What do you think of Fairphone's approach to open source on the FP2?

I just read https://www.fairphone.com/2015/09/23/opening-up-fairphone-to-the-community-open-source-fairphone-2/ and i have to say that sounds great!

I think this strategy, combined with releasing a tested Android 5.1 with Play Store is a very good balance between the needs of Fairphone user groups. The original distribution on the FP2 will make it easy and secure to use, by providing access to all of the Android Eco-System while not being rooted per default. Due to opening up the build environment, it will be possible to build equally well, but different versions of Fairphone Software for people wanting root, free software only or simply no Play Store.

:clap::clap: to Fairphone.

If i manage to get the money, there might be another FP1 on the marketplace here soon, since then i am going to pre-order!


I don’t want to spoil the party and I think all that is great news, but I think that this blog post is pretty empty once again.

What is missing from my part: A clear goal (what software will be supported and why) and commitment (we will pay XXX people with the right knowledge for doing THE GOAL the next XX years). And a website so I can have look at all the things they promise (the full build environment, the open project tracker).

I’m not convinced. And why don’t they just say what binary blobs? It’s important for most people to see if such a phone will live longer than a used sony or xiaomi!

A few more: "We cannot say this right now because … " make such a blog entry more useful because one does not have to guess all the time. The 801 did not came out yesterday so there should be a bit more information one could share.


good points. but they mention they will release more information and discuss the issue in London this weekend.

Fairphone is not Apple, I thought. But maybe PR always works the same and it has to be this way. So the main fairphone goals get more awareness.

I don’t think so, but I’m not a marketing expert. I’m not against letting the hardworking FP people have some fun and meet and greet “real” people, but I think we can also talk about the “values of transparency, longevity and ownership to the Fairphone” here … if we would just have some more facts.

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I think the FP blog is not the place for sharing intricate technical details, like listing blobs. It would be nice if they could set up a developers website through which they can share technical info.


I agree, but to just read a long awaited blog entry that tells me nothing new (“There will be a PR event about this”) does not feel so cool. Update: Also, goals are not really technical details, it’s important to know where they stand and what kind of things (OS’es, their UI, drivers?) they are going to support with what kind of expertise.

I am pretty sure they will do so. Everything else is useless.

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p1_wo_sw_updates@ we are sharing what we can, when we can. Given the plan is to release the source before the phone I do not understand your attitude. Also if you followed the blogs for a longer time you should understand that even money and resources are not a guaranty for anything. The world is just moving to fast for that.

Now that said and with our openness in mind you will need to decide for yourself if you want to put trust us or not. Perhaps it is not the right time for you to get a Fairphone, we are on an adventure to improve the world and a fairly small startup.


I trust you, I just don’t understand the way the FP project communicates important information to the users.

There is lot of info about the SD8xx series out there, what is the big secret? Do you just don’t have enough manpower (understandable) or do you still you have to sign tons of NDAs for the blobs in London first? :wink:

I just don’t understand all these incomplete answers … I’m not looking for a 100% open source phone, I just want to know how fair and how open it is. I hope that is understandable and doesn’t make me bad person.

And yes, I grok worker welfare, factory audits, and the selection of conflict free mines.

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Looking at the history of the FP1 and software, i think it is understandable that they are careful what to share (and when). I think it is pretty tempting for then to fill their blog with all plans and wishes they may have no shortly before the end of the pre-order, but i think it is also part of the lessons learned with the FP1 that they do not. Better safe then sorry in that regard!


Differing to other users here, I don’t think that the type of software to be used has anything to do with being “fair” or not. Android is a good software, and the fact that is is offered and developed by Google is perfectly okay. For me using a phone does not mean setting a sign against big (but by no means “evil”) US companies. I want to focus on saving the environment and contributing to better work conditions only when I consider a Fairphone.

The focus on open source will mean that there will be probably no intention to update to newer versions of Android over the years, which is bad news for people who do not want to root their Fairphone in favor of possibly unstable open source software.


As much as i can agree with the first point of your post (while favoriting open source, i try to keop open source and fair production separate issues), i very much wonder about the second part:

Where do you get that from? There is not the faintest hint in the blog post to support that claim. The issue of open sourcing the software and providing official upgrades to newer android versions are not related, at least not in that negative sense.

On the contrary, Sony for example is known to work much more open currently and they are pretty serious about updating their newer smartphones. In fact they argued the work on open source can profit keeping a phones software up to date. In the best case, necessary patches and modifications for example, can end up in the official AOSP sources, so there is less maintenance for a manufacturer. Furthermore, given the open OS, it might very well be possible for the community to step in when Fairphone is no longer able to update the software to major os revisions, like with Cyanogenmod for a lot of devices today. And you will be free to install Googles Software on such a port.


So, what do I think of the new blog entry?

Somehow I was afraid this would happen. I guess it boils down to this:

So, do I trust FP enough to ‘risk’ my 500+ Euros? My problem is that I don’t have the technical knowledge to make a more or less precise assessment of the possibility to run an alternative OS. ‘Somehow’ I have the feeling ‘the open source community’ is interested, but not very committed to the porting project. The commitment of Fairphone at least seems convincing. But do they have enough technical expertise and power to push this project themselves, if need be? I don’t know…

I would love to be part of the first batch of supporters, but since there are still some days to go, I guess I’ll wait with my decision until after the weekend. Maybe some news comes from the London conference?


