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6 Open Source Android Alternative Operating Systems For Mobiles

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OS
Android
Linux

In the wake of the ongoing US-Huawei-Google tussle, many Android enthusiasts are wondering about the different alternative phone operating systems that are out there. We have Apple’s iOS at our disposal, but the cost of owning an iPhone makes it an impossible choice for many.

This prompted me to create a list of other Android alternatives that are being developed or being used in mobile devices. The options that have been included in this list are open source, so any developer can grab the code and fork it to create something new for free. Huawei is itself creating its own operating system but I haven’t included it on this as the details are scarce.

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Android and GNU/Linux Software on Chrome OS

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Android
GNU
Linux
Google
  • Chrome OS 76 adds a flag to enable GPU support for Linux apps

    The new feature was first noticed by Keith I Myers. It is available in Chrome OS 76.0.3789.0, which is the first dev build of Chrome OS 76. It goes without saying that the feature is unstable right now. It is in the very early stages, so bugs and stability issues are to be expected. Also, keep in mind that GPU acceleration is only supported on a handful of Chromebooks...

  • Google working on new way to run Android apps in Chrome OS called ‘ARCVM’

    For the past few years, it’s been possible on many Chromebooks to install the Play Store and run Android apps. This opened the door for Chromebooks to become more than just glorified web browsers. Now, Google is looking to make some major under-the-hood changes to Chrome OS’s Android apps support, which may allow for a long-requested feature.

BlackArch Linux Ethical Hacking OS Gets New Release with More Than 150 New Tools

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Linux

Powered by the latest stable and most advanced Linux 5.1.4 kernel, BlackArch Linux 2019.06.01 is here to introduce more than 150 new hacking tools, an updated installer to version 1.1.1, a new "jedi-vim" plugin providing the jedi autocompletion library to the VIM editor, along with several other updated VIM plugins.

Moreover, BlackArch Linux 2019.06.01 comes with support for rxvt-unicode, updated Xresources and Xdefaults, updated tools and packages, including their configuration files, updated core packages, and updated window manager menus for the Awesome, Fluxbox, and Openbox window managers.

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Huawei's alternative OS to Android set to roll out as early as fall

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OS

Reports have circulated about Huawei's efforts to build an alternative OS to Android for at least 3 years at this point. It's not known if the software will be a fork off of AOSP, which the company is free to use in any case under Google's open-source license. Huawei may also elect to use another base and implement an Android runtime as the Unix-derived BlackBerry 10 OS did. In any case, we're all still playing the guessing game.

Yu's statements — which were made to a quasi-public WeChat group this morning — followed a media briefing with the company's founder, Ren Zhengfei, on how it will handle its mounting challenges. Both executives have attempted to calm animosity coming from fervent fans and nationalists alike who have been ditching Apple products in favor of the company's, saying that patriots don't necessarily use Huawei products.

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Smartphone alternatives to Google and Apple

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Android

This is a Linux Gnome 3 Debian “PureOS” based smartphone currently in development. It’s being designed with as much open-source audit-able software and hardware as possible. The intent with this device is to give you full control over your privacy. It’s not available yet, but the company behind it (Purism) also has some laptops and services that are very privacy focused.

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Huawei and other mobile “tech giants”: you should (really) break free from Google/Android

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Android
Google

Huawei has probably played a questionable game with user data and corporate data. This has led governments to discourage the usage of Huawei devices, which is a fair and understandable attitude.

However, what Huawei really didn’t understand is that their dependency on Google/Android technology and services would put them into this terrible situation. Discussions have moved out beyond regular commercial and trade arguments, and are now clearly out of control.

They should have learned from the past: USA has a significant track record when it comes to embargoes and export restrictions. They don’t even hesitate to force their allies to apply the same restrictions, by threatening them more or less directly, commercially and financially.

For Huawei, what we witness today is the result of 10 years of strategic blindness. They should have realized that when they sell a smartphone, most of the value is in the software, not in the hardware. Therefore, they shouldn’t have become so reliant on Google/Android for the software: this hard dependency is a major risk for any mobile business.

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Intro to Devuan GNU+Linux, A Great Operating System without Systemd

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Devuan GNU+Linux is the first free software operating system to promote Init Freedom campaign. Devuan is a modified Debian GNU/Linux without systemd init system. Devuan Desktop comes with XFCE and bunch of free applications such as LibreOffice and GIMP. Current Devuan release is 2.0 codenamed "Ascii" which is released in 2018. Devuan supports both PC 32-bit and 64-bit, as well as embedded computers like Raspberry Pi, Nokia 900, and so on. Devuan makes everything more interesting as it provides an SDK to enable programmers create new GNU/Linux distro and Refracta Installer to enable casual users create a remaster or a custom LiveCD. To make you even more interested, thanks to Devuan, now we see new distros like Etertics and Maemo Leste, both as desktop and mobile OSes, developed without systemd. This intro article explains in brief what is Devuan, where to get it, the init system used, the desktop, and several more things. Finally, I hope you will give Devuan a try and like it.

