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

[quote=“danielsjohan, post:117, topic:5582”]
Why don’t you take, for example, “more user-friendly for people who are no experts” into account?
[/quote]Because I was analyzing the openness and not user-friendliness.

[quote=“danielsjohan, post:117, topic:5582”]
I still don’t really understand this “Root”-thing.
[/quote]Without root you (and your Apps) are not allowed to make changes to the installed OS apart from the build-in settings. Like removing the symbol for 2nd SIM card if there is none. Without root, you can install Apps and change your own files only.

Actually, I think it’s quite easy to “stop” root. I’d make the OS rename or move su executable(s) upon deactivation of root. Why don’t the devs give that a try? :wink:

[quote=“danielsjohan, post:117, topic:5582”]
why is the thought of having to install Root so upsetting?
[/quote]Well, first because its a step in wrong direction. More important is the fact that with installation of root I lose support.

[quote=“DjDas, post:120, topic:5582”]
These statements don’t report truly what Fairphone states: they WILL provide an “openable” OS by simply letting experienced users to flash a simple ZIP file.
[/quote]“openable” OS is not “open” OS. The shipped OS is ‘closed’. If I’m to extend the analyze to “openable” OS, then quite a lot of phones out there are ‘openable’. The fact that the option to root the OS will be offered by the FP team itself, is only a small step as it’s not supported.

[quote=“DjDas, post:120, topic:5582”]
And please, PLEASE don’t tell me it is easier for them to install XPosed+Rootcloak or something else than for YOU to flash a ZIP file
[/quote]I wasn’t. I was simply analysing the quote:

As stated in my previous posts, my primary problem with the issue is not the installation of su, but the dropped support.


What would make it a big deal though, is if the price for this installation of su.zip would be to lose support and/or warranty. So I agree with you that some official statement from Fairphone is needed here.


Unroot your Fairphone is easy (at least that is what some people tell us here)

[quote=“ben, post:4, topic:214”]
The Xposed app which allows to modify your Android after boot with different modules ( for example GravityBox which can hide the second sim bar and other stuff). One of the modules is Root Cloak. This should allow to hide the root access from selected apps. There is some risk as Xposed can modify almost everything on Android so take care which modules you use. However Xposed is often used and amongst the module developers are a lot of well known developers.
[/quote] [Edit by @Stefan: Quote was not linked to the original post.]

Well, this is exactly something I dont want to do as I have not enough knowledge of this.

Stefan, this is no democracy.

If you want a comparison that is equally wrong, let’s talk about the benevolent dictator who wants to protect his subjects from themselves, and others who want them evil.

I repeat: It is the philosophy we are arguing about. So you want to attract people like me, who need to learn new stuff to understand what android does, and eg like to know which app apparently silently accessed location data and uploaded it somewhere, or do you want a majority who does not care?

I assume when we talk about tin, told, tantalum, lithium salts, you are all for the educational approach. I suggest we accept that software is a resource, too. And user data, come to think of it.

Why are you defending a walled garden?
If I don’t want to learn about how to cloak root, as is apparently possible, then I am a silent majority, and need to be protected? But if the silent majority does not want to learn about Ghana’s garbage children, they can screw themselves and switch to another product?

Sorry if this sounds evangelistic, or even rabulistic to you, but Übertreibung macht anschaulich. (This doesn’t sound half as good in English…)


We live and learn. And if you are not stupid, which I do not assume, you will grasp the concept, and learn a lot more about your device. I certainly do, every day. And I never would have if FP would have warned me that I would loose support if I applied root rights, and most probably also not if they would have put a disclaimer on top of an extra download zip I would need to install other software on my computer to to something called “flashing“ I never heard of before which could damage my device.

It’s small steps that make the journey. All I ask is that FP does not start to walk backwards.



This topic is now closed. New replies are no longer allowed. Sike!

In this case, I think that Fairphone should rather put off its customers by not rooting on default, but by changing anything in their educational approach. Miners and workers rights and the environment are the real issues in the world!

Let’s be honest, these are First World Problems we are arguing about.


