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Lebkoungcity
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PostPosted: Sun May 05, 2019 1:03 pm    Post subject: your opinion: lineageOS, postmarketOS, something else? Reply with quote

Hello,

I already had started a thread that's more or less related to this topic: https://forums.gentoo.org/viewtopic-t-1094660.html

Now I'm interested in your opinion on which "OS" to choose for a smartphone when it should be no "spy-device". There are some how are satisfied with deleting or disabling some apps the vendor/distributor/maker of the phone (e.g. facebook-app), some others try to de-google their android-phone to some extend (don't set up a google-account, don't use google's app-store,...). I want to step further. I want the smartphone's system to have no connection to google (or microsoft or facebook or apple,...) at all. My dream would be a complete free smartphone - which is not available at the moment (at least not affordable for me...).
So my question would be: What system to use? For me right now there's lineageOS or postmarketOS:

lineageOS:
pro:
- smartphone is still a 'phone' (e.g. able to make calls)
- more devices are supported (in relation to postmarketOS)
- more people use it (it is in some way more common than postmarketOS)
[- if one would WANT to it would be possible to use the (most or the whole?) android-ecosystem]

contra:
- it's no 'real linux-distribution' (but maybe one could still use kontact with kirigami?)
- it is based on android (and I don't know what that means in the context that it is 'free from google-stuff' - is it a 'no-spy-system' or not?)


postmarketOS:
pro:
- it is a 'real linux-distribution'

contra:
- smartphone would not be a 'phone' (unable to make calls - for the time being; no deal-breaker for me because I still could use my feature-phone for that)
- less supported devices (in relation to lineageOS)
- less common than lineageOS (smaller community to get help from)


The biggest point for me would be: Is it helping others to collect information about me - without my knowledge - more than any cellphone and/or my gentoo-systems would do anyways?
Is lineageOS 'free enough'? (Where can I get hard facts about this?)
Or is postmarketOS - at the moment - the only more or less safe option?

Or do you know another option which would meet with my question?


I'm curious on your opinions!

Thanks a lot for your time :)
Andy
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PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2019 9:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i recommend you use lineage w/out any gapps - these are optional and not included in the standard release anyway. for software you can use fdroid https://f-droid.org/ where you can be reasonably sure they do not install any spyware (intentionally). of course, if you use your cell-provider's infrastructure they will still know a lot about you.
i've been using this combo for some years now and (within its limits) i'm quite satisfied with it.
when i started using adb i was surprised how much real linux is at the core of the system - you have a shell and basic commands (even vi) and FHS. sometimes additional functionality can be added with extra-progs, eg cron and ssh.
of course, you need to completely wipe and re-install your phone - voiding any warranty. if you do not use google or any other spy-apps a used phone will be powerful enough.
if you need any additional info i'll be glad to help.
GOOD LUCK!
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PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2019 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will also second Lineage OS without Gapps. I have used it for nearly 3 years on an old Nextbit Robin I bought before they went under to Razer. They have recently switched to OTA nightly updates for my phone, so if your into updates they come quick.
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PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2019 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LineageOS.
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PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2019 4:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two of you have said that you use LineageOS without gapps. My impression is that gapps provides some level of base functionality that a lot of other stuff depends on. Is that impression wrong, or what do you use instead of gapps?

EDIT... By the way, as for security, if it's a phone, it's got a baseband, and the baseband is completely closed-source and out of your control. It is possible to have a "sandboxed baseband", so that the baseband can only control the radio hardware and not spy on the phone. However none of the phone makers say that their baseband is sandboxed, and it appears that most of them don't bother.

There is also the impression that practically every baseband has (at least one) a backdoor for the manufacturer. You pretty much can't stop that, since the baseband is FCC type-accepted. You can only sandbox that. The Librem 5 will be out in the fall - with a clearly sandboxed baseband, and real hardware off switches for cameras, microphones, etc.
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PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2019 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gapps does provide access to some playstore apps that you may not be able to live without ex. maps, waze, google services, etc...there may be work arounds, but I am unaware of them. I just work from home so GPS/maps isnt a deal breaker for me and Fdroid has worked. I highely suggest checking out https://forum.xda-developers.com/lineage these people know much more then I can contribute. I just followed their advice as they were the pros over there. Good luck
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PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2019 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Smartphones are the most frustrating pieces of hardware for us freedom lovers currently. I honestly almost given up on them. Dumb mp3 player is enough for audiobooks, and you can ask for a phone call anyone on the streets, that's surely unspyable/untraceable for anyone except three letter agencies :lol:
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PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2019 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use LineageOS, plus F-Droid, minus Gapps. I never tried postmarketOS.
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PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2019 7:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

+1 for lineagos

For the german speaking guys I also recommend the following blog, as there are tutorials around lineage and securing mobile phones in genral:
https://www.kuketz-blog.de/
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PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2019 10:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you need Gapps support, there are LineageOS builds that include the microG framework (third-party FLOSS Gapps re-implementation).

