As promised in December 2012, Jolla, the company behind the SailfishOS, has released an Alpha SDK of the operating system targeted at developers. The SDK is currently supported only on Linux systems (Fedora 18 and Ubuntu 12.10), but a PC and Mac-compatible version is in the works.

The Sailfish SDK consists of the Qt Creator integrated development environment (IDE), the Mer build engine for cross-compilation, the SailfishOS emulator, tutorials on developing apps and design guidelines for the same, repositories for additional libraries, UI components, the SailfishOS UI framework and Sailfish handset application interfaces.

The SailfishOS was shown off late last year

The SailfishOS was shown off late last year

Jolla has placed great emphasis on the adaptability of the OS and claims Sailfish will support smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, automotive devices and more. Developers will be able to build solutions using existing open source projects such as Qt, Mer Core, and the Linux kernel. In fact, the company expects the community to participate in many aspects of building the fledgling OS.

Jolla showed off the SailfishOS, being developed by the company’s Sailfish Alliance division, in November 2012 through a video released worldwide. The focus of the OS is multitasking and users are able to interact with running applications directly on the home screen. Ending a call or pausing a song is possible without entering the application.

Gestures are another big focus of the SailfishOS and are intended to make the UI easier to navigate with one hand. A unique “Pulley” system is used on the home screen. ‘Pulling’ the screen down reveals a menu and the further you pull, the more items you will see. Critical information like battery status, missed calls and events are just a swipe away. Notifications are accessed from any app with a swipe from the right edge to the left side. A back button is missing, but just swiping from left to right will take users back to their previous app or screen.

The video was released after the company secured $258 million in funding last October, raised from “a variety of telecommunications players” including OEMs, ODMs, chipset makers, operators and retailers. Jolla's chief Jussi Hurmola said at the time that the funding comes as part of a new ecosystem alliance based in Hong Kong.

2013 is fast becoming the year of the open source operating systems. Ubuntu made a splash by releasing the Ubuntu Touch preview for Nexus smartphones and tablets, and then at the Mobile World Congress, Mozilla announced its first Firefox OS devices, the ZTE Open and the Alcatel One Touch Fire. Samsung too released the Tizen 2.0 SDK a few days ago and gave the world a better glimpse at the new OS.

SailfishOS is only one of at least four open source operating systems expected this year. Besides the ZTE and Alcatel devices, Sony have hinted at launching devices running the Firefox OS. Then there is Ubuntu’s mobile OS that Canonical will release on devices this October. Samsung is also involved in the MeeGo-based Tizen OS, which will first see a launch in Japan, followed by the rest of the world. Samsung recently integrated elements and UI aspects of its homegrown Bada OS into the Tizen project.

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