Why i think Fairphone OS should drop root and pre-install Google Apps

And i do i would be a good way forward, benefiting general users while giving choice to those who want root. We will never agree on that point, but i think i made my position pretty clear.

No need to do so, i understood you position before, plain text is not required. Frankly, I do not think you are able to make this decision on behalf of Fairphone users and the Fairphone team.

Thankfully it’s not for us to decide.

in my view:
-stay with root
-how can you even think about putting google play on a phone called fair?

or as long as you provide an ffos and ubuntu image for the phone, do waht you want with android but if you force us to youse android keep root on and google play away from it.

again i want as less google on my phone as possible! thats why is just created an account.

btw i use the fairphone launcher and never used peace widget(the phone has flight mode)

i want to use opensource even i am not a developer its a mind thing like the fairphone. and i want it as standard because i am standard. and not: yeah you can use this developer version without google.

putting goolgle on the phone is the surrendering from the idiots
putting google everywhere makes me really sad


Read the mission statement of FairPhone (see my post above). “Fair” means “Fairtrade”: responsible mining, fair wages, less environmental burden. FairPhone also tries to be as open source-friendly as possible. But it’s just not their main purpose. If that’s the most important issue for you, you just bought the wrong phone, I’m afraid.


We did not, as FP1 does it ok root-wise. But FP2 might be the wrong phone. I’m afraid I wont buy a phone without good support (and FP1 is unsupportable atm due to Google + MediaTek) just because it’s 5% more environment friendly.

  • “Fair wages” my a**, FP1 assembly workers had minimal wages.
  • FP1 is stick on the unsafe Android 4.2 forcing me to move on to new one rather soon. How is the environmental burden now?
  • responsible mining. Well yea, here it might be slightly better than usual phones.

In the eyes of the caring customers, FP1 is a fail. The new FP2 might do better on SoC side, but is going to lose on open OS (is not equal “open source”, but “Operating System”) side.

Maybe in your eyes, FP1 is a fail. As a caring customer, I see FP1 as a first, very important step towards a fair phone. And for me, the achievements are already a big step forward.
Minimal wages (that are actually payed!), a “workers fund”, no illegal working conditions, responsible mining of several metals, … it counts. Maybe in your view, this is not enough, but I don’t think there is any other smartphone producer who can lay down such achievements. And that’s why I bought a FairPhone: because they promised they would focus on these issues.


For me it is not a fail. Thinks might be better in some aspects, sure, but we all knew we were taking a risk. About loosing on the open OS side, we do not know that yet. but supposing the FP team would be able to provide the sources, kernel and driver binaries and simple guides to build AOSP for the FP2, in my point of why that would be a huge win regarding open OS. Because this would allow ports and customizing the OS even more than possible today with root.

I do still not understand why you are so much opposed to that change of no root by default, even if there are simply means to regain root access.

Anyway, i think this discussion proved valuable. We will see how Fairphone decides. Frankly, i am not interested to go in much more detail here. I think the positions are pretty obvious now and it does not seem we are really making progress. So let’s not exercise this discussion until we are all tired of it and see what the future brings.


great post indeed, albeit i cannot entirely share your views about root, i do for the entire reminder of your excerpt :smile:

in my opinion they should combine forces with something like this:

Have a look at this. Something that could well open the next big chapter in mobile technology !
Cross-OS & cross-device, that puts this beyond google’s project ARA IMO _ http://nexpaq.com

While I cannot agree that “kernel and driver binaries” “would allow ports”, as they did not with MediaTek, let’s stay on topic about dropping support on rooted FP2 and pre-install Goggle Apps…

Hello Aline,

I don’t think you need to worry if anything FP2 will allow you to do more changes and we will not prevent you from doing so. Also bloatware will not be part of the package but we are thinking of a community app later on. The main problem with the discussion here is the mix up of “lock/unlocked phone” features with enabling root access (god mode) for application and “rooting” a phone to be able to unlock it. FP2 does not need rooting it comes unlocked. The second part of the discussion is about enabling this god mode using frameworks like Xposed. While we are not against customizing, using Xposed is a huge liability and makes it nearly impossible to secure the phone from malicious applications. The same goes for using custom ROMs (like Cyanogemod) we will do what we can to support ROM developers but “of course” can’t provide meaningful end user support on this.

