I'm daily driving postmarketOS

A post about my OnePlus 6 with postmarketOS.

According to stat /etc/hostname, I set this device up on the 19th of November, you can tell I’m not so great with the follow through… I’ve spent the last few days getting comfortable, and I think I’m finally ready.


I’ve been fearing this moment for a while, I think it was around summer where I realised it wasn’t really enough to just be working on this. Sure I maintain the kernel and am technically the person responsible for fixing issues with the OnePlus 6, but it was pretty unlikely that I’d be the one finding them.

There are at least a handful of people who are daily driving a OnePlus 6 to some degree, even more if you include the other SDM845 devices. And every time I get a notification about some bug caused by an upgrade I did, or a regression I need to debug I get this sinking feeling, like a pit in my stomach; how am I meant to be pushing the envelope if I’m not even using my own software?

Dogfooding is probably a familiar term to most of you, it’s defined by wikipedia as “the practice of using one’s own products or services”. I think it’s obvious in an intuitive sense that one should eat ones own dogfood. And to extend the analogy, I think Linux Mobile has refined the recipe enough that this is possible with only a little retching.

So, I installed postmarketOS on my OnePlus 6. It boots using U-Boot and systemd-boot, and will eventually support sideband U-Boot updates via the wonderful LVFS.

My daily driver up until now has been a OnePlus 9 with stock Android, I use Google Services, Google Maps, Snapchat, Discord, and other apps that add value to my life. I am painfully aware of the tradeoffs I make with these decisions (I have dedicated the last 3 years of my life to building a user-first OS for phones, after all), but I, selfishly and to my own moral detriment, make them anyway.

I am a user.

Through gritted teeth

I run Phosh on my OnePlus 6 with postmarketOS, it has only crashed once in the several days I have been using it. I often find myself repeating gestures several times, and my attempts to close an app often open it instead. The lockscreen usually takes several attempts to open, and it is impossible to dismiss just a single notification from an app. When I scroll, the page moves in 3 pixel steps, nobody seems to quite know why, and even less people want to fix it.

I use Chromium on my OnePlus 6 with postmarketOS, I’m upset that it’s no longer possible to sync your google account without using the proprietary google-chrome (which isn’t available for arm64, for otherwise I would use it). Chromium doesn’t support the virtual-keyboard-unstable-v1 wayland protocol, so I must invoke the keyboard manually to type.

I half-attempt to use vencord-desktop on my OnePlus 6 with postmarketOS, it is a modified Discord client based on the web app (Discord doesn’t provide an arm64 Linux build, for otherwise I would use it). It doesn’t fit the screen, at some point I’ll try another client which includes mobile tweaks.

I use ProtonMail on my OnePlus 6 with postmarketOS, I guess I should switch at some point to a service which actually provides IMAP/SMTP. I use the Protonmail Progressive Web App (PWA) via Chromium and a custom desktop shortcut and it is easily the nicest app I use.

I use GTK4 apps on my OnePlus 6 with postmarketOS, they inconsistently support a back gesture to access the previous page, it’s hard to tell because the ones that do often fail to register it or only do so if you perform it on background components of the page. Some freeze mid-animation and refuse to exit.

I watch YouTube on my OnePlus 6 with postmarketOS, the PWA Chromium trick works well, although videos in fullscreen are sometimes offset to the side.

I don’t receive texts on my OnePlus 6 with postmarketOS. I should probably investigate, but nobody else has complained.

Eventually, it will get better

I’m angry, and I’m upset. The Android and iOS ecosystems succeed through their authority, through contralised governance and profit incentives they ENSURE that the stuff that needs to work does, and they force changes that are necessary. They provide a UI that works, and coerce app developers into using it.

We are not like this, we are a (mostly) flat structure of developers working predomnantly for passion, this is the defining feature of FOSS, and the core of what makes true user ownership possible.

But I have faith. The GNOME project recently obtained a HUGE grant, which will enable them to fix a lot of tech debt, and really level up. We have some big ideas for postmarketOS going forwards, and as of last week a full time developer in @craftyguy.


I have never been known as a patient person, especially when I have a good idea of what the future brings. But while I’m certain that we’ll improve the hardware suport, enabling the cameras, USB role switching, fingerprint reader, and other nice-to-have features on existing phones, and do the same for new ones; I feel like I lack the same confidence in userspace.

No doubt this is largely my naivity speaking, I’m not an app developer, and I don’t envy the work. And still I wonder to myself if we’ll ever get things in order.

I work on the OnePlus 6 because it was what I had, and I wanted to enable more people to use what they had to help us build a mobile ecosystem. And while this has absolutely happened, I still find myself constantly frustrated at the user experience.

And I’d like some hope

I didn’t intend for this post to be particularly negative, but when I write I usually just let things flow, and I guess this is how I’m feeling today.

I’m not disillusioned, things are much better than they have been in the past, there is clear progress being made. But nonetheless, there is a core lack in direction, and (from what I can see anyway) not much interest in fixing these core usability issues.

This is not to call out or blame any particular developers, everyone I know in this community cares deeply about this collective goal, and nobody should feel guilty about focusing on what they care about or taking time to look after themselves.