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sailfish x - early thoughts from a casual user

asked 2018-08-30 10:08:11 +0200

naveenrv gravatar image

updated 2018-08-30 10:12:09 +0200

Hi there, This is mostly a rant, I'm not sure what tag this should be under. Just got around to flashing sailfish x on my xperia x yesterday. A bit of background, i'm your average windows and android user with minimal programming knowledge - i've just started to learn how to create android and ios apps using flutter - a framework based on the dart programming language and have some basic python experience.

The installation process itself was fairly easy. I've used a Jolla 1 phone in the past, had to abandon the OS due to some showstopping bugs and also because the phone itself had moderate specs (1 GB ram etc). On the Xperia X though, it was fast and buttery smooth.

The camera sucks bigtime, i took a selfie in near low-light conditions and it was bad to say the least. The OS gestures are great and intuitive. The native apps work just fine. I dont really care much for android apps, i own a oneplus 6 for just those needs. Wish there were more quality native Sailfish apps though. Does anyone know if there are great native music player apps or audiobook reader apps?

One concern though, the available storage space on my phone is only 15 GB. I have an external 64gb memory card, but it says exfat is unsupported, not sure how to format or convert to a supported format.

Also, regarding the state of native sailfish apps, i could always donate to good developers, but if i were to develop my own apps, what would i need to know? Can i code in python or leverage my knowledge of flutter?

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Exfat works with help from Openrepos-

Among others...

Levone1 ( 2018-08-30 14:10:53 +0200 )edit

Or you can fat32 on Windows any sdcard using this. Worked on my 128Gb but automount doesn't work.

rmitchell ( 2018-08-30 17:00:12 +0200 )edit

@rmitchell, funny I used that tool to format my 128 GB sdcard for my good old nokia 808 (symbian), worked flawless <update 14-09-2018=""> the tool fat32format worked fine too for my sailfish X</update>

Sailfishy ( 2018-08-30 17:38:20 +0200 )edit

2 Answers

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answered 2018-08-30 10:40:29 +0200

naytsyrhc gravatar image

updated 2018-08-30 10:56:04 +0200

Concerning exFat support: This is a licensing issue. This was explained here many times before (see here or here). It's easy to overcome by just using a linux filesystem like ext4.

Concerning storage space: The same user from above also explains the situation about storage space here and presents a workaround/solution. Further readings about that also here.

Concerning apps: a very good source for a lot of apps that are not available at Jollas store is openrepos. You have to enable third party app support (untrusted software) somewhere in settings and install Storeman. Music players e.g. Flowplayer, QuasarMX lite or Daedalus just to name a few. Audiobook reader e.g. Talefish.

Edit: fixed links to comments.

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Just an addition to the above: IMHO there are solutions available for many things you may complain about SFOS. It's the same situation as with linux distributions on desktop computers. You have to do some things on your own. The great thing is: you are free to do it and have all the possibilities you don't have on (unrooted) Android or iOS.

And concerning development: you can develop applications in Python, there are a lot of python libs available for SFOS (see here. UI has to be done with QML though (AFAIK). But I remember, that there was something for python as well, just can't find it currently.

naytsyrhc ( 2018-08-30 10:48:19 +0200 )edit

This is a licensing issue

That make it sound like a law of nature, which it is not. Jolla had originally planned to support exFat and users had already paid for that. Then one single individual started a crusade against exFat here on TJC which led to a poll that finally resultet in favor of exFat. (The poll had a number of choices, so it was kind of difficult to break it down to yes/no answers, but I did.) In spite of that, Jolla took the whole discussion as an excuse to not pay the license fee for exFat although they had specifically collected money from their supporters for that purpose.

ossi1967 ( 2018-08-30 14:44:30 +0200 )edit

I never judged anything and I don't want to start a disussion about why it's not licensed or if it was paid by supporters during tablet funding or not (and if it should be supported allthough in the end the tablet funding campaign was a failure). But the fact still is: no license fee is paid by Jolla, so no exFat support for SFOS for now. Correct?

naytsyrhc ( 2018-08-30 14:49:55 +0200 )edit

Daedalus is no longer supported and stopped working for me on Jolla 1 after the update to SFOS 2.1.x.x...

dyraig ( 2018-08-30 15:47:56 +0200 )edit

answered 2018-08-30 12:53:30 +0200

DrYak gravatar image

For your formatting question :

from the UI :

  • in Settings app -> Storage tab
  • The SDXC card partition will show up as Unsupported memory card then in red exFAT - The filesystem is incompatible. Formatting is needed.
  • long-press the partition's graphic, a menu will drop-down -> Format
  • on the Format memory card tab, you have buttons to format. Currently, only format to vFat is available (another synonym for FAT32).

from the command line (either over SSH, or using the Terminal add) :

  • you normally use the command mkfs.{name of the filesystem}. Out-of-the box, Sailfish X comes pre-installed with the tools for EXT4 and VFAT. You can install BTRFS (btrfs-tools). You can install even more on your Laptop if you have linux (f2fs-tools, etc.)
  • use things like man mkfs.ext4 or mkfs.vfat --help to get more information.
  • the external SD card will show up as /dev/mmcblk1 (on most smartphones : 0 = the internal storage, 1 = the external SD slot). The first partition is /dev/mmcblk1p1
  • you can always use the command lsblk to get a list of all block devices (USB-to-Go flash sticks, whole memory cards, partition thereof, etc.), you can use blkdid /dev/{partition} to get more information about one of these.


