Last Updated on December 5, 2022 by KC7NYR
Plasma Mobile Gear 22.11 Is Out for Linux Phones and Tablets with Many Improvements
The KDE Project released today Plasma Mobile Gear 22.11 as the last update to this software suite for its Plasma Mobile UI for mobile devices before it’s merged with the KDE Gear software suite.
Plasma Mobile Gear 22.11 is packed with all sorts of changes to improve the scrolling performance of the Homescreen in the grid app list on low-end devices and fix support for the Meta key, improve the performance and contrast of the lockscreen, as well as to add support for device panel orientations.
This release also brings an updated design for the power menu that now includes a logout button, a new action drawer feature that lets users open the audio source app window by tapping on the media player, and updated Quick Settings to always open the mobile settings app and correctly display the marquee label in the Wi-Fi quicksetting.
The navigation panel has been improved as well in Plasma Mobile Gear 22.11 to make the Close button usable during app launching, the KScreen app now supports wakeups while the screen is off and the device is rotated, and the Weather app got scrollbars for views, revamped location list reordering, and updated settings dialog.
Many other Plasma Mobile apps have been improved in this release, including the Recorder app, which now features a full-screen layout, a revamped and easier-to-use recording player layout, an updated settings dialog, the ability to export recordings to a different location, and support for starting recordings immediately after pressing the Record button.
Furthermore, the Dialer app received support for changing the answer controls, call duration and caller ID support for the incoming call screen, as well as updated settings. On the other hand, the Spacebar app received support for attachment previews in notifications, the ability to view image attachment previews in the chat list, support for tapback reactions, a new confirmation dialog when deleting a conversation, as well as support for downloading MMS messages even when the device is also connected to Wi-Fi.
Also updated in the Plasma Mobile Gear 22.11 release is the Tokodon app, which features updated settings and timeline, and improved typography, as well as the NeoChat app, which now features end-to-end encryption, improved settings, new options for managing notifications settings directly from the app, new confirmation dialogs when signing out and when enabling end-to-end encryption, and easier switching between accounts.
Other than that, the Kasts app received streaming capabilities and support for listening to episodes without the need to download them first, the Audiotube app now features a lyrics view in the player, the ability to filter recent search queries, support for real album cover images, as well as a new pop-up menu with actions for each song, and the Raven app now has a new account setup.
The Settings have been improved as well with major fixes for the Cellular Network page, improved behavior when no SIM is present, helpful messages when isn’t configured in the APN page, as well as fixes for correctly setting accent colors from the wallpaper in the Colors page. The Terminal and Clock apps both received a few fixes as well.
As mentioned before, this is the last Plasma Mobile Gear release as the KDE Project decided to merge it with the KDE Gear software suite to simplify packaging. This also means that Plasma Mobile Gear will be discontinued as a project. For more details on that, check out the talks from Akademy 2022.
Pay Phones Are Coming Back in Philadelphia Thanks to Linux, No Quarters Required
As payphones have largely been superseded by cellphones, many cities have begun to remove them. One group in Philadelphia is actually putting them back in, and the new ones are powered by Linux and open-source software. Better yet, you don’t have to fumble for coins to use them.
Why PhilTel Is Reinventing the Pay Phone (Minus the “Pay” Part)
The project is spearheaded by PhilTel, an “amateur phone collective” based in Philadelphia. The project is building a network of public phones in the city that will allow anyone to make free calls within North America, according to Opensource.com. It was inspired by Futel, a similar project in Portland, Oregon.
Why are they doing this when most people are more likely to have a smartphone than loose change in their pockets?
According to PhilTel member Mike Dank, a lot of people don’t, either because they can’t afford one or because they just value their privacy. “My co-founder on this project does not own a mobile phone himself, so we have first-hand experience with what it is like to not have a phone on your person at all times and how important it is for there to be access to public telephones,” he told Opensource.
With pay phones in Philadelphia and many other cities being removed, Dank said that many residents who rely on these phones may be cut off from communications.
How Does the PhilTel Pay Phone Network Work?
The heart of PhilTel is a Linux-based virtual private server running the open-source PBX server Asterisk. This server connects the network of refurbished payphones to the public phone network via a VoIP service through some hardware that interfaces the analog phone to the digital network, and then to a router installed at the site which connects to the PBX server. The network traffic is encrypted with OpenVPN.
To ordinary callers, the phones will work the way they did in the analog era, minus the need to insert coins before making a call. There’s a special circuit board that takes the place of the coin acceptor equipment. Making calls will be completely free of charge.
What’s Next for PhilTel?
The first phone using the network will make its debut at Iffy Books on December 17, 2022, just in time for those who might want to make those holiday phone calls.
The collective has other plans for the network than just making phone calls. On their homepage, they mention that they’d like to implement a feature to randomly call other PhilTel phones, as well as calls to a network of collectors of vintage phone equipment connected to modern VoIP hardware. This will most likely be the C*NET network.
For PhilTel, it’s about maintaining a connection to the “phreaking” community of people exploring phone networks, perhaps the original hacker community.
Linux Helps You Stay Connected, on the Street or in Your Pocket
Linux’s open-source nature has made it popular for use in projects that its creators never envisioned. While it can power pay phones, it’s also become popular in mobile use, particularly Google’s Android. There are other Linux-based mobile operating systems that diehards can experiment with on their devices.