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Old 07-20-2021, 03:21 PM   #1
newbiesforever
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what do you think of the PinePhone?


I heard of a privacy-promoting phone called the PinePhone, and immediately went to properly read up on it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PinePhone . Wow, a Linux-running (not merely open-source) phone. Runs Manjaro, and can be set up for other distros.

What I haven't figured out yet is whether one of these phones would be probably be accepted by major phone service providers. Anyone here who uses a PinePhone with Verizon, T-Mobile, etc.?
 
Old 07-21-2021, 10:47 AM   #2
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There is a subsection here at LQN about "other" Linux devices and more than one thread on Linux Phones, both jailbroken and direct from manufacturer. There are quite a few YouTube videos with which one can track the progress which has been pretty substantial. I'm now awaiting an expected hardware upgrade after which I will buy a PinePhone.

TLDR: the SIM card is universal and the supported protocols will handle most if not essentially all service providers.

Here's one of the sub forum https://www.linuxquestions.org/quest...es-4175682809/


EDIT: Almost forgot. The PinePhone runs a plethora of distros but Manjora does look rather good and the field is growing rapidly.

Last edited by enorbet; 07-21-2021 at 10:49 AM.
 
Old 07-21-2021, 02:21 PM   #3
newbiesforever
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enorbet View Post
There is a subsection here at LQN about "other" Linux devices and more than one thread on Linux Phones, both jailbroken and direct from manufacturer. There are quite a few YouTube videos with which one can track the progress which has been pretty substantial. I'm now awaiting an expected hardware upgrade after which I will buy a PinePhone.

TLDR: the SIM card is universal and the supported protocols will handle most if not essentially all service providers.

Here's one of the sub forum https://www.linuxquestions.org/quest...es-4175682809/


EDIT: Almost forgot. The PinePhone runs a plethora of distros but Manjora does look rather good and the field is growing rapidly.
Thanks. I suggested to the mods that they move the post.
 
Old 07-22-2021, 10:29 AM   #4
sundialsvcs
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While I recognize that there is public demand for more privacy-aware phones, I'm cynical enough not to believe anyone's advertising. The Trojan Horse was "well-advertised" too.
 
Old 07-22-2021, 11:55 AM   #5
enorbet
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FWIW some Linux phones are completely FOSS so a trojan or the like would be quickly discovered. PinePhones are over 90% FOSS and the major privacy value is hardware switches to turn off microphone, camera, bluetooth, wifi, etc. If that's not enough for you, the battery is removable. IOW pretty damned private.
 
Old 07-22-2021, 07:30 PM   #6
Mill J
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sundialsvcs View Post
While I recognize that there is public demand for more privacy-aware phones, I'm cynical enough not to believe anyone's advertising. The Trojan Horse was "well-advertised" too.
I agree to a certain extent. The Librem 5 advertising was/is certainly not very honest. And there are plenty of "privacy" phones with a modified android rom that would also kinda fall in the same category. However I see nothing put of line in the pinephone advertising, just make sure you actually read it. So far they haven't even labeled it as a consumer ready product. It's still aimed at early adopters and developers. The product I got certainly was as advertised.

 
Old 07-22-2021, 07:45 PM   #7
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I've had one of these devices to play around with for some months as a phone/mobile computer, running Manjaro (that's what it came with - I haven't bothered with another distro as a number of the original projects proposed for it appear to have either stalled or been officially abandoned, but Manjaro continues on). I can tell you in the last few months the functionality has grown by leaps and bounds - out of the box it was unstable, buggy, and barely functional as a feature-phone let alone a 'smart device.' But as updates have come, it has begun to resemble more typical behavior of a tablet (touchscreen is fairly responsive, it now recognizes when it is rotated, it handles network ad hoc connection fairly well, it plays nice with mobile web, etc) - there are still occassional random hardlocks and crash-to-resets in normal use (almost always when trying to use the phone/SMS functionality), and some 'normal smartphone' features do not exist (e.g. no MMS support, so no picture/video texting is possible, not that the built-in cameras are of great quality, and there's (perhaps this is obvious) zero 'app support' for 'smartphone apps' that expect iOS or Android). As a little computer its quite competent though. Think of it basically as a more elegant Raspberry Pi that you can carry around with its own battery power, running Manjaro, with a decent touchscreen, that can also make phonecalls and send and receive text messages on the side. If you're looking at it more as a 'small computer plus feature phone' you will probably do well, but if you're thinking it will be a direct 1:1 replacement for your Android or iOS device, you may want to think again depending on how invested you are in 'apps' as a mode of computing. Also bear in mind that in terms of compute performance, memory, storage, etc it is nowhere near state of the art (i.e. compared to a flagship iPhone or Android device).

I agree with enorbet on the 'privacy' front - I don't think this device is a sham/scam trojan horse sort of product (like for example 'FreedomPhone' is claimed to be) - it's more of a tinker/maker project from a company that makes a lot of tinker/maker project boards and components (again, much more in league with the likes of Raspberry Pi).

