[Strategies] Bringing more sailors to SFOS

Hi all !

Recent posts about sailors leaving the boat got me thinking, how can we change things ?
The posts authors’ all had their reasons to leave, but they all complained about the lack of apps.

It is true that what makes an operating system is the applications, Amazon, Mozilla and Microsoft failed exactly because of this. I’m very glad that we have developers porting non native apps to SFOS, yet unfortunately it’s on their free time and they try to keep it up-to-date. The only, long-term, short human capital cost, solution to bring more official apps is for the companies to port their own. And this is the “strategy” I want to share with you.

Can’t tell if that’s everyone’s case but since I’ve started using SFOS I have always mailed the developer to ask for a native version of its app. 100% of the time I got a negative answer but my main goal was achieved : the developer knew there was something else out there.

Frankly speaking, and as many times repeated here, SFOS is not famous. And this is the reason why 99% of the companies don’t port their apps. (not famous therefore no possible clients)

My current strategy (maybe not the best, but the one adapted to my nonexistent technical knowledge) is to share the existence of SFOS. We are very fortunate to have a Youtuber talking about it and few articles here and there about how Huawei could have used SFOS… Clearly not enough for companies to get interested in. And the only way to make companies get interested in something is with benefits. So whenever I unsubscribe to a service that has a mobile app, on my feedback form, I explain that the reason why I left was due to the lack of a native application for SFOS.
I agree that the financial loss scale between one user leaving a service Vs. the cost to develop and keep on running an app is laughable.

To sum everything up :

  • The lack of apps is a recurrent reason why sailors leave SFOS and why some never get in.
  • If you can’t develop/port an app the only way to bring apps to SFOS is by asking companies to do so.
  • The only way to motivate companies is with market loss/earnings.
  • One cheap way to show a company that it is loosing clients/market share is by revoking subscriptions.
  • My current strategy is to, whenever I’m leaving a service, specify on the feedback form that I’m leaving due to the lack of native app on SFOS.

And you ? What is your strategy to bring more users/apps to Sailfish ?
(I’m also checking if banks/public service can be legally forced to port their apps)

[Edit 8 April] Jolla answered some questions regarding the strategies here (07:33:41)


If I could learn to, I’d be porting from Ubuntu Touch, helping to make flatpak support standard (with some sort of GUI to let you easily link the install location to your SD card), and I’d port apps from Android (if I knew how).

People come and go all the time. That is nothing new to any project. Those who seem to stick around are the ones that genuinely like and enjoy the project and community.

The main problem at this point isn’t big company apps. Those wont come at this point and not until SFOS builds a big enough userbase. The main issue is that the current community cant work as well as it could with jolla to overcome some more or less technical issues that seem to have stuck around for a long time and really hold SFOS back. Overcoming these will bring more features and possibly more users. And if you are doing it right more users will bring more users and so on.

To give an example. @nerd7473 mentioned flatpack. The support is there. However it cant be “used” because our compositor doesn’t support the latest wayland standard. And to support that you need a newer Qt which is something jolla must sort out. And there are many little or bigger areas like that in the OS.


The kind of advocacy you are doing, both to developers and (I assume) to other users is admirable and hopefully the word slowly spreads leading to some advances over time. I honestly applaud it. However, for companies to seriously want to create apps on a platform you need two things:

  • Enough users to make it interesting

  • A way to monetise

Of course an added bonus is to have a nice development environment (which can lead to side projects in companies). Point 2 would, in theory, be relatively straightforward to solve: provide a store with payments. Some apps would require almost no porting effort (games and entertainment). For whatever reason there seems to be resistance to do this (time constraints? political?), so could there be an 3rd party store with a monetisation model (with customer support and some amount of vetting) and only for apps that utilise the officially documents APIs? Basically an up market Jolla Store.

As to users, it’s always a chicken and egg with new platforms. Without apps there will be resistance, but that can somewhat be overcome through Android support. Additionally, however, there needs to be the business commitment to get them, and a mechanism. Installing 3rd party OSes is no small ask for most users (even when it’s relatively straightforwards with the official releases), so the only practical way to get substantial amounts of new users is to provide devices with the OS pre-installed — even if that was accomplished by reselling Sony devices, but providing device warranties and support. A bit like Jolla-Devices.com, but taken one step further.

