Linux phones like the PINE64 PinePhone and Purism Librem 5 may be the hot topic in the free and open source community but they are hardly the first to take a stab at that dream. Just a few years back, Canonical, makes of the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution, decided to take a whack at creating a mobile Linux platform, Ubuntu Touch. It failed but the open source community took over the helm, paving the way for a new partnership that has now resulted in the PinePhone UBports Community Edition.
To be clear, Ubuntu Touch never really died. It was saved from such a fate by the UBports community who continued to work on and improve this unique blend of Linux software on top of Android guts. Not only did they manage to continue supporting long-abandoned Ubuntu Touch phones, they were even able to bring the platform to existing Android phones.
That said, what UBports lacked was a truly open phone it could call its own. Having no capacity to make its own, this special PinePhone edition meets it halfway. It provides UBports with the most free (from proprietary software) phone they’ll be able to get their hands on, allowing both developers and users unrestricted access to the hardware, including kill switches for radio and mic hardware.
UBports positions this PinePhone Community Edition as the newest way for tinkerers, developers, and users to get a phone they can use and change to their open source hearts’ content. It also warns, however, that it isn’t fit yet for a daily driver, depending on your needs. Things like cameras and support for USB peripherals are still missing but are coming.
Of course, you can also install UBports on the original PinePhone but this special edition comes with it pre-installed directly on the phone rather than booting it from a microSD card. It may also come with special branding to show off your loyalty to the project. The PinePhone UBports Community Edition is now available for pre-order for $150 with a target shipping date sometime in May.