How to install / and / on Android and not rely on Google services

Recently the first stable version of / and / was published, a free Android-based operating system totally disconnected from Google services and applications. Gal Duval, creator of the iconic Mandrake Linux, who is behind the creation, being available for more than 85 smartphone models. And most interestingly, includes the possibility to use apps like YouTube and Gmail, in addition to valuing the user's security and privacy. We installed the system on a Google Nexus 5X and these are our impressions:

Free, secure and disconnected from Google

LineageOS set a great precedent in the Android ecosystem by offering an Open Source alternative to the Google operating system used by millions of devices. The platform begins to look for giant Cupertino alternatives as demonstrated by Huawei's latest moves, which after the problems with the US government began to look for distribution alternatives, and its latest high-end device, Huawei Mate 30, will not include the Google services.

Based on the aforementioned LineageOS (which in turn is heir to the CyanogenMOD mystic), the / e / Foundation has developed an operating system that borrows Android AOSP features, but eliminating any internal Google service that ties in with some company device functionality. This is a ROM vanilla, that is, an Android Stock with open source alternatives as to the apps installed by default.

How to install / e / on Android

/ e / compatible with more than 85 devices that we can consult on the official website, where we can also download the ROM in question in .zip format, in addition to being able to consult the installation steps, which in most cases is based on unlock the bootloader, install a custom recovery and install the image using ADB commands connecting via USB to a PC. In the case of our 4X, these were the steps followed:

  • Enable developer options on the terminal. For that, we go on Security> Phone information and we played eight times on Build number.
  • Enable USB debugging. We entered the new Developer Options section and activated the Android Debugging and OEM Unlocking options to be able to unlock the bootloader.
  • Install ADB drivers on the PC. To avoid having to install the entire Android Studio package, there are small packs that allow you to install only what is necessary to be able to interact with the terminal connected via the command line. We recommend 15 seconds ADB installer for its ease of use.
  • We proceed with the unlocking of the terminal and installation of TWRP, the best Custom Recovery to install a customized ROM. As we said, all the ADB commands to be introduced will be perfectly explained on the official website of / and / along with the ROM download itself, but each device has its own method of unlocking and restarting.

After all this process and after restarting the terminal, we will have our new and flaming free operating system in front of us. During the first run a wizard is included that allows us to choose language, connect to WiFi and even create a free email account with the domain @ e.mail and that it serves to synchronize our personal configuration between devices.

What includes the operating system / and /

By default several applications are included, all free: Calculator, calendar, clock, contact book, file explorer, image gallery, flashlight, email app, maps, music player, notepad, sound recorder, to-do list and weather app. Among them we find good known as Open Camera for taking photos and videos, and interesting curiosities like its own secure browser with integrated Chromium-based adblocker.

But they went further, since the predetermined search engine Qwant, an interesting project of European origin that also integrates with the browser and the results in other related apps. It is noted that Gal Duval's reasons are totally associated with the diffusion and defense of free software, privacy and security, since all the tools included explicitly ask us if we want to share location or enable permissions of all kinds. In addition, OpenKeychain is pre-installed, the encryption service for sending emails and files. All that is missing is an aluminum paper hat.

Can I install Google apps on / and /?

The question of a million reais. One of the main problems that Huawei is facing with Mate 30 is how to supply Google Play Services with an analogous API that allows to run Google applications like YouTube and Gmail. The company's solution was to create its Huawei Mobile Services, but the level of compatibility remains to be seen.

/ e / bet on another option integrating MicroG, a reimplementation of Google's libraries also embedded within the open source spectrum. By default we do not need a Google account to use, but if it is of interest, it is possible to associate through a wizard that, during the process, install the libraries necessary to run Google applications.

Regarding the origin of the applications, / and / includes a small marketplace where we can download apps, but nothing prevents us from downloading APKs on our own or using another app store like Uptodown, which we recommend for obvious reasons.