linux on android phone

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There are many more distros. I need more secure phone with no traces of google OS, google related apps, and pure opensource. Down to the drivers for the hardware. If I can’t rid myself of google spying, I’m going back to my basic flip phone. Also, this sliding function makes it impossible not to wrong dial numbers frequently. I just have a paper list in my pocket. I hate using it… :stuck_out_tongue:

I’v read many articles on how to do this. If there is a pure opensource phone, please tell me about it. I need to know the basics on cell phone OS and basic apps linux on an android phone.

I was unsuccessful installing the Ubuntu version. I use the general linux version.


Back in 2014, when I decided for an Android phone (a first-gen Moto G), I planned months ahead, reading up on the pros and cons of restricting Google’s intrusions. While still using my old Nokia, it took me another month of time to configure my new Moto G (with KitKat 4.4.4 at the time) to my liking:

  • I unlocked the bootloader
    (needed to request an ID from Motorola via E-Mail for this to work); because doing this erases your user data, it is vital to do this before actually using the phone daily
  • with an unlocked bootloader, I was able to I root the phone
    and install SuperSU to manage root privileges
  • I installed AFWall+
    (very nice application-level firewall with configurable profiles) from the FLOSS-based F-Droid store
  • I disabled all Google services and apps (foremost Google Play store, GMail, ), ditched Chrome and installed Firefox
  • installed »/system/app mover« to be able to change irremovable system apps to removable user apps
  • installed »Hacker’s Keyboard« and »Terminal Emulator« to get to know the Linux environment (discovered later that an adb connection was better suited))
  • installed OfflineCalender in order to prevent Google from snooping my details
  • played around with »Vi IMproved Touch«, a vim client, but settled on Lesser Pad for note-taking
  • installed »Autostarts« to get better insight as to which services get started during the boot process
  • played around with Android Studio on my openSUSE main rig and wrote a few toy apps
  • used my free 200 MB/month data volume sparingly and enjoyed having to charge my phone battery only every 12—14 days ever since

Brian Lunduke recently reported about studies of iOS and Android where the frequency of non-user-initiated »calling-home« data packets was compared using bare-bones standard installation. iOS attempted to connect to Apple servers a few times a day; Android tried to do that a few times per minute. I am reasonably sure that AFWall+ (my chosen firewall from the F-Droid store) blocks all those attempts with all my firewall profile settings, because of the firewall’s logging feature, and because of the low battery usage and long standby times I achieve, compared to my friends’ android devices. They seem to have to recharge every night, sometimes twice a day. Admittedly, they are far more active on social media than I am.

My standard firewall setting (a profile named »nil«) suppresses any traffic, be it mobile data, wireless, Bluetooth, Tethering or KitKat’s »Mobile Hotspot« functionality. A setting named »Firefox« only allows the web browser and the F-Droid update service to connect. Later I added a »Steam« profile in order to 2-factor-authenticate my steam account. There’s not much more to it. However, just thumbing through the links on the AFwall+ wiki, I realize that there may be other ways of doing things now.

Nowadays there are

  • Purism has thei Librem5 smartphone with hardware killswitches which means additional control over what the phone does
  • Debian Kit, AnLinux and DebDroid (see F-Droid store) are user-space Debian additions to Android to make it look and feel like a desktop disto (I can even start an X server, GUIs and use graphical apps with an USB mouse), but I have surprisingly little use for it; also, they don’t change the system-side concerns about the phone connecting to Google or other service provider(s)
    *]… and I always wanted to try the free and open-source LineageOS (formerly CyanogenMod) on my Moto G but never got around to doing it because my above described setup has been working perfectly
    That’s all I know. I hope Purism have some success with their products, and that we’ll get a return of the »killswitch«, even if engineers and designers say it makes the phone case look bad. :wink:

Haven’t looked at this for awhile so did a little looking around…

Looks like the Purism Librem 5 is mostly vaporware today, may see something second half of this year…

An interesting “Alternative to” list

IMO and AFAIK today, LineageOS is your best bet, but of course you need to start with hardware (A phone) which is well supported. If you count its incarnation as Cyanogenmod, it’s been around for a very long time as a community of volunteers who have mostly turned out pretty good products people can rely on and use with relatively no problems.

Recently I checked for a friend, and think that even today up to date images are being created for the relatively ancient but very popular Note 3 as an example.

Skimming a few more articles on why there have been so little success in this area (Android competition), I feel they all miss the mark on a problem that’s so obvious… you have to understand how different phone hardware is than other machines like laptops, desktops, workstations and servers, there just aren’t that many independent manufacturers of I/O sub-components, and there are often multiple sub-components soldered on the same chip or board (ie SoC). This leads to extremely extremely close and private relationships between the few manufacturers (particularly CPU and SoC) and Google so that together they can make sure that the necessary architectures, drivers and hardware work together without problems. … Andalso means that information isn’t available to others. An open source community won’t have access to that necessary information, and is often not able to reverse engineer what is necessary to access that functionality.

