My Excitement and Disappointment with Sailfish OS

While the reviews of the Jolla have been generally positive, people seem to have mixed opinions on whether it will succeed in the crowded market. I, personally, do not doubt its possibility of success — my definition of success being the point in time when Apple start showing their uneasiness by copying Sailfish features.

Excitement

“We do not need to be big to be great.”

Marc Dillon
Head of Software Development, Jolla

Sailfish OS sets itself apart in many ways. It takes the best from the competition while getting rid of the worst. Neither does it have the blandness of iOS, nor the lockdown of Windows Phone, nor the fragmentation of Android (yet). What’s more, it does have the tight integration of iOS, the fluidity of Windows Phone and the openness of Android. Add to that the eyeballs it has been attracting — it’s bound to make an impact.

Disappointment

Disappointment comes from expectations. I had expected Sailfish OS to be fully libre/open source. But it’s not. Most of the front end of Sailfish OS is closed source. That includes all the default apps — from calculator to browser. I don’t know why they’re not releasing the code. Somewhere I read that it’s closed “for now”. How long is “now”, now? Somebody please enlighten me on this.

Talking about libre, I wonder why Richard Stallman hasn’t yet commented on Sailfish OS. I can almost hear him saying it’s no better than Android, but then admiring the fact that it doesn’t support DRM.

In fact, going by his point of view, it’s less free than Android. Android comes with at least some libre apps — the ones included in AOSP — but Sailfish doesn’t.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not being judgmental. I just have questions. If anybody out there knows the answers, please let me know. I sincerely want Jolla to succeed, and I hope they do so without ending up being another walled garden.

Update: Jolla have started releasing the source code of their apps one by one. So I take back my words, one by one.

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