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4 Mobile Linux Distros and Interfaces You Can Run on the PinePhone

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You can’t run fully open versions of Linux on an Apple iPhone or even an Android device, despite the latter running Linux underneath. So Pine Microsystems has created the PinePhone, a budget priced smartphone capable of running mobile versions of traditional “desktop” Linux.

Several mobile interfaces for Linux support the PinePhone. That’s exciting, but it also means you have a decision to make. Which one is right for you?

What Linux Interfaces Does the PinePhone Support?

Free and open source software developers have created several mobile-oriented interfaces over the years, but they’ve lacked a phone to run them on. That’s the itch the PinePhone from Microsystems is here to scratch.

The PinePhone is not a powerful device. Similar to the Pinebook and Pinebook Pro before it, the PinePhone skimps on specs in order to make the device accessible to the largest number of people.

Free software developers and many free software users often don’t have piles of cash in reserves to spend on new hardware. The low price enables more people to create the software and more people to use it.

A number of mobile open source Linux interfaces are already floating around out there. Four have made their made to the Pine Phone:

  1. Ubuntu Phone
  2. Plasma Mobile
  3. GNOME (also known as Phosh)
  4. LuneOS

Three of these are mobile versions of desktop Linux interfaces. The other, LuneOS, began as a mobile-only experience.

1. Ubuntu Touch

Canonical once dreamed of providing a free and open source operating system for all kinds of devices. The company’s Ubuntu distribution was already the most popular version of desktop Linux and an alternative to the likes of Windows, macOS, and Chrome OS. With Ubuntu Touch, there would be a free alternative to Android and iOS as well.

Though Canonical successfully released a few devices that ran Ubuntu Touch, the project never became commercially successful. In 2017, Canonical shuttered the project and the UBports community took over development.

Ubuntu Touch is the easiest option to install on devices other than the PinePhone. Already supported devices include the Nexus 5, OnePlus One, and Fairphone 2. You can download additional apps from the OpenStore, the official volunteer-run Ubuntu Touch app store.

Given that Ubuntu Touch enjoyed a couple years on the market, and the project already exists in a form that people can install on existing phones, a decent number of apps are already available.

Who Is Ubuntu Touch For?

Ubuntu Touch is for anyone who wants a free alternative to Android or iOS who can do without the popular commercial apps that are only available for those two platforms. Ubuntu Touch will also feel familiar to the many people already comfortable with desktop Ubuntu.

2. Plasma Mobile

Plasma Mobile is an effort to adapt the KDE Plasma desktop environment to a smartphone form factor. The project makes use of various KDE technologies such as KDE Frameworks and Kwin.

Many of the apps you run on Plasma Mobile are the same that you install on a Plasma desktop. This is where Kiragami comes in, KDE’s effort to design apps in a more adaptive way.

The vision is for Plasma mobile to be very customizable, like Plasma on the desktop. As the project matures, you will be able to add widgets, change themes, tweak fonts, and the works.

There are multiple ways to install Plasma Mobile. The official image is based on KDE Neon, but you can also use PostmarketOS, which is akin to a traditional Linux distribution for mobile devices. It’s possible to install Plasma Mobile on the Nexus 5, though the experience isn’t yet as mature as Ubuntu Touch.

Who is Plasma Mobile For?

Plasma Mobile may most please people who love the KDE Plasma desktop environment and want to use much of the same software on their phone.

3. GNOME (Phosh)

GNOME dominates among desktop Linux interfaces, but its mobile incarnation is the least mature. While the other three options on this list were usable on pre-existing phones in one form or another, mobile GNOME is making its debut alongside the release of GNU/Linux smartphones.

That’s not to say that GNOME is the least ready. Since Purism has chosen GNOME as its interface for the Librem 5, development is taking place at a rapid pace. The interface is known as Phosh, short for phone shell.  It could very quickly become the most viable of the options for more casual users.

