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Fairphone’s approach to root on the Fairphone 2

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The only reason I want root is to be able to use Titanium Backup Pro.
Is there an alternative similar to Titanium Backup Pro that doesn’t require root?

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I need Titanium Backup Pro and AdAway.
I also need Google Apps.
So what do I do?

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Well, I want to share my opinion:

First, I agree to Fairphone not pre-rooting the FP2. Not every FP2 user needs root. And the user should know why he has to be careful with root before he gets this powerful tool.

I fully agree with above quote. I also don’t want to root my FP2 instantly, but I can’t say whether I will need root in the future. But when I need root, it’s unclear what (apps and data) I will lose. So I feel uncomfortable with this decision.

I don’t think that a non-rooted smartphone is ultimately secure. A smartphone is a very complex system and security holes are constantly found. So using the smartphone as a security token (like some banks do, see pushTAN or photoTAN) is not very clever. I would not use such an application.

Analogy: Nobody would see a Windows PC as an ultimately secure device even if the user is locked out from the Administrator account.

Also, there the expectations of users and app developers collide: Some app developers want a “trustworthy device”, this means, that the user cannot manipulate the app. Some users want a “trustworthy device”, this means, they want to have full access to the device and control what the apps do.

Does this mean:
a) that you don’t need root on your phone?
b) there is always an alternative to rooting the phone?

If you mean b), I would suggest you open a thread where users can write why they want to root their FP2 and you tell those users an alternative what they can do without rooting to achieve the same goal. @Lidwien and @Feli are already asking.

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Now this is certainly telling of the direction Fairphone is taking, and it’s a rather unethical one. Is there a way to send back my FP2 and get reimbursed because I really don’t want to be involved in a project where “the user who wants mre freedom” is seen as the enemy.
Frankly I don’t see any need anymore to try to convince people to buy a fairphone. I though it was for even the most simple soul clear that “ethical” includes “freedom”. But then I have to think again and undergo the way the marketeers of Google have successfully brainwashed the fairphone team. Sad.

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I ordered FP1 during the cowdfunding campain and FP2 as well (the first day). I had to have a lot of patience and fiddle myself through complicated stuff, but I somehow even liked that. Otherwise maybe I wouldn’t have known this great community :slight_smile:

And I’ve read many topics of people that got very angry about the same problems I had, but I always thought, I’m conscious to be a beta tester, no problem, I’ll just wait. And everything went well:-)

The same happend with root access to FP2. Getting a bit nervous about having the phone before having the official root app, I started this poll https://forum.fairphone.com/t/poll-i-urgently-need-to-root-my-fp2/11842, but just to influence a bit the priorities. Because I have to migrate my data from FP1 and I would like to apply the community workarounds/solutions for the bugs before they start annoy me.

And then, today, this statement disappointed me so much, that I almost cancelled my order. :scream:

Almost, because I love and will support Fairphone thanks to all these ideas to try to make a change.

But what can I do now? Put my FP2 (I’ve been waiting for it for half a year now) in the drawer until one day the Open Source FPOS is officially released? Because if I use it before, I can’t backup and migrate my data, because Titanium Backup won’t work without root access and I would lose everything… Or change my life completely so I have time to learn how to compile an OS by myself? Or just install some dubious chinese rooting app like KingRoot, hoping it won’t harm me too much (more trustworthy rooting apps don’t work with Lollipop anymore)? I’m afraid I’ll end up doing the latter…

So please, please, please, also for the sake of security, rethink your approach and provide us a safe and easy way to root Onion.

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This is what I wanted to hear.
Personally I’m happy with that as I need root but not GAPPS.

This disturbs me a bit. Are you seriously saying you guys sold 60.000 broken phones since 2013??!!

Did anything bad ever happen to a FP1 user because of root???

Well changing the OS is not what most users need root for. Or did you mean users don’t need to tweak the OS as they can simply install a custom OS? Well I don’t think many of us can build their own custom OS to match their individual needs. Root can do that and I think people can easily learn how to use root but won’t know what to do with an unlocked boot loader.

