Jolla has refreshed Sailfish, the Linux-based mobile operating system designed for those seeking to escape the clutches of Android and iOS.
The latest update – version 3.4 – was named after the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park in Lapland, located north of the Arctic Circle. Jolla has overhauled the browser, added experimental support for ARM64 and the Rust programming language, and introduced new features for corporate users.
On the browser front, Jolla has updated the engine to Gecko ESR52. ESR stands for "Extended Support Release" and is broadly analogous to a long-term support (LTS) release. Gecko ESR52 isn't the latest and greatest, but nonetheless represents a significant upgrade, with improved standards compliance and compatibility.
For business customers, Jolla has introduced the ability to have multiple users per device. In addition to the default admin account, up to six additional users can have an account on the device, albeit with limited permissions. This accompanies support for the creation of ActiveSync accounts using a personal SSL certificate, and the ability to automatically back up files to a remote cloud service.
Jolla also touted its experimental support for Rust, which the firm said will primarily be used in browser development, although didn't discount the possibility of using it elsewhere. This came with tentative support for the AArch64 (commonly referred to as ARM64) architecture, although Jolla noted that this isn't used by any existing Sailfish hardware and is not considered stable.
I'm sailing away...
Sailfish is a continuation of the MeeGo Project, which was initially conceived by Intel, the Linux Foundation, and Nokia as an all-encompassing operating system that would run across PCs, internet-connected household gadgets, and mobile. Just two MeeGo smartphones actually saw a release: the Nokia N9 and the N950, with the latter exclusively sold to developers.
The project suffered a crushing blow in 2011 when, under the leadership of then-CEO Stephen Elop, Nokia decided to throw its weight behind Windows Phone. This prompted Intel to lose interest, and the Linux Foundation to shift development to Tizen.
That wasn't the end. Former MeeGo developers decided to continue carrying the torch, renaming the operating system to Sailfish and forming a new startup called Jolla. Although Jolla largely failed to drive a wedge between the Android and iOS duopoly, it nonetheless managed to release several devices under its own steam, before switching to a licensing-based business model.
The biggest coup came in 2016, when Russia's government selected Sailfish as its first certified approved mobile operating system, greenlighting it for official and corporate use. In practice, iOS and Android remain dominant in Russia, as well as within the wider CIS nations. ®