[sf-lug] (forw) [Surrey] (forw) LineageOS and competitors (was: talk Digest, Vol 195, Issue 3)

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Tue Apr 12 19:31:18 PDT 2022

----- Forwarded message from Rick Moen via Surrey <surrey at mailman.lug.org.uk> -----

Date: Tue, 12 Apr 2022 19:28:34 -0700
From: Rick Moen via Surrey <surrey at mailman.lug.org.uk>
To: surrey at mailman.lug.org.uk
Cc: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
Subject: [Surrey] (forw) LineageOS and competitors (was: talk Digest, Vol 195,
	Issue 3)
Organization: If you lived here, you'd be $HOME already.
Reply-To: General Linux/Unix community List <surrey at mailman.lug.org.uk>

Time will tell how practical my optimistic hopes of having both 
a real-Linux OS and a proprietary-friendly Android OS (possibly
GloDroid, https://github.com/rsglobal/glodroid_manifest/releases) as
alternate boots on my impending PinePhone Pro.  I'm reading about many
problems including proprietary Android apps (such as some banking apps)
that deliberately aim to not allow themselves to run on any "rooted"
(user-controlled) Android phone.

----- Forwarded message from Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> -----

Date: Tue, 12 Apr 2022 18:51:54 -0700
From: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
To: talk at nblug.org
Subject: LineageOS and competitors (was: talk Digest, Vol 195, Issue 3)
Organization: If you lived here, you'd be $HOME already.

(Please note renewed real Subject header.  Not a complaint, but IMO
those introduced into threads by subscribers posting from digest mode
are regrettable.)

Quoting Brad Morrison (bradmorrison at sonic.net):

> Derek: I still have not made the plunge into LineageOS yet. Oddly
> enough, having to ask my friends/relatives/housemates to switch from
> WhatsApp to Signal or give up my access to my credit union's app is
> more sticky than I thought...

I find LineageOS (immediate successor to CyanogenMod) an interesting 
option, along with others, e.g., "/e/" (formerly Eelo), a fork of
LineageOS using microG, a free and open-source implementation of Google
APIs substituted for LineageOS's Google Play Services
(https://www.androidauthority.com/google-play-services-1094356/) and
with Mozilla Location Service for geolocation.
There are also, predictably, other less-Googly Androids (Replicant,
CopperheadOS and others).

Yr. present correspondent has considered smartphones, especially those
with vendor OS loads, to be a privacy and security dumpster fire, and
has considered the typically ~3 year software support to be laughably
bad.  I've in fact, up to now, done something stubborn and impractical,
in consequence:  Since buying my first unlocked Motorola RAZRv3 in 
~2005, I've picked up new ones off eBay so as to always have one and a
spare in the kitchen drawer, each costing me about $20; thus I've blown
about $100 on phones over 17 years.

Of course, a 2005-era RAZR flip phone doesn't do jack, except for voice
telephone calls with superb audio quality, and simple SMS.  (Their
ability to do MMS (modern SMS extensions) has lately been a bit of a 
problem, sometimes.)

I am _definitely not_ suggesting anyone buy such a hilarously obsolete
thing at any price in 2022, because the cellular telcos are EOLing 2G/3G
service as fast as they can get away with.  Mine (T-Mobile), after
trying to sell 2G/3G EOLing for years and getting too much pushback
from, e.g., users of medical devices reporting over that, is finally
serious, and going to swich it off so it can repurpose those frequencies
for 5G on July 1st, 2022.  "This time for sure!"  

So, anyway, a couple of nights ago, I ordered a PinePhone Pro
https://pine64.com/product/pinephone-pro-explorer-edition/ -- which is
as close to fully open hardware as is currently possible, prepload OS
on the internal eMMC flash in Manjaro with Plasma (KDE5), and it has
built-in ability to boot from microSD.[1]  (Its main market rival 
is the greatly more expensive Purism Librem 5, likewise primarily 
intended to run real Linuxes, not Android.)

Popular alternatives on the PinePhone Pro include Maemo Leste and
PostmarketOS -- both likewise real Linuxes, not Android -- plus it'll
run various Android implementations, too, including, say, GloDroid or
LineageOS.[1] So, IMO, one attraction of this flexibility is that I can
have both things: my choice of preferred real-Linux distro (that I
trust) for normal use, and then an alternate boot to a microSD card
bearing some Android OS that I trust very little, that I use very
specifically for questionable things like proprietary apps from Google
Play Store, etc. -- thus keeping the two environments separate.

(That's almost as good as what I did in the 2000s while working in the
Linux department at Cadence Design Systems in San Jose, a place that
loved Linux but had a serious Exchange Server habit.  There, I ran
Debian with Window Maker on my company-issued ThinkPad T42p, then
site-licensed VMware Workstation 5.x for Linux, then site-licensed WinXP
Pro in the VM -- thus, real Redmondware for communication with Exchange
Server and ActiveX-dependent intranets, but not allowing Redmondware
access to anything on a valuable laptop but an isolated VM.)

The notion of letting the second most nosy corporation in the world -- 
Google/Alphabet -- have root on my computer (smartphone) -- which,
AFAIK, is what you're effectively doing with Google Play Store -- gives
me the heeby-jeebies, but giving them superuser on an effectively
untrusted throwaway Android distro housing zero amount of my personal
data, that I'm more OK with.

BTW, obviously I don't know the situation with your credit union, but
mine doesn't make anything require a mobile app.  All online banking can
be reached (in my CU's case) from either a regular or a mobile-friendly
Web site.

[1] Related to, but more hardware-endowed than, its predecessor and
cousin, the PinePhone.

[2] Support from both Linux distros and Android distros is a moving
target, and is best checked on the PINE64 forums,
https://forum.pine64.org/ .

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