GNOME Mobile benefits from the touch-oriented design of the GNOME desktop in general. Many apps are able to shrink down to the smaller form factor without changing all that much in look or feel. GNOME Web, for example, is the same browser running the same code on desktops and mobile devices alike. You can already see how well apps adapt by resizing windows on a computer running GNOME.

While much GNOME Mobile development is oriented toward the Librem 5, that is a significantly more expensive device than the PinePhone. So there will likely be an audience of GNOME fans who carry a PinePhone instead.

Who is GNOME For?

GNOME is the default interface in distros such as Ubuntu and Fedora. It also comes pre-installed on machines from Linux PC makers System76 and Purism. If you like that experience on your computer, the phone offers consistency. GNOME is also one of the options likely to feel most familiar for people coming over from Android or iOS.

4. LuneOS

In 2009, Palm developed an mobile OS for phones called webOS, which debuted on the Palm Pre. A year later, HP bought webOS and used it as the OS for the HP TouchPad and a couple of phones.

HP discontinued all webOS devices just under 50 days after launching the TouchPad. The company then open sourced code used on its existing webOS devices, which it called Open webOS.

LuneOS was born a few years later, in 2014, as a successor to webOS. Though LuneOS shares much in common with the Palm and HP devices, developers have rebuilt the interface from scratch using Qt and other technologies. The name comes from the French word for moon and refers to the LunaSysMgr interface in webOS.

While webOS never gained prominence on mobile devices, several design elements were adopted on other operating systems. So even though LuneOS is not based on an existing desktop interface, you may feel at home regardless.

Who is LuneOS For?

LuneOS is for people who love the feel of webOS and can get by with the limited set of built-in software. Expanding app support is not a core priority for the team.

PinePhone vs the Librem 5

The PinePhone is hitting the market more or less at the same time as Purism’s Librem 5. That invites comparisons between the two.

The PinePhone is more affordable and shaped more like a traditional smartphone, though it has a cheaper feel and lower specs. Pine Microsystems also does not develop the software for the phone, so you’re reliant on various communities for support.

By comparison, the Librem 5 is a more powerful device with a more premium feel and direct support from a single company, but you’re looking at paying three or four times the cost.

If you haven’t already made the switch to Linux on your PC, maybe now’s the time to pick up a Linux-powered computer too.

Read the full article: 4 Mobile Linux Distros and Interfaces You Can Run on the PinePhone



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Why You Should Remove Xiaomi’s Default MIUI Cleaner App?

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Two weeks ago, India banned 59 Chinese apps, citing that they “pose a threat to sovereignty and security of our country.” The list includes some of the most downloaded Android and iOS apps such as TikTok, UC Browser, ShareIT, and the app that concerns Xiaomi users — Clean Master by Cheetah Mobile.

The Indian government said Clean Master and other Chinese apps have been “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India.”

Clean Master, as the name suggests, is a cleaner app that promises to clear the junk files on the device and boost performance. Although Android cleaners ironically work against the device (more on this below), the bigger problem with Clean Master is that it is owned by Cheetah Mobile. Cheetah Mobile has been under the radar of privacy experts long before India noticed suspicious activity around its apps. The Chinese company has previously been caught in ad fraud and user data theft.

While CleanMaster has been removed from the Google Play Store and App Store in India, it is still being pushed as a default cleaner app in Xiaomi, one of the biggest smartphone manufacturers in India.

How to remove Xiaomi’s MIUI Cleaner app?

All Xiaomi and Redmi devices come with a cleaner app pre-installed known as MIUI Cleaner app. If you go into the app settings, you will notice that the app uses the Clean Master definition. Apart from that, the app brings up “Cheetah Mobile” a number of times in its privacy policy.

