Thursday, January 01, 2015

Why I chose Jolla

I know its so common to buy a phone that someone might wonder why I am blogging about this. Well Jolla is not just a phone but a platform for various things I can do with my hand.

Yes the first thing would be to write about N900 the phone it was !
  • Awesome Keyboard slider
  • X -terminal where you can #apt-get install stuff
  • top,ps,vi hell its the same GNU/Linux Glibc shell
  • Many small applications like xchat,pidgin were ported to N900
N900 is history and mine definitely is a museum piece with no way to repair it, hence I was looking for a proper "Free" or should I say explicitly "Libre" phone which gives me the same freedom as my N900 gave me.

I should specially mention here the joys of working with a Firefox OS phone where I could copy my font files using ADB into the os with same structure liek a fonts directory . But I was severely limited by ADB. I also should mention the fact about rapid pace of development which Firefox OS was undergoing. Flashing and building new operating system for my phone was really fun. I also got a Tablet under the TCP program which I did play around with.

Now what was the catalyst ? It was my ZTE open misbehaving by giving bad touch pixels at bottom of screen and there was no way I could tell the phone to decrease screen size , I did explicitly ask both "gaia" and "b2g-devel" mailing lists and there was no response.

Then I visit my dear friend SFB who shows Jolla and I do know how cool it was. A price reduction in India itself made my mind . I went on to buy it after using discount coupon from SFB which was quite a reduction.

So as I eagerly awaited my phone , I watched the Together forum for a sense of the user community , it was just too vibrant. I also observed that TMO - the maemo forums which were my guide for N900 were also like the hacker forums for the same jolla now that N9 is also a historical piece.

First thing anyone would notice on a Jolla box is the code printed on the box which itself shows the commitment the Jolla/Sailfish OS team have on opening up the code.
Next as I switch on the phone I would have to create an account and get updates from the store which was a bit strange for me as a firefox os user we never created accounts.

Most importantly as I went through the phone I have to really talk about the UI which was the USP - Unique Selling Point for Sailfish OS

  • Very very touch friendly - If apple was the major catalyst for touch devices , the touch was where it was since they released iphone. Jolla just takes it to a new level with its gestures. Should I call it the Touch 2.0 ? I guess so :D
  • Takes time - Just like how we all GNU/Linux users took our time getting used to our new systems . The touch interface takes time but once you get used to it you will really hate other phones outdated interfaces.
  • One Hand - Anyone who has seen Mark Dillon the CEO of Jolla using the Jolla phone would know that the entire phone interface can be operated with one hand. The only complaint I have is that the phone size is too big for my hand. Compared to these days craze of big screens I know its quite the perfect size.
  • Multitasking:Swipe to peek - I was just in with the feature of peeking and seeing whats going on in the other applications that clearly demonstrates how cool the multi tasking is and how convenient its to use it on Sailfish OS.

Of course my first interest would be to get a root shell .

  1. Get into developer mode - Enables shell and brings up the terminal application
  2. Enable SSH from outside
  3. You need to set a password for above step which was quite a well thought security feature.
  4. devel-su on the normal shell  brings you to the Root shell.

What could I do with a root shell ?

  • first thing is to access all the directories using unix commands :D
  • Run "top" command
  • PKCON is the package management which is very familiar to fedora users.
  • #pkcon search for packages makes me smile with delight
  • #pkcon install package makes me jump with joy when that install happens
  •  Last but not least I Scp 'ed /usr/share/fonts from my laptop to /usr/share/fonts/ to the directory on Jolla . After a font cache refresh guess what I have all my indic fonts including telugu.
  •  Remember above I did the same with Adb but look at the difference SSHing into the phone ,the same Glibc shell and GNU/Linux environment makes to our lifes.

Other Bonus things:

  • Battery Life - Very pleasantly surprised. Can I believe it I opened a persistent wifi connection and the battery stayed for 2 days just like that.
  • Android apps compatability - There are many silly rumours going on about compatability , take it from me its not like wine its like a docker application. By which I mean that it runs very smoothly and fast like a native application and it just works too good. Yes it sounds like "its too good to be true" but it is and Jolla achieved it , Kudos to them :)

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