Yes I think so. It doesn’t update automatically but it notifies you for new updates and gives you multiple options for downloading the update.
Downside: If you are using F-Droid as your main App-Store AppTrack will notify you for updates not yet available on F-Droid. And often the updates are not available for good reasons. (Update added Advertisement, Proprietary Code or Spyware)

Are openGAPPS an option for you?

There is: What apps with root access do you use?

I don’t think any of those Apps can be replaced by a App that doesn’t require root. (Unless Fairphone develops it themselves and provides it as a preinstalled system App, but they don’t have the resources for that.)

I wouldn’t express it that crass but it certainly sounds a bit like @keesj is not using his own words but those of the Google Marketing Machine.

In conclusion I hope:

  • That there are some people in the Fairphone Software Team that don’t consider root the enemy and therefore switching to the FP Open OS doesn’t mean less frequent update and less support.
  • That not to many users cancel their orders or send back their phones, but look at the bigger picture! Software Freedom was never one of the main issues Fairphone wanted to address, but with the FP Open OS they are still providing it. The user is not free without root, that’s true, but he is also not free WITH GAPPS. If you need some of Google’s Services there are alternatives e.g. the openGAPPS.
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I have been struggling with this all night now. My conclusion is the following:

Because I can’t root the phone, FP2 doesn’t meet my expectations.

I still have 6 more days to decide to send back the phone (mine arrived Dec. 31st). I hope a satisfactory solution will come by that time, even if it’s not coming from FP itself. I will stop using the FP2 (which I hardly used anyway because it was not rootable), factory reset it and start using my old phone again. Then I will invoke my right as a EU citizen to return unwanted goods.

For something which is almost twice the market value and a good chunk of money on it’s own, I want to be able to own the phone, the apps I (un)install, the data I put on it and my privacy. Without rooting, it’s not possible to disable certain excessive rights that were asked by apps.

I see that @keesj is looking towards a long term solution. However, as I mentioned above, I’m still very unclear how this will work out in the future and how long it will take before the fp-osos will be available for download and flashing. Will it also be possible to still install some apps from the playstore ? Titanium Backup Pro and the support I have given to OsmAnd~ are things I would need to install. Both are payed for apps.

What I don’t understand is the POV of @keesj against rooting, as @xaxa pointed out. Yes, there are inherent dangers. However, they seem to be completely taken out of proportion.

I currently own a rooted Samsung. But if it were non-rooted, it would have been safe ? That’s quite a statement because it’s still running Gingerbread, security bugs and all. They way that I’m using it mitigates a lot of the risks (no MMS, no multi-media, no wifi/bluetooth, rarely using 3G, …) so I still feel comfortable using it.

@keesj: you are very concerned about the safety of ‘banking apps’ on a smartphone. Personally, I will never, ever use my smartphone for direct financial transactions (app nor NFC). That is just asking for trouble. With security holes, 0-day exploits, SMS hacks, lack of fixes from vendors (an area where FP is doing a good job I understand !), … a smartphone just can’t be trusted for this, even non-rooted.

On the other hand, @keesj, your answers completely don’t cover my privacy. I would suggest you to read the dutch C’T of September 2015. They have several articles about spyware, dataminers and ad-networks that mine (sic) your data without your consent. That’s a real problem that at the moment. Rooting would give me control back over my privacy.

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I’m very disappointed that we have to choose between Google app and root access, it’s not the freedom we have been announced…

Edit: Also, unfortunately I think with this situation, some people will use some exploit Chinese app to root the default OS… Not a very «fairphone» consequence isn’t it?

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@keesj disappointed because Fairphone is a project and not a company like Apple, Google Or Samsung. This project also supported by community.For that i still support this Project apart of discussion.

Rooted vs Non Rooted
Security vs Freedom

Q: Which is better?
A:The one that works best for ME / US

There are only solutions that work for our needs.

