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Please upgrade Xperia X's Android support from 4.4 to 8.1

asked 2019-08-09 14:02:38 +0200

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updated 2019-11-15 20:38:20 +0200

pakman gravatar image

Dear Jolla,

please upgrade the Android support of Sailfish OS for the Xperia X from 4.4 Kitkat to 8.1 Oreo (rsp. the same "AlienDalvik" Android runtime environment the Xperia XA2s use).

This community wiki collects

  • reasons why this should be high in your list of things to implement
  • technical status and steps to be done to help with the implementation (planning)

Supporting reasons

Security: Google has stopped maintaining the AOSP 4.x codebase in 2017. Jolla (or still Myriad Group at that time) seems to have subsequently updated to that code base, but since then the AOSP components integrated in AlienDalvik likely have received no security fixes at all.

Security relevant functionality: AOSP 4.x and the AlienDalvik versions based on it do not support hash algorithms of the SHA-2 family, but only older algorithms as SHA-1, MD5 etc., which are broken meanwhile and hence being broadly phased out since 2018. Examples are the webservers of most banks (this is one of the reasons why so many Android banking apps stopped working), Gitlab, Github and many more. Note that only apps using Android's cryptography APIs are affected (while Firefox, OpenKeychain and a few other apps bring their own cryptographic functions).

Some functionalities are simply not supported by any native app, hence Android apps are the only way to perform these tasks under Sailfish OS. Not being able to use those, which require Android 5 (API level 20) or higher constitutes a blocker for real life usage of Sailfish OS on the Xperia X for many (most prominent example: many banking apps).

A unique selling point of Sailfish OS is that devices are supported a long time, this is good for the environment and users can keep their experience with the phone. Upgrading the Android support strengthens this selling point and can be used as an example for future buyers: "See, if you buy Sailfish OS now (for a fresh device), we will make sure you can use it well for many years."

If Sailfish OS on Xperia X has the same Android support level as on Xperia XA2 this allows more users to share their experiences and probably leads to less questions.

A large percentage of the users who have bought Sailfish OS for their Xperia X are still running these devices.

Over time Android apps make use of newer Android API features, so the fraction of apps which still support Android 4.4 (API level 19) is shrinking.

Quite some people are willing to pay for an updated Android runtime environment "AlienDalvik" for the Xperia X (see comments below).

Editors: Please focus on Xperia X because a single technical task is easier to consider in detail. Also important is to stay constructive and respectful. It is understandable and normal that there are other items on the implementation roadmap. The goal is to raise the priority by making the task and its importance for the user base and company well understood.

Relevant apps affected (examples)

Affected users

Other places where users are wishing for an improved Android support for Sailfish OS on the Xperia X:


The SailfishX FAQ answer 11 states (accessed 2019-08-09; formerly answer 13)

we will look into whether supporting other Sailfish devices (like Xperia X) is feasible only after we’ve got the support in XA2 in good enough maturity level and well stabilized.

(With the Sailfish OS 3.1.0 release came a number of improvements to the "Android support" based on AOSP 8 (only for / on the XA2 devices) and Jolla named this as one reason why Sailfish OS for the XA2s was put out beta status with the 3.1.0 release (see section "Sailfish X and Xperia XA2"), so they are considering porting efforts for the Xperia X and likely also the Gemini PDA now; this is more or less confirmed by the quotes from the mer-meeting 2019-07-11 below.
Note that "considering" or "working on" does not predetermine a specific outcome of these efforts.)


As outlined in https://together.jolla.com/question/208404/what-version-of-android-is-supported-currently-on-sfos-and-xperia-x/ Sony is providing drivers and kernels which are a precondition to port to a new "Baseport 8" adaption layer, which is needed. (This is a technical difference to older devices, where this precondition is missing, e.g. Jolla 1, Jolla C, Intex Aquafish, Jolla Tablet.)

http://merproject.org/meetings/mer-meeting/2019/mer-meeting.2019-07-11-08.00.log.html at

08:50:12 <sledges> #topic WIP AOSP8 rebase for X / X Compact (10 min - asked by vknecht)</sledges>

indicates that Jolla has a proof-of-concept implementation ("mal" is likely a (nick)name of an Jolla employee):

08:57:25 <sledges> that's why best is to ask us for the best approach before starting a job of such magnitude:) especially, when mal has already a PoC</sledges>

Continue reading up to 09:01.

