Half a year ago in September, I left Sailfish OS and Jolla after I had exclusively used "alternative" mobile operating systems. I started with the Nokia N900, after that I had the Nokia N9, and then both the Jolla and Jolla C with Sailfish OS.
The UI concepts of Sailfish OS were great, the gestures were simple and intuitive. However, it lacked so many other features. The Android emulator was only compatible with apps for Android 4.4. Although being marketed as secure and privacy-aware, users have no control over apps, as there is no mandatory access control or any other permission system. Remember, this OS has been in development for over five years by now. Also, many parts of the UI stayed closed source, although Jolla promised from the beginning they want to release more open source components. If they wanted contributors, they would have more likely contributed to user-visible stuff like the mail app — not to some lower level middle-ware that is open source.
All of this and some more reasons caused me to finally pull the plug and switch to Android. I wrote about it in lengthy details here: https://raimue.blog/2018/01/09/goodbye-sailfish-os-and-jolla...
I have never really liked any of the major players. I used to run WebOS on a Pre3 for a long time. Now I have a Jolla C, but it isn't my main phone because of its poor battery life, so I also use an Android phone.
The saddest thing here is those alternative OSs innovate a lot. WebOS in particular was years ahead of both iOS and Android in terms of UX (after all they had Matías Duarte on board... ). Sailfish is more interesting technically, in that it was probably the fastest OS to do "zero to non-trivial native mobile app" on thanks to its development tools (the Qt environment, with QML, a standard build VM...).
I backed the tablet as well, but I don't hold a grudge. What they are trying to do is incredibly hard, failures have to be expected.
If you want to meet the developers from Jolla, I think they have a BoF room at FOSDEM every year. I sat in to listen for a while in 2017, it was pretty interesting.
I'm using Sailfish OS on an Xperia X since when it became available. My main reason to migrate from Android was "battery life" which was confirmed (battery now lasts ~5 days instead of the usual 2-3), but the OS has a lot of small and bigger bugs (e.g. carrier selection, 2G/3G/4G priority, stuck data comm for Android apps) and missing features (notoriously: tethering/wlan access point, bluetooth) that do not currently make it a valid alternative for a normal user if compared to the other operating systems. Version 2.1.4 beta is available (https://blog.jolla.com/sailfish-os-2-1-4-now-available-early...) which might fix many bugs and deliver some key features, but the date for the final release has not been published (and I'm too scared to brick my phone by installing the beta).
Instead of an alternative OS, we need a company that will make good hardware (comparable to Samsung) and not lock down their android system and provide open source drivers.
That will satisfy most tinkerers, since they can modify anything they want and even load their own images since the drivers are open source.
Android as an OS is good enough. Just that every single manufacturer has opted to lock it down.
I have a Jolla 1 phone, and I do enjoy many of its features that Android lacks, but I plan on replacing it with a Librem when and if possible. In spite of Jolla repeatedly advertising Sailfish as an open source operating system, much of Sailfish remains closed source (even simple, basic things like the mail app) and there are no plans to change this. Plus, like many other sailors to judge from together.jolla.com, I’m uncomfortable with the tight relationship Jolla now has with the Russian state, though I do realize that might be the only chance the company has to be profitable.
FirefoxOS still lives and quietly has some success in the form of KaiOS (https://techcrunch.com/2018/02/26/kaios-a-feature-phone-plat...).
Purism are working on Librem 5, which should apparently run Plasma Mobile. But Sailfish has by far the best UI out there. It's a pity they still didn't open source it yet.
I backed their tablet and was disappointed when I learned they would never ship it - Jolla's handling of the whole fiasco was very suboptimal.
Pinning hopes on the purism now for a hackable mobile device.
Companies providing operating systems is a clear conflict of interest. Evidence: the tragic state of the entire mobile ecosystem, where no hardware can be fully utilized by (or even make calls with) an open-source OS.
This article also fails to mention Tizen. Has it been abandoned? It was absolutely terrible (millions upon millions of lines of the worst C code I've ever perused) but I thought it still existed, making vaguely similar claims to open-sourcehood as SailfishOS.
The real mobile OS to watch and advocate for is postmarketOS, which attempts to get mainline Linux kernels working on phones.
