Sailfish OS

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Sailfish OS
Sailfish logo.svg
SailfishOS Screenshot1.png
Written inQt/QML, C++
OS familyLinux
Working stateCurrent
Source modelOpen source with added closed-source components and extensions of third parties which can be of other licences as well.[1][2]
Latest release4.0.1.48 (Koli) / 16 February 2021; 57 days ago (2021-02-16)
Latest preview4.0.1.48 (Koli) / 11 February 2021; 2 months ago (2021-02-11)
Repository Edit this at Wikidata
Marketing targetMobile and general purpose
Available inEnglish for development, SDK & supporting documentation; over 21 national languages versions of UI in user's device
Package managerRPM Package Manager[3]
Platforms32-bit ARM and 64-bit x86
Kernel typeLinux kernel
LicenseFor end-user the EULA defines used open source and other licences components with a component's origin.[1][2]
Preceded byMeeGo by alliance of Nokia & Intel
Hackday with Jolla, Mer and Nemo Mobile in September 2012

Sailfish OS is a Linux-based operating system based on open source projects such as Mer and including a closed source UI. The project is being developed by the Finnish company Jolla.

The OS is shipped with the Jolla smartphone and tablet (the sale stopped in 2016 but devices are still supported with software updates)[4] and from other vendors licensing the OS.[5] The OS is ported by community enthusiasts to third-party mobile devices including smartphones[6] and tablet computers.[7] Sailfish OS can be used for many kinds of devices.

History and development[edit]

The OS is an evolved continuation of the Linux MeeGo OS previously developed by alliance of Nokia and Intel which itself relies on combined Maemo and Moblin. The MeeGo legacy is contained in the Mer core in about 80% of its code; the Mer name thus expands to MEego Reconstructed. This base is extended by Jolla with a custom user interface and default applications. Jolla and follow a meritocratic system to avoid the mistakes that led to the MeeGo project's then-unanticipated discontinuation.

The main elements for Sailfish OS 2.0 include:

  • Technically stronger OS core
  • Improved Android application compatibility
  • Support for ARM and Intel architectures, including the Intel Atom x3 processor, or any platform with kernel useable (settle-able) for MER core stack (also called middleware of Sailfish).
  • Design to provide visibility in the UI for digital content providers and to enable OS level integration for mobile commerce
  • Strong multitasking (one of the most important advantage of the OS and declared to be the best one on the market)
  • Strong privacy and personalization features
  • Enhanced user interface with new UI/UX features, including simpler swipe access to main functions, enhanced notifications and events views.

Software architecture[edit]

The Sailfish OS and the Sailfish software development kit (SDK) are based on the Linux kernel and Mer.[8][9][10] Sailfish OS includes a multi-tasking graphical shell called "Lipstick" built by Jolla on top of the Wayland display server protocol.[11] Jolla uses free and open-source graphics device drivers but the Hybris library allows use of proprietary drivers for Android.[12][13] Jolla's stated goal is for Sailfish to be open source eventually.[2][needs update?]

Sailfish OS can run Android applications through a proprietary compatibility layer.[14]

Targeted device classes[edit]

Sailfish is commonly known[weasel words] to be targeted at mobile devices,[citation needed] but since it inherited around 80% of MeeGo code, Sailfish can be used as a complete general-purpose Linux OS on devices including in vehicle infotainment (IVI), navigation, smart TV, desktops and notebooks, yachts, automotive, e-commerce, home appliances, measuring and control equipment, smart building equipment, etc. See use cases of original MeeGo to compare,[citation needed] and the Devices section for devices that run the Sailfish OS.

Sailfish OS SDK[edit]

The Sailfish OS SDK was announced at the Slush Helsinki conference in 2012, and the alpha was published in February 2013.[15] The SDK, installation and coding tutorials are available for free download from the Sailfish OS website despite the overall license not being open source.[1]

Sailfish SDK uses Qt with VirtualBox for development, compiling and emulation purposes, in contrast to the simulation method.[citation needed] This technique allows compilation on the Sailfish OS and full testing of developed software in the virtual machine, emulating – not simulating – the whole Sailfish OS.[citation needed] This also separates development activities and side effects from everything else running on the host computer, leaving it undisturbed by developments and tests.[16] According to Jolla, development with Sailfish SDK is development on Sailfish OS itself; there are no differences between developed software appearance and behaviour in the SDK and on a device running Sailfish OS.[citation needed]

