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Leonardo da Vinci said “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication“, but it seems like the “modern” computing world never heard that quote, or ignore it. Today, a single application takes hundreds of megabytes, both of disk and RAM space. Slow, buggy, inefficient systems at every level.

Probably the best example on this cluttering mess comes from the mobile computing. Most phones are bloated with useless software that not only hinders the navigation experience, but pose a threat to your privacy. Yes, all this software is proprietary. Worst of it, you can not even uninstall it.

Fortunately, there is hope. Let me introduce SXMO, the Simple X on Mobile project. As the authors describe it, SXMO is a minimalist environment for Linux smartphones, such as the PinePhone. SXMO embraces simplicity, and simplicity is both elegant and efficient.

MyGNUHealth running on PinePhone and SXMO
Full screen mode of MyGNUHealth on SXMO

SXMO uses a tiling window manager called dwm (Dynamic Window Manager), which allocates the different applications in the most efficient way. The dwm project is available as a single binary file, which source is intended not to exceed 2000 lines of code. That is amazing.

Simplicity is robust, and that again applies to SXMO. All the necessary components expected on a mobile phone (making and receiving calls, browsing the Internet, SMS messaging,..) just work. Moreover, SMXO comes with a scripting system that allow us to write solutions to our needs. For instance, the screenshots you see were taken with a script of 3 lines of code. Just place the little program under your “userscripts” directory, and voilà!, you’re ready to make screenshots from your PinePhone!

Browsing the Internet and the GNU Health homepage

Menu driven navigation in SXMO dwm in the PinePhone

In the end, most of current desktop environments today are huge, bloated and buggy. The discovery of SXMO has been an eyeopener. The perfect companion for my PinePhone.

I’m using SXMO on my PinePhone as a daily driver, and I just love it. Thanks to simple distributions such as Archlinux, Parabola or PostmarketOS, and simple Desktop / window managers as DWM, a am finally enjoying Libre mobile computing.

I feel projects like this take us back to the roots, to the beautiful world of simplicity, yet delivering the latest technology and showing us the path o the future.


SXMO: https://www.sxmo.org

Pine64: https://www.pine64.org/

GNU Health : https://www.gnuhealth.org

PostmarketOS: https://postmarketos.org/

Archlinux: https://www.archlinux.org

Parabola: https://www.parabola.nu/

Featured Image: Leonardo da Vinci, drawing of a flying machine . Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons