Mobile phone details: Sailfish and Mediatek (Re: Strategy and serendipity)

Bernhard E. Reiter bernhard at
Fri May 10 07:58:09 UTC 2019

Am Mittwoch 08 Mai 2019 15:05:53 schrieb Paul Boddie:
> >  *
> >  * The advances with chipset for MediaTek and other main
> >    SOC producers
> >  * SailfishOS(X)
> I actually posted a summary of visible and/or viable projects on the
> Tinkerphones mailing list a while ago:

Thanks for the link.
There is much information out there, it stresses my point from my other post 
that it would be cool to have an overview from the perspective of Free 
Software that is kept current.

> As far as Sailfish is concerned, I haven't seen any indication of it being
> completely Free Software. 

No, it isn't. But this is not the main question, the question is does it help 
to promote more software freedom? And in my bottom line, it is. I also know 
several people with Sailfish OS devices. Most of them work well and the main 
point is diversity. Apart from Google's GNU/Linux distribution 
called "Android", there is almost no other one people could by if they wanted 
to. Actually "Android" is a big success for Free Software as most consumer 
devices now come with a Free Software operating system by default. :) 
But we all know that there are drawbacks if one company dominates this and 
this is why it is important to have viable competition. Sailfish is a viable 
competition and comes with more Free Software by default than most Android 
phones (I'D guess. ;)) Note that Sailfish X can only work on devices that can 
be unlocked, and if Sailfish X works on them, then chances are high other 
operating systems will, too. 

Back to Sailfish OS, yes they are treating the community not as good as they 
could, but technically with their rpm based system, they offer much more 
possibilities what to do with the phone as you can use other Free Software 
products more easily. I know there is documentation about the various parts
which a Free Software and which are not - yet. I don't have the link at hand, 
but one starting point is

> like a continuation of aspects of Nokia's dubious policies with regards to
> keeping some software proprietary for "competitive advantage".

Yes, this is a business decision that I don't fully like. Still I'd rather 
have them around as a company than losing their progress for diversity and 
parts of the phone stack. You'll have to accept that they need to gain income 
somewhere and probably don't see other approaches.


> Nor, for that matter, have I seen indications of MediaTek SoCs being any
> better than they were for supporting completely Free Software at the system
> level,

Not being an expert, I've spoked to people I'll regards as knowledable and 
heard credible reports that MediaTek has improved and is further improving.
It makes sense on a number of levels. Companies like Qualcomm also had to 
learn that maintaining drivers as Free Software in the mainline Linux is
better for them in the long run. They all want mindshare of developers. 
MediaTek seems to be getting this message as well, but I don't know details.
It is credible to me, because there are apprearing LineageOS ports for newer 
MediaTek SOCs. The old MediaTek which was used in the Fairphone 1 certainly 
will never get the drivers, but newer ones may. (Again it would be cool to 
have a nice overview with links to the original information.)

Best Regards,

FSFE -- Founding Member     Support our work for Free Software: | contribute
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