Overall its an interesting project/product, but feels very much like a beta device - if they did a 'second generation' with refined (and more powerful) hardware, and continue to benefit from improved ARM adoption/support on the software side (e.g. as more applications are ported) it would be a serious consideration as a laptop replacement, but the vision of it as a replacement for an Android or iOS device is probably too optimistic largely because the big paradigm there is 'apps' and that software is likely never leaving those platforms.

 
Old 07-23-2021, 08:17 PM   #8
Lucko666
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Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post
Overall its an interesting project/product, but feels very much like a beta device - if they did a 'second generation' with refined (and more powerful) hardware, and continue to benefit from improved ARM adoption/support on the software side (e.g. as more applications are ported) it would be a serious consideration as a laptop replacement, but the vision of it as a replacement for an Android or iOS device is probably too optimistic largely because the big paradigm there is 'apps' and that software is likely never leaving those platforms.

Or maybe with a RISC-V chip instead of ARM to make it even more open source!

I was spurred by this thread to write up my first impressions and post them here:

https://ramblings.timshome.com/the-p...er-enthusiasts

Tim
 
Old 07-24-2021, 04:21 AM   #9
ondoho
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The PinePhone is definitely not a sham/scam (something that cannot be said unreservedly about the Librem 5 though).
I understand the skepticism, but the solution is to inform oneself, not to spread FUD.

Personally I have never seen the PinePhone advertising itself as "privacy-promoting" although that certainly is one aspect of it.
Anyhow:
  • that's an imprecise term
  • it depends on hard-, firm- and software
  • Pine64 do not provide the software, they only sell the device (although it might come with a distro pre-installed)

Strangely, telephony itself always seems to be the greatest hurdle for these projects, i.e. they work as mobile internet devices A-OK, but not so much as actual phones...
I have found a simple & usable solution: have 2 SIM cards, one for phone, one for internet, and two devices: a dumb phone and a mobile internet device.
 
Old 07-24-2021, 04:47 AM   #10
obobskivich
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ondoho View Post
The PinePhone is definitely not a sham/scam (something that cannot be said unreservedly about the Librem 5 though).
I understand the skepticism, but the solution is to inform oneself, not to spread FUD.
Can you 'fill me in' on the Librem 5? I remember hearing about those years ago but thought they died in development hell years ago too...

Quote:
Strangely, telephony itself always seems to be the greatest hurdle for these projects, i.e. they work as mobile internet devices A-OK, but not so much as actual phones...
I have found a simple & usable solution: have 2 SIM cards, one for phone, one for internet, and two devices: a dumb phone and a mobile internet device.
From what I understand on the PinePhone specifically the issue lies in drivers and support for the modem - which is also the least open-source part of the device. I'm not sure to what extent that can be overcome either - I think even if it was RISC-V (or x86, or whatever other 'better than ARM' we want to argue about) it would still end up being at least a bit clunky 'as a phone' compared to a commercial device (like an iPhone).

That said, the PinePhone as-is mostly accomplishes your two-device example in one: it can function just fine as a 'dumb phone' while also being a 'mobile internet device' (in other words, it doesn't seem any worse than having an old Nokia or Motorola feature-phone alongside a basic tablet or netbook) - it just will never be like a modern 'smartphone' (like an iPhone) due to software support differences and the clunkiness of its 'phone' aspects. One big upside on the 'internet device' is having the 'full' version of Firefox as opposed to the nuetered 'mobile' versions.
 
Old 07-24-2021, 10:17 AM   #11
Mill J
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Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post
From what I understand on the PinePhone specifically the issue lies in drivers and support for the modem - which is also the least open-source part of the device. I'm not sure to what extent that can be overcome either - I think even if it was RISC-V (or x86, or whatever other 'better than ARM' we want to argue about) it would still end up being at least a bit clunky 'as a phone' compared to a commercial device (like an iPhone).
Well the cool thing is that there is an open source project for the modem. There's also some other cool stuff.

I believe the Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module is still closed source but I think there might have been an effort to write firmware for that as well. Not sure though.

Last edited by Mill J; 07-24-2021 at 10:26 AM.
 
Old 07-24-2021, 03:49 PM   #12
jmgibson1981
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I think it's a great idea. I also think that it won't last, or at the very least won't be any kind of big thing. Kind of like the whole "Year of Linux desktop!" that people keep looking or hoping for. Never gonna happen.

At the end of the day the average person doesn't want an enthusiast thing. They want a phone they can use to do Facebook and other social media. That is it. They don't give a damn about open source or privacy as evidenced by their use of aforementioned software and services. It's hard to gain any traction in a world that you don't control. As long as people are blinded by convenience then they will never bother. Unless these open source devices or software can provide something people actually care about enough to be a compelling reason to switch then they stand little to no chance at any success or duration.

Sadly people that actually care about these things are a dying breed. I care, just too lazy. But no matter what I've tried to explain to a few friends and family they are happy to remain oblivious. "Ignorance is bliss" is a fitting quote right here.
 
