Why is it so hard to support alternative (FLOSS) OSes?

Sure, the network effect is (an important) part of it.
Another - in my opinion not less important - aspect is peoples persistence with something they are used to (most likely out of laziness).
When buying a first phone, the network effect might be most effective, as almost everyone you are asking is recommending either iOS or Android. Prior to this forum I never ever “met” someone using another OS. If you are not really doing some research, you will have a hard time stumbling over Sailfish or the like.
And once you are accustomed to Android or iOS and have learned all the tricks how to make the most of it, it usually takes some really good reason to make you change.
My guess is, that such a reason is hard to find, when it comes to functionality, as Android and iOS encompass years of developement and tuning.

Data protection/privacy can be a reason; although it’s not for too many people, as social media usage, the fate of Blackberry and many more things are proof of.
Frustration or negative experience with a device or the OS might be a reason as well (but hardly so on a large scale).
Factors like environment, fairness etc. are good reasons as well.

In my opinion Fairphone clearly shows this problem. Although it is more easy and even advertised to switch the OS on the FP2 - at least ot FPOOS - it’s a minority of users doing so (myself included). Why?
It’s “work” without any functional gain in the end (if you are not a geek in need of a rooted phone or functions like twrp etc.). There’s always the fear of losing data, malfunctions and trouble in general.
The network effect in this regard - at least for me - is of minor or no importance, as all apps would stay the same.

Well, I tried to switch to Ubuntu Touch but I failed, no matter how hard I tried. In the end I decided to stick to FPOS and maybe give it another try later on. I know, it’s totally nonsensical, but that one (multiple) failed attempt in switching the OS has done it for me for the time being. Right now, I don’t feel any urge to go for FPOOS, Lineage or any other OS.

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During the weekend I debloated a Samsung Xcover3. It only has 8GB of storage, which were full, and when I was done removing Google and Samsung bloatware it had 5GB free storage space. Of course, I also deleted cache and the download folder, but just removing all the updates that Google pulled (e.g. Google Framework is ~25MB at first, but then it goes to 150MB, when it gains network access – downloading a lot of additional stuff).

In conclusion, I wish Samsung had a debloated Open OS available… :stuck_out_tongue: Of course, FP2 won’t run out of storage as soon with its 32GB, but after taking many pictures and transferring your music collection, it might come close. Then Google apps are just a hindrance anymore.

PS.: If you are interested, this is a list of all the bloatware found on an Xcover3: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1WeyXkVvvbnePv_mqO1pggHvXxG_tdree2sj5fY1a-qg/edit#gid=2048344649


As a lover of Free/Libre and Open Source
Software I agree with many of the arguments in this topic.

From my experience of honorary helping people with computers I can
concentrate the difficulties with Free Software to 2 main items:

  • People do not know much about existence of software other than Microsoft, Android and Apple.

  • People fear left out in the rain with (in their opinion) „exotic“ software.

For me the main question is:

What can we do to promote FLOSS ?

My opinion:

  • More info and more institutions working with FLOSS. München is not a good example as Linux failed and most people do not know that the reason was a political one.
    Good example: https://digitalcourage.de/suche?keys=linux+install offers Linux install party.

  • More assistance to people starting FLOSS. Even after installation. There should be assistance in a similar way as our Fairphone Angels do.


Bielefeld? @ElKrasso! #fairphoneangels :smiley:

BTW, Extremadura, a region in Spain, also have a successful GNU/Linux project called LinEx, with a team of ~30 salaried programmers supporting it, and it also was also a fail because politicians: the following local goverment asphyxiated the project reducing the team and after that closed the project calling in “insufficient”. There’s a project here in Madrid —MAX— which aims to reach the good status LinEx had, based on what they told me in a meetup I went to some months ago (also I learned the Community of Madrid use a lot of FLOSS on their public educative platform, including NextCloud (!) and Moodle).

Which all these projects teach us is that some kind of official support needs to be given for libre software projects to success in the public.


Vienna (German: Wien) tried it too between 2005 and 2009:

There is a nice article in the free Software Magazine trying to reason, why it failed:


Tony Mobily says they simply should have gone for Ubuntu or CentOS as a municipality cannot (as in: it was a “mixture of madness, boldness and sadistic intentions; or, maybe, just lack of experience”) maintain its own Linux distribution. And of course it was also the fault of Microsoft’s pressure. (Aaand we reached this topic again: Microsoft “goes Open Source” (= acquired GitHub) .)

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I know this is a hard process, but the UBPorts team made lots of improvements lately. There is now a dedicated telegram group for helping people installing UbuntuTouch on their device: UB Welcome & Install :slight_smile:. From my own experience, main tips are to check that ADB is functional before starting the installer, and on linux to launch it with “sudo”.

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no, thanks :wink:
(20 chars)

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Still, they might be interested in Fairphone stuff… :grin:

Sorry, but if I get it right, you don’t even touch @Douwe’s points.
What he explains, are the reasons, why FP as a company does not support all kinds of FLOSS OSes. He answered the question, why the shop does not offer to ship FP with an OS of choice.

As FP already supports the Google-free FP-OpenOS and the possibility to root the phone, all your requirements are already met - if I haven’t really got it wrong.

