English

Alternate OS Questions

Hi all,
I have been wanting to move away from dependence on Google for a long time now and I’m ready to bite the bullet. I’ve done a significant amount of digging and I think I’ve narrowed it down to either using Lineage OS or /e/ but I had a few questions and I was hoping for recommendations (although I imagine in many cases, the preference may be personal.
For context, my preferences are a completely Google-free (I don’t like the idea of an unethical company profiting from my data) and relatively secure/privacy conscious experience. I don’t need a vast array of apps, and I know not having Google Services precludes a number of apps but that’s okay for me. I’d quite like the phone to still allow me to connect to a Garmin smartwatch, although this isn’t essential. Finally, and I think this may be the trickiest, if there’s a way to sync some apps with my Windows laptop (e.g. calendar), that’d be great (although I am also thinking of using an alternate OS on my computer soon too!).
So, my questions are:

  1. Would you recommend /e/ or Lineage OS?
  2. Should I consider using Fairphone Open Source instead?
  3. What’s the difference between /e/ Q and /e/ PIE?

Thanks in advance!
Norb

I can only give you an answer to the first two questions, and I’ll start with question number two:

  • I wouldn’t recommend OpenOS for one main reason: it hasn’t been updated for over a year now and if you’re skilled enough to install OpenOS you can also install LOS which is imo 10 times better.
  • Now to the first question. As you’ve probably already guessed, I’ve been using LOS for a couple of years now and I really like it. /e/ is very iPhone-like and doesn’t offer much customisability. It also includes microG by default which is something you probably don’t want.
    LOS on the other hand is more like stock android and offers a lot of customisation options. Also, rooting it is very easy, although I don’t know how hard it is on /e/. Keep in mind though that all of my experiences are with LOS15, which is based on Android 8. I haven’t updated yet due to a number of reasons, namely the lack of the official XPosed Framework and the fact that when I tried it out for a short time my phone was way slower and the battery lasted a lot shorter than with LOS15. Maybe that has been fixed by now though
1 Like

About Q versus Pie, that’s basically “just” the difference between Android 10 and 9, see e.g. https://www.howtogeek.com/439341/the-best-new-features-in-android-10/ and Google Android 10: The 5 Best New Features | WIRED

Some things don’t apply to /e/, on the one hand the obvious Google related things like updates through Google Play and on the other hand features /e/ did not enable like the gesture navigation (not sure why that is, maybe because their look’n’feel is inspired by iOS rather than Android, but that’s just guessing).
Maybe the most important difference between two major android versions is that a later one get security updates for longer (usually 1 year compared to the previous version).

4 Likes

/e/, since it sounds like you want to get as far away from Google as possible.
/e/ is based on LineageOS, but takes some additional degoogling steps … https://doc.e.foundation/what-s-e#degoogling–ungoogling.

As long as you are using Windows, you’ll find this could be the easiest part of the whole exercise with the help of MyPhoneExplorer (How To and FAQ ).

That’s mostly down to Bliss, the preinstalled launcher, and you can just install a different launcher.
If you don’t like Trebuchet, the preinstalled launcher of LineageOS, you can just install a different launcher.
Standard Android procedure, nothing to see here :slight_smile: .

What does microG do just by being there if you don’t use it?

5 Likes

I agree with @AnotherElk . I am using /e/ and pretty happy with it!

Concerning the gesture navigation, @Ingo , I read this:

What happened to my gesture navigation?

This is not the launcher’s fault. It’s Google’s.

If you’re on an Android 10 phone that isn’t on the latest patches, using anything other than the default, manufacturer launcher on your phone will force you from the new Android 10 gesture nav back to ugly old three-button nav. This was an issue at Android 10’s initial launch, one that made third-party launchers suffer for Google’s incompetence.

This issue has since been fixed for many phones, first Pixels and then OnePlus phones and finally Samsung phones that have the One UI 2.5 and One UI 3.0 updates. If you can’t use gesture nav with your new launcher, contact your manufacturer and ask what the holdup with the update is.

And once again, shame on Google for ever allowing a major release of Android to ship like this! SHAME!

(from Androidcentral)

Hope this helps!

3 Likes

Are you sure that those aren’t in LOS too?

That’s kind of the same question as “What do GApps do by just being there?”. If microG is installed, it will automatically be used by apps that rely on it, regardless of if they may be also able to work without it.

Not all of them are in LineageOS, too.
It’s just not LineageOS’s mission. And this, by the way, enables the user to install GApps (the genuine Google Apps and services) without a problem on LineageOS, if wanted. Which is a good thing, if wanted.
Even without microG being there there’s a possibility this wouldn’t work well on /e/ because of the additional changes.