Old 07-25-2021, 10:00 AM   #13
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Worthy of consideration is the simple fact that even 1% market share represents millions of units. I don't see any reason that a PinePhone or something like it can't do Facebook and almost any important social media exactly because it runs a full Desktop OpSys. As for the whole "Year of the Linux Desktop" thing, Linux has been my Main OpSys for over 20 years. I honestly hope Linux, nor ANY OpSys, never gets to 90+% ever again, but I do have to ask exactly what percentage do most think is required to qualify? I'm pretty sure the numbers for Linux adopters grows more every year, even just for SOHO Desktop usage.

I also need to mention that if those who care about control and privacy in computing are a dying breed, then either the increasing numbers of dev jobs is a lie, or the whole of computing is dying, and that's patently absurd. It really doesn't matter if most automobile drivers haven't a clue about how to change a sparkplug as long as some percentage is enthused about how to improve design.

Specific to computers running Linux, if the "dying breed" was actually a thing Linux would still look and act like it did 5 years ago. The difference between Linux of 20 years ago and today is mind boggling. We may need to ask ourselves to compare just how much Windows has really changed in 20 years compared to Linux. I fully expect Windows to maintain the lion's share of desktop deployment but to see that as flagging interest in enthusiast systems is faulty at best.

Oh yeah and anyone bought a Windows phone lately?

Last edited by enorbet; 07-25-2021 at 10:04 AM.
 
Old 07-25-2021, 04:09 PM   #14
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I was referring to the average consumer. You are likely correct to a degree. I can't help but wonder though wouldn't the economy and "decent jobs" argument be the same. I'd guess that is more likely to me. With every new innovation we lose less and less control over our data and privacy. This innovation is coming from all these people going into dev and such. Not much seems to be aimed at security at least from what I've seen.

Quote:
We may need to ask ourselves to compare just how much Windows has really changed in 20 years compared to Linux. I fully expect Windows to maintain the lion's share of desktop deployment but to see that as flagging interest in enthusiast systems is faulty at best.
Fair enough. But also consider that Linux and open source in general for the same time period has had how many thousands / tens of thousands of different contributors (or more) over that time period. How many people does MS / Closed source software distributors have actively working on Windows? Not likely that many. Just not a fair comparison I think.

Linux & open source changes a lot and grows fast but we've got truckloads of more people active at any given time so one has to consider that. In the server world open source owns it no question though.
 
Old Yesterday, 09:36 PM   #15
ordealbyfire83
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Originally Posted by ondoho View Post
Strangely, telephony itself always seems to be the greatest hurdle for these projects, i.e. they work as mobile internet devices A-OK, but not so much as actual phones...
I have found a simple & usable solution: have 2 SIM cards, one for phone, one for internet, and two devices: a dumb phone and a mobile internet device.
Yes this is a growing concern nowadays and it has more to do with the phone carriers than the phones themselves. I don't know about other parts of the world, but in the USA the carriers are trying actively to steer customers to 4G/LTE and even (claiming to) deny new activation of devices only supporting 3G.

By nature 4G/LTE is a data-only network. For voice telephony the carrier mostly falls back to 2G or 3G. However, for areas that never had 2G/3G and nowadays only have 4G/LTE (for example, rural areas of the US using T-Mobile's Band 2 LTE) there will be no telephony capabilities unless the device supports voice over LTE (aka VoLTE). Although it *can* be a standard, in practice VoLTE is essentially an app translating voice into data. In privacy-aware terms, a huge part of the telephony function is moved from the non-free modem into the userspace OS and this is a huge problem.

To experiment, my friend and I experimented with an international Exynos based Samsung Galaxy S9 and tried to get VoLTE to work on T-Mobile's network. To make a long story short, it didn't work despite it supporting the necessary frequency bands. Their tech support could not help us because the phone wasn't carrier branded or a US phone. We didn't even get around to replacing the stock ROM with LineageOS either. And by the way, LineageOS in no form supports VoLTE on many if not most devices because of how each phone implements it. In other words: if you need VoLTE calling in many parts of the US, you are limited to carrier-branded phones and stock operating systems. To make it worse, most if not all VoLTE enabled phones in the US are Qualcomm based, which the Replicant devs say are impossible for their project to support due to baseband isolation and other issues. (Fun fact: the S9 refused to boot once we disabled the preinstalled Facebook app.) If you do not agree with this state of affairs, pick up your pen and write your local regulators and cite anti-trust concerns.

As for dumb phones, stop looking, there are none. Any so-called dumb phone nowadays is merely a Qualcomm snapdragon SOC with a multi core processor in a different form factor, prefitted with all sorts of spyware that cannot be removed.

With this being the current state of things, I would suggest moving away from telephone number based communication, at least through the carrier. In no way am I endorsing using non-free apps, but one would be loads better off using Skype or similar VOIP services to dial real phones as opposed to letting some carrier's software have free run of the userspace OS.
 
  


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