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postmarketOS 21.12 improves Firefox UI and support

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Has recently appeared postmarketOS 21.12, which is based on Alpine Linux 3.15 and comes to expand the number of supported devices and with improvements to the user interface, the support of virtual consoles and the adaptation of Firefox.

We have not dedicated an entry to postmarketOS for a long time, that Linux operating system that aims to greatly extend the useful life of smarpthones, a type of device that has ended up in a high percentage crushed by the aggressive policies of programmed obsolescence of the corporations .

The first thing that stands out from postmarketOS 21.12 is the addition of support for new devices, among which are the PineBook Pro by PINE64, the tablets Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 and Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7, in addition to the smarpthone Xiaomi Pocophone F1. However, there is also one loss to be regretted, that of the Nokia N900, which has been dropped from the list of officially supported devices because most of the people who contribute to postmarketOS are focused on other newer devices.

Regarding user interfaces, first of all we find Sxmo 1.6, the latest version of a simple graphical environment that works on mobiles with Linux. It offers sessions on Xorg and Wayland and it seems that since the last version was released it has received major improvements.

Is also Plasma Mobile Gear 21.12, the latest version of the mobile-oriented KDE project suite of applications. Here highlights the transition of the telephony functions stack (mobile data, calls and SMS) from oFono to ModemManager. Ofono was a project started by Intel and Nokia and today it is still used by Sailfish and Ubuntu Touch, while ModemManager is a freedesktop project that started with the focus on USB devices, integrates with NetworkManager and is currently used for the Plasma and GNOME desktop for USB modems and on Phosh for telephony functions.

To finish with graphical user interfaces we have Phosh, a development powered by Purism to adapt GNOME technologies to mobile devices. Phosh 0.14 it has been backported in postmarketOS 21.12, which has required adjustments. On the other hand, many of the GNOME applications have been updated to those offered by version 41 of the environment.

postmarketOS 21.12 running on a PineBook Pro

Since postmarketOS is a small project and mobile phones often do not make it easy, it is not strange to see that the graphical user interface tends to fail. Given this situation, in a desktop Linux system one would use the keyboard to switch to a virtual console, but a mobile phone is rare to have it connected to a physical keyboard. Thanks to the inclusion of TTYescape, postmarketOS 21.12 is able to start a virtual console supported by a touch keyboard performing a combination of keystrokes with the mobile buttons.

With Tweaks 0.9.0, the user can control aspects such as screen suspension in a somewhat more detailed way, while the generation of boot files with ‘postmarketos-mkinitfs’ has been rewritten and support scripts have been improved for install install boot-related files (boot-deploy). This should improve the reliability of the kernel and initramfs update, as well as the next boot.

To finish we have mobile-config-firefox 3.0.0, which, compared to previous versions, has been rewritten a good percentage due to design changes introduced in Firefox 91 and later. In the specified version of Mozilla’s browser “Navigation bar moved to the bottom after asking the community in a poll if it’s a good idea or not and fixed a ton of UI glitches”.

We leave you with him official announcement, the download section, the upgrade instructions and the list of devices supported by postmarketOS 21.12:

  • Arrow DragonBoard 410c
  • ASUS MeMo Pad 7
  • BQ Aquaris X5
  • Lenovo A6000
  • Lenovo A6010
  • Motorola Moto G4 Play
  • ODROID HC2
  • OnePlus 6
  • OnePlus 6T
  • PINE64 PineBook Pro
  • PINE64 PinePhone
  • PINE64 PineTab
  • PINE64 RockPro64
  • Purism Librem 5
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2015)
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2015)
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini Value Edition
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7
  • Wileyfox swift
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
  • Xiaomi Pocophone F1
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2

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