1 Desktop to Mobile Convergence Programs

Convergence is the ability to run the same programs on a variety of devices with screen widths ranging from 24 inch desktop monitors to 15 inch laptop screens to 5 inch mobile phone screens. It has been the dream of computer users for nearly 20 years. In this article, we will look at how this goal was achieved and review the status of nearly 100 convergent software programs. Below is an example of screen sharing between a laptop screen and a small portable desktop monitor.


Here is the Pinephone attached to a small portable desktop monitor.


Below is a Pinephone in Landscape position attached to an external keyboard with a USB hub.


Another image of the Pinephone attached to a hub which is attached to a monitor, a keyboard, a charger and an Ethernet cable.


The Pinephone shown above had only 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB on the hard drive (storage expandable by adding a MicroSD card). I did not recommend this model for the general public because in my opinion, true convergence requires at least 3 to 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB on the hard drive. 2 GB of RAM is simply to slow to run a fully functional convergent system.

In January, 2022, Pine 64 introduced the Pinephone Pro Explorer with 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB on the hard drive for only $400. It was the 4 GB of RAM that convinced me that real convergence was now possible. Clearly more advanced are needed in the software. But I think these improvements will be achieved by the end of 2022.

How was convergence finally achieved?
Microsoft tried for years to create a combination desktop to mobile operating system and failed miserably. The reason was simple. The Windows operating system is simply to bloated and too prone to back doors and malware attacks. When one includes the massive amount of updates needed with the base Windows 10 or 11 operating system, it is clear that Windows is nearly 5 times bigger than Linux. For example, the current Manjaro Phosh operating system we will review in this course is under 6 GB. Windows 10/11 is over 30 GB and with updates approaches 50 GB.

Ubuntu was next to attempt convergence. While not as bloated as Windows, Ubuntu also includes a bunch of bloated code.

So it was left to a small company called Purism to develop what I regard as the first convergent operating system – called Pure OS – in 2019. The problem was getting the actual Librem 5 phones – a process which can take years.

But in fact, several other developments occurred that made Pure OS possible. Pure OS is based on the free open source Debian operating system – which is created by thousands of people from around the world. In addition, the Phosh Display Environment, which stands for Phone Shell, is based on the Gnome Desktop Display Environment – which is also known as the Gnome Shell because it is graphical shell for the Linux operating system.

At the same time, there have been massive improvements in ARM processors with some speedy and reasonably priced processors not becoming available until 2020. Linus Torvalds personally committed the Linux project to the task of making Linux compatible with these new ARM processors – including devices based on these ARM processors.

Then in late 2021, Pine 64 announced the release of the Developer version of the Pinephone Pro which included these new fast ARM processors in addition to increasing the RAM to 4 GB.

But the hardware is only part of the Pinephone Pro story. The development of the software is even more amazing.

Because Purism is based on Debian OS and Gnome DE, they released Phosh as a free open source Display Environment – making it available for other teams of developers. A group of Debian developers combined Phosh DE with Debian to create the Mobian operating system. Another group of developers combined Phosh with the ARM version of Arch Linux to create the Arch Phosh operating system.

Arch is regarded as a challenging system because it is like providing just the foundation of a house and allowing us the freedom to build any house on top of the Arch Foundation. Because beginners may not be good at building houses, Arch is not recommended for beginners.

Thus a derivative or distribution based on Arch called Manjaro was started to create a more user friendly version of Arch – a version that gives us all a complete house and not just the foundation. Manjaro also has an ARM version (in addition to their normal X86 version). Thus Manjaro ARM was able to create a Manjaro Phosh operating system.

Independent of Phosh, a separate open source Linux community called KDE, creators of the popular KDE Plasma Display Environment for x 86 computers also created a Display environment for ARM computers. Both Arch and Manjaro then created operating systems using the mobile version of KDE Plasma.

There have been at least 100 other open source communities that have contributed to the development of a functional convergent computer system. These include Post Market OS (PMOS) which has both Phosh and KDE Plasma mobile options. Many open source projects have worked hard to make their programs “mobile screen” ready. We review some of these below.

Containers… The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Another important factor was the development of containers. Containers are isolated self- contained programs capable of running on a variety of operating systems and display environments. I am not a fan of either Snap (Ubuntu Microsoft) or Flatpak containers (RedHat IBM) because both are too bloated.

However, I am a fan of App Images which seems to be where the mobile app development is headed.


AppImageHUB is the current database of the AppImage package manager. They have over a thousand applications. Not only are the programs less bloated, but the system is a bottom up system rather than a top down system. The system is run by OpenDesktop.org to promote the use of free open source software. Here is the link:


Programs are divided into ten categories:


Education programs with App Images include Crow Translate and Stellarium. Graphics programs include Maui Pix, Blender, Imaginary Teleprompter, Xnview MP, Krita, GIMP and Flameshot. Internet programs include Libre Wolf browser, Brave browser, Thunderbird email manager and Firefox-AppImage browser. Office programs include LibreOffice as well as many text editors including Kate, Brackets, Leafpad and Geany. System tools include the bash terminal, Belena Etcher and KeepassXC. Video tools include Handbrake, VLC, Kdenlive, Open Shot, Avidmux, OBS, ClipGrab and Peek.

Note that many of these app images are outdated. For example, to get the latest “Fresh version of the LibreOffice App Image, go to this link. Then click on Download Fresh:


The file size is only 258 MB.

How to run an App Image
If using a Nautilus-based file manager (Files, Nemo, Caja): Open your file manager and browse to the folder of the AppImage. Right-click on the AppImage and click Properties. Switch to the Permissions tab and click the ‘Allow executing file as program’. Close the dialog and double-click on the AppImage file to run. You can also create a quick launcher for an AppImage by editing the path in the Gnome Apps menu. LibreOffice AppImages uses their own user profile folder, so they won’t conflict with the user profile of an installed version of LibreOffice. LibreOffice AppImages are currently only available as 64-bit, so they will only run on 64-bit Linux distributions. In other words, the processor needs to be a 64 bit ARM or x86 processor and not a 32 bit ARM. Note that just because there is an app image does not mean that it has a mobile friendly layout. But it makes it easier to do the extra work to make a mobile friendly version.

In short, the evolution of Convergence has been due to the work of perhaps hundreds of thousands of people working with hundreds of open source projects from around the world. Below are just some of the programs that have or are working on mobile friendly apps.

Over 100 Manjaro Phosh Free Apps
The primary reason we will focus on the Manjaro Phosh platform for the Pinephone Pro Phone is that after testing all of the major options, this was the only option that could reliably download nearly all of these programs. To be clear, I am not advocating that you actually download all of these programs. Simply that they are an option. It is likely that in the next year, other major Pinephone Pro distributions will also be able to download these programs. But if you want some of these programs to set up your own convergent system, currently, Manjaro Phosh is the easiest and most reliable option.

Here is a table of over 100 free apps to choose from
(these are the ones I recommend)




Audio Players

Good Vibes

simple internet radio player


Listen to your favorite podcasts


Find and listen to internet radio stations

Gpodder Adaptive

Pod Cast capture tool


music player with online radio support



e-book manager


Ebook viewer


Ebook reader


Ebook Creator



Gnome browser with privacy defaults


Libre Wolf

Based on Firefox


Based on Chromium


Convergent web browser




Elephant Remember

Reminder app built for Phosh that syncs with Gnome-Calendar



Phone call application


XMPP and SMS messaging and VoIP


Multi-user XMPP app


Send and receive email


Personal information manager that provides integrated mail, calendaring and address book


Email Manager


Jabber/XMPP messaging app

Matrix App

Telegram App

Signal App

Advanced Network Connections

Manage Ethernet and Wifi


SIP phone for voice/video calls and instant messaging (mobile and desktop) Linux App Image


high quality voice chat


Maui Dailer and contacts manager


Browser based video conferencing



Keep and organize your contact information Gnome


KDE Connect

Creates bridge between your Pinephone Pro and your home computer



multi-page document viewer (


Note taking app

Text Editor

general purpose text editor

PDF Arranger

PDF file merging, rearranging, and splitting

Libre Writer

Part of Libre Office

Libre Calc

Part of Libre Office

Libre Impress

Part of Libre Office

Font Installer



simple drawing app

Libre Draw

Part of Libre Office




RSS Atom News reader for GNOME

File Managers


 default file manager of the GNOME desktop (Nautilus)


File Manager for Mobile screens

Files Nemo

Midnight Commander?

File Sharing


securely and anonymously share a file of any size


Secure web based file sharing



access, organize and share your photos


Image Editor


Image Viewer


Image Editor

Color picker


Image editor





Pure Maps

Maps, turn by turn navigation

Mepo map viewer

works both offline and online

OSM Scout Server

Offline maps service for Pure Maps



 music player


simple music player


music and internet radio player 

Sound Recorder

Gnome sound recorder

KDE Minuet

Software for Music Education



HTML and CSS editor


Also called the console

Screen Capture


Versatile screen capture

Screen Shot

 take pictures of your computer screen Gnome

Screen Shot



Task Managers

To do

Personal Task Manager


Personal Task Manager



translation app for GNOME based on Google Translate

Crow Translator

translate and speak text using Google, Yandex and Bing



Wake up alarm


Gnome Calculator


world clocks, alarms, a stopwatch and a timer


fine-tune your mobile settings

Mate dictionary



Uses your webcam to take photos and videos


 local and online video player


Video and audio downloader

Video Downloader

Download videos from YouTube and many others

Screen Recorder


Video player

Video Trimmer

Trim videos quickly


GTK camera application



GNOME video player


Video downloader


Video file converter

Open shot

Video editor

Simple screen recorder

screen recorder



Weather forecast app

Additional Programs
I could only find a couple of programs that I need for my own convergent system that are not on this list. They are Gparted Partition Manager and Midnight Commander terminal based file manager. Both of these can be installed from the terminal.

On Manjaro, install midnight commander by opening the terminal and typing:
sudo pacman -S mc

To run Midnight commander, open a terminal and type mc

Here is the command to install Gparted:
sudo pacman -S gparted

What’s Next?
There is now plenty of software to set up a convergent system with the Pinephone Pro. In the next article, we will review some of the Linux ARM compatible hardware options for things like chargers, hubs, keyboards and monitors.