I think the real issue is the ignorance. And I love to fight it anywhere I can :wink:

Thank you Stefan for the reminder. It’s really a small issue. I should stop arguing here. I am still interested in FP support and warranty clarification which could take a while I believe. I’ll wait for that before continuing here :-).


I am sorry, this just silly, not making anything clearer. Stefan, is in no way, defending a “walled garten”. And arguing the uses not wanting to “hide” root do not care while you think having manually installing “root” is destroying the philosophy of Fairphone is a simply wrong. This has nothing todo with walled gardens. Your argument feels like a personal attack against all those people that simply have another opionion towards root, like me. And somethink else: You constantly state you enjoy learning new stuff, you indicate you find it empowering for users. Installing root yourself, and let’s keep the warranty stuff asside, is exactly that. Still you argue against by telling it would not be comaptible with the Philosophy of Fairphone.

What really annoys me is that nobody of us thinking not “preinstalling superuse” might improve the experience we and/or others have with the Fairphone is making such threats like “We would never buy a rooted Fairphone”. I simple came to think that way i propose to handle root, which is by coincidence partly the current plan for FP2, is better for a wide group of users. I therefore started this discussion – i some of it was really valuable. I never made this a condition of my support for Fairphone. Let me tell you this: I would be sorry to see you and some others “go” because such a silly issue, but the Fairphone is not “the Hacker’s” phone. If you really feel you cannot buy an Android phone without root, fine. Good luck finding one you can buy! I care a lot more about the real issues Fairphone tries to address.

If you feel Workers Welfare, the regular transparency blogs, recycling electronic waste from Ghana and simply raising attention are worth nothing because you are on a personal mission to convince everybody that only a rooted and Google free phone can be a Fairphone, i will no longer try to convince you. Maybe you actually do care about something else then i do. And it may very well be that this is not the think Fairphone cares about.

Yes, this is an angry post, but i am sick getting accused of being ignorant or not caring by people i find posting very ignorant positions themselves.

Over and out :disappointed:


I also repeat: The FP filosophy is not the one you quote. You can read it here:

Fairphone is a social enterprise working to create a fairer economy and change how things are made. We open up supply chains, solve problems and use transparency to start debate about what’s truly fair.

FairPhone is about supply chains, fair trade and transparency. Not about people who want to learn new stuff to understand what Android does.
FairPhone wants to prove it is possible to make a fairer phone in the current economic model. So they choose to use minerals mined in Congo, production lines in China and… to create a phone that the average consumer could buy.
Proving you can make a niche phone, as you ask, is not hard: it could be quite expensive because you’re serving a niche. But trying to make an “average” phone, is much harder. Especially if you want to combine the philosophy above with a possibility to install SU, or even an other OS!

So, please consider what you are actually asking. You’re asking to forget about the main purpose of this social enterprise (fair trade) and focus much more on an other issue (user freedom). I don’t say this issue is more or less important, I’m just saying this is not the issue FairPhone choose to focus on. It is also not the issue I choose to support when buying this phone, to be honest.

1 Like

I’m quite tired to explain what my (and others) issue with planned FP2 is. You keep disregarding it. Should we make a competition who can repeat his arguments more? I’m not going to respond on any statement that is ignorant on the issue. You’re just trolling around without really responding to the posts.

For me, FP1 stands for more than just fair trade. And it was advertized that way, too. I’ve seen FP1 as a step in right direction. While I never assumed FP team could live up to their goals, some progress was made (a bit small for my taste, tbh) The major reason for me not to send the phone back was the fact that it was rooted. And now I see a step back in this direction. By paying for FP1 I was buying a better phone. If they try to build an average phone now, then it’s not for me. If FP teams goal is an environmentally friendly iPhone, go ahead. But not with me. I can find a lot of rootable phones on the market. Then I’ll just make a donation to some good environmental NGO.


@danielsjohan and @ben, I never said that FP should forget about fair trade, or the efforts so far are worth nothing. I was trying to get across that there is even more FP educated me about.

I knew about African mines before. I saw them. It was rather an important reason to support a start-up which wanted to make a difference.

