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Linux software on Jolla tablet

asked 2015-03-18 13:39:07 +0200

vafriz gravatar image

Given that Jolla tablet will run on an Intel X86-64 CPU, will it be able to run old linux software? if not, why? What's missing, and will it ever be possible? It would be nice to be able to spend (most of) all my digital life on sailfish OS.

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Limiting factor might be missing xwayland as of yet.

chemist ( 2015-03-18 14:21:02 +0200 )edit

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answered 2015-03-18 15:37:40 +0200

ossi1967 gravatar image

updated 2015-03-18 15:38:57 +0200

Define "Linux software". This is not an exact term. Basically, what we probably think of when we hear it ("software that also runs on my Ubuntu laptop" or somthing like that) does not depend on the CPU type. That's the whole point of free software: Someone can grab the source code and compile it for ARM instead of X86 (in principle and most cases), as has been done for older members of this smartphone family (N900, N9) and the Jolla phone itself. Openrepos.net contains a fine selection of classics from the good old GNU/Linux desktop world that were compiled and packaged for the Jolla phone. I'd expect you'll see them again for the tablet.

The limiting factor was (or rather: is) not the CPU type, but the dependencies a typical desktop application may rely upon. In order to port, say, the Gimp over to the Jolla tablet, you'd need to have some essential building blocks that Gimp just expects to be there. If they aren't on the Jolla phone/tablet, you can take their sources and compile them. While doing so you'll find there's still another unresolved dependency that they rely upon... until you eventually run out of time or hit a brick wall. One of these brick walls may very often be that desktop applications depend on graphical toolkits that were made for the traditional X11 framework; Sailfish OS uses X11's successor Wayland, and these two worlds are still miles apart (although people work on compatibility). You're likely to get a problem here whenever you try to port an application with any kind of graphical user interface.

However, the good news is that especially command line tools are already being ported. They form the building blocks of other applications, so with each command line tool at Openrepos.net, there' one potential dependency resolved. :)

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Just to clarify, by "old Linux software" I mean proprietary software for which the source code is not available, so things that more or less work "out-of-the-box" with typical desktop linux distros. Things like SPSS or STATA in statistical analysis, for example, which I can run on basically any X86-X64 linux pc I tried (ubuntu, fedora, debian, red hat). I suspected that X11 might be a problem, but is that it? Or something more is missing in sailfish, given that it's not really meant to be a desktop OS, I suppose.

vafriz ( 2015-03-18 15:45:25 +0200 )edit
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@vafriz: :) Oh... I didn't read 'old' as 'proprietary', so probably my answer isn't very useful. But on the other hand: It probably boils down to what I wrote about dependencies. The old, proprietary software that you have makes certain assumptions about the system it's running on (the CPU type being one of them in your case), and you don't know them. So the only way to find out is try. If you find a way around the X11 dependencies (in case anyone has...), maybe you'r lucky and the application spits out what else is missing in case of an error so you can go hunting for the missing packages. I'm pessimistic about X11 vs. Wayland, though.

ossi1967 ( 2015-03-18 16:04:15 +0200 )edit
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answered 2015-03-19 09:00:59 +0200

Mądry gravatar image

updated 2015-03-19 18:41:58 +0200

There was a proof of concept implementation of xwayland for jolla phone though it wasn't very usable. Apps were software rendered and without proper touch input iirc. With "a bit" of work it could be also done with sfos 2.0 on the tablet which would be much better for desktop X11 apps: much bigger screen with higher resolution, more powerfull x86-64 cpu, and 2gigs of ram. Maybe something like ubuntu convergence mode ?

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answered 2015-03-18 13:41:51 +0200

evo3de gravatar image

updated 2015-03-18 13:43:12 +0200

I think it would be possible to compile software like it was on N900. It only depends on kernel and other needed packets. But why not?

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Asked: 2015-03-18 13:39:07 +0200

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Last updated: Mar 19 '15