Also, have you seen the Librem phone project?
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PostPosted: Tue May 07, 2019 3:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What people doesn't really get is that android will track you also without gapps, the same will individual apps ....

There is maybe something new for android roms:

https://e.foundation/
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Lebkoungcity
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PostPosted: Tue May 07, 2019 6:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey, cool, thanks a lot for all of your input!

I wouldn't have used Gapps at all anyways ;) But it's always good to express why one shouldn't.

Yeah, I know that baseband is a problem for all the reasons mentioned here but I can't afford a Librem 5. I have some time left until I 'need' (or better 'like to have' ;) ) a smartphone-like mobile device so I can try to get something that meets as much of my expectations as possible ;)
I will keep an eye on the PinePhone but unfortunately it will not be available in time. (And in addition I would wait some time longer to get some real-life reviews before buying it.)

So, do I comprehend all your answers correctly when I conclude that lineageOS is the best solution to meet with my concerns?

I'm not interested in any cloud-/sync-/whatevever-online-feature to store/backup data. Just eMail, a browser (Firefox preferably) and maybe tox (video-chat). Calendar and such should be 'offline' without syncing to any online service - I'd do it either by hand or locally by connecting to my laptop if that would be possible.

erm67, is this still true for lineageOS? Or is it 'clean enough' (without Gapps)?
Quote:
What people doesn't really get is that android will track you also without gapps (...)


I found that in some lineageOS-ROMs there are still some google-services left.
https://www.reddit.com/r/LineageOS/comments/83wqdp/project_fi_and_gapps_inside_lineageos/
So I have to keep an eye on that when I'm about to buy an used smartphone to put lineageOS on it...

Anyways, thanks a lot :)
Andy
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PostPosted: Tue May 07, 2019 6:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

erm67 wrote:
What people doesn't really get is that android will track you also without gapps, the same will individual apps ....

There is maybe something new for android roms:

https://e.foundation/

Interesting, I'm following the developments of Librem 5
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PostPosted: Tue May 07, 2019 9:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lebkoungcity wrote:


erm67, is this still true for lineageOS? Or is it 'clean enough' (without Gapps)?
Quote:
What people doesn't really get is that android will track you also without gapps (...)



I cannot find it now but a few weeks ago I was reading an analyse of AOSP (the free version of android that form the base of LineageOS) at infosec-handbook (I think) and well there are way too many important libraries written by google that depends on various services hosted on server run by google, the guys at LineageOS will do what is possible to customize stuff but will never be able to rewrite stuff like that.
just run AFWall+ (a firewall) on on your gapps-free phone to see how often it phones home.
If you are using an old version of lineageOS on a now unsupported phone, try SnoopSnitch to see how many important patches you are missing and think twice before going online.
Even postmarket os is not fully safe since the broadband drivers are mostly binary blobs that cannot be replaced (and sometimes phone home).
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PostPosted: Tue May 07, 2019 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

of course, you can never (fully) trust a consumer-phone with binary firmware.
coupla years ago i used https://replicant.us/ on a samsung i9000 but to be able to *really* use it i had to install binary firmwares.
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PostPosted: Tue May 07, 2019 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DawgG wrote:
coupla years ago i used https://replicant.us/ on a samsung i9000 but to be able to *really* use it i had to install binary firmwares.

Did you mean i9100 instead?
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PostPosted: Tue May 07, 2019 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let me try this again...

There will always be (at least) one binary blob on your phone - the baseband. It's the firmware that controls the radios, and by radios I mean the cell radios, the wifi, bluetooth, and NFC. In the USA, radio communication is regulated by the FCC, principally for coordination, standards enforcement, and to prevent RFI. (Radio Frequency Interference) Amateur (HAM) Radio is about the only place where the FCC "trusts" individuals to manage their own radio hardware, everything else is subject to certification.

The baseband blob in every phone is FCC certified, and therefore not permitted to be tampered with. Because of this, you are NEVER going to be permitted to do your own baseband. (At least not in practice. I once read of competent people trying to do their own baseband, but the general lack of information from manufacturers doesn't help. When I read of it, they were still back at 2G in the days of 4G, as the carriers were turning off their 2G capability

So given that you're not going to see a FOSS baseband, the next best thing you can do is know that it's sandboxed. In other words, insure that the baseband can ONLY run the radios, and only move data back and forth between the radio and the user OS, under the control of the user OS. THIS is what Librem 5 does. (Plus more, on the user side, but baseband sandboxing is the unique thing.)
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PostPosted: Tue May 07, 2019 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@fturco
Quote:
Did you mean i9100 instead?

that was quite a long time ago - it might have been an i9100.
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PostPosted: Tue May 07, 2019 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

+Lineageos
+f-droid
+ gapps free!
+yalp Store - google play proxy for some free Google Apps.
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PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2019 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, I think it's quite clear now. I will give lineageOS a try with Magisk and AFWall+ and of course without Gapps. And I'll keep Yalp-Store also in my mind ;)

I've been reading through https://www.kuketz-blog.de/ and for me it's detailed on how to do what and why.

depontius:
Yeah, I think you're right with all what you say about baseband. For now my goal is it to make it hard for google, facebook and other corporations. If one of those 'agencies often spelled with three big letters' was after me I think they would even have other methods to get what they want. But maybe it's sufficient for me not to use stock android (and keep away from google, facebook,...) and always think twice when using the net. But maybe this behavior makes me an even more interesting target :wink: We'll see...

