What is Plasma Mobile?¶
Plasma Mobile offers a free (as in freedom and beer), user-friendly, privacy-enabling and customizable platform for mobile devices. Based on the Halium project, we have an official installable prototype for the Nexus 5X device. However, Plasma Mobile is under heavy development and unfortunately cannot be used as a daily driver for most people.
Halium isn’t Plasma Mobile: Halium is only providing support to packing a basic Android system based upon LineageOS into an LXC container into a normal GNU/Linux system. Then the host system is able to use the proprietary android firmware into a normal system using libhybris, which is the simplest way without reverse-engineering all drivers. Unfortunately, this requires old and often outdated Android kernels to be used under-the-hood.
The most common offerings on mobile devices lack openness and trust. In a world of walled gardens, we want to create a platform that respects and protects the user’s privacy to the fullest. We want to provide a fully open base which others can help develop and use for themselves, or in their products.
Can I use it?¶
Official Plasma Mobile images based on Halium and KDE Neon Git-Unstable are provided. We mainly test and support the Nexus 5X at this time, but you can potentially install it on any device supported by Halium. These Halium images are where most current development is happening, and scripts are supplied to ease installation of the Plasma Mobile rootfs onto a Nexus 5X device. See further instructions here.
There is also postmarketOS, a touch-optimized Alpine Linux with support for many more devices, and while it’s in very early stages of development, it offers Plasma Mobile as an available interface for the devices it supports. You can see the list of supported devices here, but given the state of pmOS, your mileage may vary.
The interface is using KWin over Wayland and is now mostly stable, albeit a little rough around the edges in some areas. A subset of the normal KDE Plasma features are available, including widgets and activities, both of which are integrated into the Plasma Mobile UI.
What can it do?¶
There are quite a few touch-optimized apps that are now being bundled with the Neon-based Plasma Mobile image, allowing a wide range of basic functions. These are mostly built with Kirigami, KDE’s interface framework allowing convergent UIs that work very well in a touch-only environment. The included software is bound to change with time, but in the current “edge” rootfs, you can find:
- The Angelfish web browser, based on QtWebEngine/Chromium, with full touch support including pinch-to-zoom
- The vvave music player
- The Discover software center (playing the role of an “app store” in this context)
- Marble Maps
- The Index file manager (from the Maui Project but designed for both Android and Plasma Mobile)
- A simple camera application
- Peruse, a comic book reader
- vPlayer, a video player that can play local and remote files, along with support for searching and playing YouTube videos
(Note: The list of included software will change often. We’ll attempt to keep this list updated but it may be inaccurate at times.)
Other software can be installed from Discover. Any Qt5 app (including software designed for the desktop, such as Calligra) will run without many issues, though it will still be difficult to use on a touch display. Currently, software built with the GTK toolkit will run, but with major scaling issues, and without any support for the on-screen keyboard. If possible, use software built with Kirigami for best results.
You cannot currently connect to the cell network, and as such, you cannot make calls or texts. Similarly, data is also non-functional. However, a full-featured dialer is included, and we are currently exploring options for integrating SMS. Once the relevant pieces are put in for cell connections, you should be able to immediately make calls with the current dialer.
Supported features of the Nexus 5X include the camera, Wi-FI, battery monitoring and power settings, and audio (including hardware volume buttons).