If you can’t modify it…
If you can’t repair it…


just let me pipe in and say: the FP forum is an amazing place. i’m by far not tech savvy enough to really appreciate all that was said. but the way it was said and discussed by so many others makes me feel confident that with such a community more naiv users won’t have to worry that any major mis-steps by the fairphone team would get unnoticed. quite the contrary, the FP team certainly profits a lot from forum discussion such as this one.
XXL thx, therefore!


Correct me if I’m wrong:

  1. Bootloader is not part of the OS. It’s a small OS that loads the real OS. Unlocking it - allow the modification of it - is unrelated to rooting the OS.
  2. Rooting the OS means to install a kind of ‘su’ to grant user full access to OS files.

Hello HackAR,

During the booting process the code execution goes from the ROM on the system on chip to the bootloader to the kernel and after that “userland”/Android. The ROM loads the bootloader and the bootloader load the kernel and the kernel decides to run user processes. Locking down a phone normally involves creating a chain of trust where the ROM will only load a bootloader that is signed and the bootloader will only load a kernel that is signed and so on(it gets a little more complicated in userland). If any of the components is not properly checking the next stage the “chain” is broken and it becomes easy to circumvent and permission or higher level security scheme.

Rooting a normal phone normally involves first finding a security problem to bypass normal security and installing “su” or similar to give user (and other application…) full control over the system.

If the device (like FP2) is not locked it is possible to replace the kernel / root file system without the need to find a leak/security problem. The user can with minimal effort install a ota.zip file that adds something like su to the root file system. If you do that and only install application from say the f-droid repositories you are probably fine but however if you start mixing this with installing $random applications from untrusted sources you are most probably asking for problems.

FP2 will not come with “su” installed so we can better ensure the security for our users. With great power comes great responsibility and not every user will want this responsibility.

to answer your questions

  1. Having an unlocked bootloader means that you the user can with some effort/help replace the most of the operating system on the phone(including adding “su”) to your root file system. No need to “jailbreak”

  2. Is harder to answer(many views) but wikipedia is here to help/confuse us. I don’t know what more to say


So, TL;DR; I’m right.
So, please, do not mix those 2 completely different approaches on opening the phone. The one is needed to replace the OS, the other to extend user rights within the OS.

[quote=“keesj, post:89, topic:5582”]
FP2 does not need rooting it comes unlocked.
[/quote]It’s like answering the question about a missing/broken feature on Linux with “Install Windows”.

[quote=“keesj, post:89, topic:5582”]
Xposed is a huge liability and makes it nearly impossible to secure the phone from malicious applications.
[/quote]It’s not your job to secure the phone from your customers. XPosed clearly states what involves using it. “We don’t know” is a valid answer to almost all questions regarding XPosed (and other apps with superuser access).

[quote=“keesj, post:89, topic:5582”]
The same goes for using custom ROMs
[/quote]Again: you sell hardware and should support anything related. Also, you license the OS and you should support anything related to your modifications of Android and keep the Android base updated. Anything beyond that is a welcomed addition, but optional. And the users should understand that they cannot expect support from FP for things FP is not responsible for. And I don’t understand why you try to fulfill these ridiculous expectations. Even more, you now decided to cripple the next generation of your phone to prevent these expectations instead of just telling the simple things.

