PostmarketOS team makes progress towards goal of 10 year smartphone lifecycle
PostmarketOS marked the end of 2017 with an update on the progress they've made over the 219 days since the project started. The goal of the project is to extend the life of older Android (and some other ARM-based) devices which are no longer receiving security updates. Custom Android ROMs are already helping bring security updates to selected phones and tablets which are no longer supported by the manufacturer, but since these ROMs evolve with Android, they still reach a point where the operating system is too heavy for older hardware. PostmarketOS aims to bring security to older phones by using the very lightweight Alpine Linux distribution and unifying the code base as much as possible to allow security updates to be made for multiple devices at once.
As a Linux-based OS, there are multiple GUIs to choose between. For a more phone-like experience, the UI from LuneOS (based on WebOS) is a lightweight option or KDE's Plasma Mobile which is likely to be better suited for SoCs from the last three years or so. Unfortunately, since development is in the early stages, fundamental features are missing — like the ability to make phone calls. If you're looking to repurpose an old phone or tablet into something else then Gnome, MATE, and XFCE4 are also options when using keyboard and mouse via OTG. Lilliputing points out that PostmarketOS could allow for old hardware to be used for things like a [small capacity] file server or secure IoT device for your home.
The list of supported devices is still growing, but among the newly added devices we see the Kindle Fire HDX, Nexus 6P, LG G4, Moto G 2015, OnePlus One, OnePlus X, Galaxy S3, Galaxy S4, Xperia Z1, Xperia Z3 Compact, and Xiaomi RedMi 3. Some of these are still supported with security updates by ROMs such as LineageOS, and for most people this is the better option for now.