Unfortunately, Xiaomi doesn’t allow users to uninstall or even disable several default apps (also known as Bloatware), and one of them is MIUI Cleaner app. But here is a workaround to remove MIUI Cleaner app —

Prerequisite:
A Windows PC
USB cable to connect the device to the PC
USB debugging turned on the Xiaomi device

  • Connect your Xiaomi device to PC using the USB cable
  • Allow the USB debugging prompt on your device
    USB debugging Android Prompt
  • Download and extract ADB tools
  • Go to the extracted folder. Right-Click and choose “Open PowerShell Window here”
    How to use ADB tools
  • Type in the command “adb devices” and hit Enter
    ADB tools for deleting android apps
  • You will now see a number and “device” under the list of devices attached
  • Type in the command “adb shell,” press enter, then type, “pm uninstall –k —user 0 com.miui.cleanmaster” and hit Enter.
  • Remove the USB cable and restart your Xiaomi device

And that’s it, this process will remove MIUI Cleaner app. It is a universal process to remove pre-installed apps on any Android device. In other words, you can follow the same method if you have a Realme, Oppo, or any other Chinese smartphone.

Previously, Mi browser was accused of collecting data from users. You can use this method to remove the Mi browser or any default apps. What you need is the app’s package name and insert it in the “pm uninstall –k —user 0 <app package>” command. Use App Inspector to find out the exact name of the app.

Alternatives to Xiaomi MIUI Clearer

Over the years, Android has become extremely efficient in handling apps and background services. It intelligently allocates resources to apps and pauses apps that are not being used frequently. Most cleaner apps offer a performance boost which is simply force-quitting all background apps. While it may give a performance jump, it can create problems with Android’s way of doing things.

The only useful feature of a cleaner app is allowing users to delete unwanted apps and data under one roof. However, in return, it may collect user data. That being said, if you still want a cleaner app, you can start with SDMaid which does a pretty good job and keeps your data secure. Alternatively, you can also choose from our best cleaner apps list.

The post Why You Should Remove Xiaomi’s Default MIUI Cleaner App? appeared first on Fossbytes.



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Another big Galaxy Z Fold 2 leak spoils the phone’s specs

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  • Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 2 specifications and features have leaked once again in a comprehensive report from Korean tech news site ETNews.
  • According to the report, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 will feature a 7.7-inch AMOLED display inside the fold and a 6.23-inch AMOLED Cover Display on the outside.
  • Samsung will hold its next Galaxy Unpacked event on August 5th.

On July 7th, Samsung sent out invitations to its virtual Galaxy Unpacked event, which take place on August 5th and feature their “latest ecosystem of Galaxy devices.” Rumors and reports that have popped up over the last few months led us to believe that the “ecosystem” would include a Galaxy Note 20, Galaxy Z Flip 5G, and Galaxy Z Fold 2, but it’s now being reported that the sequel to the Galaxy Fold could be delayed. Regardless, that hasn’t stopped the internet from attempting to spoil every last feature and specification of the foldable phone.

A recent report from South Korea’s ETNews claims the Galaxy Z Fold 2 (which is rumored to be the rebranded name of the phone that will follow the Galaxy Fold) will feature a 7.7-inch Youm On-Cell Touch AMOLED (Y-OCTA) display with a refresh rate of 120Hz and the same Ultra-Thin Glass found on the Galaxy Z Flip.

This isn’t the first time that we’ve heard about an even larger display for the Fold 2, but the leak doesn’t end there.

According to ETNews, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 will also feature a 6.23-inch Cover Display (a significant upgrade from the 4.6-inch outer screen of the original) and a biometric fingerprint scanner mounted on the side. As for the cameras, the Z Fold 2 is said to have two 10-megapixel selfie cameras — one on the inside and one on the outside — as well as a rear-facing triple-lens camera array. The primary array features a 12-megapixel camera with a wide-angle lens, a 12-megapixel camera with an ultra wide-angle lens, and a 64-megapixel telephoto camera.

As SamMobile notes, if this report is accurate, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 will have the same setup as the Galaxy S20.

