Debian + i3 inside Sailfish OS, F(x)tec Pro¹ slider phone

*Thanks to Illyria’s work on developing sailfish-containers ( to make use of LXC on SFOS and make GUI frontend for it,…

Thanks to Illyria’s work on developing sailfish-containers and a GUI frontend to use LXC on SFOS, users can now run full-fledged desktop distributions on their phone, and X works great on Debian out of the box. The app has not been released yet, but should be out in a few days. Keep an eye on the Github repository and the SFOS community app store somewhere next week.

The demo video shows Debian with i3wm, polybar and a bit of ricing running as a LXC container within SailfishOS on the F(x)tec Pro¹. Hopefully the video shows that it is very usable in real world with the keyboard of the Pro¹, not just a proof of concept. For those who don’t like tiling WMs, XFCE4 also works perfectly fine.

The Pro¹ doesn’t have stellar specs (it shines in other aspects), but SFOS is very light and performance is really good. Battery life is about the same as without a container running, you can go through the day with normal use. Multitasking works great, and since the container just behaves as another SailfishOS app, all features of SailfishOS as still there without the need for multiboot. In other words, you can have a full-featured Linux desktop distribution in your pocket together with all mobile and telephony features of SailfishOS. CPU usually sits at about 5 to 6%; the video shows higher values but that is mostly because apps are starting.

Video content:

  • 00:10 Starting the Debian container from SFOS
  • 00:26 nmail email client
  • 00:46 SFOS multitasking with the container running as an app
  • 00:57 Firefox (with some CSS tweaks to adapt the UI to my liking), showing various websites in Desktop view, Discord web app, tab switching
  • 01:46 Stream a video URL in mpv, and show mpv as a floating window in i3
  • 02:11 cmus, the best music player ever
  • 02:54 nnn file browser, showing contexts (similar to tabs), and live previews in Kitty terminal (including images)
  • 03:12 Epub reading with mupdf
  • 03:44 Text editing with kakoune, showing markdown-pdf live conversion (note that a markdown-docx conversion was automated at the same time using pandoc, with no performance issue) and live-previews in mupdf
  • 04:25 rofi app launcher (there are other rofi modis that I didn’t show)
  • 04:30 Libreoffice Writer to edit the freshly converted .docx file
  • 04:56 i3lock feature
  • 05:15 i3expo (i.e., an exploded view of all current workspaces, similar to Alt+Tab previews in other WMs)

  • Device: F(x)tec Pro¹
  • OS: Host: SailfishOS, guest: Debian Sid
  • Icons: Papirus-dark
  • WM: i3-gaps
  • Other: browser is Firefox with some custom CSS tweaks, email client is nmail, text editor is kakoune, video player is mpv, music player is cmus, pdf/epub viewer is mupdf.

Useful links

That phone is sexy as hell, also this is insane.


It should work reasonably well for touch-only devices too:

I’ve wanted this fxtec phone since way back when it was in development as the Moto Z keyboard mod. The prospect of running (non-Android) Linux on it is exciting. It feels almost like it was made for it.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Linux is a family of open source Unix-like operating systems based on the Linux kernel, an operating system kernel first released on September 17, 1991 by Linus Torvalds. Linux is typically packaged in a Linux distribution (or distro for short).

Distributions include the Linux kernel and supporting system software and libraries, many of which are provided by the GNU Project. Many Linux distributions use the word “Linux” in their name, but the Free Software Foundation uses the name GNU/Linux to emphasize the importance of GNU software, causing some controversy.

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