Mobile NixOS: the Present and the Future

A bit about the past

Over at the NixOS Discourse instance, I made a thread about a year ago, in which I introduced the Mobile NixOS project. Explained in a sentence, it aims is to allow booting a useful nix-built, NixOS Linux distribution system on existing mobile devices.

I am using the term mobile devices to describe cellphones, tablets and other unusual form factor devices. The goal is to target both existing devices and new built-to-be-open devices. Targeting existing devices comes from a practical reason, and from an ideological reason. Someone is likely to have a previous phone laying around, which they hopefully can use as a first compatible device. Ideologically speaking, this is to reduce mindless consumption of yearly-bought devices. Your old phone is likely still good.

On the software side of thing, it is mostly for ideological purposes. The user of a device should own it throughout, being allowed to control the software aspects as much as possible. I believe it is a base right for the end-user to run custom software, including the operating system. Any device not allowing that is, simply put, not respecting the intelligence of the user.

The current state

Things evolved for a few months as a side-project. Being busy with work and other engagements made it hard to spend a meaningful amount of time to progress. Still, things progressed and three different android-based devices are booting to stage-1 in master, with work on other devices being in progress.

Earlier this year, I learned about the Next Generation Internet initiative from NLnet. I submitted a proposal for the Mobile NixOS project. The NLnet Foundation showed interest. To cut things short, the project has been accepted for funding, through the PET Fund. Read the description on NLnet's project page to understand their interest in the project.

What does this mean? Starting as of this week, I am working full-time on the Mobile NixOS project. This is an exciting development for me, since I wanted to work with or on NixOS-related things in the near future.

The future

I have some drafts for the future, though they are not ready to be shared. I will work on writing more about the broad strokes and share them soon.

Since I am working full-time on the project, I will provide updates at least semi-regularly here.

With that said, I can at least say that the first steps will be tackling the issues with pivoting to stage-2, adding support for the PinePhone, and do a good pass of cleanup in the repository, ensuring solid foundations to work on.