The /e/ Foundation has brought a de-Googled phone to market - we got one to try, and spoke to founder Gaël Duval for all the details behind this brave effort. There are two surprises when you unwrap a /e/ smartphone, insert a SIM and turn it on for the first time. One is what a pleasant experience it is, with no demands for …
Now I'm not in the market for a mobile 'phone but if I was this might just convince me.
Gael Duval knows what he is doing. I was a very happy user of Mandrake and then Mandriva, hell I even paid for the Powerpack versions. So if any one can pull this of he can.
A breath of fresh air in what is to me a very claustrophobic and controlled area of technology.
“More recently I started to wonder about privacy issues and the domination of Google,”
Yeah, me too.
I've been running a google-free Pixel phone for about 6 months now, and it's great, the only problems being the lack of an app store and the (trying very hard not to shout here) need to compile the OS myself from sources. Otherwise it's fine.
Hope they survive until I break/lose this phone; /e/ just rose to the top of my smartphone options list.
I'm running it on my old HTC M8, which I use for listening to 'stuff' on. It's OK and pretty nippy and stable.
But a bit annoying that /e/ itself comes with a load of apps which cannot be uninstalled, without resorting to ADB or something like Titanium Backup --especially given the founders' criticisms of Google for likewise having uninstallable bloatware.
Really, I think it's pretty much just a more user-friendly version of LineageOS, with all the same benefits and failings.
If Huawei joined that would be a real threat to Google who would then find some way to break this system (probably frequent changes to google play services that a small outfit or even a large one like Huawei cannot afford to replicate and maintain profitability).
The Google guy saying he supports this project is basically trying to look nice because he doesn't actually feel threatened by it.
I've been keeping an eye on them since they started (about three years ago?).
I may well get one of their phones when I need to replace mine, to save me three days of poking around the ROM removing stuff that shouldn't be there, compiling and installing my own build, doing some more tweaking, securing the phone, etc., etc.
Thankfully, the manufacturer I buy from are OK with their phones being rooted and will even unbrick it for a very reasonable fee (or maybe it was free? I don't recall).
And Google translated for the non Francophiles:-
Your project is pretty! It would be a shame if anything happened to him.
And into its source language:-
Il tuo progetto è carino, sarebbe un peccato se gli succedesse qualcosa.
And translated into chav:-
you're gonna get yer fuckin ed kicked in
I couldn't see anything on the /e/ website that explains why you need an /e/ account. Sure, it explains why you might *want* one (free cloud storage), but not why you have to have one.
I have a bog standard Samsung which runs fine without a Google or Samsung account, and I use Fdroid for apps. Not sure what the advantage of /e/ would be over that. If I want to go further I'll break with Android completely and get a Pinephone (and in fact it arrives tomorrow).
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Just root and choose a suitable custom rom and you can certainly achieve a lot of what you ask for.
However reading XDA it seems is getting harder with each successive iteration of Android especially if you want to use your phone for online financial stuff.
"Is it legal to offer all these applications without specific permission from the publishers"
No, the answer to this question is no. It's copyright infringement. The only reason they exist at all is that many are based in jurisdictions with very lax copyright laws and they rely on the fact that each copyright holder has to sue them individually, which is a lot of effort for small publishers.
First on a Galaxy S3, then, when a build became available, on an S5. It's good if keeping out Google et al is what matters to you. But you do have to get your hands dirty occasionally if you don't want to wait too long for some things. E.g. the version on MicroG on my devices does not support Covid-19 bluetooth apps but you can work around this by flashing a later NanoDroid build. For people like me, recommended. For people like my SO, to be avoided.
NOTE: You might want to save an offline copy in case the site becomes unreachable.
Something like this can also be done for a standard Linux distribution. Although the paths maybe different.
Also, try out iptables-persistent, and pgl, as well as /etc/hosts. Note: Before running `ptables-persistent save` stop pgl `sudo pglcmd stop`, Afterwards re-start pgl `sudo pglcmd restart`. For the hosts file 'www.WEBSITE.com' is different from 'WEBSITE.com'.
If you have multiple files of IP address to go through you can do something like...
_temp=""; _input_1=""; _input_2=""; # you can add more $_input_N=""...
# This gets rid of some non IP lines, sorts and removes duplicates based on the 1st column
grep -v '^#\|^$' --no-filename -- "$_input_1" "$_input_2" | sort -u -k1,1V > "$_temp"
NOTE: You might want to save an offline copy in case the site becomes unreachable.
And the hosts file is likely something like "C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts", although I've read that this doesn't block Microsoft sites.
Finally a phone that is just a phone, with no ties and signing your life away. I have always hated the fact that wou have to spen a fair amount of money to buy the phone and then find the hidden cost is access to the rest of your life. I congratulate you on your efforts and I will be booting off Google Android off my phone to re-install this version of Android.
I really hope you succeed in this endeavour. I, for one will be advocating it to all my friends and colleagues.
Why get a nicely stripped phone and then go to some "app store" and load the phone down with Google, FB, INsta, etc that are all well known spyware? With very few exceptions, most apps are spyware at their core which is why every store wants you to download their app. They'll even pay you a few pence in discounts if you allow them to harvest your data and broadcast "suggestions" at you while you shop.
* The phone was made by Fairphone
* The OS was made by LineageOS
* The replacement Google services were made by MicroG
So what exactly did the /e/ foundation do.. apart from bundle those other people's work together and get the tech press fawning over them, as if they'd invented all this liberating stuff themselves?
I like the sound of LineageOS and eOS, but here are some important points:
You may, and almost definitely will, have sensitive data on your mobile phone. With LineageOS 17.1 it does appear that they have done a good job with the port. However, the phone itself still speaks to google a LOT! With A-GPS - assisted GPS, in which your phone uses wifi, bluetooth and/or mobile data to send your IP address to locate you more quickly using an online database - your IMSI and IMEI (Sim card identifier and unique mobile identifier) are sent to google along with your IP address and other unique details. Many other google interactions are as default as part of the LineageOS builds. This is unacceptable to me.
I've tried e's OS "eOS" on a Samsung S9. It's only at version 8 android (oreo), not 9(pie) or 10(nougat). This means it's an old android version and won't have many modern security updates. Is it hardened? It's difficult to tell. They have certainly taken SOME steps to harden the system and de-google it, but it is not un-googled. From what I can see the A-GPS feature that sends google your IMEI and IMSI numbers with EVERY A-GPS lookup ever means google always have your location, which is insane. From an online blog post I understand that they don't appear to have their own security team testing this and are relying on errors being found by users and interested parties. This set of blog posts (there are three, read them all) show this:
As someone who is technical but a layman phone user, should I be using eOS software? Is it acceptable in this day and age to use eOS on android version 8 or am I really at risk of a common webpage exploit or malware? Sadly I don't think eOS offers any answers to this if they don't even have a security team.
El-Reg: Please dig more into this. I appreciate the noble aims of eOS and LineageOS but with security being so important these days just having the aim to be secure, without checking their own homework, suggests that it's a hope of security and not a full security lifecycle. This means users could be vulnerable whilst using eOS, especially on oreo version 8. e
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