Closed Poll: Future Fairphone OS Development

Maybe start investing in apps that are on several OS. Maybe encourage that before being imprisoned in a unique shop…

I’m not imprisoned by Google. It’s just that the alternatives are in no way up to scruff compared to Google. Simply put, it’s not Google that’s so great for me, it’s all the others that suck so badly.

If Firefox OS is just as succesful and offers the same features and connectivity (cloud) options as Android, then I’d be happy to switch. Thing is, that day is a long ways from now and may not ever come. Once again, just look at how badly Microsoft are struggling, and they’re a big corporation with connections everywhere. Firefox OS is interesting to just a small niche of nerds and geeks so user adoption will be extremely limited, which leads to limited support by app developers.

I’m not afraid that the Facebooks, Twitters and Yahoo’s of this world won’t support an OS like Firefox OS, it’s the smaller companies whose primary market isn’t Internet that won’t adopt platforms like Firefox OS. Stuff like my banking app, my supermarket’s app, the various 2-step authenticator apps, the on-demand video viewing app of various television broadcasters here in the Netherlands, etc. Those apps won’t be ported to Firefox OS any time soon and I will miss those.

Sure I might be able to live without some of them, but it’s a great inconvenience. And even though Android is supported by 90% of the relevant app makers, I’m still miffed from time to time that some apps are available only for iOS.

I have all the good will in the world to make the step to a platform that’s more open like Firefox OS or Ubuntu Touch, but reality is that Android and iOS have such an enormous head start that the newcomers are just no match for them. There’s too many disadvantages to new and upcoming OS-es and the average consumer just won’t choose those because of that. And it’s broad consumer adoption that you need for broader appeal.

It’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem and maybe we should choose to be the eggs in order for there to be some chickens in the future, sure, but if Android fills my needs and I can be a big proud rooster, why should I?


Remember this is only a hypothetical question - FP aren’t about to jump from Android elsewhere, and I think if they ever intend to it would not be a forced solution. I think if Firefox OS or anything like that was to be ‘‘supported’’ I think it would mean that any users that wished to move could do, and that any that wished to stay on android also could do.

I’m heavily invested in android/google myself, but if there was an alternative on offer, I may well choose it even though it would be an inconvenience to lose out on certain apps etc.

1 Like

Basically what chiri said. :slight_smile:

I know of all those implications Jerry, all I asked is: putting yourself and your liberties in the hands of companies like Google or Facebook, is it worth it? Is the use of a couple random non mandatory applications worth it?

I think Android should be the stable base of the Fairphone, so consumers can use the phone which is well supported (number of apps and quality of apps).

I think it would be nice if Firefox OS would be supported too in the future, for the following reasons:

  • From what I have read so far Firefox OS is better on low level hardware than Android. This increases the chance of a Fairphone first edition phone to be useful, even after sevetal years (from users perspective). Combined with the repairability this makes a sustainable phone.
  • The open community, working on Firefox OS matches with the transparency of the Fairphone project.
  • More and more functionality comes in HTML5. Firefox OS is based on this, which could lead to less ‘vendor lock-in’.

However, I think that the project has quite a lot of steps to make so a stable base (Android) should not be adandoned. :smile:


Collaborate with various OS projects (AOSP, Cyanogenmod, Mozilla, others) to get it to boot.
When choosing internal hw, make sure it’s well documented and contains no binary blobs (especially if they are operating-system dependant).
Make it easy for people to install something else and for developers to port something else on the phone.
Don’t decide the OS for me please. Don’t waste time reinveinting the wheel and developing custom stuff.
Be the first smart company selling hardware to just focus on the hardware and let their customers decide what they will run on the phone.
Of course, choose a default sane option, stock android is OK.
You know better than me, most of the phones around, even if sold with different operating system are all the same stuff, with the big difference the design of the buttons :slight_smile:


I would really like to have FirefoxOS on FF, and could help improving compatibility when it is available, but I am completely unable to make FF support android 4.4 or to make MediaTek release the required source.