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I’m afraid this wil become a publicity nightmare for Fairphone…
People expected freedom with this phone (besides the sustainability, which I deliberately leave out of this post for now)
Now the development seems to be that you won’t get an official way to root stock rom, and you get the open source os which you can compile for yourself (at the moment), but it doesn’t work.
I don’t know whether you need the blobs for something like cyanogendmod or omnirom, so nobody will be able to distribute an alternate os for the FP2 (with full functionality, at least). So, in the end, FP2 is at least as restrictive as a Samsung phone, in the end, for most people. I guess that’s catastrophic!
Honestly, going with a Google Nexus (Google does not have a problem with rooted devices, only Google Wallet won’t work, which many people easily can live with…) might be the way to go for many people, including FP2 owners, who won’t stay owners for long, probably. I for example did use my S3 mini for three years, because it has an alternate ROM and in this way was very useful, until it’s resources became too little for me.
Coming back to the os version. “compile it and flash it and you’re set” right now is not true, because it obviously wasn’t tested at all whether it works. It does not. So people having the FP2 are not able to restore all their data on the new phone and probably don’t know whether they will be able to any time, including then making valid backups to restore (in case of fatal failures or even switching ROMs). In the end, there are a lot of at least momentarily useless FP2 which might end up returned…
if this gets out to some of the major tech outlets, see above. This will stop a lot of people to buy a FP2 because now they know it’s not as free as they expect…

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Hello hello,

I took the freedom to start a <a href=https://forum.fairphone.com/t/kingroot-and-fairphone2-share-your-experience-please/11925?u=georgmayer">new topic on using KIngRoot and FP2.

Cheers from Vienna,
Georg

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I have also been silently following this conversation so far. As much as I need root on my phone, and I am unhappy not to be able to root it easily, I understand that this is no technical but a legal issue. Sell your phone with gapps preinstalled and you’re simply not allowed to have it rooted. Providing official means to root it probably gets you into severe legal trouble. So the decision is whether to have gapps preinstalled or not.

While I’d like to have my phone rooted, I personally prefer having gapps installed. In both cases you have comparable effort of having a phone with root+gapps on your own responsibility.

I understand that many people do not need gapps at all and it is unfortunate that they are made to wait too long for the open source fairphone os. But given that we all know how hard the fairphone team is working and given that it was announced in advance that gapps would be on the phone I find the reaction of some here slightly out of proportion. You were waiting for months to have this phone, be more patient waiting for the open source os. Or if you’re happy with gapps, just root your phone by yourself. It’s not so hard to do for the many experienced users here. Then post that solution here in the forums.

Surely, the communication by the fairphone team has not been as good as it should have been to make it clear to everyone what delivering an os with gapps preinstalled means. And they should also provide a clear timeline for the open source os so that we know what to expect. Other than that: keep up the good work!

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Exactly the same here…

I need to restore my data on my new phone and still use google play, gmail and google calendar.

I’ll give you an example: my daughter (8 years old) has been playing occasionnally with an apk called “Ineractive telling time” on my FP1 for 2 years now. When you tell time correctly several times you get a star and after you get several stars you can eventually pick a fish to put in a tank. The tank is now quite full and she’s very proud. Her progression is saved with titanium backup which I can not use to restore on te FP2.

My daughter knows everything about fairphone… I explained, she listened and she is as proud as I am to own a phone with that philosophy. How should I explain the loss of her data? what do you think she will think spontaneously? that the new phone is not OK.

She is the next generation, she is the one who will probably make this world better… but she is still a kid…

Maybe this is a stupid example… and how about my data? I can think of at least 10 apks I use that are useless because this data migration is not possible.

A fairphone has to be fair because people need a phone. If a fairphone as fair as it is does not meet buyers expectations (mine are that it’s like FP1 rooted with gapps) then who cares if it’s fare as nobody will care to buy it…

I know I wouldn’t have if I knew… and I strongly support fairphone.

Not rooted’ very frustrating but let’s go with it… just find a way for me to use titanium backup or equivalent to get my data back…

When I bought the FP1 it was because it was fair AND rooted… now I feel stupid about buying FP2.

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Did I missed this point - is this written in this explicit words at any place in this thread?
I could only find the formulation:

If @adeu is right with this, the discussion should only be driven between [GAPPS preinstalled] and [without GAPPS+root], as @keesj wrote.

For me it was not clear, that it is not POSSIBLE (aka not allowed) to provide GAPPS and ROOT…I understood it just as a decission of FP…
From this point of view the decicion FP made, makes a little bit more sense for me, but only if in the next days e.g. a easy to apply GAPPS-free rooted OS via the FP-updater-app is available with optional GAPPS installation (or OpenGAPPS).