Also on a possible Android 9 port:

09:21:47 <sledges> vknecht: forgot to add earlier: Android 9 sfos wiki has been designed with porting X and XA2 to 9 as well (see the -pie suffix on repo names)
09:21:56 <sledges> so the soil is fertile</sledges></sledges>

Does anybody know, where the source code repositories of these ports are located?
By @Andy Branson in a comment on 2019-08-20, below:

All of the Xperia SailfishX adaptations are open-source and can be found here:

Update 2019-Sept-23

http://merproject.org/meetings/mer-meeting/2019/mer-meeting.2019-09-19-08.00.log.html has this hint:

08:45:07 <KeeperoftheKeys> What is the chance that we will get Android 8 support on the Xperia X? Sony supported it there (I actually didn't listen to the instructions and updated my phone all the way to 8 before installing SFOS - no issues as far as I can tell)
08:45:07 <Jaymzz> anyhow, time is up for this one too
08:45:43 <Jaymzz> KeeperoftheKeys: We are preparing a statement regarding that which will come out with the next Sailfish OS update blog post (most likely) so stay tuned for that
08:45:58 <Jaymzz> as we don't usually announce things on the IRC meeting :P
08:46:07 <KeeperoftheKeys> (I would be willing to even make a "donation" to Jolla to get that, the Xperia X is superior to the XA2 and the 10)
08:46:31 <pasik> Jaymzz: thanks :)
08:47:12 <Jaymzz> thanks KeeperoftheKeys :) let's wait a couple of weeks or so, so that we can get our facts straight regarding the matter and make the announcement on what we plan to do.

Update 2019-Nov-15

Another tantalising hint from yesterday's meeting:

10:47:10 <Hummer12007> did jolla publish the statement on xperia x+ad future yet btw?
10:47:21 <Jaymzz> Hummer12007: not yet :)
10:47:25 <Jaymzz> but it's coming
10:47:33 <Hummer12007> no eta?
... snip ...
10:48:18 <Jaymzz> Hummer12007: No proper eta but before the end of the year :)
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While I really wish Jolla would update Android compatibility on Xperia X, I am sure that will never happen. Let's face it: Jolla has no interest to do so. Their business is licensing Sailfish OS to corporate customers now. Selling Sailfish X licenses to a few hundreds or thousands of users (the community) can contribute only a small fraction to their income. Also, they already got the money from Xperia X users, there is nothing to gain anymore.

Looking at the current state of Android 8 compatibility on Xperia XA2, I am not sure I would trade my outdated, but mostly stable Android 4.4 compatibility for that.

ziellos ( 2019-08-09 14:30:24 +0200 )edit

A significant reason are the banking apps. EU law was changed and all banks move to TAN via App. Most of these apps only work with >=5.0 or don't work with "rooted" devices. No banking app will be ported to Sailfish. So only way to use SailfishX as daily driver is using these Android apps.

SaimenSays ( 2019-08-09 14:33:48 +0200 )edit

even if droid support would be higher i could not use banking app since its playstore only and i dont trust google. but tbh: tell organizations to offer a server based Version of your wanted app such that you are able to use it with a browser or leave the organization. works pretty fine for me. server based software is always better since if there is an update only servers need to do so and not every user himself. just a side note: its good for environment to.not transfer that many data :) regarding banking apps: its something i really not want to connect: a smartphone and my money, especially when google has some hands in there. if taken serious paper based tan.lists are the safest way to go. have no idea why eu is so one sided. as long as there are alternative ways for banking i use them

NuklearFart ( 2019-08-09 14:52:26 +0200 )edit

I would pay for an updated Android support of Salfish X. Maybe some others would do this too. That would be better than buying new phones every year.

s_mario ( 2019-08-09 15:00:25 +0200 )edit

Sounds like a duplicate question.

attah ( 2019-08-09 15:22:11 +0200 )edit

3 Answers

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answered 2019-08-10 13:20:49 +0200

egortro42 gravatar image

Now we have kernel 4.10 with sony's SODP update 9. So it's clean as possible, final (i think) as possible (so it means sony stopped support and we have FINAL version of our product, the X) and a good point to start with. I bought Sailfish X for €50 (in my country, Russia, buy a software it's not usual, haha, so €50 a big price), but i can give you, Jolla, €50 or again for make android 8.1 (or better, €100 for android 9) api level support! Just give me clear instructions, where to send money and how long it takes.

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bonus point if jolla manages a kernel 4.10 baseport 9 libhybris hal for X and XA2.

I would pay for the upgrade.

DrYak ( 2019-08-20 18:17:03 +0200 )edit

For the record, I would also be fine with paying for updated baseport - I'd rather like to invest more to Jolla, than to newer yet almost as performant as the old hardware. :)

MartinK ( 2019-08-30 15:17:18 +0200 )edit

Am I seeing that wrong, or would an update of the Android Base of the Xperia X make a port of adaptation layer quite easy, as it should have similar preconditions as newer Sony Xperia models with a higher android version. The differences in hardware should be not that big, rather then the for the moment big distance in Android versions. Thanks for confirming that

Firefox84 ( 2019-08-30 23:54:14 +0200 )edit

@Firefox84 :

"Android Base": Yes exactly, that's the whole point.

For that to work, Jolla need to restart development of a new libhybris-based hardware abstraction layer (what they call "Baseport"). The current is "Baseport 6", it's based around the blob drivers (API 19 if memory serves rights) and the kernel version (3.10) that Sony provided for Android 6 Marshmallow on Xperia X. (Remember the firmware that you need to download from Sony's servers before flashing your X? That's containing the blob drivers).

The alien-dalvik for android 8.1 meanwhile requires a more recent kernel with all the bells and whistles for LXC (a 4.x if memory serves right ?) and drivers that are more recent and that AOSP 8 Oreo can call (API twenty-something, forgot the exact).