The availability of source code to the SDK allows shaping and rebuilding to companies' or developers' specific needs,[citation needed] creating a context-specific environment that is set once and needs no preparation when the device is booted. The SDK runs on the operating systems Android, 32- and 64-bit versions of Linux, 64-bit versions of OS X, and Microsoft Windows.[17] It can be used for compiling software for Sailfish OS devices from Linux sources. Its general console/terminal mode follows a commonly used standard. Compatible binaries or libraries can also be used.[citation needed]

Application programming interfaces[edit]

Sailfish OS uses open source Qt APIs (Qt 5, QtQuick 2 etc.) and a closed source Sailfish Silica for the UI. Standard Linux APIs are provided by the Mer Core.[18]

Sailfish, Ubuntu and Plasma Active have been cooperating to share common APIs. When successful, this will make the platforms compatible on the API level.[19]

Software overview[edit]

Sailfish OS version running on Intex Technologies Aqua Fish

UI supported human languages[edit]

Officially Jolla declares supporting the following 14 languages for the user interface: Danish, German, English (UK), Spanish, French, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Finnish, Swedish, Russian, Chinese (Mainland), and Chinese (Hong Kong). For each of them, the OS has a dedicated keyboard. There are a few more languages which are unofficially supported by community freelancers not under control by Jolla, hence more than 20 languages are supported in total. Additional languages can be installed by skilled users due to the Linux architecture.[20]

Public "Early access" for beta testers and developers[edit]

After positive experiences with pushing early updates to a small group of opt-in users for Sailfish Update 9 and for the connectivity hotfix, Jolla has allowed all interested parties to try a new version of Sailfish OS about 1–2 weeks before official release, in a program called "Early access". It is expected to be useful for developers and technically minded users, and a step towards more community integration into the Sailfish release process, including improvement of quality by identifying critical issues which only show up in certain environments or device setups, before rolling the update out to the wider user audience. As an added bonus, it provides a window for developers to test their applications on new releases of Sailfish OS.

In the long term it will help Jolla to establish a developer program with early release candidate access for registered developers, and to have more community involvement in platform development. The first detail Jolla is hoping to learn from this is how it can gather feedback from a large audience in a reasonable way.

Basic details about the early access update:

  • The early release access is meant primarily for advanced users and developers.
  • To sign up for the program there is a checkbox in the Jolla accounts profile page.
  • Installed early-access release cannot be downgraded. The only way to downgrade from early access releases is to do a factory reset after removing the sign up check from the user's account profile.
  • Early access releases should be considered "reasonably stable". Issues found during that period will either be fixed, or added to "known issues" on the release notes.
  • Signing up for the early access releases will not void warranty.[21]

Version history[edit]

Sailfish OS has three naming conventions: version number, update number and version name.

Stop releases[edit]

When updating SFOS from earlier releases, for example after device factory reset, there are several stop releases which cannot be skipped and must be taken before continuing on the path to following releases. These releases provide new functionality that is not compatible with previous releases and have to be traversed in order not to lose data or put the OS into an unstable state.

Software version Release date Name
v1.0.2.5 27 December 2013 Maadajävri
v1.1.2.16 25 February 2015 Yliaavanlampi
v1.1.7.28 31 August 2015 Björnträsket
v1.1.9.30 22 October 2015 Eineheminlampi
v2.0.0.10 3 November 2015 Saimaa
v2.2.0.29 7 June 2018 Mouhijoki
v3.0.0.8 11 November 2018 Lemmenjoki
v3.2.0.12 5 November 2019 Torronsuo
v3.4.0.24 13 October 2020 Pallas-Yllästunturi
v4.0.1.48 16 February 2021 Koli


The Sailfish website publishes[25] an online compendium of knowledge, links and instructions on porting issues.

Using Android software running on Sailfish OS[edit]

In addition to its native applications, Sailfish can run most Android applications by installing them from an application store or directly through an APK file. Supported Android versions are 4.1.2 "Jelly Bean" on the original Jolla phone; 4.4.4 "Kit-Kat" on the Jolla C, Jolla tablet and Xperia X; 8.1.0 "Oreo" on Xperia XA2 and Xperia 10.[26] Problems can arise if these applications were built without following Android standards about controls, which might not display correctly and so become unusable.