At the moment there doesn’t seem to be so much business commitment to doing that, though I hope that could change with time. The long term viability of Sailfish may depend on it.


Hmm. Well, frankly I’m back after years (my Jolla phone, died in 2017) and am developing apps ‘because I can’. I’m just starting again but the professionalism of some inspires me. In one case I’ve taken on the (tidings rss) maint role because it’s an app that I use daily.

Today, I resurrected a long dead app (green mahjong) just for the hell of it. But, to be honest, if I look at the work of, for instance, the guys behind fahrplan, whisper, pure maps, or about that level, I won’t be able to perform … at that level.

Well at least not under current conditions since, like a lot of open source devs, I’m spread pretty thin.


Oh, and Ahoi. We are a baltic race, we southern sailors.

I do agree on several points mentioned above (incredible user side app development and old technology issues)

But before we get to the payment part that has already been discussed in other topics (like this one) I wish we could focus more on how we, as non technical users, can bring more applications.

Indeed I doubt Microsoft will release an Outlook/PowerPoint/Word app tomorrow for SFOS (they actually did release those apps for Android when Windows Phones were still alive, stabbing the project, so nothing is impossible). I’ve seen non Chinese companies release apps for the App Gallery (the Huawei application store), it’s indeed easier to port an app on Huawei phones than Sailfish but it’s a proof that big companies are able to develop apps even for markets that they are not present in yet.

PS: Is there a company able to develop SFOS apps (or QT apps in general) ? What’s their costs ?

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What you do is amazing. You are doing it like a true rebel.

But you are alone, if we unite. we can do sometnig. Maybe start a Telegram group, so we can discuss more.

But in the end official support from Jolla is needed. Its is clear as a glass that Jollas focus is somewhere in Russia :wink:

regarding to the lack of apps in SFOS, I suggest to add a layer to SFOS, that enables it to run usual ubuntu touch software on the Sailfish phone, in a way Aliendalvik does for Android apps.


Perhaps an inquiry or an inventarisation of most wanted apps? There are millions of apps and many of them are only used for a short time. Yet, banking apps will stay, so it is a good idea to contact banks. Zaster Banker is nice, but only for German banks.
A nice game will probably attract a lot of people. The problem is payment. If a game is really good, e.g. the games of Amanita design, you have to pay for it.

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It’s true @duleman that Jolla has more interests in focusing its development towards Russia since it’s Jolla’s biggest contractor as far as we know. Maybe the Yandex Group could be a nice start to ask for app porting ? I’m not against creating a Telegram group about this topic but I feel that I won’t be of much help with anything related to non latin characters …

@Seven.of.nine the problem with this approach is that there are not many apps in UT neither and those present in UT are already present in Android(there are of course exceptions).

@Kea if we focus on today’s most downloaded apps (thus focusing on bringing more external users) they are all social media apps : facebook, messenger, tiktok, instagram, covid 19 nation tracing apps, teams, gmail, etc…

With Jolla currently focusing on professional clients (companies) rather than the public, the portage of some app would not make sense to me Why would someone want to install TikTok on it’s work phone ?

On the other side, porting 2FA apps that many companies use to secure the internet access of their employees seems to me to be more rational. (But also Teams, document edition, etc…)

For the bank apps part, it’s funny for me to see how this kind of app is important to some knowing that I must open my bank app like twice a week. But I would indeed love to see the Deutsche Bank on my phone too.

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@jojo Do we really want apps like facebook, tiktok etc. installed on our phones? I think many sailors use SFOS because of privacy. It would make sense to have native/official/integrated apps like Protonmail, Tutanota (work mostly in browser), Matrix, Signal…

@Seven.of.nine apps from UT - maybe use flatpak after some modifications?

Anyway, default apps from Jolla are sometimes too basic… sms app still doesn’t have searching after many years.

