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July 29th, 2015

KDE Plasma Goes Mobile

While FOSS Force gave you a look at setting up KDE Plasma on the desktop in Don Parris’ article last week, KDE recently jumped into the mobile fray by announcing KDE Plasma Mobile at their Akademy conference this week in Spain.

While it joins an already crowded field, with the likes of Android, Ubuntu Touch, Firefox OS and others already in the mobile OS space, Plasma Mobile “offers a free — as in freedom and beer — user-friendly, privacy-enabling, customizable platform for mobile devices,” wrote Sebastian Kugler, a lead architect, on KDE’s website. “Plasma Mobile is currently under development with a prototype available providing basic functions to run on a smartphone.”

KDE Plasma Mobile

KDE jumps into the mobile OS fray with Plasma Mobile (photo: KDE)

Kugler also writes that a developer prototype of Plasma Mobile is available, which runs on an LG Nexus 5 smartphone, where the system can make and receive phone calls, and several apps have been included — both native and third-party — in the device images to allow the system to be tested and improved.

[Feel adventurous and have a LG Nexus 5 lying around? You can go at it starting here.]

According to Kugler, the goal for Plasma Mobile is “to give the user full use of the device. It is designed as an inclusive system, intended to support all kinds of apps. Native apps are developed using Qt; it will also support apps written in GTK, Android apps, Ubuntu apps and many others, if the license allows and the app can be made to work at a technical level.”

The current images have Plasma Mobile running on top of Kubuntu. How it differs from a version of Ubuntu for phones is that Plasma Mobile is built atop KDE Frameworks 5, Qt tookit and Kwin window manager, among a variety of other KDE technologies. That said, the current manifestation of Plasma Mobile shares a lot of the “inside baseball” with Ubuntu.

Plasma Mobile “is designed as an inclusive system, intended to support all kinds of apps.” While apps can be written in KDE’s QT, KDE’s toolkit, Plasma Mobile also has the latitude to support apps in GTK, Ubuntu Touch, Sailfish OS and even Android.

Asked in an IT World interview earlier this week, Kugler said that it’s too early for KDE to be wooing hardware vendors for Plasma Mobile.

“Honestly, we have to do a lot more work first, we’ve just reached a point where we can prove technical viability,” Kugler said. “Bringing it to the market means that we have to bring it to product-level functionality and quality. If a hardware vendor showed up on my doorstep and wanted to work with us on shipping Plasma Mobile on a device, that would of course be most welcome, but we realize that the product is too raw and has too many rough edges currently to make that very likely.”

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Larry Cafiero, a.k.a. Larry the Free Software Guy, is a journalist and a Free/Open Source Software advocate. He is involved in several FOSS projects and serves as the publicity chair for the Southern California Linux Expo. Follow him on Twitter: @lcafiero

1 comment to KDE Plasma Goes Mobile

  • Lizbeth

    I dont know. Sailfish OS Tablets and phones seem neat. So does Ubuntu Phone, once it can go from phone to tablet to computer seamlessly – as long as i can still block ads like on my home computer but im guessing that’s doubtful. I just dont see what KDE brings to the table. Even Firefox OS (which is being forked because of why? Oh yeah, why buy it when we can fork it and keep our money in China) Has a niche as true open source. The question for me is, I use Sprint so who is going to market their devices for the Sprint network? HTC does with their phones but not their tablets and I would buy their 9 inch nexus over another ipad in a heartbeat if they worked out a deal with Sprint. So far only the crappy Samsung tablets are offered on Sprint. I have bought both of those but the 10 inch model is crap. I have an AC router and I was waiting forever for pages to load. I paid the exorbitant restocking fee to send that junk back. I have had two ipads and they do break the screen easily. I broke the screen pressing the home button too hard because that button had quit working. WHO makes Quality I can Buy?