Also, I suspect because of limited resources every Android alternative project attempt so far has run only on the highest end, most expensive phones of the time. Maybe someone thought that only people who could afford $1000 phones would be willing to put an alternative OS on their phone. I look at it another way, people with $1000 phones don’t usually want to risk turning their phones into a brick, or lose any functionality. People are willing to tinker on mid-price or low end phones because if they’re bricked or function something less than what the Manufacturer or Carrier willl allow, there is usually some benefit to compensate… But I doubt that a $1000 mistake is anything anyone would want to risk.


Thanks for the info. I have some more articles I can post here. I’ll need to study here material posted, plus this other material.

Regarding your links…
You need to re-affirm your objectives. If you intend to eliminate Android tracking for instance… or for that matter all the other things like Android/Google security, then almost all the information you gathered can be rejected. You should start by filtering all your info as to whether your device has to be “rooted,” only by rooting the device can you modify the bootloader sufficiently to install a new image completely replacing the Factory Android image. You can also go about eliminating anything that describes “non-root,” emulation, access by VNC, SSH, etc. Those describe running something on top of Android, not getting rid of Android. If you run anything on top of Android, you will still have Android doing what it does as always.


FWIW, this was an interesting read…

I hope it’ll be more than vaporware, but yeah… I just got the news that Purism delayed their Librem 5 smartphone to Q3 because of a »minor shipping adjustment« and also because of problems with their displays, according to developers who have had access to prototypes. Oh well.

What I’ve forgot to mention in my first post about unlocking/rooting my Moto G, and making it a non-Google Android as far as I could:

  • I installed TWRP (TeamWin Recovery Project) custom recovery after unlocking, it allowed me to follow advice on the XDA forums on rooting/hardening/securing an Android phone
  • I disabled the default Google search widget on the start screen with »/system/app mover« (an app from the F-Droid store)
  • I only ever access search, mail and map functionality via browser exclusively, and only in those rare cases when I don’t have my laptop with me
  • I have mobile data disabled as a default, same with wireless and Bluetooth; so in order for a rogue app to »call home«, it would need to enable one of those features and
    get through my firewall

Because of how I structure my in some respects minimalistic life, I managed to completely avoid credit/debit cards and other electronic means of payment (except PayPal), and I’m relying on cash to buy stuff. Transactions are effectively anonymous. Tin-foil hat off.

I realize that this thread has had little to nothing to do with Leap or other SuSE stuff, but I think it’s still an interesting and thought-provoking read: we should have a proper, easily manageable and community-supported Linux on phones by now. And I really hope we’ll get more projects like what was listed in the article TSU linked to:

Maybe one or two of them will gain traction.

Hear, hear. I fully support this. Reading what you all did to get a reasonable save device gives me the shivers. How can any “normal” (read not IT involved) person ever hope to get at that point where you are?

The only alternative is not to have a “smart” phone (which is what we at home do).

((…which is what we do at home here, too, with one exception:

son (involved in computer stuff by studying things) uses one of the newer Sony supported. Still under evaluation but seems quite happy (compared to have nothing…).

OK, I’ve been doing my homework. Root vs non-root?

Root. Eliminate all apps down to the basic minimum software, drivers.

Install from the phone or install via PC USB connection? Through USB connection.

UBports | A Ubuntu Touch Community

The above looks like the easiest method

I have a coolpad device. I found this article about it. Comments?

You may be interested in pursuing the following

The author and developer behind this project lives in my area, if you are unable to contact this person through the Project, contact me and I can establish communications for you.

The premise of the project is that the way the mobile device industry is today, there is no possibility for a fully open source phone. Hardware is largely built on closed technologies, so the software on top of the hardware can’t be open source (NDAs required to access proprietary hardware).

What this person did was to find a supply of boards where for one reason or another its design has been published with some kind of free use license.
A board was found were there were something like multiple tens of thousands sitting in a warehouse, no longer being manufactured but meeting requirements.
The firmware and software is free, and the board is subject to supply and demand… If there’s not a lot of people clamoring for a 3G board limited by the supply sitting in a warehouse, you shouldn’t be paying much for it.

He then went through the considerable work of designing a firmware that would work on this board and released it as FreeCalypso.
It works. I’ve seen the demo a couple times now.

The drawback?
Well, for starters, it’s a GSM phone that works only on 3G networks. Keep in mind that the Carriers are trying desperately to end 3G so that the bandwidth can be re-purposed, but as of today that hasn’t happened and there is no firm prospects for a change.
It’s enough that you can do simple stuff, the kind you might see on flipphones.

AFAIK it’s the only example of a 100% open source phone.


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