Five scenarios of software-freedom for FP2

(edited to make the post a bit more to the point)

I’ve been thinking about creating this topic for a while, but held back to wait for FP to release the complete build environment for Fairphone OS on Fairphone 2. However, since it lasts longer than I expected and I wouldn’t know what to do with the ‘build environment’, anyway, I decided to go ahead and give it a try.

Basically, the idea is to reach some kind of consensus concerning the following points, Which scenarios concerning Software-freedom on the FP2 would there be? How ‘happy’ would said scenario make a person like me: a google-avoiding, slightly paranoid, freedom-loving, ‘regular’ user (able and prepared to root a telephone and install an alternative OS). Here ‘Happy’ basically means the following points: 1: I wouldn’t be have major privacy concerns and 2: I wouldn’t have to go without the use of essential features of a smartphone.

To make this more tangible, we are asked to comment the different scenarios on the following qualities.

  1. Operating system and core functionality is FOSS
  2. Project stability (added because of doubts about possible Sailfish and Firefox OS longterm viability)
  3. Apps are FOSS
  4. Control over App-permissions
  5. Possibility that scenario will be reached within first six monts of 2016.

First off: Fairphone’s position concerning software-freedom:
Fairphone acknowledges software-freedom as a part of fairness, but focus on fair production of the hardware. Their drive to support alternative OS-es is related to their wish to build telephones that can be used for many years. The experience from FP1(u) has learned that software-freedom is a practical necessity for long-term software support.

FP is continuously talking to developers of alternative OS-es: both the communities as well as companies like Jolla, Mozilla and Cannonical. However, FP is not going to actively support alternative OS-es themselves. They are too small a player for this: the porting of alternative OS-es is firstly a challenge for the FOSS and FP-communities. However, FP will do everything in their (legal) power to allow others to port their alternative OS-es to FP2. Since there are too many external factors that FP cannot control, FP will not make promises regarding the possibilities of alternative OS-es. Potential customers for whom this is very important will be buying a Fairphone at their own risk.

1. The scenarios

1.Stock FairphoneOS (Android 5.1); Rooted

  • Android-non-free/open Operating system with most apps that ‘phone home’ disabled.
  • Google-apps manually deinstalled
  • F-droid for apps
  • X-posed framework with X-privacy to control app-permissions

2.Alt-OS: Cyanogenmod 12.1

  • Community-developed OS, almost everything open sourced
  • Instructions for porting and future development dependent on dedication of FP and CM-communities
  • X-privacy to control app-permissions
  • F-droid for apps

3.Alt-OS: Sailfish

  • Privately-developed OS, most source-code open; UI and Android-app-compatibility-layer are closed-source
  • Instructions for porting and future development dependent on dedication of Jolla
  • nothing like X-privacy currently available
  • F-droid for apps, only possible when complete operating system is available. Current porting plans do not include the use of the android compatibility layer. This means that only native Sailfish-apps will be available.

4.Alt-OS: Ubuntu/FirefoxOS

  • Mozilla (non-private)-developped OS, everything open-sourced / Cannonical (private)-developped OS, everything open-sourced
  • Instructions for porting and future development dependetn on dedication of Mozilla, Cannonical and community.
  • noting like x-privacy available
  • HTML5 & Native apps (no android-based apps)

5. Alt-OS: Tizen
not known to me, please comment…

6. Alt-OS: Replicant

  • community-developped OS, software 100% free (as in freedom)
  • F-droid apps
  • X-privacy

So: go ahead and comment, criticize, ask, improve etc… I’ll edit this post to keep up with the project of reaching consensus…


What exactly is your question? It’s already known FP themselves aren’t going to release and maintain other OSes than their Android 5.1 based FairPhone OS.

From what I understand, FP is going to release enough source code and blobs for you to build your own ScheptOS if you were inclined to do so. It’s all up to the community and 3rd parties to do so though.

The only thing I wonder is if they can get a Jolla, Firefox or Canonical to build a FP build of their respective OSes for them, to kick start the community so to speak.


The biggest part that Fairphone have to play is in liaising with Qualcomm et al. about releasing as much of the source code as possible, and allowing the redistribution of closed source binaries. As well as encouraging Qualcomm et al. to provide an updated BSP so we can enjoy up-to-date software in the future.

Fairphones main concern seems to be about developing an Open Source Fairphone OS, and so any internal effort will align with that goal.

Once the device and kernel repos are made public, I am sure we will see options for at least CyanogenMod, Firefox OS, Ubuntu, and Sailfish.

You seem to care a lot about X-Privacy which is understandable, but on operating systems like SailfishOS and Ubuntu almost all native apps are open source so the community can see what the apps are doing without permissions blockers, and compile from source yourself if you don’t trust the binaries.

In Sailfish we are starting to see Android permission management in the OS itself, you can block access to contacts, block background services running all the time, and since the android engine runs in a chroot it can provide a fairly robust jail for android apps. In addition, its Linux, so you have IPTables and hosts file at your disposal to lock down your device as you see fit.


I expect FP’s position to software-freedom will be the least discussed here. They have been quite clear about this in their blog posts. I included it here for future buyers to read, for the sake of completion. Maybe I should delete it…

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I found your post very interesting… please don’t delete it. I share the same vision in almost all what you have wrote (except maybe canNonical with 2 N).
I think also that the fairphone userbase is too small to see an eventually community self-developed Sailfish OS/Firefox OS/ Ubuntu OS working. I hope that Canonical, Jolla or Mozilla could give some kind of support, as the same do Fairphone. But only the time will tell us the truth


Hi schept,

Great post, I found it as I was writing a blog post similar in many ways:
The Fairphone 2, Free Software and alternative operating systems

A few remarks:

  • Sailfish OS is unfortunately quite a closed OS, all the UI seems to be proprietary. Jolla says it’s about 20 % of the code.
  • You don’t mention Tizen at all?
  • Replicant is stalled with a version based on Android 4.x… and is certainly not as active as a project as the other alternatives.



Ok, so I’m going to necro my post here. Let’s see how much enthusiasm there is to complete these scenarios. If there is desire, I could ask a mod to turn the first post into a wiki.

Then ta start of the debate

Please discuss the first scenario:
1. Stock Fairphone OS (Android 5.1), Rooted

Question 1: Is the described scenario correct, am I missing something?
Question 2: How happy would this scenario make the described personality?
Question 3: How quick will this person be able to setup this scenario after receiving his telephone in Dec. '15 / Jan. '16?

Could you describe Tizen a bit here? I know it’s a linux-based OS developed by Samsung. But how ‘open’ is it? Can it be ported to other hardware?

Does anybody know anything about the Plasma-mobile OS?

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