Are you referring to the Open Source CCTG Corona-App? This particular App works that way, yes, because it is designed that way.
Given, other Apps may prefer this mode of operation, too, so you have a point. But in the end this would not be microG’s fault, it’s all dependent on which Apps you are using …

A remark about CCTG though … to give users a choice, microG in /e/ by default comes without the Exposure Notification framework (you would have to deliberately install this to have it in microG there). So for CCTG on /e/ you have the choice of running it without using microG (without the framework in microG CCTG is forced to use its own built-in framework instead of microG).


Well, GApps phone home, even if you are using no additional Apps which actively employ them.

As for microG, sure, Google-dependent Apps installed by the user will use it. As you pointed out, Apps which might be able to work differently might still prefer using microG if they are designed that way. Apart from that …

“However, all services of microG that require connecting to Google services are optional and can be turned off without issues for those services that do not need to connect to Google. It is important to note that as long as you are not signed into a Google account with microG, these server connections remain anonymous.”

1 Like

Hi,
I have the feeling that this discussion is getting too technical for answering a quite simple question. But this shows that there are no simple answers.
One should begin to say that it also depends on how comfortable you are flashing a new OS and configuring the phone. I think that /e/ is easier to install and to configure for regular use at the beginning. It has drawbacks for some people, but you can disable or uninstall what you don’t like if you want.
Furthermore, I would say that with LineageOS you take the minimum and you can add some extra features (microg, an android app store, a cloud service, …), while /e/ gives you a ready-to-go phone with features that you may not need/want (but that you can delete/not use).

About the calendar you want to sync with your computer, an easy way to do it is to use a server-based calendar. There are free and secure ones (like www.framagenda.org) or paid ones (I like www.posteo.de for a very nice, cheap and ecological service including mail, contacts and calendar).

3 Likes

Hi Crisse, are you sure, about the installation of microG into “standard LineageOS”? As far as I remember, you need a modified version of LOS to integrate microG.

Use an OS with MicroG if you need push notifications.

Use an OS without MicroG if you don’t need push notifications.

For me its that simple. I feel like the smartphone and app model is broken without push notifications. But it’s all down to personal preference.

Using an OS with MicroG you are de-googling as much as you can without breaking too many apps. As app developers start to realise people are ditching Google services they’ll make adjustments, but until then MicroG is convenient.

I got an email from Google timeline the other day and there was no activity at all on it on the day I started using Lineage for MicroG.

1 Like

I totally feel you. This is on my list for the coming weeks / months as well. One of the solutions I’m looking into as a files / calendar / contacts (and much more) alternative is Nextcloud. You can host this yourself or choose a company hosting Nextcloud for you. The previously mentioned Framagenda actually runs Nextcloud to provide their calendar service.

What remains for me is a good alternative for Google Photos - the current implementation for this in Nextcloud is quite slow and doesn’t handle large photo / video collections very well.

Automatically backing up photos & videos from your phone to Nextcloud works like a charm though!

I you want a Nextcloud instance for all that you describe, moving to /e/ could be worth considering, as it offers such a service.

1 Like

Yes, /e/ offers free accounts with 1GB of storage space, which should be enough for contacts, calendar, notes and perhaps some basic email. They have paid plans if you need more space.
However - the address book in the used email solution (Rainloop) is not using the ‘Contacts’ feature from Nextcloud, so you’ll end up having to use 2 contact lists. Pretty annoying IMHO.
Also, /e/ does not seem to be using the encryption feature of Nextcloud, meaning all your data is accessible by /e/ administrators. I probably trust them a lot more with my data than I trust Google, but still it’s something to keep in mind.
Finally, /e/ only offers 2FA by means of a hardware key, so using i.e. your phone (with an OTP app or notification via Nextcloud app) as a second authentication factor to secure your account is not possible (yet?).

3 Likes

Thanks for this information! I don’t use this kind of service, so I didn’t go into the details of /e/'s offer, but this was worth mentioning for people interested in cloud services!

Similar questions have already been asked already on the forum, you can check this topic for instance :wink::

And for my personal opinion, I prefer LineageOS over /e/ because there’s not much pre-installed and is barebones, so that I can add what I need only. But having heard from /e/ and having given it a try, I would recommend it as well.

You can check this link to see what can be further degoogled from Lineage (in this case 16.0), and what has already been done by the /e/ team:

The difference is, you can disable MicroG in the /e/ options (or can’t you ? I thought I had seen this on /e/).