About Android and this page
Android is an operating system mainly developed by Google. In the time of writing it is by far the most sold operating system on mobile devices with an estimated global market share of around 75%. Unfortunately, the Android Operating System and its technical environment suffers from two main anti-features:
important parts of the default applications as well as the majoritiy of third-party applications are non-free. To put users in control of their technology, the FSFE created the Free Your Android campaign as early as in 2012.
because Android is devloped by Google but mostly used by third-parties to sell their hardware (Samsung, Huawei, Sony etc.), many devices suffer from software obsolescence. To help users extending their hardware usage time and regain control, the FSFE created the Upcyling Android campaign.
This page is a wiki page and as a wiki page it serves the knowledge sharing and collection of both of the aforementioned camapaigns. This wiki pages also offers the following subpages:
Upcycling Android Workshops
A list of operating systems that can be used as a replacement for the default Android. Every OS is explained in short with a link to the original sources.
A list of Free Software apps that you can use on your phone - no matter what Android or alternative system you are running, including a short description and a link to the original sources.
A list of phones that you can buy with Free Software operating systems pre-installed.
About Upcycling Android
Although there are already more smartphones than humans on this planet, we keep producing additional 1.5 billion new smartphones every year. About 75% of them are Android phones, most of which are replaced again and again after only short usage times. This, although the environmental costs involved in the production of a smartphone are exceptionally high in comparison to its usage time. "Upcycling Android" is an initiative to change our short-term and linear consumption of smartphones and start upcycling our devices
So called "software obsolescence" occurs when the manufacturer of a software ends the support for a current software so that no further support is provided and the subsequent version at the same time can no longer be executed on the previous hardware. In this case, the manufacturer runs consumers into the dilemma of either buying new hardware or to live with outdated software and potential security problems. Software obsolescence is a major concern throughout the Android world.
Installing an alternative Free Software operating system can solve the dilemma through enabling all users and businesses to legally use, study, share and improve the software through its publication under a Free Software license. Apart from many other benefits, this leads into the situation that there cannot be a forced end of support or lifetime of any such software that is published under a Free Software license. This is in fact the most sustainable way of preserving digital resources as outlined in our study on software sustainability.
If only one third of smartphone users would extend the usage lifetime of their smartphones for one more year, we could save hundreds of millions of smartphones from being produced. To help users to help themselves we organise Upcycling Android Workshops
About Free Your Android!
While the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) is Free Software, mostly under the Apache 2.0 license, it is mostly incomplete and cannot provide a decent user experience on devices without the addition of proprietary libraries (without them you will be unable to use your phone as a phone, the GUI will be slow, GPS and camera won't work, and so on). Android is nearly never shipped as-is on devices.
Vendors usually use non-free libraries together with their modified version of Android, for which they usually don't release the source code because they are not required to do so under the terms of the Apache 2.0 license, nor are the sources provided for non-free applications such as those found in the Android market. Consequently, the only source code they are required to release is that of the Linux kernel they are using, and sometimes the device is even "tivoized". As a result, most devices sold are running non-free software and must be liberated to give the user the freedom he/she requires.
Besides all this, due to the hardware architecture of some devices using Qualcomm system-on-a-chip technology, the liberation of a device may have a very limited effect since the hardware can still spy on you: the modem (a device which communicates with the GSM infrastructure) always runs non-free software and may exert another level of control and/or surveillance over the phone.
To put users back in control, the FSFE started the Free Your Android campaign as early as in 2012.