FP3 : Fairphone Open OS?

I would like a Google-free OS as well.
Still I do not expect that this would really be a feature helping to sell lots of phones.
If I remember some info correct, about 5 % of the Fairphones were on a free OS. And that was while they were selling their phones to a great extent to tech addicts, that loved doing experiments with their phone. To people sticking to a phone that is rebooting frequently, that makes them change modules in regular intervals etc.
I can’t count how often I have read twrp in this forum and explanations what to do in twrp etc. I even don’t remember what this stands for and I am fairly interested in stuff like that.

To cut it short:
In my opinion FP has only that many resources to spend and they are doing well in spending them on someting lots of people want (i.e. a reliable phone, instant support etc.).
Maintaining another OS would be - at least for now - stretching it thin and risking to lose it all in the end.

Right now, it looks promising, that they aim and are working on supporting other OSs like Lineage. Therefore, if you want it, you most likely can get it someday soon.
The majority - I fear - will stick to the likes of Alexa, Siri and a “smart” home. And they will do so wilfully. I am not sure, if I would call this the end of freedom or democracy, but that’s a completely different (politial) topic I surely will not discuss on this forum.


Having a G##gle-free factory supported system is one of the main reasons I bought not one but two FP2s. So for now I’ll stick with them, and FP3 won’t be on my list in the future unless a G##gle-free system becomes officially supported.


The Fairphone 2 came out in December 2015.
Fairphone Open OS for the Fairphone 2 was released April 28, 2016.
Just saying.


Hi @gcrl great to hear that we both agree we’d like a complete de-googled, privacy respecting OS on our Fairphone :slight_smile:

However, Fairphones objectives are about fairness for the workers in the supply chain and minimising environmental impact. That’s what they are experts at, that’s where they add value and that’s what I think they should continue to focus on.

I do not want Fairphone to develop in-house an alternative, de-Googled OS, because there are plenty of options already available from organisations which are specialists at this. Fairphone should pick the one which is closest to their ideals and partner with them; I’m sure it will end up as a win-win for both.

@JeroenH NixOS looks interesting, thanks for the links they were good to read. Unfortunately is it not yet ready for use buy the general public (and would still need a UX/DE like Unity or Plasma Mobile anyway). However, I strongly hope that pmOS can get get decent support on the FP3. The holy grail would be everything supported in mainline, but I know that’s not realistic.

However there is much more to /e/ than you give them credit for. They differ from LineageOS in many ways, such as:

  1. It is LineageOS + MicroG + even more degoogling. LineageOS is not really about degoogling, it’s just a custom ROM. MicroG replaces Google Play Services. /e/ has gone even further and removed every last bit of communication with Google that it can find (e.g. the built-in DNS, NTP servers, IIRC).
  2. It’s aim is to be user-friendly, accessible to the vast majority of the general public, not only tech-enthusiasts etc. They still have some way to go on this, however.
  3. They provide online services too, because degoogling is more than just removing Google from the OS, people need privacy respecting cloud service alternatives as well. Whilst some people with the technical capability may be happy to self-host, e/e recognise that the vast majority of people have no interest in this, but still want privacy respecting email, calendar, storage, etc. IMO these services are a major differentiator and improvement over LineageOS, FPOOS, or any other custom ROM.

There is the one proprietary app, Magic Earth I think. I don’t know why they include it as there are totally adequate FLOSS alternatives available, e.g. Maps on F-Droid is a maintained fork of Maps.me, which is itself open source anyway. A lot of the design decisions come down to the preferences of Gael (like the iOS-like Bliss launcher) so maybe he just likes Magic Earth and wants to continue using it.

Anyway, one proprietary app is nothing compared to what is in LineageOS, IIRC.

In my mind, if you’re technically capable, LineageOS might be of interest to you, but to me /e/ provides so much more that LineageOS isn’t worth considering anymore.

Cheers :slight_smile:


F-Droid is not really an alternative to the Play Store, as important Open Source Apps like AndrOpen Office (the only OSS implementation of an office suite) are missing, and the search is evem worse than the search on the Play Store (which is bad, especially seen that the company behind became big with a search engine), Yalp Store is using the Play Store , DuckduckGo is using Google search, OSMAnd is not really a Google Maps replacement (it is of course even better for biking and hiking, but worse for cars, as no traffic info is included, and it misses a satellite view, which would be available for free like ESRI); for sync and backup I personally recommend the OSS MyPhoneExplorer, which even does not use a cloud;

I support OSS as much as I can, and have installed mostly OSS on my FP2; but unfortunately for some of my needs there are no OSS alternatives (please correct me if I am wrong), like reading business cards and converting them into contacts (I use CamCard), or storing pictures as PDF documents (I use CamScanner).

