FP3 : Fairphone Open OS?

On a modern OS, you need some kind of package manager with repositories. Sideloading everything, is not doable.

There are basically 3 ways to run Android (or their forks, well technically they are AOSP forks but whatever).

  1. GApps, OpenGApps, Google Play Services, or whatever you want to call it. The conventional, official way. The way Google wants you to run their OS.

  2. F-Droid side-loaded, allowing you access to F-Droid repositories.

  3. microG installed, an open source implementation of OpenGApps (sans the advertising part) allowing you (anonymous/pseudonomous) access to Google Play and all kind of other Google services. E.g. GCM which allows for push messages via Google Cloud, or UnifiedNlp allows you to use different backends for GPS assistance, etc. You don’t have to use the Google Play Store if you got microG installed. You can enable and disable all kind of its services.

You can combine the above, except you cannot stack #1 with #3 (so you can combine #2 with #1 or #3). You can download microG from F-Droid, but there are also Android forks which have it by default such as /e/ and LineageOS + microG.


Edit: TL/DR I think that @JeroenH gave a better explanation! :slight_smile:

Hi @mgfp and @gcrl,

Please excuse me as well if I’ve misunderstood the question. Also, I realise I’ve probably come across as a bit of a “know-it-all”. When I think I know something that may be of interest to others I tend to say it and sometimes this can come across as arrogant, so please excuse me if that’s the case. Even if I think I know something I’m very happy to learn that I’m wrong and have someone correct me, so if that’s the case with anything I’ve written in this thread then please explain it to me!

About FP Open OS, LineageOS, /e/, Shift OS-L etc. Apart from /e/ these are all pretty similar, as far as I can tell. I didn’t manage to find much info on Shift OS-L and others here are much more knowledgeable about FP Open OS so I hope someone will correct me if I get my facts wrong here.

FP Open OS and Shift OS-L are similar, they are both Android without the Google Apps or Google Play Services (GPS). Unfortunately many apps require Google Play Services, so without this these OSes have reduced functionality vs normal Google Android unless GPS or an alternative is installed.

LineageOS is also a flavour of Android without the Google Apps, but it has been customised a lot and offers lots of configuration possibilities. It still needs GPS or an alternative to be full featured.

With all three of the above the Google Play Services and Google Apps can be installed afterwards. Or an alternative, one of which is MicroG which aims to replace all of the services from GPS with open-source versions which don’t communicate at all with Google.

/e/ is based on LineageOS plus MicroG, so it has just as much functionality as normal Google Android but without the GPS communication with Google and with the added configuration possibilities of LineageOS.

Since MicroG can be added to LineageOS, FP Open OS and Shift OS-L (as far as I know) you might think that /e/ is still not significantly different. However, the /e/ team have also removed as much other communication with Google which is inside the rest of Android as they can. There are still some things to fix, but there is still much less communication with Google than any of the other options above.

They also provide their own app store and their own privacy-respecting cloud services (drive, mail, calendar, contacts, notes, tasks and search engine). In this way they replace all the other Google things which people normally depend on as well, which to date has probably been the main reason that people have almost always failed to go completely Google free.

There is a “product description” on the /e/ wiki here that gives more details: https://gitlab.e.foundation/e/wiki/en/wikis/e-product-description-pro-privacy-Android-ROM-and-online-services

If anything’s wrong or not clear please tell me.
Cheers :slight_smile:


Well yes, /e/ is nice, and has an interesting goal, but still, if people install facebook or the like (and be sure to check your apps, they use all kinds of ad networks, and also the infamous FB SDK), you may be less visible on google, but the rest of the world knows all about you.
Just for the record. I did a MITM check, and I found lots of otherwise respectable apps (or so I thought …) combining Google AdId and some unique ID they set while installing. So, even on /e/ and similar, if you use those apps, you’re visible as hell for everybody wanting to track you.
Use ad blockers, firewalls, and everything you can, if you’re tech savvy enough, but most of the people are not able to do this.
And if Fairphone says 95% users use a standard installation (maybe also because they are not tech enough to use a banking app while rooted, and this will still get more difficult with PSD2 in Europe), that leaves about 7500 users that are using FPOOS or LOS… Not a loss for google.

