Yesterday, I bought a new Essential Phone from Amazon for US $335.  I guess it boils down to two things:

  1. I couldn’t pass up that price for a phone with more horsepower and a bigger screen than my Nokia 6.1.
  2. More important, Essential Phone is one of the compatible platforms listed by the /e/ Foundation’s new OS.  I have no intention of playing around with beta’s, but having an Essential phone means I’m ready once /e/ gets released in a stable 1.0 version.  That is important to me and should give me a year head start, in 2019, before /e/ comes out with a phone from an OEM with /e/ pre installed, in 2020.

Like: Leaving Apple & Google: /e/ first beta is here! – Hacker Noon

I just reread the above article for the second time, this time more carefully.  Then I went back and read the older posts about this project that are linked to in the article, and I strongly suggest you read all of them too.

I think this is on the right track.

  1. /e/ is a fork of Android, already well established in mobile.
  2. They are including making their own private cloud services (mail, calendar, storage, maps, notes, etc.)  This is key, because they recognize that it does little good to make a secure OS and hardware if all the services you use are still tracking you.  That is not private.  By providing these services they can make a more seamless, one login, operation that mainstream users are accustomed too.  With cloud services it also makes you data available on your PC and other devices.
  3. They are developing their own app  store/repository (like Play) so that there will be a lot of free apps available.  I have a caution here: I expect Google will quietly maneuver to pressure Android app designers to make their apps exclusive on Google’s Play store and freeze out /e/.  But even so, there will likely be a lot of apps available.
  4. I have learned by my own experience, that for many things you don’t really need a smartphone app: I actually prefer Facebook and Twitter on my phone browser better than the apps.  Less chance to spy on you if you are not using the app.  But this makes the choice of default browser a key decision – it had better be good.
  5. They are making progress at a much faster pace than I anticipated. This is very good news.
  6. They fully intend to find an OEM, manufacture and sell new phones with this /e/ OS fully installed.  This is vital for mainstream adoption.

How does this compare to the efforts of the Linux camp for the Librem 5?

I like the Librem 5 approach to hardware.  I like Linux being adapted to smartphones.  There are two weaknesses that the Librem does not address:

  • Those cloud services we have been talking about.  You can have the most secure phone in the world but if you are still using Gmail, Calendar, Dropbox and Yahoo, than your data can be scanned and your privacy is compromised.
  • Very few apps.  The Librem will ship with bare bones apps (browser, email, messaging, calendar, notes).  You will be dependent on the browser for web apps.  Unless the Linux community jumps in and starts developing Linux phone apps quickly this will hinder mainstream adoption.  This could make or break the Librem.

That said, I want both the Librem 5 and /e/ to succeed.  Linux needs to get off their ass and get into the mobile OS market, plus, it would be great to have 2 choices in privacy smartphones. Friendly competition is good.

Source: Excursions.

This was also posted to
/en/privacy.

We are down to just two operating systems for mobile phones (tablets too) Android and iOS.

Android is controlled by Google, no OEM phone maker that wants to do business globally will defy Google and try and fork it.  Android and a lot of the most popular apps tells Google everything it can about you and your every move.  In otherwords it leaks your privacy out like a sieve.

iOS is proprietary from Apple.  It’s a walled garden.  You do it Apple’s way or STFU.  It is probably more private than Android.  And it works.

That’s it. No other choices.

Long term the only other chances for a mobile OS come from Linux and here are the ones I’m aware of.

Sailfish – spun off from Nokia’s flirtation with Linux, this one does not seem to be gaining traction.  And it seems like the US is always being left out of release plans.  No OEM has adopted it. You can download it and try and install it on a couple of old model compatible phones.

KDE Plasma Mobile – it’s hard to tell how far along this Linux based OS is.  The screen shots are nice. (See notes for Librem 5 below.)

UBports Ubuntu Touch – This community effort seems to be making big strides.  When Ubuntu gave up on Ubuntu Mobile they turned it over to a volunteer community UBports who have been working away ever since.  It comes with a couple hundred apps and web apps, plus anything that the browser can handle.  If I were a phone OEM, I’d have my eye on this.  You can download this now and install it on several old model phones.  Some have an installation wizard.  (See notes for Librem 5 below.)