  • Switch to root: devel-su then type your password when prompted.
  • check if the card is showing up : lsblk /dev/mmcblk1, it will normally show up with a single partition taking most of the space
  • check that partition : blkid /dev/mmcblk1p1, on SDXC cards this will normally be reported as a TYPE='exfat' partition.
  • format it, let's say in EXT4 because it's fully supported on Linux, but way less sucky than FAT32, and let's name it MyData : mkfs.ext4 -L 'MyData' /dev/mmcblk1p1, wait until it finishes.
  • at this point you can eject and re-instert the SIM/SD tray, normally it should now be auto-mounted
  • check that Sailfish X has automounted the SD : mount. In the midst of the list, it should say something like /dev/mmcblk1p1 on /run/media/nemo/MyData type ext4
  • make the card accessible to the main user: chown nemo:nemo /run/media/nemo/MyData (anything less broken than FAT32 and exFAT supports access rights, you have to set them).

Working on a laptop is more or less the same, except that :

  • the SD card might show up on the USB bus as a SCSI device (e.g.: /dev/sdf) instead of the MMC bus (/dev/mmcblk2) depending on how your laptop is wired internally.
  • you have many more choices (including stuff that is flash friendly as F2FS, UDF and BTRFS).
  • as soon as it is formatted, you can eject the card and put it into the smartphone to continue there (check the auto-mounting, set the access rights).

Regarding UDF:

  • there's a few gotcha to make an UDF partition available to both Windows (It absolutely requires a partition) AND Macintosch (it absolutely requires a whole drive). (Linux itself doesn't care and takes either).
  • Use a specific tool to automate this formatting for you (it makes a whole-drive, but inside the boot area of the UDF filesystem, it puts a partition table that points back to itself, thus keeping everybody happy)

Regarding BTRFS:

  • BTRFS has tons of features that might be turned on or off, depending on support by the kernel
  • the best is to run command uname -a on your smartphone and note the kernel version (currently 3.10.84 on Xperia X)
  • then on the formatting (laptop?) machine, you run mkfs.btrfs -O list-all to get a list of all the features supported.
  • turn off any feature that isn't both default and safe on your smartphone. Currently (kernel 4.18 laptop), that would be : mkfs.btrfs -O ^extref,^skinny-metadata -L 'MyCard' /dev/mmcblk1p1 (these two are only safe and default on more recent kernels 3.12 and 3.18. You'd have to wait until Jolla upgrades the kernel to 4.4 before turning them on)
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FYI the Xperia X will most likely not see an upgraded kernel for Sailfish X done by Jolla due to the fact that they'd have to redo the hardware adaptation from scratch.

Louis ( 2018-08-31 01:31:53 +0200 )edit

Wow. That's the first time I hear that. Are you sure about that? I thought it depends on android kernel and AFAIK that part is done by Sony themselves (and already available). I thought the libhybris or HAL is abstract enough to adapt to newer kernels. Do you have any more detailed info about that?

naytsyrhc ( 2018-08-31 22:13:09 +0200 )edit

Indeed, Sony has already ported kernel 4.4 to their device, which they deliver in package together with binary drivers and firmwares, ready to use with both Android 7.1 Nougat and 8.1 Oreo.

Jolla has always advertised that even making a libhybris adaptation to a completely new target isn't sorcery. So making the HAL to a slightly newer firmware version of an already supported platform (current Sailfish X relies on the kernel 3.10 firmware package for Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow ), should definitely be possible, mostly requiring fine tuning to get all the function working.

And it's even more so important as Google is strongly pushing most manufacturer to standardize on kernel 4.4 (so some of the experience around find tuning might help a bit for other devices).

"All" it takes is some dev time. Now if they actually have enough dev time to spare on that, it's an entirely different question.

DrYak ( 2018-08-31 22:42:40 +0200 )edit

@naytsyrhc I was told by Vesa-Matti Hartikainen at FossNoth back in April. He said they'd probably have to redo the whole platform then. My thoughts: Even trough it might be relatively easy to reuse the Xperia XA2 adaption for Xperia X Jolla would still have to use limited R&D resources to test with most current users being unwilling to reflash their devices hence focusing on newer hardware. We knew where were Android 4.4 drivers for the Jolla 1 chipset but Jolla didn't invest resources in a new Android adaption despite it being their only and flagship device back then.

Louis ( 2018-09-01 00:32:31 +0200 )edit

The Android 4.4 Kitkat on Jolla is slightly different :

  • Kernel drivers were being provided by Qualcomm, and by then their support has probably ended (that's probably why only 2 smartphone have Android 4.4 Kitkat on that same specific chipset: probably because it's complicated to obtain the Qualcomm drivers).
  • Alien-Dalvik is provided by Myriad. By then, it's possible that Myriad doesn't provide any upgrades for Jolla.

Basically Jolla would have had a lot of this to do themselves and/or pay additional licenses. Which they might not afford.

Whereas with Xperia X :

  • Sony does the necessary work to provide a Linux kernel 4.4. A fully working kernel with nearly all the bits here is already here (including compass, GPS, etc.), ready to be used, no need to try to license extra stuff from Qualcomm or from other chips manufacturer.

  • The Android layer is going to see some updates anyway, doesn't matter if the current alien-dalvik doesn't work with that specific Linux kernel.

But yeah, it's still going to take some dev time, and that's a ressource that Jolla doesn't have ginormous amounts available.

And not all users a willing to help as guinea pig to test the newer kernel 4.4 HAL libhybris.

(Though, note that flashing should be (relatively, for geeks) easy, given that the partition is accessible from within Linux itself. It should be possible to overwrite drivers either from an upgrade RPM with the newer kernel OR by doing some dds from the recovery image. No laptops with flashtool or fastboot necessary)

DrYak ( 2018-09-03 15:15:55 +0200 )edit
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Asked: 2018-08-30 10:08:11 +0200

Seen: 879 times

Last updated: Aug 30 '18