Also: Multiple Librem 5 usage reports/impressions/reviews, a glimpse at Sailfish OS on the Sony XPERIA 10 III, booting Linux on older iOS devices, and I'm sick with COVID19.

Commentary in italics.

Top Story: GNOME Shell on Mobile

A major bomb of an announcement dropped only minutes after the last Weekly Update:

Six weeks ago, we featured a brief note about public funding for GNOME Shell Mobile. Back then, I thought that this was likely about the ecosystem or Phosh, and did not click the Code link on the funding page - time is scarce, and thus I missed that this actually was about GNOME Shell. As the blog post and Calebccff's videos (1, 2 show, this is already quite smooth and impressive. Sure, there's a lot of work to be done, e.g. regarding the virtual keyboard.

Now what does this mean for Phosh1? According to Purism Developer Sebastian Krzyszkowiak, it does not change anything in the short term, as e.g. Calls UI for accepting can be reused with Phosh easily, while it would require more work with GNOME Shell, since that does not use GTK, but a custom, Clutter-based toolkit. Sounds like GNOME Shell Mobile is going to be more for tablets or PDAs in the short term – which is great, too! If this saddens you, because you're longing for gestures or a different app drawer: Phosh is getting some gestures with 0.20, and more might land soon if open Merge Requests can be taken as an indicator.

Having already spoiled that stacks are too different to transfer improvements (beyond design work) from Mutter/Shell to wlroots-based Phosh/Phoc or vice versa, and assuming you're afraid of duplicate efforts (as a user): Don't worry about it. Duplicate efforts happen all the time in FOSS land, intentionally or unintentionally. Looking at Qt land and the shells of Plasma Mobile, Maui Shell, CutiePi Shell, Nemo Mobile, Lomiri, CuboCore's shell and whatever the thing JingOS shipped was called again - duplicated effort does not hurt, as long as the people driving the efforts have enough dedication and continued motivation to make them great. So let's be supportive and be glad to have yet another great FOSS option on smaller and larger touch screens!

If you are impatient want to try it, you can do so on postmarketOS or Manjaro.2



  • Notkia - This is an interesting project: Taking the refined shell of an older dumb phone, and re-using it for your fun project. Note that the term "phone" is better to be used in airquotes: The device does not feature GSM/UMTS/LTE to connect to regular phone networks. LoRa has enough bandwith for texting, but IIRC not for voice calls. The SoC is low power, MIPS32 architecture by Ingenic, which should be powerful enough to allow for VoIP calling - and all software will have to be quite efficient, as 64 Megabytes of RAM are not a lot.3 I like it, despite it's likely not for me!
  • Notkia | Same project, different hosting.

Software progress

GNOME ecosystem


Plasma/Maui ecosystem

Ubuntu Touch

Sailfish OS

Distro news



Worth noting

Worth reading

PINE64 Community Update

Fruity hardware running Linux

Librem 5 Impressions

PinePhone Pro Impressions

Firefox and potential future mobile power effiency

Off Topic: Happy Birthday, Phoronix!

Worth listening

Worth watching4

PINE64 Community Update

Sailfish OS


GNOME Shell on postmarketOS

Something missing?

If your project's cool story (or your awesome video or nifty blog post or ...) is missing and you don't want that to happen again, please get in touch via social media or email!


Phosh was only started because GNOME Shell developers considered a mobile adaption of Shell not viable. To be fair, that was multiple years ago - GNOME Shell performance improved a lot since then, and with available hardware and the wide adoption of libhandy and libadwaita in the GNOME ecosystem circumstances are totally different!


I've wanted to test this on the OG PinePhone (it's always interesting to see how well stuff runs on slow hardware) and failed – I blame COVID. Sadly, this my failure means that I won't be able to provide guidance.


Even the Openmoko Neo Freerunner featured 128 MB RAM - but given Motorola shipped its EZX Linux Phones with a meager 48MB RAM and a GUI (including VoIP support on the A910), it's a challenging, but not impossible project to make this a useful device.


There may be some videos I did not find this week - I'll blame being sick and will include ommitted older videos in next weeks Weekly Update.