Sailfish OS uses Alien Dalvik, a proprietary Android compatibility layer. It does not emulate a copy of Android, but instead implements its APIs, an approach comparable to that of Wine. Android applications can thus run at native speed without any perceivable slow-down. Sailfish can run both native Sailfish and Android software simultaneously, with the user switching between them on the fly.[27] Anbox is an open source alternative to Alien Dalvik, which is said to be more secure[citation needed] as it uses LXC for isolation.

Hardware overview[edit]

Advantages of the Mer standard[edit]

Sailfish OS can be used on any hardware with Linux-kernel support and compatible with the middleware utilising the Mer core. Community enthusiasts have ported Sailfish OS to a number of devices this way.[28] Instead of designation to a specific reference hardware platform, a VirtualBox implementation with the Sailfish OS SDK is available for development on Linux, OS X and Windows operating systems. This virtual machine implementation contains the whole Sailfish OS isolated from local resources and the local OS to enable convenient evaluation of the behaviour and performance of coded or ported software before deployment on real devices.[citation needed]

Jolla devices[edit]

Devices from other vendors licensing Sailfish OS[edit]

Manufacturers can provide mobile equipment with a licensed Sailfish OS, or as open source, or combining both and including their own or the operator's modifications and branding for specific markets or purposes.

Planned and announced devices[edit]

Several devices have been announced with official support for Sailfish OS for future release.

  • Qtech QMP-M1-N IP68 – listed for porting to Aurora by OMP on their website in late 2019 or early 2020
  • MIG T8 – listed for porting to Aurora by OMP on their website in late 2019 or early 2020
  • Inoi 5i pro – listed for porting to Aurora by OMP on their website in late 2019 or early 2020
  • Вектор – listed for porting to Aurora by OMP on their website in late 2019 or early 2020
  • F(x)tec Pro1 – announced with Sailfish OS support; released 2019; no official Sailfish OS support yet
  • Planet Computers Cosmo Communicator – crowdfunded in December 2018; released in 2019
  • INOI T10 – announced in 2018 for B2B, not available in retail
  • Inoi R7 Rugged – publicly shown by Jolla,[29] but never seen available

Cancelled devices:

  • Youyota Tablet – crowdfunding in 2017; cancelled in 2018
  • Oulumo Lumo – announced in 2017; not released
  • PuzzlePhone – announced in 2015 with Sailfish OS support; delayed indefinitely in 2017
  • Oysters SF – announced for 2016; not released
  • Ermak OMP – announced in 2016; not released
  • Ermak 50 – announced for Q3/2016; not released
  • Ermak BMR – announced for Q3/2016; not released
  • mi-Fone – announced in 2016 for Q2/2016; not released
  • Jala Accione and Jala Accione P – Announced in 2017; a beta test of Sailfish OS was announced on Feb. 22, 2019,[30] but sales with Sailfish OS preinstalled were cancelled and sold with only Android.[31]

Community enthusiasts' ports to devices from other vendors[edit]

Due to the relative ease of porting and the open source license, Sailfish OS has also been unofficially ported[32] to other 3rd-party devices. The Hardware Adaptation Development Kit for porters has been published and is free.[33] These ports are mostly published on the Maemo and XDA Developers forums, and in the Mer wiki a list of the ports is compiled.[34] Due to license restrictions, proprietary parts or extensions such as the Alien Dalvik compatibility layer for Android apps are not included. However they can be added, e.g. when a manufacturer or distributor turns it from the community version into an officially supported version for a particular device. From the originally more than 80 ports, there are about 19 ports that are still in active development – as of March 2019 – meaning they have been updated to Sailfish 3:

To display the ease of porting Sailfish OS to other devices, Jolla showed created ports and community ports at events like the Mobile World Congress, Slush and FOSDEM:

Jolla's Russian partner Open Mobile Platform (OMP) showed Aurora OS ported to different devices on their YouTube channel:

OS development status[edit]

Sailfish OS is promoted by Jolla and supported by the open Sailfish Alliance established in 2011, a group established to unite OEM and ODM manufacturers, chipset providers, operators, application developers and retailers.[64] On 16 August 2012, the user interface was reported to be ready for release. Jolla's CEO Jussi Hurmola stated in a ZDNet interview, " ... Our UI is ready now, we haven't released it yet, we will save it for the product launch and the platform is getting up now so the project looks pretty nice".[65]

The next day, Jolla's CEO Marc Dillon said on social networking website Twitter that the company had reached the first development target. Sailfish was debuted by the Jolla team, including a worldwide internet stream, as a demo of the OS, and the UI and SDK during the Slush event in Helsinki, Finland, on 21–22 November 2012. The alpha stage of Sailfish OS SDK was published at the end of February 2013 and was made available for free download.

