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[Question] Sailfish OS vs AOSP rom

asked 2018-01-14 17:36:15 +0300

gmelchett gravatar image

updated 2018-01-15 19:42:53 +0300

carmeloferso gravatar image

The biggest issue that I have with "stock" Android is that I'm the product. IE, all google services are there to provide google with as much personal data as possible for advertisements and whatever grand plan they have.

For me, like I guess most other people, there are a few apps that don't exist outside Android/IOs are a must, so Android (or IOs) compability for these apps are required if switch a change to any other mobile phone os should occur.

So I would like to hear your comments and thought (keep them technical!) on why $50 Sailfish X would be a better choice than running any AOSP rom without google play service on a Sony Xperia X.

(I've been linux kernel lead programmer at a larger company, so technical stuff is not scary.)

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  • SFOS has nice GUI
    • you fund an alternative OS
    • SFOS was the winner of a security audit in russia and not aosp

But you have a point there. It could be easy to name cons for SFOS. Fo myself it was a hard decision to spend the license fee. Not because its so high, but there is so much missing in this OS. I had a look at android before flashing and for me it had a ugly GUI.

h.berd ( 2018-01-14 17:44:23 +0300 )edit

Actually I like the clean structure of SFOS and how you use/control it. I like eg. the notification screen which is a little bit similar to the blackberry hub.

Furthermore I think this "3-buttion control" is quite outdated.

I see quite a lot of potential in the ambiences.

I only can speak for me, but Im glad that I dont have to use Android anymore. Android has lots of apps but I think from the controlling/using point of view it is a stupid OS. Maybe therefore Google develops another OS (Fuchsia) as well.

By the way those Android apps I need, function via Dalvik quite well.

I dont think Android will be the future.

makarch ( 2018-01-14 18:42:40 +0300 )edit

Quite honestly, Android 6.0 UI looks better than SFOS. The first reaction after flashing to SFOS was like "whoa whats these flat / pale colors". But perhaps (and I found this later) its related to the usage of blue in the icons.

tortoisedoc ( 2018-01-15 09:46:13 +0300 )edit

If you ask this question here, you'll get a SFOS bias; if you ask this question in AOSP forums, you'll get an Android bias. Try both and make your own decision based on what you use/need/want?

gabriel ( 2018-01-15 13:40:53 +0300 )edit

@h.berd sfos won a security competition? looking at the number of open CVEs i cant believe that. do you have a source for that?

misc11 ( 2018-01-15 14:14:35 +0300 )edit

9 Answers

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answered 2018-01-14 18:28:32 +0300

deprecated gravatar image

updated 2018-01-14 18:35:03 +0300

For me, the notion of being locked into an OS because of an app ecosystem is one I reject. There are no apps that Android or iOS provide (and Sailfish doesn't) that I require for daily use. If something doesn't exist outright, then it is almost guaranteed to exist in standard Linux software, warehouse repos, github, or (worst case) using an Android app via Alien Dalvik. Sailfish OS costs money primarily because of the technologies Jolla has to license from third parties. Jolla has to pay for Microsoft Exchange support, Alien Dalvik and the XT9 predictive text solution. It only makes sense to pass that expense to customers. Jolla is a very small non-mainstream mobile OS provider, and they can't afford to develop, support and improve a system without monetary support. Google and Apple can afford to give their OSes away because the prices are already rolled into the cost of handsets.

Now, as for the pros of Sailfish (and how I justify the small cost):

  • Sailfish OS is not a product of a US firm, and has no special agreements with US firms. As such, it is not subjected to the usual CIA/NSA disclosure agreements. While it is certainly not immune from some of the same attack vectors shown in Vault 7/8, Jolla doesn't directly subvert its customer base by kowtowing to CIA/NSA interests.
  • Jolla actually patches CVEs, rather than leaving them open to be exploited. Android is so fragmented that the likelihood of getting an update that addresses issues - without purchasing the latest flagship device every six months - is slim to none. Apple frequently abandons devices and products in their planned obsolescence scheme, which makes update schedules dubious at best. At worst, you'll never get an update to address monumentally bad implementations, like KRACK on older AirPort express stations.
  • Sailfish OS and Jolla have a very good privacy policy, and do not farm your data for ad revenue or other nefarious purposes.
  • Sailfish OS is a traditional Linux, mostly open with the exception of a few device drivers, some parts of the UX, and third-party licensed components like Microsoft Exchange support and Alien Dalvik. As such, I am not limited to Jolla's perception of usability. If I want to write a bash script to disable the ofono MMS context during certain hours, I can. If I want to nullroute specific netblocks so that my phone can't connect to them, I can. All without "rooting" or circumventing even the most basic security measures. I can even compile software on my handset if I so choose.
  • Sailfish OS is a lot leaner than Android or iOS, and doesn't rely on constantly running background processes doing who knows what with your data. As such, my monthly data usage is minimal compared to what it was on Android or iOS. Furthermore, my battery on my Sailfish X lasts almost a week, where I'd have to charge the same phone daily with the same usage on Android. It does what I want it to when I want it to.
  • Sailfish OS has an intuitive UI that's much more comprehensive and usable with one hand, especially in cold climates where gloves are required. Using Android and iOS is clumsy by comparison.
  • Jolla focuses on only a handful of devices, at least attempting to maximize their performance and usability.
  • The community, both TJC and TMO, are some of the best examples of dedication on the planet. I've yet to run into an issue (that wasn't already addressed or solved in mainstream Linux forums) that wasn't addressed or fixed by the community.

As for the cons?:

  • Jolla doesn't have a "matured" app repository with 7,000 different fart apps.
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To be fair, some more cons: development is slow due to the small team, lots and lots of software packages are very outdated because Jolla decided not to use GPLv3 packages (hopefully this will change in the future, otherwise they won't have a future), most of Jolla's own applications are too barebones, and they are far too restrictive in the applications they allow to be uploaded to the Jolla store.

nthn ( 2018-01-14 23:33:34 +0300 )edit

While SFOS is leaner its not optimized to run on partner devices such as Intex or Sony causing quite a few lags.

DarkTuring ( 2018-01-15 06:44:19 +0300 )edit

To be fair, one has to point out that especially on the Xperia X, Jolla relies on a lot of closed-source device drivers which can't be verified. All Jolla can do is to use the Android drivers provided by Sony. Especially the broadcom baseband drivers are known to be shit (and contained some dubious bugs in the past), but unfortunately that applies to every OS since broadcom have a monopoly on baseband chips.

ghling ( 2018-01-15 12:54:27 +0300 )edit

answered 2018-01-14 19:11:44 +0300

ossi1967 gravatar image

If you have technical knowledge, you'll find your own answer eventually. For me, the main reason is that below the UI, Sailfish is as close to a desktop distribution as it gets nowadays. GStreamer, DBUS, tracker, it's all there and can be used from shell scripts you hardly need to adapt when you wrote them on your desktop/laptop. I think this may not be important for someone who either is very familiar with Android already or doesn't intend to use anything else than beautifully packaged GUI apps. However, if you want to use more of your mobile PC than what these apps provide, Sailfish might be a more comfortable choice.

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answered 2018-01-14 23:20:45 +0300

lakutalo gravatar image

updated 2018-01-15 00:54:46 +0300

bash, python - and almost any of the phone's functions is in reach of CLI.

You might find other strong arguments - even technical ones - in these threads, too:

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I'm pretty sure that I ssh'd to my phone at least once from a public PC at my university because my tools of choice (vim!) were not installed and I didn't have my PC with me.

pisarz1958 ( 2018-01-15 11:22:26 +0300 )edit

answered 2018-01-14 22:32:52 +0300

stoefelz gravatar image

Sailfish OS is an European OS and I looove the swipe gestures

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answered 2018-01-15 12:33:38 +0300

vattuvarg gravatar image

Real multitasking (not task switching).

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...and access to all levels of the OS.

vattuvarg ( 2018-01-15 12:43:02 +0300 )edit

answered 2018-01-15 00:50:31 +0300

luen gravatar image

updated 2018-01-15 02:56:16 +0300

Because there is a need for a mobile OS that is as independent and open as possible and puts the user in control. Instead of feeding on what Google happens to release as open source Sailfish OS can choose to develop to whatever it wants to be. Even if AOSP is open source, almost the full software stack is developed by a single company, whereas Sailfish OS consists of standard GNU/Linux components to a very high degree, just like a traditional distro.