I did not know what kind of data my phone would send to third parties. I knew it would happen, but I still surprised every effing time I check my filters. I learned about it precisely because FP came rooted.
And I argue that this will be less an option for customers in the future, and it should not be. ,

If my previous post offended you so that my arguments did not get across, then I must have exaggerated my point too far. But I maintain its validity. Software is intrinsically an integral part of the FP, and it is therefore a step backwards to remove root access &t (see above on disclaimers, and support).

We can agree to disagree on this, and call out each other being wrong, but it is probably not worth any more posts in this heated debate. I will take a break, not to piss you guys even more off.


I will innocently step in here and confirm that there has been no official Fairphone announcement yet about the specific details on FP2 software, including items like shipping root, unlocked, Google services, or alternative operation systems.

I know many of you are interested to learn more, but the current outlook is that news about the next phone :ferris_wheel: :iphone: is expected to come in June.


absolutely not, what should be the benefit, root alone does nothing, it just means that you’re almost 100% in charge of your phone. until now i rooted all my phones since they usually come without root but why not give everyone the opportunity to install root apps out of the box which is just one significant benefit of having your phone rooted.

as a sidenote i have to tell that IMO Lollipop is without any doubt an improvment but not beautiful. out of the
box it’s indeed ugly and hurts my eyes. i know it’s a matter of taste and personal preferences, just expressing
mine here. btw we should upvote our device the receive the LINKED hardware so that we can further improve
the user experience of this phone. i even think that fairphone should partner with them to boos both enterprises
user base

thanks for taking the time to write such a long post, and I could not agree more with you. The differentiator of the FP with other phones is the emphasis on the social dimension. As little as possible conflict materials, better working conditions, and easier to recycle. This can also be found in the original mission statement (“about us”). At some point the word “fair” was translated into “open”. Following the Merriam Webster fair" can be translated as “open” in the sense of “transparent”, not in the sense of “open source”.
The arguments regarding UX are spot-on. The FP specific UI is nice, but may make the transfer from eg a Samsung to a FP more cumbersome.
Regarding privacy (more in my comfort zone): The concept of privacy has largely become meaningless in the internet age. E-mail is (temporarily) stored on a server, and if the receiving party does not use the same privacy-aware provider privacy is gone; it is as strong as the weakest link. The fear that Google may snoop on everything we do may be grounded. However, the same holds for Microsoft or Apple. No more Xbox, no more iPad.

So I agree with Ben that FP should stick to their original mission. Open source (open operating system) was not part of that mission. Allowing for developers to write their own apps, fine, maybe an app that makes installation from other sources easier, OK. Own style (exterior, UI), also fine. But the differentiator is social entrepreneur ship. There are plenty Open Source phone projects: Ubuntu, Firefox, Blackphone (not so secure after all…). As I read their current plans they are back to their original mission. Personally I don’t want to pay for technical experiments; I do want to pay a premium for their gutsy social entrepreneurship.


Thanks, i have not visited this thread for a while because it was becoming toxic to my patience. I still find the discussion valuable, if anything, the latest complaints of users trying to update to 1.8.5 have shown this: There (sadly) is a compromise between UX and all the different requirements for Privacy/Openness/Customisation.

:confused: Am, i am sorry, i need some context: “Absolutely not” should Fairphone drop root/superuser?

Exactly! I am pretty sure you are not alone! To be fair, I actually would pay a premium for open source support :wink: , but i think that should not come of the expense of a worse user experience for others.

I still think if Fairphone focuses on the social entrepreneurship and a very good device and UX, this is hugely beneficial for open source / alternative os support.

Could you elaborate on that? I’m not sure what you mean.