So now I'm about to search for an used device, that's supported by lineageOS, does not require a blob with google-services inside, does have a replaceable battery and meets with my budget (~50,- €).

Thanks a lot everyone! :)
Andy
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PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2019 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lebkoungcity wrote:
I've been reading through https://www.kuketz-blog.de/ […]

Thanks for the link
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PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2019 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dr.Willy wrote:
Lebkoungcity wrote:
I've been reading through https://www.kuketz-blog.de/ […]

Thanks for the link


You're welcome!
But it was not me who brought this to the light. All the glory goes to Elleni 8)

Elleni wrote:
+1 for lineagos

For the german speaking guys I also recommend the following blog, as there are tutorials around lineage and securing mobile phones in genral:
https://www.kuketz-blog.de/

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PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2019 5:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lebkoungcity wrote:
OK, I think it's quite clear now. I will give lineageOS a try with Magisk and AFWall+ and of course without Gapps. And I'll keep Yalp-Store also in my mind ;)

I've been reading through https://www.kuketz-blog.de/ and for me it's detailed on how to do what and why.

depontius:
Yeah, I think you're right with all what you say about baseband. For now my goal is it to make it hard for google, facebook and other corporations. If one of those 'agencies often spelled with three big letters' was after me I think they would even have other methods to get what they want. But maybe it's sufficient for me not to use stock android (and keep away from google, facebook,...) and always think twice when using the net. But maybe this behavior makes me an even more interesting target :wink: We'll see...

So now I'm about to search for an used device, that's supported by lineageOS, does not require a blob with google-services inside, does have a replaceable battery and meets with my budget (~50,- €).

Thanks a lot everyone! :)
Andy


In some phones the battery can be replaced with a little effort and a 2€ screwdriver, just check on youtube if there are instructions to do it. It is probably a good idea if the phone is supported by lineageos >= 15.1 and support project treble. Probably most of the phones still on lineageos 14.1 will be dropped in the near future.
Apparently Project treble (that comes with LOS 15.1) works well and makes it possible to use generic system images with the latest android updates on the phone, in practice vendor drivers and propietary blobs are kept in a separate partition and ht phone can be updated without touching them.
The last step building LineageOS in fact is extracting lots of binary blobs from the original firmware:
build instruction wrote:

Extract proprietary blobs

NOTE: This step requires to have a device already running the latest LineageOS, based on the branch you wish to build for. If you don’t have access to such device, refer to Extracting proprietary blobs from installable zip.
Now ensure your phone is connected to your computer via the USB cable, with ADB and root enabled, and that you are in the ~/android/lineage/device/xxx folder. Then run the extract-files.sh script:

./extract-files.sh
The blobs should be pulled into the ~/android/lineage/vendor/xxx folder. If you see “command not found” errors, adb may need to be placed in ~/bin.



Do people actually know how many binary blobs of dubious origins are in their LineageOS firmware?
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PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2019 10:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

erm67 wrote:

Do people actually know how many binary blobs of dubious origins are in their LineageOS firmware?


Dubious, it was running on your phone too, before you installed lineageos... but yes.
You are Right. And because of that its important to support projects like Librem 5 too!

However: (just) binary blobs < binary blobs + kernel + google + sneaky apps.
Lower is better.

I like to have a full functional phone with up to date patches every time and over years.

If you love reading.. try: "The Age of Surveillance Capitalism - The fight for a human Future at the new Frontier of Power".

I like the Design Idea of the Center for Human Technology, but i am not sure if something of this will help to solve the issues that came for society with the harm that is done through the surveillance Capitalism Design.

We need to build Code that behave the same and trustworthy, even if its run on some untrustworthy Hardware Components. Which is not easy but i think it can be done, with multiple redundant components in Hard and Software.
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PostPosted: Sat May 18, 2019 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ChrisJumper wrote:
erm67 wrote:

Do people actually know how many binary blobs of dubious origins are in their LineageOS firmware?


Dubious, it was running on your phone too, before you installed lineageos... but yes.

Sorry you did not read the build instructions carefully, to build lineageOS you MUST extract the binaries from a previous LineageOS release, it might not (probably will not) work if you use the vendor supplied firmware.

You know, from experience cooking some unofficial releases, sometimes the binaries need to be hacked or replaced with binaries from other phones :-) to get the latest release of binaries of course, you can't pretend to run a recent android against obsolete binary blobs.

I trust LineageOS developers to do the right thing, but the binaries are of dubious origin sometimes, maybe something nasty could slip in.
Anyway it is only for LOS <15 with Project Treble the problem should no longer exist. (if the phone supports it of course)
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