Mobian is an open-source project which is bringing the Debian GNU/Linux distributions to mobile devices such as tabs and phones.
The Mobian project is fairly new and is being developed at the moment. The mobile phone operating system market is heavily concentrated on Android, iOS. However, PinePhone is already out which is an ARM-based mobile phone by Pine64. PinePhone is already running a handful of Linux powered operating systems – such as Plasma Mobile, PostmarketOS, Ubuntu Touch, etc.
Now Mobian project also promised to run initially in PinePhone and later other mobile devices in the future.
Mobian Project – Mobile UI and Apps
The approach of Mobian Linux distribution is to integrate the standard Debian Linux distribution with the Phone Shell (Phosh project) is a package. Then it can be installed on Mobile phones such as PinePhone.
The main mobile UI of Mobian is powered by Phosh which is a Phone shell developed by Purism based on GNOME desktop environment with tweaks.
At the moment most of the important mobile apps are working in Mobian with primary device PinePhone. For example, basic calls, SMS, Chromium, Firefox ESR, GNOME Maps, GNOME Web, Telegram, Files etc, are working well. You can check out the list of available apps here.
However, browsers such as Firefox ESR, GNOME web, and Chromium are used as Webapp in Mobian instead of the native executable at the moment.
Currently, PinePhone is the only device supported by Mobian. The project team is hopeful to support many more future devices. Please note that it is still experimental in PinePhone and most of the device features are already supported as mentioned here.
Installing Mobian in your phone
If you have a PinePhone to experiment and share, you can download the Mobian image and follow the install instructions present in the below link.
It is indeed a good initiative considering PinePhone and other devices are coming up as commercial Linux based products. The more Linux based mobile operating system is available in the market, the more devices should start supporting it. Still, there is a high risk of too many Linux mobile OS is available to choose from and the mobile app ecosystem might get broken. Hopefully, as per the GNU/Linux philosophy its the freedom to choose from and apps should be compatible across code GNU/Linux mobile operating systems.
Pic credit: Mobian project.