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Volla Hackathon Results

Although they were the first Volla Community Days, developers from five countries participated in the Volla Community Days in May 2019. The Hackathon work covered Nemo Mobile, Sailfish OS and Ubuntu Touch and provided valuable insights for the preparation of our Volla phone and future developments. Last but not least, the execution of Android Apps on alternative mobile operating systems was a central topic.

The participation of developers and interested parties from Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Norway, India and Russia at the Volla Community Days in Remscheid was inspiring and motivating. While most of them arrived in person, others joined us via our live stream and chat. At this point we would like to thank all participants, especially the committed developers of the Hackathon and the council members of the UBports Foundation, who contributed their ideas personally.

Volla Community Event

The central topic was independent, open source mobile operating systems as an alternative to Android and iOS, which provide long-term freedom through an innovative, simple user experience and consistent protection of privacy. The focus was on Ubuntu Touch, which is being further developed by a worldwide community in the UBports project, and Nemo Mobile, which shares the middleware with the commercial Sailfish OS as a FOSS alternative.

  1. A developer demonstrated in a proof of concept how the Unity8 system interface of Ubuntu Touch can be easily customized. The open apps were displayed as clearly arranged tiles instead of the fan. Tiles with a reduced representation of open apps uses the Glacier UX for Nemo Mobile and similarly Sailfish OS, optimized for a mobile user experience. For the implementation, only a minor adaptation of the corresponding QML files for the definition of the Ubuntu Touch system interface was necessary.
  2. Another project dealt with the installation of apps for Sailfish OS on the FOSS Alternative Nemo Mobile. Since both operating systems share not only the middleware and thus the core system interfaces, but also the same technologies as Qt and QML for apps, ideal conditions are available. The only obstacle is the Silica library, which defines the look and feel of the Sailfish apps and is not part of Nemo Mobile middleware. However, since most parts of Silica are released under the BSD license, a FOSS porting would be possible, for which only a few closed source binaries would have to be replaced, mainly providing some system variables. The effort was estimated at about five man months. Then many Sailfish apps and even the alternative app store from would also be available for Nemo Mobile, for which there are currently only a few Glacier apps that are still in the early alpha stage.
  3. A third project dealt with Anbox for Nemo Mobile. Anbox offers the option to install and run Android apps on Linux operating systems. Ubuntu Touch already offers the installation of Anbox and some basic Android apps. An alternative app store can be used to install additional apps. However, Anbox does not run smoothly, but offers an interesting outlook and can be of decisive importance for the acceptance of alternative operating systems. The interviews with our focus group have shown that most users depend on some Android apps at work, university or school or do not want to do without them. For a proof of concept a participant of the hackathon installed Anbox on Nemo Mobile. A full port was estimated at one man-year, because a hardware adaptation is also necessary for Anbox.
  4. Finally, a project showed how an app for Nemo Mobile comfortably upgrades to Sailfish OS without having to flash the smartphone from the outside. A big obstacle for consumers to install Sailfish OS on their smartphone or the official paid Sailfish X are the technical skills required.
We are planning another Volla Community Day with Hackathon for the coming spring 2020 and hope to motivate both developers and organizations, as the development of a market for an alternative to Google and Apple needs cooperation.
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