Discussion about offficial LineageOS support from FP (and why it won't happen)

My reply concerning LineageOS is actually related to the meanwhile closed topic


in which @Douwe gave an important statement which was:

That is a major point maybe not only for people like me.
A lot of discussions about problems, misbehaving apps etc. with FP2 was/is going on in this forum.

To react quickly and give support and also clear verified bugs shortly I think it is best to pre-install a (custom) made OS to such a product and keep its development in-house. Depending here on a third party which should deliver the essential OS could cause delay and bear the risk to scare customers off if it is known that the OS is too buggy and fixes takes too long. Probably the third party would also work on software for other business customers and not only focus on FP. So resources would not only be reserved for FP issues.
Having bought an expensive device that turns out having a buggy and unstable OS causes massive dissatisfaction anyway.

Occasionally I catch up a thread here where again someone reports a problem with an self-installed free alternative OS. Sometimes a small bug, but also essential faults. A company cannot generally expect each customer to puzzle out each problem with the purchased product. What for the pay if it´s not working the customer may think.
So as @Douwe wrote “…working out of the box”.

Imho FP had a good start with its FPOS, and FP done well with its decision to deliver the OS itself and keep development in-house and still offer another free Open OS too.

Also its open business mind allows users to self-install other OS on the platform without loosing warranty, and this is not very common these days.


I aggree int terms of the main OS, in particulare with respect to commercial aspects as he mentioned as well.
On the other hand, whom of the users buying a Windows PC, know that there might be a better alternative for their purpose, called Linux. I know this discussion is endless.

In regard to the alternative OS.

  • Users who install those OSs can be regarded as user who, supposedly, know what they do and a discussion between them and support could be much more efficient and productive in sense of debugging.
  • If we talking about reliability, support, response time etc. I would say you have to go into the very details who approach is better as FP software engineers only work on the open OS in their spare time at work.
  • LineageOS is closer to Android 8 as FP to Android 7 and the dev. community is a way larger than the one of FP, from whom FP could profit as well.
  • Going for LineageOS allows me to run the phone on almost up to date Android what is a plus in terms of long term usage of the Fairphone.

I’m really that is possible I wish FP would go down further this road and trying to cooperate with the dev. community as it is done by BLOCKS (as mentioned in my post

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These are good arguments indeed.
I could read in this forum that FP was in a way depending on G***le for the decision to whether upgrade FP2 to Android 6 or not. Also core modules/parts for the SOC were needed from Qualcomm to advance. Actually there are some parts missing to fully supply the latest security patches for FPOS.

How about LineageOS, aren´t these dependencies there if porting it to FP2? Could FP freely decide and move on without the support of these parties?

Would be interesting to know, may @Douwe is willing to enlighten us a bit

I might be misunderstanding the exact question, but I think the answer from me to it would be no different then the one given here:

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it’s appreciated but I’m wondering how much support you get from android related vendors what the guys from LineageOS etc don’t get, as e.g. the Android security patch level is quite up to date (05.03.218).
Otherwise this:

is a reason to drop Open OS and get involved in other custom roms

Addenda to @Douwe’s answer: any Android vendor needs to certify their OSes with the Google CTS to use Google Mobile Services (this is sadly a necessity to be usable for the average user). Android 7+ on the MSM8974 chipset the FP2 uses doesn’t pass the technical minimum requirements (Vulkan support and hardware encryption keys storage).

There’s more info on how the industry works, what are their limits and how Fairphone has fight the status quo in this old but instructive and #epic thread:


Now this partially clears up things.

But how does LineageOS can be almost up to date with Android 8 AND running on FP2 if there are clear Google requirements to be fulfilled ? Does it miss some essential parts limiting the hardware in a way or are there alternatives not requiring any Google approvals? How can these guys proceed?

I do wonder how come FP has to struggle while other parties simply do it.

The requirements are only to pass the certification and include Google Mobile Services. This doesn’t affect Open OS, right, but Fairphone doesn’t have the resources to maintain two different OSes at the same time (see @Douwe’s self quote above)

In other words: Android can run without meeting all requirements, but if you want to ship a phone with Google services, you’ll need to fulfill the requirements. As has been discussed here often, shipping a phone without Google services is a no-go for the vast majority of Fairphone’s customers.

Splitting the OS into two branches - one on Android 6 and one on Android 7/8/9/…, is something that would require too much time from the devs, so won’t happen. But even if the devs had infinite time to spend, there are more issues surrounding the proprietary parts of the OS. Here’s my take on what’s going on (which is likely to not be 100% accurate)

These are the bits of code that allow the operating system to talk to the hardware in the phone, and are supplied by the platform vendor in machine-readable form (i.e. not as modifiable source code). Which brings us to:

It isn’t clear what access Fairphone themselves have to the underlying code, but in most cases phone builders will only get the binaries. It took years negotiate access to the code underlying the FP1 binaries (only when the chipset was way out of date did FP get access in way that they cannot release the code itself), and even then updating the code to a newer version wasn’t successful. Updating to a newer version may require changes in the binaries that will need to be implemented by the chipset vendor (or access to the source code). If the chipset is missing features that Google deems necessary for newer version of Android, it becomes less likely that the chipset vendor will put in the effort to provide the updates. Same goes for if you have a smaller number of devices.

The binary licensing issue is one that ended being discussed on the forum in terms of what it meant for custom mods (see here). In short, Fairphone does redistribute them, but only for non-commercial use on a Fairphone 2.

Why does that matter? Extracting and using binaries a bit of a grey area, and legal won’t like it - let alone that you risk the wrath of the platform vendor that may stop official support and/or no longer sell you chips. And then we haven’t even mentioned distributing anything you don’t have express permission for. If you don’t buy chips and don’t sell your software or devices that run your software (like LineageOS) this is less of an issue. So some lineage ports are adapted around the binaries originally shipped with the phone, some will use binaries from other devices with a comparable chipset. In some cases this means that you can get features to work for which licensing wasn’t in place in the first place (example), which lineageOS themselves don’t directly do (activated only for devices for which support was present in stock OS).

All in all it becomes too risky/too much effort in a legal, development, and support sense (there’s no chipset vendor support for testing, so more chances you break some rare use case, and getting stuff fixed - think also about stuff like meltdown patches) for a company to take it on. A community-based effort is a different thing - the risks and responsibilities stay with the users.


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