What do Planet Computers’ Gemini PDA and Jolla’s Sailfish OS have in common? They’re both remnants of a past once thought very, very dead but have now come back to life. It is almost fitting, then, that the two have joined forces to bring a new kind of hardware and software experience never seen before: a smartphone-centric Sailfish OS running on a PDA phone.
Jolla’s story begins when Microsoft essentially “acquired” Nokia, first through Stephen Elop then later via direct acquisition. Former Nokia employees and fans wanted to continue what the Finnish company started with a “third horse” mobile operating system. But while the first Jolla phone and Sailfish OS gained much traction, Jolla itself fell upon hard times and had to restructure its business, not to mention cancel a successfully crowdfunded Jolla Tablet.
Years later, UK-based Planet Computers went on Indiegogo to revive of one the iconic PDAs of the 90s, the Psion Series 5000. But more than just a nostalgia trip, the device was a modern smartphone in every sense of the word. Just that it flipped open like a laptop, had tiny keys, and had no display on the outside. It also ran Android out of the box but had more ambitious plans in store.
Planet Computers wants the Gemini PDA to be able to run different operating systems, including and especially Linux-based ones. Now with official Sailfish OS support, it’s the first (sort of) phone that can quad-boot four (actually three and a half) operating systems: regular Android, rooted Android, Debian GNU/Linux, and Jolla Sailfish OS. Planet Computers even released a tool that simplifies setting those up.
That said, Sailfish OS support is not yet complete. What’s available right now for free is the “Community Edition”. While tested and verified by both Jolla and Planet Computers, this version is lacking in some functionality, like software updates and Android app support. Those will come in the final and complete “Sailfish X for Gemini PDA” in December, though that version will have to be purchased rather than provided for free.