As for battery power, ETNews says that the Z Fold 2 will support 15W fast wireless charging as well as 15W reverse wireless charging (which is when you charge another device with your phone). Previous reports have suggested that Samsung will put both a 2,090 mAh battery and a 2,275 mAh battery inside the Galaxy Z Fold 2, giving the phone a total battery capacity of 4,365 mAh. We also expect the phone to feature a Snapdragon 865+ processor, 12GB of RAM, support for 5G networks, and up to 256GB of storage. At this point, there’s very little we don’t know.

We still do not know when an official announcement from Samsung will arrive, but August 5th is still weeks away, so perhaps the company will sort out any issues and reveal the Galaxy Z Fold 2 at the Unpacked event.



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Government dumps Huawei from UK’s 5G network in massive U-turn

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The logo of Chinese company Huawei is on view at their main UK offices in Reading, west of London (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images)

Huawei has been denied access to the UK’s 5G telecoms network just six months after it was given the all-clear by the government.

The dramatic u-turn was announced today following mounting pressure on Boris Johnson’s cabinet not to include the Chinese tech giant in Britain’s infrastructure.

In January the government said that Huawei could supply up to 35% of the equipment for the UK’s 5G plans but would be kept out of the core network.

But now it has been made clear the company will not be allowed to install any equipment at all from next year.

Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, told MPs that the government will now no longer allow Huawei to supply kit for use in 5G networks operated by the likes of BT, O2 and Three.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr. Dowden said that telecoms operators will not be allowed to buy equipment from Huawei from the end of the year and that a complete removal of all Huawei kit will take place by 2027.

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‘5G will be transformative for our country, but only if we have confidence in the security and resilience of the infrastructure it is built upon,’ he said.

‘Following US sanctions against Huawei and updated technical advice from our cyber experts, the government has decided it is necessary to ban Huawei from our 5G networks. 

‘No new kit is to be added from January 2021, and UK 5G networks will be Huawei free by the end of 2027. This decisive move provides the industry with the clarity and certainty it needs to get on with delivering 5G across the UK.

‘By the time of the next election we will have implemented in law an irreversible path for the complete removal of Huawei equipment from our 5G networks.’

‘This has not been an easy decision, but it is the right one for the UK telecoms networks, for our national security and our economy, both now and indeed in the long run,’ he told MPs.

The decision comes after the United States moved to impose further sanctions on Huawei, which it believes is a tool for espionage used by the Chinese government. Last month the US Federal Communications Commission branded Huawei a threat to ‘national security.’

Huawei has long denied the accusations from the Trump administration but the latest round of US sanctions have had consequences. Huawei is no longer allowed to use American-made processor chips, forcing it to look elsewhere.

This, in turn, led the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to launch a review of the company’s involvement in national networks.

Technical experts at the NCSC reviewed the consequences of the sanctions and concluded Huawei will need to do a major reconfiguration of its supply chain as it will no longer have access to the technology on which it currently relies and there are no alternatives which it has ‘sufficient confidence’ in.

They found the new restrictions make it impossible to continue to guarantee the security of Huawei equipment in the future. 

Ed Brewster, a spokesperson for Huawei UK, said: ‘This disappointing decision is bad news for anyone in the UK with a mobile phone. It threatens to move Britain into the digital slow lane, push up bills and deepen the digital divide. Instead of ‘levelling up’ the government is levelling down and we urge them to reconsider. We remain confident that the new US restrictions would not have affected the resilience or security of the products we supply to the UK.

‘Regrettably our future in the UK has become politicized, this is about US trade policy and not security. Over the past 20 years, Huawei has focused on building a better connected UK. As a responsible business, we will continue to support our customers as we have always done.

‘We will conduct a detailed review of what today’s announcement means for our business here and will work with the UK government to explain how we can continue to contribute to a better connected Britain.’



The debate around Huawei

A woman walks by a Huawei retail store in Beijing. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

A woman walks by a Huawei retail store in Beijing (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

Here is a look at the key issues in the debate around Huawei.

What is Huawei?