I’m also quite critical, but you simply can’t escape, you just can minimize your exposure…

(And I really want to talk to some of those clowns who block banking apps because you’re rooted, but still allow KitKat…)


Hi @ben !

I am quite sorry to learn that you get sick so easily. My apologies. But at the same time, I am glad that you go for peace of mind - surely, this will help you feel better soon!

Yes, I may definitely be stubborn at times, but at least I actually do know rather well what I am talking about when discussing free and open software, and you are just wrong if you think that I am ignorant - when I don’t know (enough about) something, I won’t hesitate to admit it; and then I start studying the matter and learn from others.

(What strikes me most, is that your frustration radiates throughout your reply to me, and I suspect that this emotion originates from your illusion of choice, which is, if you really want to go philosophical, sort of a choice, too. Sure. Hey, just an assumption of mine, so not to be considered very important for the subject of this forum, and don’t allow it to make you feel worse, please. I am unworthy of such an honour. :wink: )

In any case, we don’t have to become friends, and I guess we have discovered that we differ in our opinions - that’s alright and I do respect those who actually have thought before they come up with theirs. You know, most people just blindly follow the companies who have most power and money, plus the ones who are most similar to themselves, and these people fail to convince me of, or impress me with their deep, independent and intelligent thinking - feel absolutely free to think of this as you wish. However, I don’t think I mentioned the word stupid at all, and I am certain that I didn’t use it in conjunction with you, as I wasn’t even aware of your existence until now - don’t take things personally, unless I speak to you directly, I beg you.

Lastly, I don’t mean Goolag as a joke at all. That would be very bad, indeed. Truth is that the comparison is all too realistic, unfortunately. So, Goolag it will be. Sorry that you have to read my opinion on it once more, but I don’t mean anything personal, as I said.

Make Leaks & Love. Peace, man! :v:

Tbh; for not being personal, you are quite sarcastic with regard to someone elses opinion.
That, of course, is just my opinion/perception of your posting. :wink:


Hi @iklaus, you’re right, in the end it’s still the privacy nightmare that is Android! :smile:


Yes, I am guilty of sarcasm, quite often. Apologies, if that isn’t considered a good trait by some. Still, I would be the last person to want to hurt individuals, unless they ask for it. Strong convictions, stubborn I guess, but also open-minded and definitely willing to learn from mistakes, people with more knowledge and experience, and life in general. I am a compassionate and forgiving human being in the end. Perhaps a bit of an Asperger and a solipsistic person, too. Life isn’t easy in any case - let alone communications! I guess you will have to trust me on that one. :wink:

So, all bets on Librem 5 after all…? What a mess we are in, aren’t we…?

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Hi @gcrl,

Since you addressed me directly, let me reply to you. I guess it gets boring to others on the forum pretty soon. First, I did not want to say you insulted me directly, my apologies for not writing more clearly.

This, what you wrote on the topic to install an alternative to Google by default, is an example, for a statement that seems ignorant to me. Using Android with Google Play Services would be the ethically totally wrong choice for customers being stubborn or worse. You even included a roll eyes emoji afterwards. To me, that is ignorant because if one option is totally wrong ethically, that’s not even a choice for many of us here. You seem to not consider different needs, you are not weighting in on pros or cons, you are not considering others might be well educated on the matter of open source on a smartphone and still consider a version with Google Play preferable for themselves.

Maybe learn something about Gulags now. If you still insist that’s comparable to Google using data to serve ads, then we have nothing left to discuss.

We’ll now you did. Let me say one last thing about making assumptions about my peace of mind and if I get easily frustrated or not and if this originates in a illusion of choice. Don’t do that. I feel it’s rude and to personal. You are not entitled to do that unless I ask you for it.

I hope we can learn something from this. To me it is that respect is not only in how you say something but also in what you say.