Puri.sm Librem 5 – this is actually a real phone hardware not just an OS.  The OS is Linux adapted to mobile.  The last I heard, the plan is that the Librem 5 will come with Purism’s mobile OS installed by default, but it will be fully compatible with UBports Touch and Plasma Mobile.  No word on how easy it will be to install any one of these.  Launch has been delayed from January 2019 to April 2019.  I’m hoping this is the point of the spear and proves very successful so that other OEM’s become interested in Linux phones.

Linux needs to get into mobile where all the growth is.  It can’t just stay on the desktop.  There may be others but these seem to be the furthest along.

Lunascape is the first web browser with 3 rendering engines:  Trident (IE), Gecko (FF) and Webkit.  This is handy for developers and others who want to see what a webpage looks like with different rendering engines.

Runs on Windows, macOS, iOS and Android.

Personally I’m not sure I would use this as a default, but I think it would be handy to have it installed on my laptops.

Mojeek is a crawler based search engine with its very own index of web pages, so we are not reliant on any other engine to produce our results

Like: Independent and Unbiased Search Results

See the last paragraph for more.  This is why search engines like Mojeek and Gigablast and even the directory Curlie.org are important – they have their own index.

#search engines #social networks #silos #indieweb

I hear a lot of people wanting the social network silos (mainly Facebook and Twitter) to go away.  I too want them to go. Eventually.  But before they do, I want to examine some things in this little essay.

Some Good Things that the Silos Did

Search: Facebook and Twitter punched a hole in the Google search monopoly.  Before these social networks, Google and Google alone dictated what you would find on the Web. And you did the finding through Google.  With, first Twitter and later Facebook, suddenly you didn’t need Google to find stuff on the Web.  Suddenly a little obscure website could become famous without or in spite of Google.  If you really sit down and think about it, that is no small thing.

Moreover, that hole in Google (plus Google’s bad record on privacy) gave smaller search engines just enough breathing room to try and become established (ie. Duckduckgo, Qwant, Mojeek.)

Web Advertising:  Again, before Facebook and Twitter, Google had a lock on both search advertising and display advertising.  Facebook in particular opened that up. Suddenly, sellers had an alternative place for ad campaigns besides something owned by Google.  If you are not selling stuff this means nothing to you, but if you are in business, large or small, it means a lot.

Traffic:  Posting on Facebook and Twitter can drive a lot of traffic to your website or blog.  Syndication (crossposting) is just another way of posting.  I’m convinced that a whole new generation has grown up that really does not remember the times before Facebook, Twitter and the other social network silos.  I can see it by their actions and inactions.  They don’t know how to get traffic besides syndicating to Facebook and Twitter.  What happens if those two cut off syndication?  What  happens if everybody leaves FB and Twitter so nobody reads your posts?

See, right now as a blogger, I don’t really need Google traffic.  I have Indieweb webmentions, Twitter and other social networks for traffic.  But if Twitter goes down or walls itself off, it is going to be lean pickings for visitors.

My biggest fear, is that if Facebook and Twitter suddenly crumble, we will go right back to having Google control everything.  By that I mean Google will control both traffic and discovery on the Web.

Yes it won’t be quite as all pervasive as it was before, at least as long as Bing sticks around and does not jump the shark.  Indieweb stuff is good but still a tiny niche (heck blogs are a small niche).  Smart things are being worked on, experimented with, new kinds of automated directories, new innovative webrings, – all discovery tools but they are not ready yet, that and nobody among the public know how to use them.  Things like RSS, which is a good source of repeat traffic, are experiencing a revival, but again this is just a small segment.  Given time I think RSS will be big but it ain’t there yet.

Google is a silo too. And I can tell you Google is part of what sucked all the fun out of Web 1.0.  Facebook and Twitter were not even around.  It was Google. And living under Google dominance is no fun.  Right now the Facebooks and the Twitters are still around so word can spread without Google.  It’s a rare opportunity but you better hurry.

Seriously, if FB and Twitter unravel quickly, how do we counter the Google silo?  Ideas?