sxmo on pinephone

If you are looking for a new phone that either respects your privacy, leaves you in control, or just has a different form factor from the now ubiquitous 6″ slab, there are quite a few projects in various states of readiness

Freedom:

  • vollaphone
  • oneplus
  • pinephone
  • librem 5
  • fairphone

Different form factors:

Earlier this year I bought a pinephone, braveheart edition. I’ve tried several OSes on it. Just yesterday, I tried:

  • sailfish: looked great, but it would not recognize sim, and crashed when launching browser.
  • ubports (ubuntu touch): looked good, texting worked, but crashed when launching app store and would not ring on incoming calls.
  • mobian: nice set of default apps, but again would not ring on incoming calls.

So I’m back to running what I’ve had on it for a month or two – sxmo, the suckless mobile operating system. It’s an interesting, different take on> interacting with the phone, and I quite like it. More importantly, for now it’s the most reliable as a communication devvice. With it, I can

  • make and receive calls and texts.
  • send texts using vi :).
  • easily send/receive mail using mbsync, mutt, and msmtp.
  • easily customize using scripts – editing existing ones, and adding new ones to the menu system.
  • use a cozy, known setup (dwm, st, tmux, sshd)
  • change call and text ringtone based on the caller – few other phones I’ve had have done that, not one did it well.
  • have a good browsing experience.
  • use both wifi and 4G data. I’ve not hotspotted, but can see no reason why that will be a problem.

The most limiting thing about this phone is the battery. It drains very quickly, charges slowly, and if I leave the battery in while turned off, it continues to discharge until, after a day, it doesn’t want to turn back on. An external battery charger helps enormously with this. There is also an apparent hardware misfeature which will prevent the modem from waking the cpu during deep sleep – this will presumably be fixed in later hardware versions, remember mine is the braveheart .

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