And just to be sure, if one gets the impression I am arguing against free software smartphone (s): I am not,


I have often wondered about this remark. I run FPOOS, but I also run a few (really, few a few) official apps whose services cost money. I downloaded them with the Google account on my old phone (or, since Google doesn’t offer them considering my old phone too old, I ask somebody with a new phone to download on my behalf), extracted the APK, copied to my FP2 and installed there. Voila, I can buy train tickets with the German DB Navigator. Sometimes, I get a nervous pop-up saying “Hey, there’s no Google on this phone”, but these pop-ups have an “Ok” button, and the process continues.

As I said, I use only few such apps, but can somebody explain which apps or which features I would potentially loose by unGoogling in this way?

Danke & Grüße von


Would be nice if you can publish the list - for others (not so tech-savy like me) to avoid these apps; or at least be warned.

Danke & Grüße von

Yes. No worries. :v:

@JeroenH, @madbilly Thanks for the detailed explanations, very much appreciated :+1:

Unfortunately, I still have a lot of :question: in my mind :wink:

  1. “Sideloading” - is that downloading and installing manually? Like what a Windows user does, who, for example, downloads and installs Irfanview? As opposed to a Linux distribution where (almost) everything comes from the repository? If so - why not doable? Sure, I prefer repos too, but downloading, installing and updating a few apps from time to time should be doable?

Anyhow - F-Droid seems to be an solution for that problem, if I understand correctly?

  1. microG - from what @JeroenH says I got the impression that microG still access Google services, @madbilly writes about versions which don’t communicate at all with Google. This leaves me with the question: does MicroG only replace local components on the smartphone, or does it also provide its own servers? (If the latter - how do they finance that?)

  2. The really bad news is what @madbilly writes about /e/ - “much less communication with Google”. So even if I use a “Google-free” system like FP Open OS, and even if I omit MicroG, there is still communication with Google?

Together with what @lklaus says, this probably means that I should stay with my refusal of smartphones … :thinking:

Waiting for Librem 5 is an option, but there I miss the approach to fair and sustainable hardware; and if I still have no access to (Android) apps, why would I need a smartphone?

Depends on your needs. If you got away without it up to now, this might work longer, sure. But as I can see you’re using the internet anyway… If you’re not throwing away cookies at the end of every session, use a hardened browser ("canvas identification ") and use tor, your moves are tracked anyway. You can only minimize exposure (disable every Google " feature "), use ad blockers, firewalls, (netguard comes to my mind, no root required) and on the desktop noscript, EFF tools and canvas blocker. You’ll be surprised how much faster it can go, and more so how much breaks, as tracking often is built in in the functionality (web sites or app modules the like)


About a few remaining Google traces in open OSes, see here: Living without Google 2.0 - A Google free FP2

It’s about the wifi connectivity check and DNS.


Hi @mgfp,

  1. Yes that’s side loading. Unfortunately Android APKs don’t normally check for their own updates, they expect an app store to do it.
  2. Yes @jeroenh is right there is still some communication with Google, but you can’t be tracked as easily, if I understand it correctly. MicroG does not provide it’s own servers. More details here: https://microg.org/
  3. If you really want no Google at all and still use Android then I think the “best” option is a Kindle fire tablet… But then you’re being tracked by Amazon instead! Or an Android smartphone from China (not just made in China, but bought in China) as they don’t have Google tracking in them as far as I know… But then you’re being tracked by China! Therefore maybe lineageOS is a better option, but I actually think they are much closer aligned to Google than they tell us.

The Librem 5 will have plenty of apps and services, but it won’t run Android ones. It’s possible someone could port PureOS for the Librem 5 to the FP3. But I think a better bet would be Ubuntu Touch or Sailfish OS for a non Android OS. UT definitely doesn’t have Google tracking but is community run, so no guarantees about stability. Sailfish OS should be much more stable but support needs an agreement between it’s maker Jolla and Fairphone. The latter can also run Android apps if you want.

Cheers :slight_smile:


I’ll have to read all the posts carefully later on. Right now I got to add the following that a comparison of the pros and cons of FP3 and Librem 5 is an interesting one to make. Both have a different primary goal, however both also have to make different sacrifices. For the record (and FWIW), I :heart: both projects, and I believe many here on this forum :heart: both projects.