Android was designed as a system that gets built in one go so about 512 projects get compiled and linked together. The components for witch we don’t have the source code are the usual suspects (graphics/wifi chip etc). What we will release is pretty much a verbatim codeaurora.org based android bases system with the added support for the Fairphone 2 hardware, our additions to the system and the needed binaries to make the system fully functional. In practice over the last months we where able to do develop and improve Fairphone OS using this exact system.

But things are not a simple at is seems. Some components that are released as open source have dependencies on closed source components (wpa_supplicant is such an example) and while building that component from source is possible it will not work on the system (because of missing dependencies). XDA developers will know what I am talking about. Anyway we developed a solution that worked quite well for us over the last month and that does allow us to generate a new set of blobs when needed. We have to take it forward from there. No manpower nor money will solve this issue (only open hardware might).

You will have to wait a little and see for yourself. Best would be to join the party and ask questions, be critical and if at all possible in a positive way.

One thing that is clear to me at this point is that no company will have the resources (money/people) to perform 5 major Android upgrades to existing hardware. We will have to follow a different path for longevity.


Hi, thanks for long and kind answer and for taking the time! It’s pretty late here, so just very brief:

I’m not that critical, I just need more information. I also think about how you deal with/select the OEMs/mines and how do you do the audits – and why there is not so much info about that on the blog :smile:. I don’t have a trust issue, I just want to know.

Back to the blobs: I was hoping for something like the Qualcomm Atheros AR9170 or ath10k for the wifi because they have open drivers but maybe do not come with a SoC. Same for the graphics, I had hopes on freedreno.

But all that is understandable. I assume the same will be true for the modem … and all that will be in one or two chips anyway and these will be pretty well locked up. That’s okay, as long as we know.

I wonder why. The APIs do not change that much, it’s the blobs that still make it impossible, or do I misunderstand how this all works? (Maybe CPU power, but most of the time it’s overkill). I don’t really like the whole android ecosystem … judging from the little bit I’ve read on xda the last years.

Anyway, Sony is much worse, they provide a bit … but often not the modem blobs … so people have a nice little neatly updated computer, but not a phone or a camera any longer.

As usual, you should be aware of that this software is not intended for daily use as there are important limitations. For example, the camera is not working and the modem is not enabled, which means you cannot take photos or make phone calls."

Once again, thanks for your reply and have a good night.


Hi, I think this is good news.
For those who own a FP1 the company is trying to find a solution to upgrade to a new version of Android.
For FP2, android 5.1 wil be there and supported even to new versions.

And for the free softwares addicts, the community will have somme tools to get in touch with the hardware and modify and compile some alternative Os.

Général users are not obliged to follow this thread. Usual grumbler are not obliged to post every two days that they are against something and grumbling a little more.
Thanks to the team for the work in progress.
I’m looking forwards to new developpements


@keesj Just out of interest, is it this https://www.codeaurora.org/xwiki/bin/QAEP/ project you are talking about?

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Because Android Kernel development is a huge mess. Have a look at a link previously shared by @Bombadil: Obstacles to contribution in embedded Linux

A quote:

The problem, Tim said, is not small. A typical system-on-chip (SoC) requires 1-2 million lines of out-of-tree code to function. Keeping that code separate obviously hurts the kernel, but it is also painful for the companies involved. There is a real cost to carrying that much out-of-tree code. Sony (where Tim works), for example, was managing 1,800 patches for each phone release — and that was just kernel code.

With every new Android version all these patches have to be ported. If big Companies are struggling with this, it’s quite unrealistic to expect a small company like Fairphone to do this.

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I agree and I read the link a while ago. This is why I think “open hardware” is important as well. I think in a few more years from now, you will end up defining “hardware” in software all the way. Most SoC are already developed like this, if I understand this correctly. They just contain a big load of “IP” that is bought and sold between the big players and later gets etched onto the chip after some testing.

I just want to have the fairphone as open and as fair possible. If currently more is not possible I understand that, but at least I want people to try and to understand why more was not possible. This doesn’t mean the whole project is a failure.

Just dealing with one OEM without any more information makes me feel that I’m not part of a movement, I’m just a customer getting sold the next update. I thought a bit more openness would be possible (graphics, wifi) see above.

But “buy or just shut up” is not my way. I always believed this forum was for arguments and discussion. But most of the time there is just not enough info to understand the “why’s and the because’s”. Maybe after the London meeting, I don’t know. I’m not only here to help others understanding Android basics, I also want to be able to understand the projects decisions. And comment on them/discuss them here.

I don’t. If it is an open driver all the deps should be around. So what is the problem? Could you post a link to xda?

I would like to discuss things like this in greater detail and not get told ‘to shut up’ indirectly by others that don’t bring in any arguments and more or less just bully. If we do not discuss OEM selections, mining or source issues/experiences here, than, I agree, this project is not for me any longer.


I think this is awesome news.

Yes, this is still incomplete information, but it is a step in the direction hinted at before. Together with the promise to try to maintain FP1 updates, this at least shows that Fairphone is trying hard.

Kudos and good luck on the journey.