A slick phone Linux for your pocket PDA? Ooh, don’t mind if I do, sir

Sailfish has become the fourth OS to be officially supported on Planet Computing’s pocket computer, the Gemini PDA, and eager beavers can download an image from Planet today.

Planet has also released an official Debian distro for download. The keyboard-toting device boots into Android, while support for the Ubuntu flavour of Linux is slated.

Sailfish matters because it’s a Linux created primarily with phones and pocket devices in mind – although it will run on static kit like TVs, too. Nokia launched its first Linux tablet in 2005, and the Maemo platform underpinning it morphed into Meego after Intel joined in 2010.

For the next year it was Nokia’s primary hope of catching up with Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS, absorbing enormous resources in a frantic race to create shippable code (see here and here).

That was until Stephen Elop announced a decision to bet the company on Microsoft’s Windows Phone. Nokia didn’t need a Linux then – just one Meego phone ever appeared, the Nokia N9 – and Jolla was born, renaming Meego as Sailfish.

Jolla failed to sell many phones. We’re not sure why it bothered, frankly – but its time may yet come given disquiet over Google’s grip on Android. And one legacy of that wasted effort at Nokia was a slick, gesture-based UI.

You can see an early version of Sailfish on the Gemini here:

Youtube Video

Up to now only the bravest could attempt to flash Gemini with Linux – my intrepid colleague Richard Speed did just that here.

The reborn Psion was designed to support multiple operating systems with the user choosing at boot time which to run, and Sailfish was first revealed at Mobile World Congress.

Planet founder Janko Mrsic-Fogel said that the company has developed a new “online management platform” that allows users to customise their device by selecting their primary, secondary and tertiary operating systems, as well as a recovery mode. This should make it easier to flash the selected OS onto their Gemini.

You can find the partition tool here – it all looks very point-and-click. What could possibly go wrong? ®

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