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posted 2017-10-15 17:00:09 +0300

On the whole I am rather impressed but not totally happy. ;)

A bit of background. I have been a big supporter of Jolla and their vision and was one of the fateful few who backed the Jolla Tablet hoping to experience my first real taste of a polished Sailfish install. Alas and alack that did not come to pass. However, I did find one guy who was porting sailfish to all sorts of devices including my old HTC Desire Z. I loved that phone and really miss both the trackball and the keyboard. sniff I liked what I saw on my HTC and if is was not for the terrible batery life and the laggy nature of it I would have continued to use it.

Fast forward to just over a fortnight ago and I get an email form Jolla saying they are refunding the rest of my money and if I wanted to I could put that to a Sailfish X voucher, or just give it back to development. I chose the former and sprung for a 2nd hand Xperia X and waited for it to be released.

Now comes the real feedback.

So I did , out of curiosity, apply all the updates I could to the Xperia OTA. It was a tiresome procedure and downloads were REALLY slow (200k/s) and kept stopping for some reason saying not connected to the internet. I ended up having to hold the phone in my left hand above my head like a waiter for about 15 mins each time. But I persevered and finally I was updated to Android 7.1. Great I thought, now i can flash TWRP and get ready for Sailfish install.

Unlocking the bootloader was painless. Go to Sony website. Put in your IMEI and email , they send you the code to unlock the bootloader with fastboot oem unlock <code>

You can tell it is unlocked because an ugly great warning triangle and bogus warning about "Your device is unlocked and cannot be trusted" nonsense of course because I could flash my own keys to the same DRM as they did and have it secure as I want it to be.

But I digress. The first flash did not go well at all, because even though I updated to the latest OTA build it was not the latest build needed to flash Sailfish. version 34.3 or greater is needed and so I spend the next day trying to upgrade my phone without having to resort to Windows (yuk). That being said once I did use flashtool to flash the latest firmware the supplied flash script worked flawlessly.

So what is it like to use Sailfish. Well the first thing that struck me was that the boot is hyper fast, I am not sure if that is hiding behind that ghastly white Sony splash or not but soon as that is gone poof Sailfish starts. I was used to the setup procedure and the tutorial from my HTC and I have to say they are very nice, just a pain not being able to skip it. Then I was into my experience proper. First thing it prompted me to do was install the optional apps. Android Predictive text etc etc. Like others those download failed a few times but i rebooted my phone and tried again and they all seemed to work.

The Jolla store is nice and simple and installing apps was easy. First apps i installed though where File Browser, F-Droid and the Android version of QR scanner as the native Jolla one was horrendously slow and did not seem to work properly. Android one works fine though. So hmmm.

I noticed however that the Sailfish warehouse appwas not installed. Which I found odd as I had used that on my HTC because Jolla store was incomplete at the time. The warehouse gives you access to a much wider range of apps but at a much more variable quality. Still even between these two repos there are gaps in Sailfish's functionality.

So apps I have had to install because there are no Sailfish equivalent even if there are Linux varieties are:

  • OpenKeyChain Hands down the best way to manage GPG keys or search for them

  • K9Mail The only usable and functional email client that can send and receive GPG email.

  • Fennec a developer build based on the latest Firefox Browser releases

  • Conversations In fact there seem to be NO decent XMPP clients in either store or warehouse. I am shocked.

Annoyances so far.

  • GPS appears not to work. I have tried various apps using D-bus or not and never seems it is enabled.

  • Camera is cumbersome to start up. Though fast enough when taking pictures. A quick launch facility should be added when you press the photo button twice. And be available from the lockscreen. Pictures are not too shabby though

  • No in built way to browse the network. This is what Linux excels at. No SFTP, no WebDAV, no SMB or NFS shares nothing. Not happy about that at all.

  • No easy way to add Tinc as a VPN, though I am working on trying to ge the Android app to work.

  • Apps seem to be arranged in installed order with no way to change that. Some sort options or grouping should be available.

  • No Advanced Network settings. Suppose i don't want DHCP or need to set up a proxy?

  • Backups are not working properly. Seems to tar stuff up but then does not restore it properly,

  • Finger print reader not working. Not essential but handy sometimes.

  • NFC sensor is not working. Pity but drivers no doubt.

  • No Nextcloud account support. A bummer to say the least but should be fixed in future updates I hope.

  • in FingerTerm or ThumbTerm there is no way to copy selected text and be able to paste it into another app. Not very helpful for developer needs.


Now to the good stuff.

  • Boots super fast like I said. Shuts down quickly too. Very impressed by that.

  • The gestures are so damn intuitive I keep accidentally trying to swipe my android phone when I go back to using it.

  • The UI is very responsive with a lot less bling than you are used to. Sounds are discrete and sparse.

  • Battery life is exceptional, granted I am not using a cellular network only wifi atm, But even so I play with it for over a day and it has still more 60% battery left. I am excited to see if i can get same performance even with 3/4G turned on.

  • Developer mode is quite easy to enable and secure to use. Using USBNet and ssh is a genius move.

  • I have yet to try updating OTA so I am looking forward to seeing how smooth that goes.

  • Android apps work pretty well for the most part. Some just die horribly, some are buggy but most like Fennec F-droid etc all work very well and at near native speeds.

All in all a positive experience on a not too horrible phone. I am looking forward to the iterative changes that come from some furious development now we have a sizable userbase to test against.

Good job Jolla!

On the whole I am rather impressed but not totally happy. ;)

A bit of background. I have been a big supporter of Jolla and their vision and was one of the fateful few who backed the Jolla Tablet hoping to experience my first real taste of a polished Sailfish install. Alas and alack that did not come to pass. However, I did find one guy who was porting sailfish to all sorts of devices including my old HTC Desire Z. I loved that phone and really miss both the trackball and the keyboard. sniff I liked what I saw on my HTC and if is was not for the terrible batery life and the laggy nature of it I would have continued to use it.

Fast forward to just over a fortnight ago and I get an email form Jolla saying they are refunding the rest of my money and if I wanted to I could put that to a Sailfish X voucher, or just give it back to development. I chose the former and sprung for a 2nd hand Xperia X and waited for it to be released.

Now comes the real feedback.

So I did , out of curiosity, apply all the updates I could to the Xperia OTA. It was a tiresome procedure and downloads were REALLY slow (200k/s) and kept stopping for some reason saying not connected to the internet. I ended up having to hold the phone in my left hand above my head like a waiter for about 15 mins each time. But I persevered and finally I was updated to Android 7.1. Great I thought, now i can flash TWRP and get ready for Sailfish install.

Unlocking the bootloader was painless. Go to Sony website. Put in your IMEI and email , they send you the code to unlock the bootloader with fastboot oem unlock <code>

You can tell it is unlocked because an ugly great warning triangle and bogus warning about "Your device is unlocked and cannot be trusted" nonsense of course because I could flash my own keys to the same DRM as they did and have it secure as I want it to be.

But I digress. The first flash did not go well at all, because even though I updated to the latest OTA build it was not the latest build needed to flash Sailfish. version 34.3 or greater is needed and so I spend the next day trying to upgrade my phone without having to resort to Windows (yuk). That being said once I did use flashtool to flash the latest firmware the supplied flash script worked flawlessly.

So what is it like to use Sailfish. Well the first thing that struck me was that the boot is hyper fast, I am not sure if that is hiding behind that ghastly white Sony splash or not but soon as that is gone poof Sailfish starts. I was used to the setup procedure and the tutorial from my HTC and I have to say they are very nice, just a pain not being able to skip it. Then I was into my experience proper. First thing it prompted me to do was install the optional apps. Android Predictive text etc etc. Like others those download failed a few times but i rebooted my phone and tried again and they all seemed to work.

The Jolla store is nice and simple and installing apps was easy. First apps i installed though where File Browser, F-Droid and the Android version of QR scanner as the native Jolla one was horrendously slow and did not seem to work properly. Android one works fine though. So hmmm.

I noticed however that the Sailfish warehouse appwas not installed. Which I found odd as I had used that on my HTC because Jolla store was incomplete at the time. The warehouse gives you access to a much wider range of apps but at a much more variable quality. Still even between these two repos there are gaps in Sailfish's functionality.

So apps I have had to install because there are no Sailfish equivalent even if there are Linux varieties are:

  • OpenKeyChain Hands down the best way to manage GPG keys or search for them

  • K9Mail The only usable and functional email client that can send and receive GPG email.

  • Fennec a developer build based on the latest Firefox Browser releases

  • Conversations In fact there seem to be NO decent XMPP clients in either store or warehouse. I am shocked.

Annoyances so far.

  • GPS appears not to work. I have tried various apps using D-bus or not and never seems it is enabled. enabled. Correction. Does work after all.

  • Camera is cumbersome to start up. Though fast enough when taking pictures. A quick launch facility should be added when you press the photo button twice. And be available from the lockscreen. Pictures are not too shabby though

  • No in built way to browse the network. This is what Linux excels at. No SFTP, no WebDAV, no SMB or NFS shares nothing. Not happy about that at all.

  • No easy way to add Tinc as a VPN, though I am working on trying to ge the Android app to work.

  • Apps seem to be arranged in installed order with no way to change that. Some sort options or grouping should be available.

  • No Advanced Network settings. Suppose i don't want DHCP or need to set up a proxy?

  • Backups are not working properly. Seems to tar stuff up but then does not restore it properly,

  • Finger print reader not working. Not essential but handy sometimes.

  • NFC sensor is not working. Pity but drivers no doubt.

  • No Nextcloud account support. A bummer to say the least but should be fixed in future updates I hope.

  • in FingerTerm or ThumbTerm there is no way to copy selected text and be able to paste it into another app. Not very helpful for developer needs.


Now to the good stuff.

  • Boots super fast like I said. Shuts down quickly too. Very impressed by that.

  • The gestures are so damn intuitive I keep accidentally trying to swipe my android phone when I go back to using it.

  • The UI is very responsive with a lot less bling than you are used to. Sounds are discrete and sparse.

  • Battery life is exceptional, granted I am not using a cellular network only wifi atm, But even so I play with it for over a day and it has still more 60% battery left. I am excited to see if i can get same performance even with 3/4G turned on.

  • Developer mode is quite easy to enable and secure to use. Using USBNet and ssh is a genius move.

  • I have yet to try updating OTA so I am looking forward to seeing how smooth that goes.

  • Android apps work pretty well for the most part. Some just die horribly, some are buggy but most like Fennec F-droid etc all work very well and at near native speeds.

All in all a positive experience on a not too horrible phone. I am looking forward to the iterative changes that come from some furious development now we have a sizable userbase to test against.

Good job Jolla!