So I would like 1) for it brings support for android 4.4, currently required for FirefoxOS,
and I would appreciate 2) if it means support for FirefoxOS.
CyanogenMod based on Android 4.2 is useless to me.

So, I picked 2), but I do not feel the poll allowed me to make my will clear.

If sources are released (for KitKat), alternative OS will start flourishing all over the place.


@ben What about ubuntu touch? I love the design and that it’s gesture based. I also love ubuntu desktop and I’d love to experience the convergence Caninical is talking about. What do you think?

Hi @Jerry, most two step verification apps like Blizzard’s, Google’s, Dropbox’s etc are based on an open protocol and can be used with Firefox OS as well as open source Android App. Is used a great Firefox OS a year ago already that worked like a charm with Google and Dropbox. Just in case…

Yes that is true. I think it might be that Jolla or Firefox OS are a great match and i think Fairphone should support developers and ethuisiasts how want to run these on Fairphone as good a possible. But i do not think a switch makes sense, as the Fairphone said: One step at a time. Fairphone has to focus on it’s mission to be successful. And for most users, Android makes the most sense. While i would personally prefer Firefox OS, i would have a hard time explaining that to my family or girlfriend. Not because they are to stupid for others OSes, not at all, but because they make other choices based on their needs – and that is perfectly fine.

You are right, Ubuntu Touch is missing. I simply forgot to mention it here. I use Ubuntu on my desktop since years and really like it. I’ll edit my post to add Ubuntu there.


I am very interrested in Cyanogenmod 11 for Fairphone. I am using it at my Nexus S at the moment.

1 Like

Actually, free software drivers would be most important, official Android upgrade releases would be nice-to-have, and everything else would come on its own. Choosing a chipset without free software drivers, and developing a custom UI is the worst decision that could have been taken in terms of sustainability.

1 Like

I voted “Support Official Android upgrade releases (i.e. Jelly Bean v4.3, KitKat v4.4 etc)” but as others before me, I think the poll may be too rigid and therefore give potentially misleading feedback to the Fairphone team (apart from the fact that internet polls almost never provide a representative sample anyhow). My opinion in a couple of points:

  1. Any future Fairphone should come with Android as its default, pre-installed OS. There’s a simple reason for that: Fairphone is already a really niche product hardware-wise (it’s not from a familiar brand but a tiny company, you don’t find it in shops have to pre-pay it, etc.). It would be unwise to couple that with a niche-OS (like Ubuntu, FirefoxOS, etc. - Cyagonmod is different because it is a fork of Android), this would unnecesarily restrict the customerbase which is already very small for this product (note that at present, the 2nd batch still hasn’t reached 20,000 units sold more than 2 months after sales started). Android is the largest smartphone OS worldwide, it is relatively open (OK, it could be better), it has a huge number of apps both in Google Play and outside and it allows support for dual-sim phones. It makes it easy for those who are already in the Android/Google ecosystem to move to a Fairphone, but doesn’t force users to use Google if they don’t want to. At least with FP1, it wasn’t necessary to link a Google account, nor to install/use Google apps. That makes this setup the best of both worlds, which should suit 99% of ordinary users.

  2. The flavor of Android should be either [very close to] stock Android, or a widely used custom ROM (such as Cyanogenmod), so Fairphone customers and staff can take advantage of the wide knowledgebase already present worldwide. Imo, the development of a customized Fairphone layer (especially the launcher) was ill-advised for such a small company; the time/resources spent on developing it would have been better used for bug-fixing and preparing for Android version upgrades. [BTW: “An open source OS developed wholly by Fairphone” is A. completely unrealistic: Fairphone has nowhere the resources required to achieve this. B. What would be the purpose ? I understand why people prefer option 2 but what’s the point of yet another OS, with an extremely tiny userbase to boot ???]

  3. The bootloader should be unlocked and Fairphone should release all essential source-code (kernel, drivers …) so that developers in the community may “cook” ROMs for Fairphone based on other versions of Android or other OS’s. Fairphone can assist with this and maybe even host/promote those ROMS that are deemed stable enough for general release, but only if this doesn’t distract from their own responsibility (providing a stable Android ROM, and keeping it up to date for a few years at least).

