Online / 5 & 6 February 2022


Genode meets the Pinephone

Driven by the vision of a truly trustworthy smartphone, I dedicated the past year to bringing the component-based Genode OS to the Pinephone. The talk presents my experience story, touching on the hardware, booting, the porting of the kernel, component-architecture concerns, and device drivers.

Smartphones have become a commodity almost everyone relies on. With the convenience, however, comes complexity that is impossible to comprehend and constantly changing. The opaqueness of hardware and software puts the user in a subordinate position, making their devices - and by extension many aspects of their life - dependent on the decisions of a few dominant corporations. Our personal devices are constantly changing under our fingertips. Steady updates are presumably needed to stay secure, similar to how medicine is needed to stay healthy. But are the incentives of the platform providers aligned with my interests?

I want my digital life healthy without a constant supply of medicine! To reinforce trust, both hardware and software must become transparent, traceable, and tractable. The Pinephone satisfies the urge for transparency of the hardware, thanks to publicly available schematics and documentation. However, the predominant software stacks - even though based on the open-source Linux kernel - are practically inscrutable because of their immense complexity. Genode's rigid component architecture promises to bring order and clarity - and thereby trustworthiness - to the software.

Over the course of the past year, I pursued the combination of Genode with the Pinephone, diving deep into the Pinephone schematics, the SoC, booting, Genode's kernel, and device drivers. In my talk, I present the experiences made, touch on the use of Linux drivers directly on Genode, and draft a plan forward. The talk will be garnished by a demonstration.


Photo of Norman Feske Norman Feske