  • Fair for nature via sustainability (recycle program, modularity).
  • Fair for mankind via fair wages and work circumstances for workers.
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 is a good mid-range processor however its firmware isn’t FOSS.
  • Comes standard with Android. Good for backwards compatibility; bad for privacy due to Google.
  • Android is partly FOSS, but the firmware isn’t.
  • The benefits come with a price tag (450 EUR without charger).

Librem 5

  • Fair for mankind via FOSS (including in the firmware).
  • i.MX processor series is relatively slow though compared to Qualcomm.
  • Fair for mankind via hardware kill switches.
  • Does not come with Android. Therefore good for privacy; however no Android emulation lacks backwards compatiblity.
  • The benefits come with a price tag (700 USD with charger).

If your primary interest is avoiding FAANG (not sure why we aren’t adding M[icrosoft] here, too) yet you’re fine with some proprietary software, then SailfishOS could be a contender. If you are currently not using a smartphone, it is likely that Android emulation is less important for you. Only official versions of SailfishOS have Android emulation; unofficial (such as the FP2 port) don’t.

Another option could be Ubuntu Touch (which isn’t an official Ubuntu project anymore). AFAIK they also suffer from the issue of lack of Android emulation. Perhaps Anbox can be installed on these?


Oh, it might be feasible for you.

Let me rephrase: it isn’t user-friendly enough having to side-load such. I’ve lived the mess of Symbian and S60 without repositories. It might be acceptable for some technical users but for the vast majority of people it isn’t user-friendly enough, isn’t worth the hassle of manual tracking, and it is waste of their time.

(FWIW, I hate it on Windows, too. I find it actually a joke! Microsoft Store was years too little too late. I’ve been using Chocolatey for ages. On *nix, I use topgrade. I’m one of the few who’s allowed to BYOD at work, and I maintain my MBP and VMs with that software.)

MicroG is a FOSS implementation of Google services. You can enable some of these, or not. You can use the Play Store with MicroG, but you do not have to. You can use GCM with MicroG, but you don’t have to. You can use an anonymous account, but then you can’t access the stuff you bought from Play Store. It also allows you to use different databases for GPS which can actually yield to better results. Who pays for the servers? Well, Google? :wink:


Coming back to the topic of tracers…
You might check apps with ClassyShakr3xodus (https://f-droid.org/de/packages/com.oF2pks.classyshark3xodus) which is a bit cryptic IMHO, or AppBrain AdDetector (Play Store, from a group that promote further apps by them, but this App has good ratings on android magazines). This helped my isolate a few apps using the FB Plugin, which resulted in a few mails to Privacy officers from companies, which were quite surprised by this …
Also, I’m using Adaway, with the following personal additions (blocked)

For the more adventurous there’s https://mitmproxy.org/, some background https://medium.com/testvagrant/intercept-ios-android-network-calls-using-mitmproxy-4d3c94831f62 (english) and https://www.kuketz-blog.de/mitmproxy-app-verkehr-mitschneiden/ (german). Best you do a search on your favorite search engine for “mitmproxy android” or variations.


Thanks again @All for the answers and additional information!

Avoiding FAANG is a strong motivation, but of course there are contrary interests. One of my intentions in having a smartphone is my job as an IT administrator. I am managing server services that include smartphone apps. In general accessing services from mobile devices is most important nowadays - and me, the admin of the services, I have no idea what this “feels” like. Therefore, even if for my personal needs I don’t need the apps, a system without Android apps makes no sense. (Most probably I could get a company smartphone if I told my boss that I need one, but then “fair” and “Google-free” would be beyond my decision; and there are more reasons for not having a company phone.)

When FP2 was released I had the hope, that there will be an official release of SailfishOS. If there was SailfishOS with Android support for FP3 I would be happy to pay for it. (Google-free, in my opinion, does not need to be free of cost - if I am not willing to pay with my data, I am willing to pay money instead)

Well, the topic is complicated. I guess, the best way for me to gain better understanding is to make my own experiences. Most probably I will order a FP3 - but not before FP Open OS, LineageOS or something comparable is available.