Brussels / 4 & 5 February 2023


Can Genode on the PinePhone question the notion of a smartphone?

The PinePhone appeals to those of us who seek autonomy from dominant platform corporations. The talk introduces a new operating system for the PinePhone that is not based on Linux but on Genode. With such an unorthodox underpinning, we found ourself inspired to reimagine the dual notion of the phone as a highly dependable and secure appliance, and as a host for general-purpose applications. The talk will give an overview of Genode, present technical tidbits, and of course demonstrate the OS.

It is hard to imagine our society without smartphones. With the convenience of those handy companions, however, comes the dependence from platform providers who curate, manage, and update the devices for us. This central role has become an incredible leverage for the platform vendors, like Google and Apple. Those of us who want to escape the reach of those powerful corporations find the prospect of openness and transparency of the PinePhone hard to resist.

Even though the PinePhone is primarily meant for the use with Linux, it deserves more than one operating system kernel! Driven by the vision of a truly trustworthy smartphone, we have built a custom operating system for the PinePhone. Its uncompromising architecture is a radical departure from existing Linux-based systems. It combines microkernel technology, capability-based security, sandboxed device drivers, and custom system-control-processor firmware with a new user interface that diverges from the beaten track in interesting ways.

The talk by Genode developer Norman Feske will present the outcome of the past two years of intensive development, touching topics ranging from energy management, over voice telephony and mobile-data connectivity, up to applications like the Morph web browser. It goes without saying that the talk wouldn't be complete without showing the new OS in action.


Photo of Norman Feske Norman Feske