I well understand the need for an operating system not controlled by a single company; such an OS is at least important to limit the power of this company (I would love to see an alternative to iOS); FairPhone offered such an OS, and seen the philosophy of the company, a really free OS for the FP3 is vital; however, it is questionable to me whether it should come pre-installed.


@madbilly Sure, Fairphone’s ethics are wonderful. I applaud them for this, praise them highly, and would be the last one to criticise them on that!

But they could and should have improved their software strategy, I think, if they take their own ethics and their buyers seriously. Indeed, the best way would be to partner with their favourite OS developers and not develop their own OS, but it is (was) essential to do this before a new phone release; hire someone knowledgeable, famous in the field even, who is, PR-wise, very well able to explain the necessity plus advantages of such a direction, focus on the primary, (more) free OS - and, if they really must, offer the ‘old’ and ethically totally wrong option as a secondary choice for customers who are just too stubborn (or worse :roll_eyes:). Using solely free and open software (or at least as much as is reasonably possible) is after all much more important than believing that one’s life becomes impossible without an app that converts business cards and adds them to one’s contacts list (just one example, obviously). All for the benefit of (I don’t like the word, but…: education and general awareness of) their clientele and to do another right thing for the world.

Indeed, and that’s what I mean by a missed chance.

Again, it’s all besides the great things Fairphone already do accomplish!

Have a good one!


Sure many of the OSS have their drawbacks, but, for obvious reasons, so does commercially licensed software. Some things just depend on what freedom or privacy you’re prepared to sacrifice because of convenience.

Shortcoming of OSM not having traffic, does not outweigh the advantages it has. But in case one needs the traffic info: before leaving, check the traffic with Maps. Set the alternative route, if required, in OSMAnd. Done. Repeat once in a while in case you’re on the road for a longer time (hours of driving).

If you don’t prefer DuckDuckGo, why don’t you consider Qwant ? Or if you want to bring ecology in the equation, Ecosia ?

I would advice to stay far away from CamsCanner (see the tech news of the past few days…) and opt for Open Note Scanner (available in F-Droid).

It would be wise for Fairphone to join /e/ instead of pursuing FPOOS for FP3. As such Fairphone would achieve the same goals (open alternative OS on their device) with the added value of privacy controls. And at the same time, their contributions to /e/, if any, will be beneficial for all instead of just FP3.

The same applies to the Purism and their Librem 5, for that matter. These guys are developing their own distribution instead of joining and contributing to /e/.


I was about to say the same! And here’s a link: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/08/28/camscanner_android_malware/


Good reply, and thanks for the Open Note Scanner suggestion. And the other ones.

Regarding the Librem 5, I believe Purism wants to have nothing to do with Android at all (understandable, and I hope they will be successful!). That makes them a different case and /e/ could therefore not be an option for them to begin with. Correct me if I am wrong, please.


Hi @Leonhard, yes F-Droid doesn’t have everything, but then neither does the Play Store. /e/ have their own app store which contains software from both Play and F-Droid as well as showing a privacy score based on the Exodus privacy project: https://exodus-privacy.eu.org/en/

/e/ also provide their own search engine based on Searx at spot.ecloud.global, but it is s-l-o-w!

Is MyPhoneExplorer open source? I couldn’t find the source code.

@gcrl I agree with your sentiment, it would be great if FP could do this. However I think that the difficulty for FP to make Google Android second-tier in favour of a degoogled Android is that most of their business partners want Google’Android for one reason or another. Networks and retailers will struggle to sell phones in their shops if the phone doesn’t have Google Android on it, and they won’t reflash these phones themselves there and then. Other businesses might have a specific app they use which depends on Google Play Services and they can’t or haven’t confirmed compatibility with /e/.

@Wiggum127, I think @gcrl is right, Purism definitely don’t want anything to do with Android, they like their Linux to be pure GNU and pretty much nothing else.

If I could have a phone with hardware made by FP3 and open source drivers so that I could have pretty much any OS I want on it, then I’d be very happy!

Cheers :slight_smile:



I have a question for my understanding - sorry if it sounds stupid, but I really don’t know: what is the needed effort for a company Fairphone to provide a “Google-fee” version of Android; isn’t it just omitting something? Does this require active development? Not just an automated build process from the original sources?

This is a good question which can only be accurately replied to by Fairphone themselves.

Fairphone has limited resources, and what you described sounds easier than it is. On top of that there is a need for quality assurance (QA). Customers demand a working product.

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just wanted to add that for me, unGoogling has become much more important since when I bought my FP2. Back then, I was attracted by the fair supply chain.