What I think the 1.8.5 upgrade has shown is:

  • Using root (e.g. manually repartitioning your storage) can really be dangerous as you might run into trouble updating, because you are no longer supported (Meaning the update was not made and tested for devices with “tinkered” software, NOT meaning you won’t still be helped when running into trouble.)
  • Reinstalling GAPPS is still not running very smoothly which would be a point pro preinstalling GAPPS.
  • Some users took the chance to finally stay google free after the update which shows the benefits of not preinstalling GAPPS. (I have to add, that I - a sworn Google-enemy - was the most active poster on Google Apps can’t be reinstalled but I took my role as an impartial moderator serious and only mentioned the Google-free way like two or three times, when it was appropriate)

PS: I think a great compromise (between different user-opinions - excluding the Fairphone team) would be two versions of the OS - one with and one without Google - and a few-click “enable root” function in the updater app + a message when you first use your phone:

Do you want to enable root access on your phone? Warning, root can be dangerous bla, bla… Remember that if you ever find an app you want to use that needs root access you can simply enable root in the updater app any time.
Yes No


Yes, that was pretty short: I meant that it currently seems that the user experience for users wanting Google apps is hurt by not having them pre-installed. Going the usual way of pre-installing would remove on hurdle for those users and probably make the updates more stable – at a price that users no longer have a choice of not having Google apps.

Fairphone users were “easily” able repartition their devices only to run into serious issues with the update, some blaming Fairphone in the full knowledge they had repartitioned there device following unofficial advice. Note the the crazy original partitioning the original fairphone came with was a serious departure by MediaTek from the way it’s normaly done on Android. They did this to provide users a “virtual” sd-card next to the device storage (on numerous other devices using MediaTek chipsets as well).

So may statement meant that if Fairphone had decided to go the “standard” way: One internal paritition for the OS, Google apps already included in the software etc., this would have made for a better experience for a lot of users.

I absolutely agree to this points and notice you not making that thread a crusade against Google! Thank your for that :thumbsup:.

I agree, minus the first use message. Great idea to integrate superuser install into the Updater (would require a reboot to recovery for install, but the Updater can already do that). :thumbsup:. I disagree a bit on the first time message because i don’t know if users know what that means at that point. They simply want to use the new device and have to through, i think this possibility is better mentioned in the users guide, forum, blog etc. So it’s easy to find for users wanting to do this, but also implemented that users only enable superuser of they need to.

1 Like

I think it is a misconception to think that you would have to pay more for root access, and that it would be a “technical experiment”. It is about ownership. “If you can’t open it, you don’t own it” is one of the claims FP used - and that’s true for both software and hardware.

I still don’t see the point that it’s making user experience “worse”:

Exactly. :sunny: It is strange how all the warnings that re-partitioning, installing apps which interfere with system processes and basically experimenting with your phone is dangerous and can cause problems, e.g., with the update process can be ignored by people who then get mad at Fairphone (as as company) or at the device (as a, erm, device) for giving them the liberty to do so.

I can empathise if someone posts in frustration, thinking that the re-partitioning solution was totally official and so on. But I can’t see that this is a reason to drop root. It’s a reason not to deliver a device with two partitions, and we can seriously be mad at MediaTek. (Ok, well, FP chose them, and we can still be mad at FP for doing so…)

Agreed - if this would not mean that I loose warranty or support, as in case of nearly all other comapnies. I want this device to be be my device, to own it as far as is possible in the age of EULAs.

Well said. I would still implement it there as well, so if the customer knows what he/she’s doing, he could. Adding an option in the Fairphone updater app to \root the FP2 would be nice. But this should also mean to add an option of installing FP OS without Google Apps pre-installed, then, right? And also mean that, in the future, I would expect FP to deliver multiple update flavours: one for users with GApps, one for users without GApps, and possibly a vanilla Android. Maybe even more.

A major question remains for me: is that any different from the situtation now?
The notable exception from people who caused their own grievances by doing stuff which requires root are now those who have trouble with some apps which don’t run because the device is rooted. The whole lot of other problems, for example people installing plain FP OS, adding GApps, and in the processloosing all their calendar entries, contacts and whatnot, will probably still be there. I don’t see that this is really causally related to the two-step procedure of installing the OS, and than adding GApps. Those things still can go wrong if GApps came pre-installed. They are not root-related.

Dear @ben, I hope you still do, and my post isn’t intoxicating. We should probably have been discussing hot subjects like this over cold beverages… :beer: