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Android Handhelds Open Source Operating Systems

Chief Replicant Dev On Building a Truly Free Android 113

angry tapir writes "While Android is open source, it won't work on a phone without software that generally isn't open source. The Replicant project is an attempt to build a version of Android that doesn't rely on binary blobs for which the source code isn't available to end users, and the software currently works on a handful of handsets. I caught up with the project's lead developer to talk about their efforts to make a completely open source version of Android."
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Chief Replicant Dev On Building a Truly Free Android

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  • by itsenrique ( 846636 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @12:43PM (#39289395)
    If you read the article it goes into detail about said issue. Basically, the project will not itself distribute any non-free materials, but you can load your own (and people do, it seems, for full functionality). So for example you may have to use the binary blob to get your WiFi working on your phone. I wouldn't be so dismissive about the possibility of drivers being developed for certain handsets that are fully open sourced, via some stab at reverse engineering. Now as far as quality....
  • by glop ( 181086 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @01:02PM (#39289639)

    There is cyanogenmod which is a distribution of Android with more freedom.
    After that you can choose not to install the Google Apps, not configure any Google accounts (or have a dummy one).

    Avoiding Google on Cyanogenmod means:
    - no Google market for apps. You can download packages for Open Source apps, you can use somebody else's market (say Amazon if you don't feel like they are bad for your privacy)
    - no gmail, you can use another mail service, choose a non Google mail client
    - no Google maps. There is an Open Street Map application but it's not lightweight and seamless (not used it in 6 months though)

    I do that on my Nook Color but I actually have a dummy Google account and I use Google books and other Google apps as it's easier. And I got the Google market too as I mostly use the machine for entertainment (i.e read books, listen to music) and development so it's not really a very private device...


  • Even closer (Score:4, Informative)

    by Benanov ( 583592 ) <brian,kemp&member,fsf,org> on Thursday March 08, 2012 @01:04PM (#39289661) Journal

    Replicant starts where CyanogenMod left off. It ships with most of the CM tweaks, and then adds in things like F-Droid, which is an Android Free Software repository client.

  • by oakgrove ( 845019 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @03:35PM (#39292047)
    I've had some reversed engineered drivers in Linux that stomped the closed source Windows counterparts. A USB cellular data dongle I got from Verizon years ago took over a minute to connect in windows and would disconnect constantly. In Linux with the free driver it connected in about 5 seconds and never disconnected unless I explicitly told it to. I'm sure there's more to it than just the driver itself but just because something is a reverse engineered piece of code doesn't mean it's going to be worse especially if the OEM intentionally puts some bullshit in their drivers to please their real customers, e.g., Verizon et al.

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