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Over 200 users, developers and partners attended Volla Community Days 2021 this year, with 16 talks and demonstrations. Up to 50 simultaneous participants followed our event via live broadcast and discussed on Telegram about further alternative Linux operating systems for the Volla Phone, progress for Android apps under Ubuntu Touch and of course the new Volla Phone X. 2 developers can look forward to our new smartphone for their results in our hackathon, which will be released in August and can be pre-ordered now.

Outlook for Volla software and hardware


To start things off, founder Dr. Jörg Wurzer gave an overview of Volla's development since the crowd funding last year. After the start of the delivery in October last year, not only the team but also the community grew with users in about 40 countries around the world. An introduction to the Volla user experience concept prepared the outlook for the improvement of the Volla user interface and new features: Among them, direct reply to text messages from various sources, direct integration of notes into collections, and extensible shortcuts. A special thanks went to the community, which contributes to the further development with translations, testing and ideas.

Right on the first day, all attendees were able to see the upcoming Volla Phone X rugged phone. This "Rugged Phone" is protected against splash water and dust according to IP68, has a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and a reinforced housing. This makes it ideally prepared for use in industry, nature and other scenarios that demand resilience from the smartphone. Pre-sales have already begun, while shipments will start in August, so early adopters can still experience the Volla Phone X as a companion for outdoor activities in the summer.

vcd-2021-report

Further operating systems for the Volla Phone


We have been enthusiastically following how developers in the community are porting and making available additional operating systems for our Volla Phone. Among them is the mobile version of the Linux distribution Manjaro, which features up-to-date software libraries and a special focus on #security.

There is also news from the corner of the popular Sailfish OS. Adam Pigg joined us live from the UK and gave an impressive demo of how fast and stable Sailfish OS feels on the Volla Phone. Sailfish OS can be set up on the Volla Phone by technically experienced users via the Ubports installer.

We could also take a look at Droidian and Nemo Mobile as other variants. The goal of the GNU/Linux distribution Droidian is to bring Mobian to Android smartphones. As with Manjaro, users also get an additional user interface. Nemo Mobile, which previously shared the same technical base of Sailfish OS, has said goodbye to the now obsolete technologies and now relies on Fedora without giving up compatibility with Mer.

Those who want to use several operating systems at the same time, to separate business and private for security reasons or simply want to try out one or the other operating system, will find a solution in the community project for a dual boot manager. Users can install a second operating system on an SD card. The developer Luka Panio, who is active in many projects, demonstrated how it works. Instructions can be found in the project's wiki.

Tips on data protection and privacy


Important for the Volla Community Days this time were also practical tips for pure users concerning data protection, privacy and data security. Thomas Grüger, who was able to help many of our users in the Volla customer service, showed the participants where and how to protect your privacy with the Volla Phone. This presentation as well as all others are available for download on our homepage and also on video recording in our Youtube channel. On the second day Thomas Grüger guided step by step through the change of the operating system on the Volla Phone with the UBports Installer.

A company that supports our Volla Phone and also offers it to their own customers, Care IT, showed us how their proprietary development CITA is implemented as a tap-proof communication solution and what benefits the user gets from it. Once again, the audience had the chance to experience further solutions for secure communication.

As a highlight we could listen to Prof. Dr. Andreas Aßmuth from the OTH Amberg with a presentation about password cracking and pishing. In his demo and the case studies presented, the audience and viewers were thus able to experience how easy some supposedly secure passwords are to crack and how malicious emails can reach us - but more importantly, how we can recognize such emails and protect ourselves from attacks. As a rule of thumb, Prof. Aßmuth told the participants to use phrases that are easy to remember on the one hand, but on the other hand are longer than normal passwords and therefore more difficult to crack. In the case of phishing e-mails, vigilance with regard to the sender is important. Modern e-mail programs often hide the actual address and show only the sender's name. The address, however, is usually a phishing e-mail to recognize the link to the fake site of a bank or online service wants to obtain access data.

Fresh wind for Ubuntu Touch


We should certainly dedicate a separate section to Ubuntu Touch. Florian Leeber from the UBports Foundation, our partner for Ubuntu Touch, provided a glimpse into the future of the alternative, mobile operating system, which has long since reached maturity for use in everyday life. Before the end of the year, the operating system is expected to catch up with Ubuntu version 20.04, giving it a significant update that promises even more stability.

Ubuntu Touch is not only becoming the daily companion for smartphones of tech-savvy users, but meanwhile also a real alternative for pure users. This was also shown to us later by Rudi Timmermans, who demonstrated with the Anbox project how Android apps can run on an Ubuntu Touch system. There are good prospects for the everyday use of Android apps on the Volla Phone with Ubuntu Touch. So, users can use the purist Linux alternative and some must-have Android apps at the same time. Experienced users can try it out with the instructions on the web.

Impetus for Ubuntu Touch from the Hackathon

During the two days of the Community Days, all participants had the opportunity to get a Volla Phone or a Volla Phone X with their ideas and first prototypes of them. The projects this year were the following:

  • Launching an app with fingerprint sensor under Ubuntu Touch.
  • Further development of the Open Source VPN App for the Open Store of Ubuntu Touch
  • Integration of another communication channel in the Springboard and Volla Launcher collections
  • Integration of another message channel in the collections
  • Mechanism for extensions of the springboard for shortcuts and text field

In the end we had not only a winner, but directly 2 of the participants could be equipped with a Volla Phone X to further implement their new ideas.
The audience was especially excited about the progress of the ideas at the time of the presentation. Launching an app via the fingerprint sensor is a feature that led to enthusiasm among some participants. This provides a way to bring the Volla user interface to Ubuntu Touch and launch Springboard with just a quick touch.

The second winner showed a memory management for Ubuntu Touch that not only lets you see which programs and files occupy how much memory, but also allows you to delete data that is no longer needed. This is especially useful when users delete an app and its data remains on the memory. This function can also contribute to a solution for problems with apps.

At this point, we would like to thank once again all the participants who contributed to the event with a talk, demo or questions. Without the community, Volla Phone would not be as successful. We are already looking forward to the next Volla Community Days in 2022.
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