Android with as little closed source as possible


Android seemed like an that could work. A phone running free software. Linux, and all the goodies that goes with it. However it took a bad turn. Not only was it just linux (no GNU), but Google seems to be locking it down. Replacing every app with a closed source one: Googles iron grip on Android.

See follow-up: Android with as little closed source as possible 2.

This problem can be broken into three:

Hardware (closed drivers).

Possible solution: FairPhone?

Android is not GNU/linux

Android missing GNU tools, crontab, rsync, mosh, apt and other components making Linux fun to use. Possible solution: I don’t have one for this. Perhaps Sailfish OS or Firefox OS? This isn’t a big problem, though.

Software (closed source, reliant on Google services).

Possible solution: Replicant is “a fully free Android distribution running on several devices”. It can be a long-term solution for this, but has some issues. It doesn’t have access to source for drivers (camera, GPS, modem ++) on most phones, and there are lots of apps that one only can find in Google Play. I don’t understand why companies allow Google to control all of their business and push apps to Google Play only. However, I’m reliant on a few of these apps (Spotify, RuterBillett, etc.), so I’ll have to keep Play for now.

I’ve made a list of how I’m keeping as little closed source on my phone as possible. As of 2013 this is my setup:

These are some good, open source apps, but unfortunately only available through Play:

  • TextSecure - SMS encryption
  • RedPhone - VOIP encryption

Apps/services I’ve yet to find a replacement for:

  • Google maps
  • Yatse
  • Youtube
  • TinyCam monitor free

Other problems to be handled: * Google (and Apple) can circumvent the disk encryption:

Edit 20140103: updated apps list.