On 16 September 2013, Jolla announced that its OS had been made compatible with Android applications and hardware.[66] The first telephone to use it was launched on 27 November 2013 at a pop-up DNA Kauppa shop in Helsinki. The first 450 telephones were sold at this event, while the rest of the preordered devices were shipped shortly after.[67]

In September 2015, version "Eineheminlampi" was released, which added the main elements of the revamped Sailfish OS 2.0 user interface.

Sailfish 2.0 was launched with the Jolla Tablet, and existing devices, both smartphones and tablets, from Jolla's official distribution channels are supported with upgrade to Sailfish 2.0 and following updates.

In May 2016 Jolla announced the Sailfish Community Device Program, supporting developers and members of Sailfish OS community.[68]

Aurora OS[edit]

Jolla staff met with members of the Russian technology community to break ground on the new software and promote Sailfish OS, as part of Jolla's BRICS strategy. As a result of those efforts, on 18 May 2015 the Russian minister of communications Nikolai Nikiforov announced plans to replace Apple's iOS and Google's Android platforms with new software based on Sailfish. He intends it to cover 50% of Russian needs in this area during next ten years, in comparison to the 95% currently covered with western technology.[69][70] The Russian version is currently being developed under the brand name Aurora (Avrora) OS.[71][72] The Chinese multinational technology company Huawei may start using Aurora OS as Android's replacement.[73]

Sailfish Alliance[edit]

Sailfish Alliance is the open alliance established in 2011 by Jolla company to support the MeeGo ecosystem with new products, services and business opportunities around or using Sailfish OS, a Linux operating system combining mer with proprietary components from Jolla and other parties, for various purposes and mobile devices. And to continue the development of the Linux MeeGo ecosystem, which the Sailfish OS is a part of.

The alliance is seen as a competitor to other groups like Android's Open Handset Alliance.[74]

In 2011 some of the MeeGo team working at Nokia left, and were funded by Nokia though their "Bridge" program to fund spin-out projects by ex-employees.[75][76][77] The Sailfish Alliance has sought to collaborate between the Finnish software developers, and overseas handset manufacturers, some of which are in China.[78][79] The news media reports that a number of manufacturers in China and India want an alternative to Android.[74][80][81]

The Alliance aims to "unite OEM and ODM manufacturers, chipset providers, operators, application developers and retailers." [82]

Business strategy[edit]

The aim of the Alliance is to offer unique differentiation opportunities and sustainable competitive advantage for OEM and ODM manufacturers, chipset providers, operators, application developers, retailers and other interested in sides.[83]

Sailfish Secure[edit]

The Sailfish Secure is the first open and secure mobile phone platform, the secure mobile solution[buzzword] based on Sailfish OS. For the first time it was introduced publicly in Barcelona, Spain at Mobile World Congress on 2 March 2015 where plans for the Sailfish Secure were presented.

Established on foundations of a security-hardened version of the Sailfish OS and SSH's communication encryption and key management platform. Developed by Jolla (the Sailfish OS designer and developer) together with SSH Communications Security (the inventor of Secure Shell SSH protocol, among other advanced security projects it provides) in collaboration of Sailfish Alliance.

The hardware platform independent approach of the Sailfish Secure allow concept adaptation to e.g. local needs, and also in collaboration with other security partners. End customers like governments or large corporations are able to adapt the solution[buzzword] to their preferred or used hardware platform, as it is not tied to a specific hardware or configuration.

The aim is to answer increasing demand in privacy in mobile communications. Jolla and Sailfish OS has unique position to create and provide an alternative solution[buzzword] on markets dominated by Android or other non-EU based OSes. Target customers need a secure mobile solution[buzzword], including government officials or corporations, but it is also to be the solution[buzzword] affordable for consumers.[84][85]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]