The latter point is the vision that Fairphone had initially (and that was more or less promised to us over a year ago). I’m sure they still want to achieve this, but in their naivety they seriously mistook the lack of control they would have over Android upgrades, where MTK currently holds the key. Nevertheless, they should continue to pressure Guohong/MTK for at least a KitKat upgrade for FP1 and FP1U, and make this an essential part of the negotiation when they start planning for FP2 - so far as to make it a crucial element in their choice of production partner.


I voted for 2. because on the one hand i know CM as a reliable, well supported system
and on the other hand i would like to see ubuntu touch running on my FP1,
because im using linux on my home PC since 1995.
But as a disadvantage the Medithek Chipset isn’t open and therefore it seems not possible to get an open source OS like ubuntu touch running.

CyanogenMod would be awesome! If you can free the chipset drivers we are many who can help :slight_smile:

1 Like

What is the future road map and what are the hardware plans? Will there be a FP2, FP3? Hard- and Software always belong together in somehow. As I understand the fairphone concept so far, fair and renewable produced hardware as much as possible and long life expectancy are the key focus scores. Thats the main reason, why I bought a fairphone. Software is only but an important second goal. It should support the key targets and not be just a gimmick for a few users.
So i voted for 1, but only in short/midterm, maybe Cyanogemod is an interessting alternative
Long term, maybe firefox or ubuntu OS could be interessting, but future will show, how evolution move on.

FairPhone is working on a completely new phone model that should be released somewhere in 2015. Their aim is to get the highest repairability rating from iFixit for it. No further details have been announced as of yet though.


I slected option 1 becauseI’d rather do things in the right order: it is originally an Android device, and it was promised to us (at the time when we paid for it in Spring/summer 2013) that it would follow the Android updates just a few month behind; this is not happening. Make it a sustainable Android device first and let’s see about more complex development like option 2 is suggesting later. And again, about option 3, if Android ugrades are not doable, do we want to get ourselves in to something as incredibly complex as developing our own OS?


Option 2, specifically CyanogenMod. Of course Replicant and OmniROM appear better choices in that they are fully free software, but as I understand it the current model of the Fairphone has some proprietary components so that certainly Replicant and possibly OmniROM cannot support it. I hope that the new models consist of only free components.

Furthermore, as noted above by others, Fairphone should stay compatible with Android software. By default the F-Droid repository should be enabled, because it contains only free software. The Google Play repository should not be enabled by default, because it contains loads of non-free software (and it is not clearly seperated from the free software akin to Debian). In my opinion it is a lucky side-effect that Fairphone did not have a licence from Google to use their repository when the latest model was released: I just needed to delete the Google Play licence widget, and I did not need to disable the repository or uninstall anything.

1 Like

As I see it, option 2 implies the first option.

For Cyanogenmod or Firefox OS to work, drivers for the Mediatek chipset need to be released. If drivers are released and there is a Cyanogenmod version, then it should also easily possible to upgrade said Cyanogenmod version to a current Android release.

Therefore I hope that option 2 (and thus also current Android versions) will be possible.

Voted Option 2. Agree with others that opt 3 is not sensible - Fairphone is the only organisation putting energy into fair/sustainable hardware - there are many people doing open software, so waste of time to duplicate that effort, when there is so much more that can be done on labour in china, resource usage, recycling etc.
However, until a chipset with open code is used, there will always be a huge hurdle in the way. choice of chipset is the big issue here.

1 Like

You are right, it does not look so good at moment, but if it is possible to run AOSP or Cyanogenmod on the Fairphone at some point in the future, Alternative OSes like Ubuntu Touch should be possible as well.

Yes, i am glad i have a choice as well. However is see the drawback for some users it quite irritating that you have to reinstall the Gapps after each update. Even more so with the crashes occuring. While i personally prefer that to being unable to remove Google Apps, i would perfectly understand if Fairphone chooses to get a license an preinstall Google Apps, because for average users this would be lot easier.