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I rooted my samsung I used GAPPS, I used my FP1 I used GAPPS so ok let’s go for an non official way of rooting the phone and keeping GAPPS if we want… Programmers on the forum it’s up to you… PLEASE!

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I would be surprised if this was the case. FP1 came with root and GApps. In the Google Play store, I bought apps like Titanium Backup Pro, that require root. So I would be very surprised if it would be legally impossible to provide GApps on a rooted phone. Maybe the FP team can provide more information on this?

I’m not an expert on Android, phone OSes and stuff like that. Still, I feel like I understand enough to make an informed decision on whether or not I want to root my FP2 when I get it. But I don’t feel confident enough to change the whole OS for it, throw away all GApps etc.

I just want to be able to transfer my data from my FP1 to my FP2 (whenever it arrives :slight_smile: ). And I’m willing to do this, even if this means I won’t be able to use some apps that don’t work on a rooted phone and I have to be aware of the vulnerability of a rooted phone. Asking a much higher price (needing a lot more knowledge about smartphone OS, loosing GApps) seems a bit over the top!

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A significant part of my decision to buy FP2 (6 month ago !!!) was that it is rooted.

Now, I have it one week and I already found 4 reasons to have it rooted:

And I still want to use the phone as a phone.
Try to install standard apps such as Deutsche Bahn app without the Play Store
(I initially started without a Google account, but there was simply too much only there available).

So keesj, after your announcement, tell me please what shall I do?
It seems, you require me to root the phone using one of these “grey market approaches”.
Well, if your goal is to protect your customers, then it is an interesting approach to force them to use dubious software to root the phone (e.g. in the KingRoot thread rumour says that KingRoot might “install “Chinese Stuff” on your phone and it uploads your IMEI”).

In addition, IMO it is very very unfair to decide, not to give a rooting option without clearly announcing that in ahead. I bought the phone, because all I read was that it will be rooted (see e.g. here). You might have said otherwise somewhere in the forum, but there were no clear statements with the official specs of FP2, so why should people assume that it is different than with FP1?
All these sites will now write articles: FP2 turned out not to be rooted and therefore is not as usable as it seemed to be. That will be a publicity nightmare.

While almost everybody here understands, that the FP2 is not rooted by default,
the decision not to support an option to root the phone at all is poor, strange, offending, and a nightmare for Fairphone and me.
Please please please, change this decision before too much damage is there!

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We surely need some lawyer power here to clarify :smile:
But some more information can be found here:

BTW, it is something completely different if the end user roots his/her phone. That is not illegal and it is even not clear if it voids the warranty in most cases. Some apps will refuse to run and that’s about it. But as a vendor, fairphone will get into legal trouble if it sells a rooted phone with gapps preinstalled. That has always been my understanding.

I would still appreciate an easy way to root my phone. But at least for me, as opposed to the many ppl waiting to restore their backups, I do not need to root it as urgently.

I would have even more appreciated a fairphone without gapps preinstalled and instead having an os with gapps as optional - so exactly the opposite as it is now. But I know that a decision had to be made at some point and I assume that the majority of ppl lives better with gapps preinstalled (see above thread).

I’m very sensible to the fair hardware production, but what decided me to spend so much money was when I was told by a Fairphone guy, on a presentation in paris, that there will be official instructions for rooting. OK it was marketing talk, not a written statement, but I was expecting to be in front of someone ‘fairer’ than usual phone sellers.
Seems I’ve been too naive.
Luckily I still didn’t receive my phone, so I’ll still be able to return it and ask for a refund if this “approach” is maintained.

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I didn’t want to reply yesterday as I got pretty mad about that initial statement here, so I thought I would sleep over it. Nonetheless, I am still very frustrated with the statement here posted.

I have total understanding that the phone wouldn’t come rooted by default, and if there were legal reasons, I would also understand why you cannot provide a rooted version with GAPPS. Anyhow, it’s not difficult to install GAPPS later if someone wants (as we have seen on the FP1 also).