Another problem today is (almost) no support for smart gadgets (smartwatches, fitness trackers, drons, digital weight etc.) and NFC payments - GooglePay/ApplePay. I have Xiaomi electric scooter but I can’t check battery, speed etc. on my SFOS smartphone of course and I must use second smartphone with Android for this.

For popularity is also bad that don’t exist any phone and tablet with preinstalled SFOS available in shops.

I most missed some Excel/Calc/Gnumeric app, good ebook reader (something like Foliate on desktop)… and Zoom and Messenger in Sailbook.


looking at how easy it is to flash OSes to a pinephone Sailfish feels quite restricted there. An specific OS that operating only with a small number of handsets after nerdy operations will not easily grow (and Ubunto touch has quite a good app selection too).


UI and UX are one of the reasons that I’m currently obsessed with this.


don’t get it, there is even less software on ubuntu touch and the QML stuff can be made cross platform with ease… look at Fahrplan among others. I’ve not looked at building my own stuff ‘cross’ platform but in the main QML apps ‘are’ cross platform. It’s mainly a question of using (or not) Silica stuff from Jolla. You can build stuff for SFOS that ignores SFOS specifics and ‘just runs’ on Ubuntu touch. Or so I believe.


It’s easy to install SFOS on Fairphones and Vollaphones. You CAN make it hard if you install Unbuntu touch (or Mobian) FIRST (I did, it hurt). But, I don’t see how the pinephone is ‘easier’ than flashing SFOS on FP2 or Volla?


Buy a vollaphone and run: https://ubports.com/ … it’s dead simple. but, I’m not suggesting the vollaphone is a ‘good phone’. I’m just using one


@Kuba77 in a perfect future the hole world would use FOSS services that don’t share your data with third parties… but unfortunately I struggle foreseeing. External users (a work colleague for example) may need to have WA or Messenger or LinkedIn apps to speak with clients, other workers etc… so moving to SFOS would be a no go for this person. So do we want those apps ? Some may say no. Do we need those apps to bring more sailors ? Yes.

I do agree that the SMS app does basic SMS stuff and that today I would like to be able to send an MMS in a simpler way than from my gallery.

Yes, no support for smart gadgets is a downside, I don’t know if the latest Sony phones are BLE compatible with SFOS. But it remains an issue only solvable by the manufacturer.

Payment with the smartphone feels like an impossible task because well… first we need banks to come along.

For phones with SFOS already installed there is as mentioned by @Setok jolla-devices.com

@danielfinsler looking at how easy it was for me to set SFOS on my Xperia X I don’t see any difficulty in the process. There is a possibility to make it more user friendly with videos and pictures but it’s fine for me today and I’m not particularly a very experienced technical profile.

@poetaster you installed SFOS on non Xperia phones and it was easy, is that what you’re saying ? Do you have the Android app support too ?

It’s like giving up before the war, all indians use 2-sim card phones and they still have two physical both dual sim, your external work colleague probably already carries a work phone, private phone still makes sense for all these users, google-free is slowly gaining steam

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don’t use android apps. I came from meego->sailfish(jolla)-> android and now back because of how much android sucks.

It was easy ‘noob’ user easy to install SFOS on the volla phone with ubports. Lineage would have been more difficult.

For me, what was important is that you are not alone where things like Signal and co. Are concerned. I’m working on some apps (might still take on Facebook) and app development is certainly ‘doable’.

I mean in the sense that there is a base and QT/QML ist a proven platform. The problem is getting traction against Google.

However, Android had an edge on Apple (I’m an old apple guy, first mac, 1986) and IOS took a bit of time to catch up. In 2001 (when apple shares where 6 bucks) nobody would have guessed that a music player box would lead to the iphone. Still, back and forth, Android dominates in numbers and ios, sort of, as a platform?

Nah. Nokia was better 20 years ago and SFOS is still a better base, and many of the original concepts from Jolla are still bloody brilliant. Else I wouldn’t have come back.

And I was REALLY disappointed with the Jolla Phone. One step at a time. … erg… I think I’m writing a developer rant.