Auto update without root

just get a…

device or ROM with Privileged Extension built in, like Fairphone Open, CopperheadOS, or MicroG’s LineageOS build.

thanks @hans for this hint!

for now i’ll just list the one i found by far the most interesting one:

  • fairphone open is an alternative, open source version of Fairphone OS, built by Fairphone, that puts transparency and ownership in the spotlight. It comes stripped from proprietary applications (like the Google Mobile Services) and can be modified by people who feel like doing so. Once you run our open source version of the software and you would like to install third party applications, there are several easy ways to do this:

Alternative open source choice:

CalyxOS has reconfigured Android to avoid Google’s spyware and tracking. It uses the F-droid app store for installing and updating free software applications

Our ROM includes “F-Droid Privileged Extension”, which allows F-Droid to install and update apps without the need of user interaction or the unsafe “Unknown sources” option.

anyone know of more such simple alternatives of just “buying the right phone to begin with”?

I use /e/ and it seems to fit exactly to what you are searching for. First the downsides: it has its own app-store preinstalled and a non-free maps app :’-(, but f-droid and the privileged extension is easily installable from the app store. You can either download and install a pre-built rom for one of the supported devices or directly buy a pre-installed phone. If you use it on the Fairphone3 you can even have a signed boot process. (FYI I installed the rom onto a FP3 without any problems).

I was happy with Fairphone Open OS when I was using it though it will not be ported to the Fairphone3 and it is taking a long time for a security supported Android to come onto it. Unlike /e/ it also doesn’t have a free replacement for the Google Play Services preinstalled, though /e/ will still take until end of October to update it to a new enough version to include the Covid-API.

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on a little side note… what i personally would consider ideal would be a cheaper phone with 128gb, smaller screen, and slower processor. the device could be 7’’ even, but with a 5’’ screen, for easy one hand handling. of course i don’t expect this to ever be a reality again. sweet age that was…

but for the auto update simpler quest, never heard of /e/. sounds promising indeed! great links, you should probably add it all to the wiki. :grin:

i didn’t quite follow the advantages though. looks like a slightly more expensive option for more support or something.

I assume you are talking about buying a preinstalled /e/. The advantage is really just that it is preinstalled. The target audience are people who wouldn’t feel safe installing it. Yes, I’m not either in that target audience.

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not really. but now i get it…

and thanks for assuming anyway! i didn’t know that would be the only advantage to pay 30 EUR more over an already quite expensive gadget.

so, /e/ can do a few things that fairphone open can’t:

  • it has a free replacement for play services
  • it works on fairphone 3 because open isn’t there yet?!
  • it’s more updated

both fairphone and e websites are confusing.

i’m still mostly unsure if it can be installed without root…

if so, looks like the original wiki post here is misleading!

my main issue with root, from my experience, is that it’s a long and actually difficult process that needs to be manually repeated from zero every few months, when an update or upgrade is due! and it constantly changes how it’s even done, with new bootloaders and such.

but i’m assuming that e (such a terrible name) can be installed without root on fp3?! that would be very cool! and supposedly easy.

sorry for all the ignorance.

I would bet that fairphone open won’t arrive on the FP3.

… to the extend that fairphone open hasn’t gotten security updates for more then a year :frowning:

On most devices when you install a non-vendor OS you have to work against the vendor to install it. With FP3 and /e/ (unlike /e/ on other devices) you don’t. Fairphone helps you unlock the bootloader and after the installation it gets locked again (because Fairphone has signed /e/'s images). The process doesn’t use any security holes, but just the standard android rom installing tools adb and fastboot.
It doesn’t have to be repeated on updates. Instead just like previously on Fairephone Open an app tells you about new updates and downloads and reboots after you give your ok.

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now it sounds as if there’s really yet no alternative for such simplicity!

thanks!! :grin:

BTW if you use /e/, as F-Droid is not installed, it seems they also did not care/want to install the privileged extension that would be necessary for auto-updates. This is the issue to vote for, if you want to change that.

Apart from that there is a new OS called CalyxOS (sorry, for the forum cross-links, but it’s just my English summary of these features) that, as far as I know, has auto-updates for F-Droid as it can even preinstall F-Droid – and microG, optionally though.

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Thanks. That OS does sound interesting. After I posted my previous comment I actually installed the privileged extension which is in the /e/ app store. It gets installed without privilege so is totally useless. What I bummer.

