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Thread: FSF Tries Pushing Blob-Free "Replicant" Android OS

  1. #1
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    Default FSF Tries Pushing Blob-Free "Replicant" Android OS

    Phoronix: FSF Tries Pushing Blob-Free "Replicant" Android OS

    The Free Software Foundation's latest open-source project it's trying to push along is Replicant, a fully-free Android Linux distribution for select mobile devices...

    http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=MTQyMTI

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    couldn't they spend their time and money on more pressing matters? Like the horrible printing?

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    Fully OSS Android means OSS drivers too... hmm Well, I think this could be a good thing for the community as a whole if the FSF is willing to up the scale a bit.

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    I think that it is important to clarify something;
    Android is open source.

    FULLY open source.

    So what that means, is that this "replicant" deal is strictly involved in dealing with the proprietary hardware crap.



    You can, in fact, build a fully open source Android for any device AT ALL, for which there are proper device trees and kernel support available. A number of times, we've *accidentally* made working[-ish], FULLY open builds of Android for Samsung Relay.

    The problems come when you try to get various proprietary bits of hardware going.

    Things like the GPU, which in most cases, does not have open source drivers available (Adreno may be the closest, but I have yet to actually *try* freedreno with Android).

    RIL... oooh, there's a nice mess.

    Cameras... usually have an open source driver, but without the ability to function correctly or at all without a proprietary HAL.

    All of the closed blob bits are not actually part of Android to begin with.


    The reality is that Replicant is NOT an Android distribution at all. What it really is, is some source code reverse engineered out of some blobs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by droidhacker View Post

    The reality is that Replicant is NOT an Android distribution at all. What it really is, is some source code reverse engineered out of some blobs.
    great. Just what I am looking for. I wan't to be able to look around dark corners of my phone, otherwise it can be easily used to spy on me.

    It's silly to talk about security of the platform with any seriousness ( with Dalvik VM etc crap) while having these blobs around, with NSA/CIA/etc hand deeply in many, if not all of them.

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    First off, Allwinner devices tend to have halfway useful u-boot and kernel support through linux-sunxi.org. Project like my lima driver, and the related graphics driver REing projects, are working hard to provide a great deal of the rest of what a proper free android device needs. But, as a member of the sunxi community, and as the main lima driver developer, i find it weird that a project with the stated goal of replicant, has absolutely no ties to the communities doing the low level work, and i have only heard about replicant in passing.

    Replicant is completely the wrong approach though, from where i sit. Instead of doing real work, like starting to work from the hardware up, why not set up a project to deal with the end goal first, then ask for funding for the overly broad and constantly moving goal, and then wonder why nothing is happening?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brane215 View Post
    great. Just what I am looking for. I wan't to be able to look around dark corners of my phone, otherwise it can be easily used to spy on me.

    It's silly to talk about security of the platform with any seriousness ( with Dalvik VM etc crap) while having these blobs around, with NSA/CIA/etc hand deeply in many, if not all of them.
    And all your phone data goes through a carrier that most likely logs it all. Also satellites that can see the pores on your face in full HD.

    So...

  8. #8
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    From my understanding, you have to look at it like this.

    Google releases Fully opensource android. Cyanogenmod picks that up, adds some fluff and makes it lean and awesome. They have devs that support certain devices. These devs usually pull drivers as blobs from stock ROM's or build them from source when available.

    Replicant takes the CM work and starts to rip out the blobs and tries to replace it with opensource as much as possible. Firmware for certain devices currently remain untouched.

    As for the hardware choice, they try to avoid devices where the baseband modem is unconnected from the main system. This because usually the baseband modem has its own realtime OS running on a dedicated core. This 'os' is the baseband radio firmware. Since we have no control over that we don't want the modem to interact with the memory in any way. The Galaxy S2 and S3 are good in this regard.

    Check out their site for more info.

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    Yeap, oliver is right. While Android itself is fully open-source, you can't exactly do much with just that. You need a way to load it on your phone, and you need some common applications, like a package manager. That's what Replicant provides, while not touching anything that is closed-source. There's nothing wrong with that, and it's a nice convenience.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by synaptix View Post
    And all your phone data goes through a carrier that most likely logs it all. Also satellites that can see the pores on your face in full HD.

    So...
    Thats why you should use encrypted VoIP in your phone. Not unless you look to sky or when its cloudy or when you are in tunnel etc.

    So you can still be "safe" unless your dumb

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