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Google and Collabora Add Major Change to Linux Kernel 5.1 for Chrome OS Devices

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Linux
Google

According to Collabora's latest report on their contributions to the Linux 5.1 kernel, which arrived last week, it is now possible to mount and boot a mapped device by adding a kernel parameter via command-line at boot time, thus bypassing initramfs image. For Linux kernel 5.1, twelve Collabora's developers also contributed 64 commits and 111 sign-offs, along with lots of bug reports and testing.

"Helen Koike contributed a major change, providing a mechanism to mount a mapped device at boot time through a kernel command line parameter, removing the current initramfs requirement," said Collabora's André Almeida. "This change is the result of the combined effort of both Google and Collabora engineers to push upstream a feature that is shipped on Chrome OS devices and Android devices using AVB 2.0."

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It's Time To Pay Attention To Intel's Clear Linux OS Project

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Linux

In Intel's own words: "Clear Linux OS is an open source, rolling release Linux distribution optimized for performance and security, from the Cloud to the Edge, designed for customization and manageability."

In more specific terms, Clear Linux is built from scratch atop the GNOME desktop environment, and it's highly tuned for Intel platforms, with all performance optimizations enabled by default. Those optimizations occur across the entire stack: kernel, libraries, middleware layers, frameworks and runtime.

Clear Linux has Flatpak support out of the box, and an included software store with more than 4000 applications and bundles. So yes, if you wanted to treat this as a traditional desktop workstation, I don't see any major obstacles to doing that aside from a slight learning curve with regards to Intel's custom "swupd" package manager.

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Solaris: OmniOS CE and OpenIndiana Hipster 2019.04

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OS
  • OmniOS Community Edition r151030 LTS

    The OmniOS Community Edition Association is proud to announce the general availability of OmniOS - r151030.

    OmniOS is published according to a 6-month release cycle, r151030 LTS takes over from r151028, published in November 2018; and since it is a LTS release it also takes over from r151022. The r151030 LTS release will be supported for 3 Years. It is the first LTS release published by the OmniOS CE Association since taking over the reins from OmniTI in 2017. The next LTS release is scheduled for May 2021. The old stable r151026 release is now end-of-life. See the release schedule for further details.

  • Solaris/Illumos-Based OmniOS Ships New LTS Release With Better Hardware Support

    While open-source operating system projects derived from the former "OpenSolaris" code now maintained by the Illumos community aren't exactly prolific these days, one of the projects that does continue cranking through and seeing commercial success as well is OmniOS. OmniOS r151030 was released this week in its "Community Edition" flavor with various improvements.

    OmniOS CE r151030 is the latest six-month update to this OpenSolaris-derived operating system and will be supported for three years as the first LTS release managed by the OmniOS CE Association.

  • OpenIndiana Hipster 2019.04 Brings MATE 1.22, More Python 3 Porting

    It seems to be the season of open-source Solaris operating system updates... In addition to a new OmniOS LTS release for that Illumos-derived platform, OpenIndiana Hipster has issued its newest quarterly update.

    OpenIndiana Hipster 2019.04 is available as the latest snapshot of this operating system that traces back to the once promising Sun OpenSolaris. With OpenIndiana 2019.04 there is an updated Firefox ESR package, VirtualBox packages are now available including for the guest components, the default MATE desktop pulled in its 1.22 components, IPS has seen updates, and some OpenIndiana applications have been ported from Python 2 and GTK2 over to Python 3 and GTK3.

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Introducing GNOME Usage’s Storage panel

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Android Leftovers

4 open source Android apps for writers

While I'm of two minds when it comes to smartphones and tablets, I have to admit they can be useful. Not just for keeping in touch with people or using the web but also to do some work when I'm away from my computer. For me, that work is writing—articles, blog posts, essays for my weekly letter, e-book chapters, and more. I've tried many (probably too many!) writing apps for Android over the years. Some of them were good. Others fell flat. Here are four of my favorite open source Android apps for writers. You might find them as useful as I do. Read more

How a trip to China inspired Endless OS and teaching kids to hack

Last year, I decided to try out Endless OS, a lightweight, Linux-based operating system developed to power inexpensive computers for developing markets. I wrote about installing and setting it up. Endless OS is unique because it uses a read-only root file system managed by OSTree and Flatpak, but the Endless company is unique for its approach to education. Late last year, Endless announced the Hack, a $299 laptop manufactured by Asus that encourages kids to code, and most recently the company revealed The Third Terminal, a group of video games designed to get kids coding while they're having fun. Since I'm so involved in teaching kids to code, I wanted to learn more about Endless Studios, the company behind Endless OS, The Third Terminal, The Endless Mission, a sandbox-style game created in partnership with E-Line Media, and other ventures targeted at expanding digital literacy and agency among children around the world. I reached out to Matt Dalio, Endless' founder, CEO, and chief of product and founder of the China Care Foundation, to ask about Endless and his charitable work supporting orphaned children with special needs in China. Read more