PostmarketOS brings old Androids back to life with Linux

Chris Burns - Jan 16, 2019, 11:48 am CDT
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PostmarketOS brings old Androids back to life with Linux

This week the creators of postmarketOS came out of the shadows to show what they’ve been making for the past year. The software system they’ve created takes old Android devices – and some new – and boots an alternate operating system. This is a Linux distro that boots working software to Android devices that would otherwise be long outside their final official software update.

Before you get too excited about bringing your old smartphone back to life like Frankenstein’s Monster, know that this isn’t for everyone. In fact postmarketOS isn’t built to be used by MOST people. Instead it’s made for hackers, developers, and for those that wish to spend inordinate amounts of time fussing with software code to get their long-since-useful smartphone to a state in which it can do a thing or two.

At some point in the distant future, the creators of postmarketOS hope to develop “a sustainable, privacy and security focused free software mobile OS that is modeled after traditional Linux distributions.” To this end, they’ve got “over 100 booting devices” in a list with instructions how to load. This does not mean that every version WORKS right this minute.

Instead, the list is full of devices on which just a few tiny parts of the phone work. But for those that are super hardcore about loading new and interesting software to their old devices, this might well be enough. Devices from the very well known to the very, very rare are on this list – Fairphone 1 and 2, the Google Glass Explorer Edition, and the original HTC Desire are all here.

Speaking today on Reddit about the future of the project, user “ollieparanoid” suggested that “in the current state, this is aimed at developers, who are both sick of the current state of mobile phone operating systems, and who enjoy contributing to free software projects in their free time and thereby slowly improving the situation.” He added, “If the project should get abandoned at some point, then we still had contributed to other projects by everything we have upstreamed, and you might even benefit from these changes in the future even if you don’t realize it.”

Let us know if you jump in on the party. If you’ve got a device that’s not on the list, let the creators of the software know!


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