EDIT (November 2018):
This post is quite old. I
crossed out some sections that are no longer true, but some other info may still be outdated.
Also by now I’d rather recommend Lineage OS instead of Open OS. #lineageos
In case you never heard of it Fairphone Open OS is a second Operating System for FP2s officially supported and maintained by Fairphone. Your Fairphone came with Fairphone OS preinstalled, but you can easily make the switch.
Pros & Cons of Open OS
I tried to order them by their severity. Please argue in the thread below if you disagree with the order.
With Open OS you can choose how much you want to depend on Google.
You can be totally Google-free (they can’t spy on you and get rich from your data), you can get all the Google Apps & Services or just a portion.
You can very easily get root access.
What is root? If you are new to Android you may be more familiar with the term “jailbreak”, which is essentially the same but for Apple devices. It’s nothing illegal or dangerous, but a way to give you way more control over your device. Have you ever missed a function or wanted to tweak something a little? Chances are that with root there is a very easy way to do it!
Your phone comes with less bloatware.
Fairphone OS comes with many apps preinstalled that you probably don’t need. Open OS has that too to some degree, but much less of it. Not only does that mean that your list of all apps is more tidy, but less bloatware also means a faster device with less issues. (no guarantee)
You (currently) get OS updates slightly later. This is no longer true.
Fairphone Open OS gets the same monthly updates with security updates and bug fixes as Fairphone OS, but they usually come a few weeks later.
Sometimes bugs specific to Open OS arise and they may be handled with less priority.
Since for now Open OS only runs on a few percent of all Fairphones the Fairphone devs may sometimes prioritize on other bugs rather than those only relevant for Open OS users. See the “Bugs specific to FP Open” paragraph on the #bugslist::tag for up-to-date info.
Some apps refuse (usually for no good reason) to work properly on “modified devices”.
These apps detect that you don’t have Google installed or that your phone is rooted. The more effort these apps make in keeping you from using them the more effort you have to put in in making them work. We have a guide to let you #installanyapp on Open OS. Start with a low level, and if the apps still don’t work go further to higher levels (more effort).
You get the same support from Fairphone and arguably better support on the forum.
Many regular users on the forum made the switch, so - while they do of course also help people who run Fairphone OS - they are simply more familiar with Open OS and may have no experiences with some issues that are unique to Fairphone OS.
EDIT: By now many regular forum users switched to alternative OSes, but what is still true is at least that most regulars can better help you with issues not related to Google.
Fairphone OS may never see an update to Android 7 while for Open OS it seems possible. Obviously this was not true, but the same speculation may be true for an Android 8 upgrade.
There is no official statement about this yet, but that is what seems to be the consent of people arguing in this thread.
Additional benefits of switching
The more people switch to Open OS the more Fairphone will probably prioritize on it and that comes with great benefits.
- Fairphone Open OS bugs will be fixed faster
- Some featurerequests may be easier to implement in Open OS. Once Open OS is used by a lot of people and the Fairphone devs have some time they could work on some of those (with the community).
- If Open OS ever is used by a majority Fairphone will be less dependent on Google.
- Open OS may then be the preinstalled OS in the future which will make even more people go the google-free and open source way.
Why is Open OS not preinstalled already?
Fairphone decided to aim for official Google support after bad experiences with the FP1.
Fairphone 1 came with an Operating system similar to Open OS, meaning it was rooted and had no Google stuff preinstalled. Instead it had a Google Apps installer, which caused lots of issues. People were often complaining about not being able to re-install Google after an OS update.
With the Fairphone 2 and Open OS + openGapps that’s a different story. Once you know how to reinstall Google Apps it’s quite easy and not error-prone.
For Google to officially support the Fairphone 2 they demand that an unmodified Google-infested OS is preinstalled on the FP2. Loosing the official support would make monthly security updates a thing of the past and probably decrease the chances of Android updates.
Can I test Open OS without risk of loosing my data?
Option 1: EFIDroid
Here is the guide to install EFIDroid. (Please check that topic to see what currently works and what issues exist). With EFIDroid you can have both Fairphone OS and Open OS installed on your Fairphone and switch upon rebooting.
You can also use EFIDroid to make sure you successfully restored all your backed up data on Open OS before cutting the cord to Fairphone OS.
Just install Open OS along side FP Os and migrate all your data. Then - once you decide to go Open all the way - use TWRP (the recovery mode that comes with Open OS) to make a full backup of Open OS, wipe the whole system, install open OS and restore the backup.
EFIDroid no longer works on the FP2.
or use it without flashing
- Make a full backup with TWRP (including system)
- Switch to Open OS
- Use it
- Make a backup
- Now you can switch OSes simply by restoring one of the two backups
As @snevas describes below it now works with encryption too.
How do I switch?
How do I switch?
Switching is very easy. You’ll just have to download a file and open it with the updater app. 1. Prepare
To backup your personal data there are different ways. If you decide to use Google on Open OS you can simply backup everything to the Google Cloud.
If you rooted your FP2 you can use Titanum Backup, otherwise look at this list of options.
Anyways make sure your backup is not stored on the phone’s internal storage!
Here is the official guide.
3. (Optional) Install Google Apps.
If you decided you want to keep using google check this guide on how to install them on Open OS.
4. Restore your data.
Now you can restore your backup with Google or whichever option you chose.
5. Getting Started with Open OS.
Here is a guide for getting started with Open OS, including tips for apps you should get and how to enable root and install XPosed.
Updating Open OS works the same as FP OS. But if you made “modifications” (ever installed anything via TWRP - that includes Google Apps) you’ll need to follow this guide. (It looks way more complicated than it is. Skip every step where you reinstall something you hadn’t installed before and don’t need now.)
Switching now works differently. Follow this guide.