Google’s Android operating system may be open source — but the version of Android that runs on most phones, tablets, and other devices includes proprietary, closed-source components. While most Android users would probably rather have 3D graphics and GPS than a 100-percent open source operating system, there’s an alternative for folks willing to sacrifice functionality for their ideals.

It’s called Replicant, and it’s basically Google Android stripped of its proprietary components. Replicant 4.0 hit the streets in late 2012. Now there’s a new version based on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. It’s called Replicant 4.2, and builds are available for a handful of popular devices… from a year or two ago.

Replicant

Replicant 4.2 can run on a number of Samsung devices including the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Samsung Nexus S, Galaxy S, S2, and S3, and Galaxy Note and Galaxy Note 2.

Just don’t expect everything to run.There’s no support for 3D graphics on any of those devices. 2D graphics are slow on most models. And GPS is a non-starter. You can’t even use WiFi on most devices unless you install non-free firmware, and on many devices the camera isn’t working.

You can find a list of what’s supported and what isn’t at the Replicant wiki.

Since Replicant doesn’t include closed-source software it doesn’t feature the Google Play Store or other Google apps such as Maps, YouTube, or Gmail. Instead it comes with the F-Droid catalog of free and open source software.

Sure, Replicant might not be as functional as Android… and the Android 4.2-based build is launching months after Google released Android 4.4. But it’s kind of impressive that Replicant exists at all. There’s currently only one active developer working on the project, although that could change in the future.

via /r/linux

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8 replies on “Replicant 4.2 is Android Jelly Bean without the closed source bits”

  1. I wonder if these things will become more popular next year when Intel’s next smartphone SoC comes out by the end of this year. It’ll supposedly finally get rid of PowerVR graphics for an Intel GPU supported by their widely acclaimed open source drivers. Also, Intel is known for good open source drivers for their wireless chips. I hope that’ll extend to the embedded ones in their SoC (WiFi, LTE and maybe GPS).

  2. Replicant’s nice, but they could call it Ndroid: NSAndroid without the NSA bits that likely reside in the closed-source bits 😉

  3. Hope they support the S4 eventually. I’ve never wanted or needed 3D graphics on a phone, though I understand SurfaceFlinger kind of depends upon it for basic plumbing. The GPS issue is a bigger deal, but I can wait. Maybe someone will come up with a hybrid.

    Till then, well, there are plenty of AOSP-based ROMs…

    1. AT&T and verizon toasted teh s4 by locking the bootloader. Don’t expect the galaxy s4 to get anything cool.

      1. Why not? Have you completely forgotten about Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Metro PCS, and more carriers, all who offer SGS4s with unlocked bootloaders. Not only that. AT&T and Verizon S4 bootloaders having been cracked is old news. I can’t seem to find an explanation from the developer why Replicant can’t or will not be ported to ALL Galaxy S4 devices. Fingers crossed

  4. That is the coolest name for an android … fork? Respin? Whichever, it’s the coolest name for either.

  5. just my opinion but android 4.4 is currently most interesting with ART and qualcomm’s optimized dalvik both available for noticeable performance improvements. I wonder if either of these are open source or not.

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