Given the developments on privacy, asocial networks, or surveillance, I still think fair work and environmental considerations are still important, but if we let go of free speech and democracy, we’ll not be able to even know whether the supply chain is fair.

That’s why I will stick to the free (as in freedom) FPOOS until another free alternative is available. FP3+Google is not an option.


I really have no idea, as I am neither technician nor programmer or software-developer.
My guess would just be, that Google, when they sell their OS has really put lots of work into it to integrate their own stuff well and rooted deep.
The picture that comes to my mind is Google being for android what (poison-)ivy is for your garden. You can do without, but it’s hard to get it out, if you don’t want to plough it all up and start from scratch. Well, I might be totally wrong, but that’s at least the feeling I do have about Google. :frowning:


@mgfp I think @virtualnobi has answered the question for you: Being sold a phone, with software from a company that obviously not only threatens but shamelessly takes away free speech and democracy wherever it can, is unethical. Yes, an omission, but a damn good one. Ethics is what Fairphone has said to stand for, and they are the best with their hardware and how the product is being made, but it is unethical to then give the user/buyer a product that does what @virtualnobi has described.

@madbilly There are many reasons as to why Fairphone possibly has difficulties doing such a thing as putting an ungoogled version as the default. But sometimes, especially when Fairphone emphasises its ethical values so strongly, it is necessary to keep one’s back straight and take a (calculated) risk - which, as I mentioned before, could actually be turned into a marketing advantage with the right people and strategy. Maybe, businesses demanding the malware on which their apps are based can start reconsidering whether their apps are actually such a great and convenient ‘service for the customer’ and for the benefit of the world - instead of merely for their own surveillance and money/power making. It is about time that retailers get educated as well, and learn that what they are selling has a big influence on more than their own payslip only. Goolag will not like it and probably prevent it at very little cost for them, but if no-one even tries, the conclusion has to be that we ‘democratically’ (ahum… read: as zombies) agree that we and especially our children will live in a kind of China - and I am not thinking about the great natural landscapes or the rich cultural diversity this country has to offer… Surveillance Capitalism (by Shosana Zuboff) at its perfection, perhaps.

(@gcrl Gosh, what do I care… I don’t even have children. As far as I know… :face_with_hand_over_mouth:)


Hi @gcrl, I think you’re right, if anyone can make this stand it’s probably Fairphone. They need to do it with the right partner though, one which shows you can have all the fun and convenience of Android but without the loss of privacy. Hence why I favour /e/ :smile:


Partially agreed.
I would say: Let them take that stand, once the public will recognize there is someone standing.
Right now taking that stand would most likely mean to sacrifice the impact they can have on the hardware market. Is this worth the risk? It sounds a bit like “He had way of right” on a tombstone. Sometimes the powe lies in the ability to compromise and not to bite off more than one can swallow. (That’s it for witty remarks. :wink: )


@gcrl I think there is a misunderstanding about my question, probably because of my limited English skills. @virtualnobi did not answer my question but perfectly described my motivation. :smiley:
Because I don’t like Google (and neither Apple) I still have no smartphone. From time to time I look around to see if the situation has improved. The release of FP3 is such an occasion to check if there is a way to give up my refusal of smartphones. This is why I would like to better understand some topics. One thing that I don’t really understand is the difference between different “ungoogled” systems: FP Open OS, LineageOS, /e/, Shift OS-L - are these in essence all the same, with the difference only on what phone they are running and what Android version they are based on? Or are some more google-free than others?
That was the background of my original question - sort of a better understanding what “ungoogling” does.


@mgfp My apologies for misunderstanding your question. I think your quest(ion) is a noble one - you have certainly gained my respect for not owning a smartphone! Purism with their Librem 5 might interest you, too, besides the projects that you already mentioned. Otherwise, I think @madbilly is more capable of answering your questions than I, if they don’t mind taking the time to post another message.

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Or maybe you are stubborn. Can we please stop insulting people or suggesting they are stupid just because they make different choices in their life? Thank you!

Of course they will. Maybe as successful als Firefox OS/Boot to Gecko? Or Ubuntu Phone? Or MeeGo? Or Sailfish? (Irony off)

I hope Fairphone will support Lineage and that the FP3 will work even better on Lineage then the FP2 did. I think it is great that they are considering to offer a Google free choice. That won’t be for me. I like using the Play Store, I enjoy the peace of mind and choice it offers to me. And I am sick of getting told how everyone choosing to use a Google powered smartphone is just stupid. It’s ignorant at best and it will not help the cause of free software at all. If the cause of free software is to be taken seriously, at least spell the name of the company correctly: It’s Google, not Goolag, which is a very lame joke, and only funny if you don’t know or realize want a Gulag actually is.