Google’s Android operating system may be open source, but most of the phones and other devices that ship with Android also include a bunch of closed source apps and services including the Google Play Store, Gmail, YouTube, and Google Maps.

Mandrake Linux founder Gaël Duval wasn’t satisfied with that, so he decided to create a new fork of Android called eelo that uses only free and open source software.

Eelo  still a work in progress, and at this point it’s basically just a fork of LineageOS (the project from the former CyanogenMod team) with a custom app launcher and app suite. But Duval has written several articles laying out the vision for the project, as well as the progress to date.

The plan is to replace Google services with open alternatives. For example, OpenStreetMaps will be used instead of Google Maps. Instead of Google Drive, the operating system will probably support services like NextCloud or OwnCloud that let you set up your own personal cloud file server. And instead of the Google Play Store, eelo uses F-Droid and APKPure.

This wouldn’t be the first attempt to build an Android-without-Google operating system. Once upon a time that’s what Cyanogen Inc hoped to do… although that was never an entirely open source project. Meanwhile, Replicant goes even further in removing all proprietary code from Android… but development of the operating system is pretty laborious and slow. Replicant 6.0 was released earlier this year… about two years after Google released the Android 6.0 software it’s based on.

Anyway, it’s not really clear at this point what you’d get with eelo that you can’t already get by installing LineageOS without the Play Store. But if you’re interested in supporting and/or following the project, there’s a Kickstarter campaign.

via FOSSBytes and /r/Android



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11 replies on “Mandrake Linux founder is developing eelo: an open source mobile OS (Android without the Google apps and services)”

    1. I think he explained it well in the Kickstarter: Google and privacy. I feel the same. It is very hard to avoid Google (but I try: no Google Play Services, no search engine, no analytics, no Gmail, all google domains banned)

  1. Why? Just use Resurrection Remix or crDroid or Pure Nexus roms, where Google apps, like Open GApps or Beans GApps, are separate from the ROM & optional.

  2. I’d like to see a phone that’s capable of booting off SD or similar. Installing ROMs are a pain for nearly everyone. If I’m lucky, there’s support for my devices – from phones to tablets… Our surveillance overlords have created a closed-off hardware system that makes alternate/forked solutions unnecessarily difficult for even the initiated.

    I’d happily buy a micro-card with bootable OS if such a phone/tablet allowed it.

    1. If you could put your OS on removable media, that would go a long way towards YOU controlling risk-free easy to install updates, not Google and the phone manufacturer. The result would be perfectly good phones which last longer because they won’t face planned obsolescence.

    1. This is what I came to ask as well. If yes, okay, he maybe onto something here.
      If no, well, its not much different from all the other projects out there.

      Notable Android forks are Nokia X, Amazon Fire, and AliYun.

  3. “Android without the Google apps and services”

    You just described 99% of all the cheap smart phones in China. So like them all this Mandriva guy is probably doing is skinning and self branding stock Android, while tying to replace all the nasty Google spy stuff (a futile task), with his own spy stuff.

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