Sailfish OS is nowhere close to perfect, but I want to encourage Jolla's effort and all small steps in the right direction. In contrast to many other Linux based mobile OSes, it actually exists today and is quite usable already.

And I don't want to be a part of an ecosystem driven by a company that sees you as the product.

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I'm not sure since it's been a while since I used an Android device, but doesn't even AOSP use a lot of Google Infrastructure by default (e.g. ping Google servers to check the internet connectivity every time you connect to a network)? So even if you are using AOSP without Google services, your device sends data to Google.

ghling ( 2018-01-15 12:57:31 +0300 )edit

answered 2018-01-14 23:10:16 +0300

tortoisedoc gravatar image

updated 2018-01-14 23:31:38 +0300

Lets put aside the obvious things like googles dominance and meego's history. My personal like goes to qt. and linux in general. freesoftware is ok as well, but not up to a point of deciding based on it. On top of that, add a foolish believ in innovation and creativity, and you have a stubborn näivë disillusioned user, aka a perfect match for sfos. The fact the os is so challenging, is actually getting me into into places where ive never been, like kernel, and middleware compilation.

EDIT : all in all, because we are the spark that ignites the fire ;)

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answered 2018-01-15 11:05:26 +0300

gmelchett gravatar image

Thank you all for your answers! Both the techincal ones and those of more philosophical nature.

Two techincal arguments that I find strong are that you can control (most) of the phones features via python/bash and that sailfishos is a proper linux dist. (IMHO Android is a very hackish linux dist)

Maybe I shouldn't have used the word "need" when it comes to apps, but instead I should have frased it like they make my life more convinient, and there are things that I do on my Android phone that I would be reluctant to let go. For example, Swedish BankID (about: "Digital ID card") is on of those apps that there are no alternatives to (there used to be reversed engingeered one, don't know if that one is still working.).

For some apps there are replacement with equal funtionallity, like Telegram instead of Whatsapp, but I doubt I could convince all my friends and family to install Telegram as well. So there are outside dependencies.

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Remember that telegram has closed-source server side.

tortoisedoc ( 2018-01-15 12:15:05 +0300 )edit

Swedish bankID is still a problem, yes.

vattuvarg ( 2018-01-15 12:37:17 +0300 )edit

Does this Swedish Bank *require *you to have an app, or is it just convenient? Just curious. My UK bank is forever promoting its app but I wouldn't trust it - especially on Android.

DaveRo ( 2018-01-15 12:43:06 +0300 )edit

In the end, it boils down to your needs, both in terms of system openness / freedom and compatibility. All SFOS can do is emulating Android support, so not all Apps are guaranteed to work (especially those who are very security sensitive, of course). Also Alien Dalvik is pretty much stuck on Android 4.4, so future compatibility will probably be worse (but Jolla is evaluating how to replace AD as far as i know). I also don't doubt that you can configure AOSP to be as privacy-friendly as SFOS, it just takes a lot of (continuous) work.

Personally, I'm very happy that I don't rely on any specific Android App (or better: switched to SFOS before that happened) and thus can enjoy not having to constantly monitoring my smartphone for potential privacy breaches. I'm definitely not missing my AOSP times, having to deal with AOSP, XPosed, Firewalls, App permissions etc. Even though I have to admit I'd fancy some privacy control (app-based firewall and permissions) on SFOS.

ghling ( 2018-01-15 13:09:20 +0300 )edit

@DaveRo - The banks issue the electronic ID that is then necessary for other services including government sites.

vattuvarg ( 2018-01-15 15:08:44 +0300 )edit

answered 2018-01-17 21:26:15 +0300

gmelchett gravatar image

Bought a xperia x with cracked screen just to try the public build, and I'm mostly impressed!

On the con side, the repo "pkcon" uses is pretty limited and contains a lot of old stuff. openrepo adds more, but I'm used to Arch Linux and the Andoid app Termux, so a lot feels outdated.

Oh well, I just have to learn how to cross-compile for sailfish. (Or build directly on the phone?)

If I manage to replace the screen without ruin the phone, I'll buy a full license and try to change to sailfish.

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If you are on Linux, it is not very difficult to set up a chroot environment for cross compiling. From there on it is simply building rpm as usual.

Kao ( 2018-01-17 23:55:54 +0300 )edit
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Asked: 2018-01-14 17:36:15 +0300

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Last updated: Jan 17 '18