Success Story: Maemo Leste – liberating and modernising a GNU/Linux mobile platform

by Maemo Leste team

The Challenge

Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android currently make up over 99% of the mobile operating system market. Both exercise a very strong grip on their platform, creating a duopoly of two companies that decide what is allowed on their platform and what is not. In addition, the popular communication applications for the two platforms often explicitly ban third-party clients, leading to a full lock-in of the platform. All of this clearly restricts the freedom of users of mobile devices and puts their privacy at risk, and the users typically have nowhere to go. Both systems are also only partially (or not at all) open source, further weaking the trust users can have in their devices. We want to solve this problem with a free and user-driven operating system.

The Solution

We believe that Maemo Leste can provide an alternative and fully open-source mobile platform for users who wants to break free of the Android/iOS duopoly. A platform that is fully transparent, allowing users to control their own data and decide what data they want to share. A platform that they can first and foremost trust to protect their privacy and security, one that doesn’t prevent them from installing whatever application of program they want to run. We hope to attract like-minded developers and users to make this a reality.

DAPSI support  

The DAPSI programme has provided us with useful coaching and business mentorship, helping us in particular think through how to build our community and come up with a long(er) term vision for our project. The programme funding has also allowed us to pull in more developers to work on the project, allowing us to further improve the software foundations of our operating system.

DAPSI journey – Achievements from first phase of the DAPSI programme

We integrated Wireguard, Tor and OpenVPN into our free and open-source mobile operating system, Maemo Leste. This helps protect the users’ privacy, anonymity and location, depending on how the users use the various software offerings.

We have written extensively about the work in our October news post:

DAPSI journey – Achievements from second phase of the DAPSI programme

For the final part of our DAPSI grant, we decided to improve the support for communication and conversations in Maemo Leste, as this is an essential part of every mobile (phone) operating system. We have successfully built a user interface for the operating system, relying on the “Telepathy” communication framework and we have also worked on extending the amount of protocols supported in the Telepathy framework, such as supporting Matrix on Maemo Leste and working on a Telepathy Signal plugin.

The central part of this is the “Conversations” User Interface, which allows the user to send and receive messages over various protocols (SMS, IRC, XMPP, Matrix and Telegram) and inspect the messaging history with contacts in a snappy and simple interface, and it is integrated with the Maemo address book.

Lessons learnt

The DAPSI programme taught us that coming up with feasible and sustainable models for-open source software is not as easy as we thought it would be. We believe we have a much better grasp on the subject now, and hope to put our experience to good use in further growing our community and the project.

 What’s next

We plan to get the conversations interface ready for end-users (and perhaps extend the amount of protocols we support), finish the phone (calling) interface, and start expanding the devices that we support. We are also very close to finishing up contacts synchronisation (in addition to the already existing calendar and tasks synchronisation)

Additionally, we are hoping to improve our support of various community devices like the PinePhone, and are also hoping to get start reycling phones by making them run our Free and Open Source mobile software stack.

More information

Our website with occasional news updates:

Our community wiki:

Our twitter: