Could A New Linux Base For Tablets/Smartphones Succeed In 2017?

Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 16 April 2017 at 10:53 AM EDT. 57 Comments
Over the years we have seen many mobile/smartphone focused Linux efforts come and go from OpenMoko, Moblin/MeeGo, webOS, Firefox OS, and most recently Ubuntu Touch while others like Sailfish OS and Plasma Mobile appear to be somewhat stagnate or at least not gaining much marketshare nor advancing rapidly. But what if more of these mobile Linux efforts were to collaborate on a common base? There's a new effort being worked on in this area.

A Phoronix reader involved with this new project codenamed HALIUM shared with us some early details on the work. This open-source project is trying to pool resources and developers from UBports (one of the groups forking Unity 8), Sailfish OS community developers, the open webOS Lune OS project, and KDE Plasma Mobile contributors, among other developers.

Their overall idea is to work toward a common Linux base that can be used by these different projects. They would standardize on the Linux kernel build, Android HAL, libhybris for Android driver support, and centering on a standard set of user-space components like PulseAudio, oFono, and others. But decisions around the toolkits, display server / windowing system, and other higher-level interfaces and applications would be left up to each of these different remaining Linux mobile projects as their special sauce. From the details shared so far, it doesn't appear to have any corporate backer yet but is community focused collective looking to standardize the common components for these different mobile Linux projects for the greater good.

Loosely, it reminds me a bit of Mer except that it didn't target the kernel side of the situation but only the middle layer. With this new project, they seem focused on both the middle and lower layers. Will these projects working together more and avoiding duplicating resources on the lower-level Linux work lead to greater success for them? What do you think of the idea? Do you still hold out hope for having a pure (non-Android) Linux platform in the future on your tablets or smartphones? Share your ideas or hopes in the forums for this Easter discussion. The developers of the project look like they will be formally announcing more details soon; should be excited to learn more about their intentions and of course wish them the best of luck.
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Michael Larabel

Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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