The initial application of Synit is to mobile phones.
As such, in addition to regular system layer concepts, Synit supports concepts from mobile telephony: calls, SMSes, mobile data, headsets, speakerphone, hotspots, battery levels and charging status, and so on.
Synit builds upon many existing technologies, but primarily relies on the following:
PostmarketOS. Synit builds on PostmarketOS, replacing only a few core packages. All of PostmarketOS and Alpine Linux are available underneath Synit.
Preserves. The Preserves data language and its associated schema and query languages are central to Synit.
A Linux development system. (I use Debian testing/unstable.)
Rust nightly and Cargo (perhaps installed via rustup).
crosstool (even for
cargo install cross
Docker (containers are used frequently for building packages, among other things!)
Python 3.9 or greater
Make, a C compiler, and so on; standard Unix programming tools.
preserves-toolbinary installed on your
cargo install preserves-tools
binfmtsupport (even for
x86_64builds). On Debian,
apt install binfmt-support qemu-user-static.1
Source code for Synit components (see below).
A standard PostmarketOS distribution for the target computer or mobile phone. If you don't want to install on actual hardware, you can use a virtual machine. See the instructions for installing PostmarketOS.
Great tolerance for the possibility of soft-bricking your phone. This is experimental software! When it breaks, you'll often have to (at least) reinstall PostmarketOS from absolute scratch on the machine. I do lots of development using
qemu-amd64for this reason. See here for instructions on running Synit on a emulated device.
The Synit codebase itself is contained in the
git clone https://git.syndicate-lang.org/synit/synit
See the README for an overview of the contents of the repository.
Synit depends on published packages for Preserves and Syndicate support in each of the many programming languages it uses. These will be automatically found and downloaded during the Synit build process, but you can find details on the Preserves and Syndicate homepages, respectively.
For the Smalltalk-based phone-management and UI part of the system, you will need a number of
other tools. See the
README for the
git clone https://git.syndicate-lang.org/tonyg/squeak-phone
To build, type
make ARCH=<architecture> in the root of your checkout, where
<architecture> is one of:
aarch64(default), for e.g. Pinephone or Samsung Galaxy S7 deployment
x86_64, for e.g.
If you see errors of the form "
exec /bin/sh: exec format error" while building, say, the
aarch64 packages using an
x86_64 build host, you need to install qemu's binfmt support. See
The result of the build will be a collection of Alpine Linux
apk packages in
/. At the time of writing, these include
preserves-schemas, common schema files for working with general Preserves data and schemas
preserves-tools, standard command-line tools for working with Preserves documents (pretty-printer, document query processor, etc.)
py3-preserves, python support libraries for Preserves
py3-syndicate, python support for the Syndicated Actor Model
squeak-stack-vm, Squeak Smalltalk virtual machine for the Smalltalk-based portions of the system
syndicate-schemas, common schema files for working with the Syndicated Actor Model
syndicate-server, package for the core system bus
synit-config, main package for Synit, with configuration files,
initscripts, system daemons and so on.
synit-pid1, PID1 program for Synit that starts the core system bus and then becomes passive
Follow the instructions for your device on the PostmarketOS wiki.
Boot and connect your device to your development machine. Make sure you can
ssh into it.
Change to the
scripts/ directory, and run the
./upload-bundle.sh script from there to rsync
the ingredients for transforming stock PostmarketOS to Synit to the phone.
ssh to log into your phone. Run
./transmogrify.sh. (If your user's password on the
phone is anything other than
user, you will have to run
This will install the Synit packages. After this step is complete, next time you boot the system, it will boot into Synit. It may very well be unbootable at this point, depending on the state of the codebase! Make sure you know how to restore to a stock PostmarketOS installation.
If you want to experiment with the Smalltalk-based modem support and UI, follow the instructions in the squeak-phone README now.
With luck, you'll see the Smalltalk user interface start up. (If you didn't install the UI, you
should still be able to
ssh into the system.) From here, you can operate the system normally,
following the information in the following chapter.
qemu-user-static has a bug (possibly this
one) which makes Docker-based
cross builds hang. Downgrading
qemu-user-static to version
worked for me, as did upgrading (as of October 2022) to version