WebOS was once a mobile OS, now a TV OS: http://webosose.org
Is Sailfish really the viable alternative we are looking for?
Back in the 90s we suffered from Wintel dominance where if you installed Linux on a PC, it was likely to be a less than pleasant experience due to missing drivers, etc. The modern day equivalent to Wintel is Armdroid. Despite Android using the Linux kernel, you can't just take an off-the-shelf Android phone and run a Linux distro of your choice. ASOP (Android Open Source Project) forks the Linux kernel once and then virtually all Android OEMs create a second fork of the Android kernel fork, apply their own changes and barely anything ever lands in mainline. Jolla's strategy to run Sailfish on top of Android kernel forks with Android blobs inherits the same problems of Android, encourages bad practices of Android kernel development, planned device obsolescence and the throw-away culture when the kernel fork reaches EOL.
There are further problems with Sailfish. It is built on top of the Mer, a Linux distribution built for Tivoisation. Mer refuses to use GPLv3 licensed packages. Mer packages are stalled on the last versions that used GPLv2 before they were relicensed to GPLv3. Most of these package remain unsupported and unmaintained for years and are probably vulnerable to many known exploits.
On top of these problems, Sailfish contains many closed components and the majority of Jolla is owned by Russian investors. Is this an OS that can really be trusted?
Fortunately the situation is starting to change and there are real alternatives which may be usable in the near future. There's PureOS which aims to build a Debian-based OS for the Librem 5 phone on top of mainline Linux, postmarketOS supports mainline Linux on a few devices in addition to Android kernel support, and now there's Maemo Leste which is built from the ground up to run on mainline Linux. These projects are still in their infancy but at least there is hope for the future. Sailfish, unfortunately, does not look like it will be part of that future.
It’s hardly an alternative. Having tried it twice, the gestures are completely alien to a new user and I gave up with our test device within an hour.
I think we've passed the point where there will be a 3rd smartphone operating system. You need $$$ in order to build develop and maintain, serious hardware partnerships in order to get your OS onto phones people actually want to buy, and serious serious negotiating power or leverage in order to get your OS + phone onto the carriers people use.
In all honesty I think it is irresponsible of these companies to take huge kickstarter payouts to develop hardware or operating systems that are doomed before they have begun.
I think that Google or Samsung cannot make a good android tablet shows how hard this is.
... and these idealists have finally found a backer!
They've become preferred suppliers of the Russian and Chinese governments.
Still using my Jolla as a main phone. I wish current android flagships would be as snappy, even though it can be buggy at times.
I have an Sailfish X, but I don't use it anymore. Unfortunately, even the build in apps lack features I want/need, and so in the end I would have to use all the Android apps again.
* The Mail app does not support GPG
* The Chat app does not support any modern XMPP extensions or even group chats (this is because Telepathy does not support it)
* The Calendar has no month view if I remember correctly
But I really wish Sailfish was usable for me, I would prefer to have a "real" Linux distro on my phone.
"But many, including Engadget, found the interface to be needlessly complicated and confusing." This and I noticed that the pulley system really slowed me down when trying to accomplish a task with the device. On an iOS or Android device one can achieve frequent tasks quickly without looking but not the same with the pulley system. You can't go too fast when pulling down.
Don't forget Raspbian on the Zero!
I still think Sailfish OS can become very big because China and Russia are investing in it. The market there is huge and both countries produce a lot of smartphones.
all I want to know can I run say the latest version of Firefox & WhatsApp on it ? I would love to support these guys
Isn't Tizen still alive?
Lets just make a flavor of postmarket for endusers
postmarketOS is making huge steps despite the small size of the project.
Unfortunately, this OS also has many down sides and exploits. Here is a list of IP addresses which can be safely tested for these vulnerabilities: http://bit.do/rhemgla
Sailfish OS has the most farcical history of renames, forks and merges I've ever seen.
MeeGo, Mer, Maemo, Moblin, Harmattan, LiMo, SLP, Bada, Leste, Tizen, Nemo...
It they spent more time on making a finished product rather than coming up with yet another stupid new name, logo and website they might have more traction.
No there is another. (chime music)
What about Fuchsia and ReactOS? What about Arduino and Energia RTOS?