As I mentioned above, Sony currently makes available an AOSP 9 Pie package for Xperia X which includes kernel 4.10 and compatible drivers.

The problem: the Baseport is the part that isn't shared between all Sailfish platforms, but is per-device specific. (Well not exactly, I mean they have developed libhybris to simplify this porting, and there's some shared stuff between similar Baseports).

So unlike Sailfish OS 3, where the work done on the OS is directly usable by absolutely any jolla supported device (from the Jolla 1 all the way to XA2 with everything in between), and thus everyone can get Sailfish OS 3, for the Baseport, Jolla would need to pay spearate developers' time to develop a new Xperia X-specific Baseport 8 (leveraging work done for XA2) or Baseport 9 (they apparently have also one such on their wiki).

Hence the survey that went around asking if people would be ready to pay a new license. (to cover those development costs)

That's also why they didn't do at the same time as XA2 (not enough resources), why it's hard for them to justify the expenses of doing it on a device that isn't even sold anymore, etc.

DrYak ( 2019-09-01 12:57:50 +0200 )edit

Once they have a written a new Baseport 8 or 9, it would be comparatively trivial for them to just bring the LXC running AOSP 8 to the Xperia X.

(Note: take this with a grain of salt. My own personnal experience is working with LXC at the other end of the Linux spectrum. Think HPC and large scientific compute workstations. I might be missing some stuff specific on smartphones)

DrYak ( 2019-09-01 12:59:48 +0200 )edit

answered 2019-11-19 15:43:22 +0200

Spark gravatar image

updated 2019-11-19 19:08:52 +0200

I guess the discussion has come to an end with Jolla's announcement to not upgrade Xperia X's android support.


edit: I would be interested in a number, how many devices of each Sailfish model are around and being used. It would be much easier to follow decisions if we knew, e.g., there were ~2000 Xperia X at peak times and ~1500 of them are still being used.

I personally estimate this number being lower and believe the non-upgrade is a good decision (business-wise). Nevertheless, some info would be appreciated.

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Seems so, yes.

vattuvarg ( 2019-11-19 15:56:53 +0200 )edit

Damn, I'm really not interested in buying a new phone now, and the Xperia 10 doesn't look like as nice a phone as the X. The SFOS offer doesn't seem like a huge incentive when the cost of a new phone is taken into account. (If the offer was to transfer the licence for free, that would be a bit more attractive.)

pakman ( 2019-11-19 16:47:25 +0200 )edit

A bit boo, I've made a comment under the blogpost/announcement. IMHO it wasn't not the best decision ...

Xeno_PL ( 2019-11-19 17:29:22 +0200 )edit

It's the right decision IMO. Resources are limited, and installing the new baseport means reflashing the device, i. e. the same as having a new device. The only advantage for a user is the saving on the device cost and license, staying with a device from 2016, as good as it was when it came out. Moreover, the initial 1 year support included with Sailfish X has been extended to lifetime for free.

Giacomo Di Giacomo ( 2019-11-19 18:11:06 +0200 )edit

@Giacomo Di Giacomo, that might be ok for you, but not for me. I don't want to spend that much money on devices, I do agree to spend on licenses. For me, the Xperia X is a valid device, so keeping it is what I would like to do. While I don't need Android support (nevertheless payed a licence), my wife doesn't get along wo Android support. And "SIM removed" issue affects XA devices too, right? And Jolla suggest (among others) reflashing the device. So, why not dropping old Android support and move to 8 requiring reflashing? Well, guess the answer is: This version didn't have enough friends...

A.Maretzek ( 2019-11-19 18:51:17 +0200 )edit

answered 2019-08-20 21:45:31 +0200

strobovalo gravatar image

Latest telegram from f-droid neet at least android 6.0 so we are stuck with telegram 5.7.1 with xperia x, the same phone with android support up to version 8 i think, realöy sad.

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I installed 5.9.0 over aptoide, but missing all new updates is a mess, especially wirh telegram...

h.berd ( 2019-08-24 00:20:48 +0200 )edit

I think that if jolla will not update Aliendalvik to 8.1 at least, they will lose many SFOS users. Until there are no native apps for SFOS for certain use, SFOS users have to use android ones. If you dont give them android compatibility, they will quit SFOS and go elsewhere, where android support is. SFOS is not the only Linux system for smartphones. And sfos will follow Windows Phone after some time. Which will be very pity, just only because some Aliendalvik thing. Even kernel needs an update. Its bit old too.

Just simple equation:

no Aliendalvik = no apps

no apps = no users

no users = no sales

no sales = no money

no money = end

Malakay ( 2019-10-14 10:42:00 +0200 )edit

I installed telegram using Aptoide on my Jolla 1. It gets upgraded effortlessly. Now at 5.12.1, which is currently the latest version. No issue whatsoever.

roland684 ( 2019-11-21 01:30:29 +0200 )edit

This actually answered my problem, thanks! pressure washing Gainesville

casseverhart13 ( 2019-11-26 07:59:24 +0200 )edit
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Asked: 2019-08-09 14:02:38 +0200

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Last updated: Nov 19 '19