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lol, so the only alternatives today, really, are basically fp2 and the ones supported by calyxos, pixel phone (plus xiaomi or something)?!

Oh, taht’s interesting did not know that.
But well, if installed and you do have access to the root partition (in old times via TWRP or so), you could likely move that app from /app to /system/app (if I recall the paths correctly) to make it privileged.

Anyway, indeed a bummer…

Well… you can also use any LineageOS device and flash the privileged extension manually.

flashing anything still looks like much more trouble than i was hoping for. :sob:

The first thing I did after installing /e/ was to install f-droid which I use to install the free software apps. As everything was updating automatically I has just happy. From this discussion I now know that it is actually the /e/'s app that is doing the updating from their mirrors. As the apk’s are signed by f-droids key, I can be certain that they are updated by an unmodified version (and not e.g. the version from the original developer in the gplay-store).
I have mixed feelings about this. Though I must say the fact that /e/ includes a non-free maps-app bothers me a lot more.

what do you guys think about the new XDA phone?

sounds very promising to me, despite all the negative comments there!

and despite XDA forums being even worse than discourse, technically.

Sadly Fairphone messed up verified boot on the FP3. Fairphone don’t sign /e/ releases, /e/ use the AOSP test keys. So the process does involve a security hole.

CalyxOS is a great option if you want FDroid privileged extension. The Calyx Institute is a great organisation with a good track record (and F-Droid developers doing work for them). The cost of the Pixel a series phones has been dropping and the guaranteed 3 year + of full monthly security updates makes them very price competitive with other phone vendors, over their updated lifetime.

As LineageOS (and other custom ROMS) are soon to adopt the marvelous seedvault backup app, for which Calyx have been funding a load of great development work, it will become much easier moving to different OSs.


looks interesting, but there’s a major flaw with calyxos: degoogle using google’s phone!

strictly speaking of software, that may make some sense… but i’m not giving google any single cent anymore.


Read a bit about your experience with Google, sounds terrible. You may be happy to hear that CalyxOS supports the Xiaomi A2, which can be picked up pretty cheap now. I flashed one for a friend and it works well.

Google do sell pretty good phones, the pricing of the Pixel ‘a’ phones makes them very competitive, considering quality and length of time they’ll recieve full security updates. Unlike most other phone manufacturers they put a lot of effort into doing things right (as they are kind of the reference devices for Android, I guess they have to). Even go to the extra effort of making sure they properly support alternative operating systems with full device security features.

The Mi A2 is one of a few other devices that does this, and like many of the others they haven’t totally got things right.

Calyx are looking to support a new cheap non-Google phone that will give them working verified boot. If anyone has any info on suitable devices they’d be happy to hear. They are also planning support for super budget Android Go phones, that don’t even have verified boot on the stock operating system.

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thanks. it was terrible! that’s just the tip of the iceberg, though.


i’m deleting everything from unsustainable sources. it goes a very long way, down to moving away from the cities. if you want to read a lot more.

don’t really care how much google may seem like good engineering, it’s all wrong in too many directions, and got no need to support all this uncalculated evil.

got no idea about xiaomi, but i doubt they’re any different.

how about the pine phone?

also, i read this whole topic and a few more on graphene from it:

it came to me that i might, after all, be convinced to pay google for a pixel, given:

  • i can get warranty support in portugal (i got pixel 1, 2 and 3, needed support for 2 and couldn’t, plus the terrible story from 3 already mentioned)

  • it’s a project independent enough from google/alphabet itself (got no idea), financially wise

  • above all, can be proved more sustainable than the other fdroid alternatives.

and it came to me, that is the main key point: sustainability.

i couldn’t care more for privacy, but that lead me to unconventional wisdom which shortened to an extreme says: fuck privacy.

except when it comes to digital privacy, often confused by its other name, security (as used in the other topic). that’s indeed crucial, but the ultimate security? backups done right. which means, in a similar way: fuck security (mostly).

i just need a sustainable phone. and the best way to assure it is, is the high facility to maintain it for as long as possible.

which leads me back to the fairphone, probably…

perhaps i will soon update the op to reflect all this, in case nobody objects. :grin:

and after reading a couple more interesting topics on my pine phone search which i still haven’t read: