How former Nokia employees make a mobile OS “Aurora” for officials

On July 1, it became known that Rostelecom is planning to transfer officials to the Aurora operating system. This project is estimated at 23.2 billion rubles , and its implementation will take 6 years.

But what is this operating system and why is it paying so much attention?

Authors “Aurora” – former employees of Nokia

In 2011, there was no such fierce competition in the operating system market. In addition to Android and iOS, at that time there was Windows Phone, and Samsung was trying to promote Tizen. Therefore, a small team of developers, including former Nokia employees, decided to release its operating system called Sailfish OS.

The system was developed on the basis of operating systems Maemo and MeeGo. The first version of Sailfish OS was released in 2013 with a smartphone under the brand Jolla.

The main bet was made on the management of a smartphone using gestures and support for Android applications.

Sailfish OS had a small set of features, even when compared to Windows Phone. Applications had to be installed manually by downloading apk-files on the Internet: there was no Google Play Market in the operating system.

The system did not take off, not only because of its limitations, but also due to the fact that manufacturers refused to install it. As a result, Sailfish OS has gained popularity only in specialized forums, where users discussed installing it on their Android smartphones.

Change of strategy and the emergence of Rostelecom

How former Nokia employees make a mobile OS “Aurora” for officials

For several years, the fate of the project was in limbo. However, despite the lack of sponsors, the system continued to develop and delight small fans with regular updates.

In 2015, Jolla decided to offer Sailfish OS to organizations and governments of different countries under the pretext that it is the only operating system independent of large corporations.

Any country can buy a Sailfish OS license and get full access to the system up to the source code. In this development partners can be used by other customers Jolla.

One of the first countries that became interested in buying Sailfish OS was Russia. To this end, Rostelecom registered the Open Mobile Platform LLC (OMP) company in April 2016, where it is the owner of a 75 percent stake. From this moment begins the story of Sailfish Mobile OS RUS, which will then be called “Aurora”.

It is important to note that Rostelecom did not purchase Jolla, which owns Sailfish OS . He only acquired the right to develop and promote this system in Russia.

Developing Sailfish Mobile OS RUS

Six months after the creation of the weapons of mass destruction and the signing of the contract with Jolla, Sailfish Mobile OS RUS was added to the Unified Register of Russian software.

In September 2016, ViPNet Client from the Russian company InfoTeX was released for Sailfish Mobile OS RUS. It is responsible for “safe and reliable access to corporate resources, business applications, corporate portals, and mail. In addition, a VPN client works on its base.

In February 2017, Sailfish Mobile OS RUS received certification from the FSB, which confirms the security of the system.

The certificate states that the protected mobile general purpose operating system based on Sailfish Mobile OS RUS complies with the Requirements to protect confidential information from unauthorized access and can be used to protect information that does not contain state secret information.

This is how the Aurora appeared for officials.

In May 2018, Rostelecom appealed to the Ministry of Communications with a proposal to develop a decree that would oblige Russian federal officials to use smartphones with Sailfish Mobile OS RUS.

Then the cost of execution of the decision was estimated at 160.2 billion rubles. So much money was needed to buy smartphones for 7.9 million officials.

In February 2019, Sailfish Mobile OS RUS was renamed “Aurora” . The Russian system should have a name in Russian, says Rostelecom President Mikhail Oseevsky.

In July 2019, Vedomosti reported that Rostelecom’s plans had changed slightly. The number of officials who should switch to smartphones with Aurora was proposed to be reduced to 1.4 million. Accordingly, the costs also decreased. Now, the project will need 23.2 billion rubles.

At the same time, there was no new information from Rostelecom on this issue since 2018. The news of 2019 is based on sources of “Vedomosti”, which can not confirm the words of each other.

A federal official and a person who knew about this from another federal official told Vedomosti. According to one of them, the offer is complex: a smartphone on the Aurora and communication services to it – and six years to be realized. Another source of “Vedomosti” believes that it is about smartphones and tablets, other details are not known to him.

What is the real fate of this initiative is unknown. A spokesman for the Russian president, Dmitry Peskov, said that “ there is no substantive discussion , no decisions have been made on this score.”

What devices will work “Aurora”

On May 22, 2019, the Russian company Aquarius introduced the Cmp NS208 tablet managed by Aurora.

The manufacturer claims that the device is assembled from Russian components. This cannot be verified, but such a statement is doubtful.

The tablet is IP67 protected and can operate at temperatures from -20 to 60 degrees Celsius. It has rather mediocre characteristics, although there is an interesting feature: the Aquarius Cmp NS208 battery is removable, which is quite rare in tablets.

Aquarius Cmp NS208 is intended for corporate use, therefore it is not available at retail.

The WMD managed to port the Aurora to the Chinese Blackview BV6000S smartphone. 

You can personally test Aurora on the Tab8 tablet from the Russian manufacturer INOI. On the official website, the device costs 15,990 rubles.

Customers complain about the quality of the screen, quiet speaker and microphone, as well as low autonomy.

Even with the power saving turned on, the battery flies off by 15 percent per day during flight mode, just lying on the table.

– One of the owners of INOI Tab8

Previously, INOI had a smartphone on the Sailfish OS, but it was removed from sale.

Officials are offered to use the Ermak OMP smartphone for 94,000-125,000 rubles. depending on the configuration. For this money, the characteristics of the gadget are rather mediocre:

▪️ Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM 8960 1.5 GHz dual-core processor 
▪️ 1 GB of RAM 
▪️ 8 GB of internal memory (there is a slot for microSD up to 32 GB) 
▪️ Display 4.5 inches with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels 
▪️ Based camera at 8 MP

The smartphone has a 3450 mAh battery installed, but it can be replaced with a more capacious 5200 mAh battery.

If desired, you can add a fingerprint scanner and passport reader and excise stamps to your smartphone.

What is the result

Mobile devices running the Aurora OS will cope with routine tasks, such as calls, checking mail and other not very resource-intensive actions, and more is not required of them.

Now you know what “Aurora” is, which in a few years is possible will appear on many smart phones of domestic civil servants.

Well, or just the project is folded quietly, and Aurora will be in the same closet, in which a place has already been prepared for the “ domestic equivalent of Wikipedia ”.

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