Huawei is the Chinese telecoms giant which describes itself as a private company ‘fully owned by its employees’.

In recent years, its range of smartphones have become commonplace across the UK, and it is now established as one of the biggest smartphone manufacturers in the world, alongside Apple and Samsung.

In addition to making mobile devices, the firm also makes telecommunications networks.

Why is the company controversial?

Huawei has come under criticism over its alleged close ties to the Chinese state.

The country has a history of state censorship and surveillance, such as the ‘Great Firewall of China’ which blocks multiple internet services in the country and, under Chinese law, firms can be compelled to ‘support, co-operate with and collaborate in national intelligence work’.

As a result, critics of Huawei have expressed concerns that Beijing could require the firm to install technological ‘back doors’ to enable it to spy on or disrupt Britain’s communications network.

The US is a strong critic of the firm and last year President Donald Trump added Huawei to the Entity List, effectively blacklisting the firm and preventing it from trading with US companies.

Consequently, Huawei has not been able to use core Google apps on its newest smartphones as part of the Android operating system it uses to power the devices.

However the firm has always denied any suggestions of close links with the Chinese state or that it has ever been asked by Chinese authorities to help spy on others, insisting it fully abides by the laws of each country in which it operates.

How is it linked to 5G?

As well as its smartphone business, Huawei is one of the market leaders in telecoms infrastructure equipment, including that for 5G.

The next generation of mobile data communications, 5G has been rolling out to areas of the UK for the last year.

The new networks allow for larger amounts of data to be transferred at once, which could one day power new technologies such as autonomous car networks and remote surgery where specialist surgeons cannot reach a hospital physically.

As a result, a great deal of debate among telecoms firms and governments is ongoing over how to secure such a data-sensitive network, which has led to the scrutiny of Huawei.

Earlier today, former BP chief Lord Browne stepped down as the chairman of Huawei UK six months before his tenure was due to end.

‘The UK has had a very long relationship with China and I hope it’s not one that they simply throw away,’ he told Reuters last week.

A Huawei spokesperson said: ‘When Lord Browne became Chairman of Huawei UK’s board of directors in 2015, he brought with him a wealth of experience which has proved vital in ensuring Huawei’s commitment to corporate governance in the UK. He has been central to our commitment here dating back 20 years, and we thank him for his valuable contribution.’

Engineers from EE the wireless network provider, owned by BT Group Plc, check on 5G masts and Huawei Technologies Co. 5G equipment undergoing trials in the City of London, U.K., on Friday, March 15, 2019. Europe would fall behind the U.S. and China in the race to install the next generation of wireless networks if governments ban Chinese equipment supplier Huawei Technologies Co. over security fears, according to an internal assessment by Deutsche Telekom AG. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Engineers from EE the wireless network provider, owned by BT Group Plc, check on 5G masts and Huawei Technologies Co. 5G equipment undergoing trials in the City of London, U.K., on Friday, March 15, 2019 (Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Earlier this month, executives from Vodafone and BT told the Science and Technology Select Committee they would need at least five years to completely remove the Chinese firm’s equipment without causing disruption which could cause signal blackouts for several days.

‘Should the guidance become stricter it will have an effect, it will delay the rollout of our 5G, it will have cost implications and focus our investment in the removal of the existing equipment,’ Andrea Dona, Vodafone UK’s head of networks said.

According to Huawei, it employs about 1,600 people in the UK says it is one of the largest investments in Britain from China.

It doesn’t have publicly traded shares and it doesn’t provide any kind of regional breakdown of its revenue. However, it said that despite the US sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic it achieved a 13% rise in sales for the first half of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, totalling 454 billion yuan or £51.3 billion.

Huawei is also expecting similar decisions to be made by Germany later this year.

Meng Wanzhou, the company’s chief financial officer and daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, is currently under house arrest in Canada, in an extradition trial that could result in her being sent to the US to face charges that include bank fraud and a violation of trade sanctions.



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