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01.17.14

Still in Pursuit of Linux (and GNU) Phones Without Microsoft Tax and Surveillance

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Patents at 10:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Society needs to welcome a new breed of telephony that strictly resists surveillance and also antagonises patent bureaucracy

SINCE the middle of 2007 we have warned that South Korean giant LG was paying Microsoft for Linux or at least legitimising the claim/blackmail. This affected LG’s Linux-powered phones at the time (probably because of FAT) and later this extended to WebOS (after LG acquisition) and to Android [1] (very surveillance-friendly, courtesy of Google).

Right now the Android market is dominated by the other South Korean giant, called Samsung, which also controls Tizen these days. Tizen is covered in the news this week [2] and also named as an alternative to Android [3]. Tizen assembled inside it many Linux-based consortia for phones after they had sort of collapsed onto one another (LiPS, LiMo, Moblin, MeeGo, etc.), so this is truly a cause for concern. Samsung — like LG — plays by Microsoft’s rules (of extortion) on patents.

Jolla’s Sailfish OS [4], Mozilla’s Firefox OS, and Ubuntu’s mobile OS (whatever they choose to call it this time and whenever they choose to release it after massive changes in expected time of arrival [5,6], vapourware [7], and an attempt to lure in developers based on the vapourware [8]) are some of the existing hopes we have left. There is also the KDE-led Plasma-oriented effort, among other smaller initiatives that use Linux and sometimes GNU (nobody would use Windows because it’s technically inferior and is in bed with the NSA).

Many other entities can easily start their own companies that develop mobile phones based on Linux and Free software [9]. It just requires capital. The folks behind anonymous E-mail services are not the only ones who now promote their phone based on claim of NSA resistance (today it’s revealed that the NSA hoards SMS messages by the billions). There’s also Aral Balkan’s effort (recently-released video above). The main barrier here is lack of patents, but they should snub those patents and perhaps join OIN.

We really need alternative to Android as Replicant is not enough at this stage. It also mimics a deficient effort, merely trying to amend it with limited resources.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. LG G Flex headed to Sprint for $300 on January 31; preorder yours today
  2. What’s Up With Tizen?

    Tizen is designed to be a low-cost, highly configurable OS that will make portable devices available to a wider range of consumers. Its developers hope to create an alternative mobile ecosystem to break the stranglehold of the big phone companies. Tizen’s promise is to let carriers maintain a competitive edge by producing devices tailored to a particular user base.

  3. Open-source competition for Android, iOS

    The open source offering called Tizen, based on the Linux operating system, is expected to be installed on telephones sold from the end of March, NTT Docomo spokesman Jun Otori told AFP.

  4. Jolla Review: Some Rough Edges, But This Linux Smartphone Shows Promise

    Jolla was formed in late 2011 from a number of former Nokia Engineers who had been working on a number of Linux-based operating systems and handsets (including the Nokia N9). Just over two years later, their first handset (the self-titled Jolla) shipped with their Sailfish OS. I’ve been using the Jolla handset since mid-December, and it’s time to look at the handset in some more detail.

  5. Ubuntu phones likely push to 2015, says Ubuntu community manager
  6. Rarin’ to buy an Ubuntu phone? Maybe not until 2015, Canonical man says

    Commercial smartphones running the mobile version of the Ubuntu Linux distro probably won’t be available through carriers until 2015 at the earliest, a Canonical spokesman has revealed.

  7. Meizu MX3 running Ubuntu caught on video

    Although we expected to see the Meizu MX3 running Ubuntu during this year’s CES, that hasn’t happened. Instead, we’ve learned that Canonical is working with multiple vendors to launch Ubuntu smartphones later in the year.

  8. Canonical Engages Ubuntu Community for App Development

    The Ubuntu Linux team hopes to expand the open source operating system’s application stack by drawing on community contributions of smartphone and tablet apps.

  9. How to build your own phone company with WebRTC and Node.js
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