Why aren't more core table stakes apps open sourced to speed up progress?

Wondering about things like Notes, Gallery, etc. My thinking

  • some apps have no intrinsic value in the competitive landscape, these are table stakes just to be in the game
  • as an example, Notes, Gallery as daily drivers show weakness with plenty of missing table stakes features
  • Notes missing: markdown checklist, online sync ability, just to name a few things
  • Gallery missing: image tagging, or some other organization method - it’s nearly impossible to find something after a while (granted, automation for it may be a super-difficult problem, but serves as an example)
  • table stakes apps have shown little progress when measured in years(!), because Jolla’s team has its hands full with just shipping core OS updates, and device adapation fixes
  • we do have a bunch of motivated and skilled community members, that could present options, and drive various PRs forward
  • fragmenting scarce available developer attention into “everybody writing a better Notes app” just benefits competition, Sailfish will never catch up with this strategy - kind of like “Is the year of Linux desktop here yet? No, everyone is busy making yet another distro or desktop environment.” (Although I’m daily driving Gentoo for all work since 2014, and server was built in 2004, many deep gut surgeries but never reinstalled, working fantastic.)

So what’s keeping these table stakes apps locked behind closed doors? Please send links to previous discussions, if I’ve missed any (search didn’t deliver clear matches).


That would be a good topic for a community meeting


I still haven’t gotten over the senseless redesign of the Notes cover from six years ago. The font is so big it only fits about three halves of words.

To dive deeper into this discussion, though: Jolla’s main product - to businesses/governments - now seems to be not the base OS, but the Android App Support for Linux, and the base OS is mostly used to sell the Android App Support. To me, this sounds like an excellent opportunity for them to (finally) relicense the old GPLv2 as well as the currently proprietary components of the base OS to GPLv3, continue working on it but allow third parties to contribute, letting the OS, and by extension Jolla, benefit from massive performance improvements and quick fixes to lots of long-standing papercuts.

As an example (to Jolla), look at what Valve is doing with the Steam Deck - they’re putting enormous amounts of money into development of free GNU/Linux software, as well as what is basically a “Windows App Support for Linux” (Proton), with all of these contributions being published under free software licenses and made freely available to all GNU/Linux users, despite their core products - the Steam games client and Steam games store - being proprietary. Of course, they have much deeper pockets than Jolla’s ever had, but the strategy is paying off. In only a relatively short period of time, countless software (not only video games, but drivers and such as well) that used to work poorly or not at all on GNU/Linux, now works near flawlessly thanks to the compatibility layer, which is allowing more and more people to move towards using GNU/Linux, without feeling like they’re missing out on some Windows-exclusive software.
Of course, the situations aren’t exactly the same, because where Valve develops Proton to sell their games, Jolla’s App Support is the product. However, if you think of it as Sailfish being the means to sell Android App Support, it only makes sense to completely pivot towards publishing Sailfish under free licenses and using the clout gained there to boost Android App Support. In a sense, this is already what they’re doing right now in a B2C sense with Sailfish X, they just haven’t gone all the way.


@nthn well the problem with Android App Support is that as long as it doesn’t have BT full access then it’s not full featured product. Many, many apps do require BT and we have more and more junk on shop shelves that require this. Not that I’m a fan of this or buying this kind of stuff but the options are shrinking quickly.


If anybody wants to contribute to something, Jolla has requested the community to contribute to the implementation of Camera2 API which is fairly more urgent than what has been requested here, but it does not look like anything has been done.


Yeah, hardware compatibility work sounds like the near-end of the difficulty spectrum, too, though.

But overall, I agree, I am also not making many illusions about the community’s bandwidth to noticeably help out.

But if the repos for table stakes things stay private, I think the big picture success chance is near-zero. Any extra percentage probably helps.


Maybe because Camera2 is way beyond in complexity than a notes app. I know enough Qt and QML to create some PRs for a notes app but I don’t have the time to learn a whole new difficult field like Camera2 api.

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Hey, and thank you for opening the discussion of this very important topic.

The original post contains really good concrete arguments and I hope this topic will be further discussed in a community meeting. I’d suggest it myself, but the next time I’m able to make it in to the meeting myself is in the late April.

I have a friend who I’ve introduced to this OS, since they are considering to ditch iOS / Android / other spyware-OSes for good. However, they are not feeling comfortable with having so many closed-source apps in their phone. I couldn’t give them a satisfactory explanation for Jolla’s policy of close-sourcing almost every single Sailfish app.

EDIT: adding missing words


Is this only regarding the apps from Jolla Store?

By Sailfish apps I mean the default system apps. Sorry, for being unclear. I was just trying to follow Jolla’s convention of naming them “Sailfish apps”.

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Yes, the browser needs more love but it seems that Jolla doesn’t do much.
From Jolla Store I have only Audio Recorder, Mail and Sailfish Utilities. All the rest is from Storeman and Chum.

I think the SFOS Browser is OpenSource. The LICENSE.txt mentioned that the Browser is published under Mozilla Public License 2.0 .
But I agree, it is really strange that some apps/components are not Open Source, even if the source is readable (qml files). I don’t really see any advantages to let the apps staying closed source and this topic is since the release of SFOS a pain point for the community. I am also afraid that at some point the other linux based smartphone os will catch up SFOS and beat it because of the closed components and the outdated qt version.

EDIT: @Seven.of.nine you are right, I was really surprised when I checked the public repository. I was not aware that there is no real progress any more. The last public merge into the master branch was April 2022. We can see that there is some work in the backgroup via Code frequency (probably on some other branches). It is also possible that Jolla work on a private repository.