I will try to spend my energy on something more positive and constructive. I don’t even thinks we disagree that much we just speak different languages. :wink:



to make sure everybody can at least try to speak a common language, when i speak of “pre-rooted”, or should be “un-rooted” by default, i refer to no su program being installed. That small program is required for apps to gain elevated system rights, ie. they can do more and modify the system to a larger extend compared to “normal” apps. This is comparable to the “Administrator” rights/account on Windows or the “root” account on linux or running commands with “sudo” on Ubuntu/Mac OS X. I am not talking of “rooting” device as explained by @keesj above.

An unlocked boot loader (which the FP2 might have) would make it possible to install such a “su” program relatively easy and that way use apps that would otherwise not function. We shall not call that process (of install su) rooting as @keesj explains above.

I argued that I think while the having root, ie. having a functional su program installed, is pretty useful for some users, the majority of not so tech-savy users does not really use it. The elevated rights to modify integral parts of Android apps gain trough su can pose an additional risk, i completely follow the reasoning of FP2 above in this aspect. I think it is better if users actively install that su program. so they know what they are doing. Additionally, some apps will not run if they detect the su program on your Android, another reason to make it optional.

I am happy that Fairphone will probably implement this change for the FP2, because I hope that will improve the experience of less technical interested users. Let’s hope it is possible to keep the bootloader unlocked or provide easy means to unlock the boot loader, so that everybody wanting to install su can do so.

Let’s see how thinks play out regarding Google apps ans support/means to build Android yourself for the FP2. @keesj, @rick : I can only recommend you to take a look at what Sony does with AOSP for Xperia . I think that is very great effort.

To get this discussion more constructive and back to topic, what do you all think something like AOSP for Fairphone? This has been part 3 of my original post since the beginning and i think that is something worth talking about :slight_smile: .


I disagree. What Sony does is not much different from what other companies, who don’t offer the option to unlock, do. Other companies lock their phones via technology (locked bootloader, no “work-around”). Sony locks theirs via contractual means: you lose your warranty. Given the number of locked phones for which an “exploit” exists, Sony’s approach is probably even the more “air tight” one.

To me, FP2 not having root (su) by default is a pity. But given an unlocked bootloader it really is little more than an annoyance. I can easily add it myself if needed / wanted. However, that only holds if my FP2 is still covered by its warranty after I have “rooted” it. Otherwise Fairphone is no different from Sony, securing / locking the phone via contract instead of technology. And that would hardly be fair, since (like I mentioned in another topic), it is quite dishonest to ask people (your customers) to be fair (to you, the people who build your phone, the environment), unless you are being fair to then (your customers) in return.

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I updated Fairleaks with the new information.

It is not about the unlocking tool. It’s not at all about unlocking, please read some of the earlier posts. It is about providing good tools and drivers etc to build Android for the Xperia devices directly from official Google sources and installing the builds on the devices. My point was also not related to warranty. Please see the link posted above

Actually i am quite confused by that? Can you put that into other words?

ben, you were explicitely suggesting Sony’s efforts (wrt AOSP support, yes) be considered as a model for Fairphone to base its own efforts on.

Insofar as this refers to Sony’s efforts in publishing full source and additional, required tooling, yes I agree with you. This is to be applauded. And as we all know, this was already on Fairphone’s agenda with the FP1, though that didn’t materialise for various reasons.

However, my point is this: if you refer to Sony as a “role-model” worth following, then it we’d have to consider the whole of Sony’s actions. On the one hand, they are quite open, publishing sources etc, like you mentioned. But on the other hand, they are closed as well: the price for the “freedom” to install something different from the default Sony OS image, is that you lose your warranty.

So while I would certainly like it if, for the FP2, Fairphone were to “make good” on their promise (already started with FP1) of providing an “open” phone, I would certainly take issue with Fairphone modelling their behaviour on Sony’s w.r.t. warranty policy. Since I cannot help but regard that policy as dishonest, i.e. the opposite of fair.

My two cents on this:

CC: @keesj, @Ben, @HackAR
I couldn’t tell a user to just install a root browser without root…