Leaving Apple, leaving Google

Opensource

I've finally broken the corporation cage and I am Apple and Google-free.

From MacOS to Linux was an easy jump, bought new laptop, installed Arch Linux and done but phone is a different story and moving from Apple to Google is like going from bad to worst, it does not feel right.

Unfortunately Linux based phones (like Plasma Mobile) are not there yet, and is not because they are more difficult to install/use, it's because they miss the apps ecosystem.

I knew about Gael Duval and his quest to leave Apple and Google and I have been watching e Foundation for quite a while but never got the time to play with it.

For those who don't know, /e/OS is the alternative to Google monopoly on smartphones, is based on Android and is compatible with most existing Android applications.

At high level /e/OS contains the following components:

  1. a fork of LineageOS with Linux Kernel 4.4 that we all love

  2. MicroG that re-implements proprietary Google's user apps and libraries

  3. new app launcher that puts together the simplicity of iOS and power of Android

  4. multiple default mobile apps that are open-source and free to use

  5. online services for Mail/Calendar/Drive/etc that come in two flavors: hosted at eCloud or self-hosted with Docker images

And here are a few apps that come installed by default but you are free to use anything you like:

  • Browser - Bromite (an ungoogled fork of Chromium) but I don't use it, I only use Brave on all devices

  • Maps - a fork of MagicEarth with data from Open Street Map

  • Weather - a fork GoodWeather with data from Open Weather Map

  • Mail - a fork of K9 Mail

  • Camera - OpenCamera

  • Phone - default Android dialer app

  • Calendar - a fork of Etar app

And so on, please read e product description for more details about how it works and what apps are included in e firmware.

Installation

I bought an OnePlus 5T phone and I went down the rabbit hole, please see the list of supported devices and check if your device is in there. Here is the installation for my 5T phone.

Basically the entire installation process can be broken down in 3 steps:

  1. unlock the bootloader

  2. flash the recovery image using TeamWin Recovery project's custom recovery

  3. flash the /e/OS firmware

If your phone is supported then follow the installation guide that is specific to your phone, it not that complicated, the docs are quite comprehensive. Everything went pretty smooth except the latest TWRP's custom recovery that did not work for me and I ended up with black screen but an older one worked just fine.

And last, if you do not want to go the hard way and flash the phone by yourself then I have good news, you can now buy an e phone that is ready to use out–of-the-box.

There is a wonderful life outside Google and Apple. Enjoy it!

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