However, I am really frustrated about the current situation. Yes, indeed Fairphone announced before shipping that the phone would come unrooted. However, when I bought my phone, there was no word yet about it. In fact, it wasn’t even clear then what OS or what version of Android it would be shipped with. As a satisfied costumer of FP1 I trusted Fairphone to continue to understand fairness and openness of the phone to not only be a matter of hardware, but also of software. I got really disappointed already in autumn when I learned that FP2 would be unrooted. But OK, I was still believing that there will be an easy way of rooting the phone. Now I have to learn that this was naive, as at this time getting your phone rooted seems to be an endeavor for developers only.

However, I have to disagree with @keesj in some points, as for me the main reason why I want to root my phone is to increase safety! I would like to take up your metaphor of the safety belt (even though I think it’s a bad one, because you cannot compare safety of live with data safety or computer stability). If the safety belt is not tight enough, the seatbelt becomes useless or may increase vulnerability! And this is what, in my opinion, is the case with Android and many apps. I have been using the xposed framework particularly because of the x privacy, which is a great tool to get control over app permisions, i.e. what app gets access to what functions/data (compared to apparmor, which I like to use on my PC). Unfortunately, without root I am not able to use it anymore. The same goes for orWall, which allowed me to channel apps where I don’t log in anywhere to go through tor, to increase privacy. These are just some examples to show, that by having root access, unlike your statement, I can actually increase privacy and security (security not in IT terms, but in personal). The FP2 OS currently available does not satisfy my security need on a computer.

For me smartphones are quite hot potatoes and I don’t trust them (i.e. Android/Google) very much. I feel very unsafe if I have to use a computer device, where I cannot be in control over it, where I cannot set permissions to various apps/programs. This is why I hate my work computer as well, because I have no admin rights there. But OK, it’s not mine, it belongs to my employer. But damn it: The Fairphone is MY phone, and I want to have control over it!

Alright, I see I’m getting emotional again. I understand that you are working on a version than can (or may?) be rooted. But from all what I understand so far is, there is no timeline when this should become available. I have been waiting for the phone over 6 months since I paid for it. Now it is here, I can hold it in my hands and play around with it. But with the current state, I do not feel safe to take full use of it, i.e. going ahead to install different apps or using the browser, as I still does not have full access to it in order to set app permissions properly etc.

This is really frustrating, to wait so long for a phone to only learn after arrival (as said, likely due to my naivety in believing Fairphone would do it better, as they have shown they can with the FP1) that I cannot take use of it as intended.

It is true that Fairphone is not only about open and fair software, but rather bases on the hardware. And I absolutely appreciate that, I am behind that philosophy, and for this reason I have been much more patient than I would be with any other phone. However, this alone would not be argument enough for me to choose a Fairphone. I need a phone that meet my needs, with which I can and want to work with. It’s like I find it great that you can get fair trade bananas, but since I don’t like the taste of banans, I wouldn’t buy it.
At this point this is also true for me with FP2. It is a great project, I am glad about all the work that has been put into it. I also really really appreciate the concept of the fp-osos. But for the time being, I have no use for the phone.

As much as I am convinced it would be interesting to start learning how to compile a os for a phone myself, or even more, how to modify it to my individual needs, I unfortunately just not have the time for this, as I do have a job also. I already spend too much time with trying to figure out how to root the FP2 I paid for (and I am avoiding consciously here to say my phone), and I also already spent too much time with actually trying to built the OS myself, until realizing that my prerequisites are not working and I would need to start fiddling around with setting up an proper operating system on my computer, in order to be able to compile the OS myself, which I understood is also not that easy as even the files you provided are not working out of the box.

So basically, I find the status quo unacceptable. I can understand that the IT staff from Fairphone must have had a busy time lately and that there is lot’s of work to do at the moment.
However, I also would like the Fairphone team to understand how frustrating it is for users of the phone, to not being able to again control over their phones, and not even knowing when that could be! It actually makes me feel like for now I could easily sell the phone and maybe at some point, when the software is working to my needs, have a look again at FP. If I still need a phone then. Although, I don’t want to wait another 6 months to finally get to own a Fairphone. Probably it will be to hard for me to go for any other kind of phone, as I also would like to be an advocate of the hardware approach FP is standing for. Also, I do not always follow my emotions, otherwise I would have already got rid of the FP2.

That said, currently I am very disappointed and frustrated.

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