Shipping just a rooted phone without any OS preinstalled would ultimately end in FP going bankrupt. In my opinion this is not for the common user, but for the tech-geek; and there are not enough of them out there to be enough for a healthy business.
Look at the crowdfunding project “kite”, that did not manage to raise even 38,000 $ of the needed 941,000 $ for their modular phone, that was aimed at the tech-geeks.

So, Fairphone already offers a rooted phone to tinker with; Lineage, Ubuntu Touch, Sailfish and DIY extensions especially by @Cherry97 are proof of this.
Difference is just, that, instead of requiring every user to install what he wants and needs, it require the techies to take some steps to get what they want and need.
Sound reasonable to me, as the tehies should be way more comfortable doing so (and they are - in my opinion - a minority among smartphone buyers).


I’m very sympathetic towards your view on the smartphone, but that is a very, very niche view in my opinion.

Fairphone are running a serious business already in a niche, deliberately making the niche much smaller doesn’t seem like a well thought out idea.


You are aware that Google apps are proprietary and subject to legal clauses imposed by Google, right? What you are asking for here is just illegal. Even if it wasn’t, and a user could install GMS legally, after that they would install their banking app or some comercial game and BOOM, SafetyNet wouldn’t allow them to use it because they are rooted. Android ecosystem is controlled by Google and that’s a fact, with and without GMS. But don’t worry: the Fairphone 2 bootloader comes unlocked unlike the majority of the smart devices, so of course you can install a custom recovery like TWRP right after you unpack it and treat it like whatever you personally and subjectively consider it.

See above? I’ve not needed to be unrespectful nor insult you through your arguments only to refute them.

For the other parts of your post, I agree with @BertG and @AnotherElk.


So you’re saying the OpenGApps website is illegal and should be taken down?

Also, when you install LineageOS and flash OpenGApps, it passes the SafetyNet test perfectly.


Unauthorized distribution of this software harms us just like it would any other business, […]


[…] [Google ensures] that device makers can’t simply bypass Google’s CTS and ship devices with the promise that users can simply side-load Google Play apps and services.

It lacks root (optional):

We will NOT be shipping root baked into the ROM.

And your argument is unstable:

Our official stance is that we will not intentionally circumvent an integrity check that Google has put in place for app developers.


Also, opengapps.org clearly states on their site:

So, Fairphone definitely cannot distribute opengapps (or any other clone)

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There’s a significant amount of devices where you can unlock the bootloader. But having the device shipped with an unlocked bootloader, like FP2 has, is rare.

Yes, that’s exactly what I was referring to. Multiple Android devices have passed by my hands (I’ve been #livingwogoogle for years, plus I love to revive devices with custom software) and I can tell, from easier to harder:

  • [Awesome] Fairphone 2 comes unlocked. Flashing does not break your guarantee, :heart_eyes:.
  • [Great] The Nexus models just unlock right away with $ fastboot oem unlock, clearing all internal data in the way (which I approve for privacy reasons), but breaking your device guarantee.
  • [Good] The Samsung models don’t come with a regular Android fastboot mode, but with a proprietary “Download mode”. It is “unlocked” by any means, and Heimdall handles it great, but using it for the first time breaks your guarantee too by ticking an internal flag.
  • [Incoherent] For some others (HTC, Motorola, some Huawei), I needed to contact the manufacturer via web/e-mail (time-consuming) to get an unlock code for $ fastboot oem unlock <code>, breaking the guarantee in the way. I can’t stand the feeling of asking to use a device I own. Also I don’t want to notify any company of when I plan to do anything.
  • [PLAIN WRONG] For others (old ZTEs, LG Optimus 3D… can’t tell if they keep doing it that way), I needed to hack them with community tools, breaking the guarantee, the device altoghether —in some cases—, or causing buggy behaviour and unstability.

Ahh, the warranty disclaimer. Sure, its great that Fairphone isn’t anal about that but it is a lot of hot air.

I’d love to see that one in court:

That’s a Dutch lawyer’s take on it.

So what he writes is that the shop where you buy it, still has to give you warranty regardless of you unlocking your phone.

If you buy, say, a Google Pixel from Google.nl Shop and then the device just… the screen malfunctions a few months later. Well, that means its within the first 6 months, so the burden of proof is on them. Regardless of whether the device was unlocked or not. In this case, it is Google.nl Shop who has to give warranty.

But if you bought the Google Pixel from, say, Alternate.nl (not sure they sell it but lets assume they do for sake of argument), then it is Alternate who has to give you warranty. Not Google. And if that shop would go belly up, then it is bye bye warranty. Google does not give you warranty; you didn’t buy from them.

So yeah in that regard the good advice is to buy from reputable shops who don’t go belly up instead of hunting for the cheapest.


We in Germany distinguish between Garantie and Gewährleistung.

The shop where you bought the device from has to give you two years of Gewährleistung. In the opinion of most lawyers, the Gewährleistung is not lost while rooting, unlocking or flashing.

The Garantie is a voluntary service of any length given by anyone, usually the manufacturer. The Garantie-giver can legally dictate any terms, so also the fact that Garantie is lost while rooting, unlocking or flashing.


(It’s awesome that you distinguish two words! I’d love to see that in Spanish)

I guess the terms of the shop warranty is a local law thing, and I don’t know what’s the state in Spain. But I’m pretty sure the shop warranty is two years anywhere Europe by an European directive/law/regulation/something.