess those rotary phones are pretty secure too, you might want to check them out. They are super secure because they don’t let you text or email or browse the Internet or use GPS or install applications they sound perfect for you. To speak wirelessly you can just scream in the direction of the phone and to be extra secure when you are making calls you can speak in klingon I guess the NSA hasn’t figured out how to translate that yet. Blackberry really isn’t secure enough for someone of your high caliber levels of intelligence.

    1. I can almost agree. Cinnamon is my first choice, personally, but KDE has tons going for it.

      1. Yeah KDE and Cinnamon are top dogs. I actually have Cinnamon on my Arch laptop right now. KDE 5.x is going to be so sexy when it is finished.

        1. I prefer Linux Mint myself due to not having to do setup, but yeah, that they are.

  2. The guys who wrote this OS suffer under the common delusion that an OS is the key component in a mobile platform. That was an appropriate belief in the 90s, where the OS was the key enabler of a computer. These days an OS plays a much smaller role. The available apps are what makes or breaks a platform. This OS has none, and frankly, no major provider will bother with Qt.

    1. The OS might not be nearly as important, but when you care about security, privacy, and efficiency, you have to care about the OS. That’s why I use a Blackberry instead of anything else.

  3. It is a little clunky. It looks like a combo between windows and android. Mostly Android with Windows ui movement

  4. seems interresting but many questions are not answered yet : is copy/past fonction in the browser available ? is this, like ubuntuphone, all webapp ? is there any plan to release it for all ubuntu phone (bq for instance) ?

  5. I am hoping this could be what ubuntu phone wasn’t.. just a decent mobile experience with the ability to run full linux apps like Krita and inkscape

  6. SMS? You’d think they’d mention that since it’s what most people are doing on their phones most of the time.

  7. I’ll keep my eye on this. If Android app support becomes good enough, assuming a better alternative hasn’t arisen in the meantime, I’ll jump over. Any full on Linux distro for phones is good news but they always seem to evaporate or they lack compatibility with Android which limits the app pool. If they deliver, I’ll be pleasantly surprised. Still, an awesome concept regardless. I love KDE and its customization, having that on a phone would be phenomenal.

  8. I dont see the point.

    I’m a long time GNU/Linux user, but one of my biggest standing complaints with GNU/Linux is that there is no universal direction with development. There are too many frameworks, and widget toolkits.

    Android has been one of the few Linux projects that has created a consistent, and standardized environment.

    This project doesnt seem to offer anything new, except a different selection of framework components.

    1. As an ex-contributor to one of those ‘many’ frameworks, it still baffles me why so many GNU+Linux users think that the more people you have walk in a direction, the faster the journey or the greater the end result becomes. As if there’s a blood feud between desktop environments, and users are forbidden from using more than one widget toolkit or application framework.

      I’m also not sure why you would think android is consistent or standardized. Maybe if you lived in India where Google are making an effort with “Android One”, that would be a reasonable claim. But for the rest of the world users need to either accept a decisively non-standard vendor-developed interface, or install third-party system software.

      1. I don’t really have anything to say about any particular GNU/Linux project being better than another, except in the regard of how large of a community it has, which in turn means how much software is available to its user base.

        I wouldn’t say that that any one combination of components that make up any given distribution of GNU/Linux make them any better or worse. All I care about is compatibility, and companies/groups spending time to make software available.

        When I say that Android is consistent, and standardized, what I mean is that developers can easily commit themselves to building software that will work with a very high percentage of users using Android.

        A company like Adobe would never build Photoshop for use in Linux, because even if they designed it around the most popular distro, Ubuntu, how could they be assured that they aren’t going to pull another stunt like when they switched from Gnome to Unity. Companies aren’t interested in developing software for environments that change their desktop environment and widget toolkit at a whim like that.

        I don’t think there is any confusion over users using multiple widget toolkits, as you suggest. My point is that it is an added complication that prevents developers from reaching sizable populations of users. The added amount of work needed to support GTK, Qt, etc is not just a headache, but a complication that dictates how many users they will reach, and how much support they will have to offer their users just to get it running. Or should they build it to just work with Ubuntu 15.04, and then fork it every time Ubuntu makes a change that causes compatibility issues? What happens when Ubuntu switches to another DE, or Display server? Do they fork, or build for another distro and abandon customers? Of course these types of changes are trivial for Linux users, but for customer-serving companies, hiccups like this could bankrupt them.

        Of course I’m describing Linux as if it needs to be something that it is not. However, as long as GNU/Linux is as fragmented as it is, they will never have the things that Windows has (things like DirectX, things that attract users and developers). I’m sure most GNU/Linux users don’t care, but its what keeps Linux from being great.

        1. I take it you’re mainly a Linux user, but not an application developer. (My apologies if I’m wrong; I’m not trying to be insulting in any way.)

          I’ve been developing cross-platform desktop software for years. I’ve used the three most common framework/widget sets: wxWidgets, gtk, and Qt. From an application perspective, I never have to think about DE or display server with any of them, unless I want to push desktop notifications or do something extra special with window rendering. Otherwise, these toolkits take care of all the differences and I don’t have to think about it. None of my software broke when Ubuntu switched from Gnome to Unity. All my stuff works just fine under any Linux WM + DE combo. Photoshop wouldn’t be any problem. Adobe could use a well-supported, high quality, cross-platform toolkit (Qt has been my favorite for the last 5 years), code the software once in a cross-platform way, and be done. No amount of shenanigans by Ubuntu would break their application if they packaged it correctly. They simply choose not to do so.

          1. You’re absolutely right, I’m just a user. I use Xubuntu on a server in my home.

            You would know more about this stuff than me, but the times that I have been faced with Widget toolkit issues has never been outright incompatibility problems, its merely been ‘support’ issues.

            For example, sometimes if a program doesnt work just right (some kind of display issue), the developer might suggest for me to do something in GTK-config. Well my particular distro doesn’t have GTK-config, and it isnt even available in the repos.

    2. The problem is that Android is not Linux…At least thats how I see it.. plus, what direction does Android has that it contains millions apps with malware? Not a very good one…

      1. Android runs on the Linux kernel, just the same as any GNU/Linux distro. However, when you move upwards from the Kernel, its a bit different than GNU/Linux.

      2. Actually, being a target of malware is mainly a sign they are successful… Basically, Malware makers will target whatever platform that is successful enough to provide a good target user base…

        While Android lacks GNU but it’s designed as a mobile OS and not as a desktop OS… So it’s more correct to just view it as a mobile OS because any OS that uses the Linux Kernel is technically Linux but a OS is more than just its Kernel…

      3. If I remember correctly, virtually all existent Android malware comes from sketchy third-party market stores. So, if you choose to install from those places, you shouldn’t be surprised.
        Besides, Android is changing its permission handling with the next release (Android M).

      4. Malware is installed by idiots, ios on the other hand has around 5x the amount of serious vulnerabilities then Android which is a far more serious problem as it isn’t even user initiated. That is on both a monthly and yearly consistent track record. Android is plenty secure it’s actually has a better track record then OSX, Windows and iOS.

    3. I’m a long time GNU/Linux user, but one
      of my biggest standing complaints with GNU/Linux is that there is no
      universal direction with development. There are too many frameworks,
      and widget toolkits.

      The problem with freedom of choice is there’s way too much of it. It would be best if there was one central committee to do our planning for us, in nice five year increments. One single point of failure is better than many.
      KDE is a fantastic framework that’s been around for a long time. I wish them luck in finding an OEM and a carrier as a newcomer in a very closed uncompetitive industry.

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