Interview: Meet postmarketOS – an alternative phone operating system based on Linux

postmarketOS is an alternative phone operating system based on Linux, which aims to give people back control of their existing smartphones. How? By focusing on privacy, security and sustainability! Find out more in this interview with Martijn Braam.

Can you briefly introduce yourself?

Hi, I’m Martijn, I’m a software developer from the Netherlands. I’ve been involved in the postmarketOS project since the very start in 2017.

What is your motivation to work in the data portability field?

I want to empower people to be in control of their own data, by default.

How did you hear about DAPSI and what drove you to apply?

We heard about DAPSI through the NLnet Foundation, and realized that there were some goals DAPSI and postmarketOS share with regards to data portability. The trainings, mentorship, visibility, and funding offered by DAPSI were also attractive.

In simple words, what challenge does your project address?

In current mainstream mobile phone operating systems, the user is very dependent on the manufacturer of the operating system. This becomes apparent when starting a newly bought phone for the first time, you are immediately urged to login or create an Apple or Google account. And once you have that, you get suggestions to synchronize your data into their cloud. You are not in control of what ultimately happens to this data. If you refuse to login, you cannot even install apps or important security updates.

What solution are you developing?

postmarketOS is an alternative mobile phone operating system, which takes data and service portability seriously. In our operating system, you do not need to use an account to receive updates, and you are not asked to upload data to a cloud provider. If you choose to do so, you can also use a self-hosted provider like your own Nextcloud instance, to be fully in control of your data.

What will be the next steps?

In the current state, postmarketOS is for Linux enthusiasts. Thanks to funding from DAPSI we can work towards making it end-user friendly. This includes creating regular releases and service packs, as well as a lot of other improvements to the operating system (e.g. implementing a firewall) to move this forward.