So here is a small story. Some years ago my wife gave me a “generation one” iPad as a present – my first touch screen device. Since the iPad had a solid state drive, it would outlast, on a full battery charge, any notebook with a conventional hard drive that I had at the time. I could, and did, fly from Sydney to Los Angeles and keep using my iPad. Yet my initial euphoria was short lived. I quickly found myself in Apple’s “Walled Garden.” I had to “buy to try,” and more often than not, apps failed to provide the feature depth and breadth of comparable applications on Microsoft Windows or Linux – even where the Windows or Linux competitors were entirely free. Frequently, I found myself buying multiple apps for the same purpose to arrive at something to my liking. Very early did I realise that if I wanted the functionality I sought, I would need to build it myself. Cydia already provided access to a host of GNU / Linux applications on the iPhone, but only terminal based. I wanted Java. I wanted a GTK desktop. I wanted the iPhython notebook (to tun OCaml). I wanted a tiling window manager that routed my apps to virtual desktops on demand – load balancing for touch screen apps. And I wanted it on my iPhone. So I built it and I called it QMole. A mole because it subsumed what was there (the garden) and “Q” because I didn’t want another “I” something. Screenshots here.
Over the years, QMole served me well. I built everything on the iPhone and iPad. In due time, I had built almost an entire “Linux” distribution with some 170 Debian packages, comprising some 42 million lines of code. As time went on, Apple changed from 32 bit CPUs to 64 bit CPUs. The format for executables on iOS changed a number of times. Ultimately, I had to decide if I wanted to maintain my own Linux distribution or give Linux back to whom it belongs: the community.
So today I have done just that. I released QMole open-source on Github. A separate Github repository holds the Debian packages which makes for a smaller download footprint. QMole is licensed under the GPL.
Let it fly free (hence the painting of the flying mole).
If you require licence terms different from the GPL, feel free to get in touch with me.
Happy hacking !