F-droid.org for technophobes


First of all, can I just say how impressive this site is? The large number of volunteers creating and maintaining this is amazing, and it’s full of nice touches like the discobot here on the forum.

I run a little site called switching.social which is meant to give non-technical people privacy-aware ethical alternatives to Facebook, Google, Microsoft etc.

There are already similar sites for technically-minded (such as degoogleify, prism break etc), so the aim of switching.social is to be for people who aren’t technically-minded.

A lot of people gave feedback saying I should include f-droid on switching.social, and I would love to give it its own section as an alternative to Google Play, but the f-droid.org site still seems slightly techy, and people have to go through the site to install f-droid. For example clicking on “browse” brings up a long uncategorised list, which is odd as the app itself has categories. There are also references to weird things like FOSS, repos etc.

Is there any chance that there could be a version of the f-droid site which is skinned for technophobes? i.e. fewer tech references and more consumer-oriented presentation?

tl/dr: Is there any chance of making a version of the f-droid site that looks and works in a similar manner to Google Play? (I think a while ago someone did do that but they didn’t include a download link for the f-droid app, so it wasn’t clear how people could actually use it?)


Can F-droid be used by technophobes?

In order to use f-droid your must enable “allow install apps from unknown sources” on your android which means that you loose protection of “accidentally” installing malware.

a technophile can do this because he knows what he is doing.

for technophobes the f-droid clientapp needs a kind of wizzard that guides him

  • download the apps
  • allow install apps from unknown sources
  • install the downloaded apps
  • disable install apps from unknown sources again

Is this procedure to complicated for a technophobe?

many technophobes i know will not take the “risk” of enabling “unknown sources” so i have to do this for them.

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related: Is there a page that answers the question "How safe is f-droid" for a non tech app user?

A technophobe can use an OS with F-Droid preinstalled as system app so they don’t have to enable unknown sources…


Hmm… that does kind of put a dampener on F-droid for ordinary people :frowning:

You shouldn’t download apps from untrusted sources, but you need technical knowledge to know what a trusted source is, so non-technical people really should just stick to the app store that comes with their phone.

But no phones come with F-droid :disappointed_relieved:

Is there any preinstalled OS which also uses F-droid?

I’m not aware of any devices with this OS preinstalled, but there is Lineage OS microg.
And of course there is replicant, but that doesn’t run on any current devices afaik.

Problem with Lineage etc is that it’s very difficult to install. Non-technical people will never do that :frowning:

Devices sold by/with Copperhead OS have F-Droid preinstalled.

And on the Fairphone you can switch to the Fairphone Open OS (I think with a click of a button) which comes without google services and with F-Droid instead.


FPOOS comes with F-Droid privileged extension pre-installed, but the actual app still has to be installed with unknown sources enabled (for now).

You are right of course! :-/

The benefit is that unknown sources need to be enabled only once for the first install here.

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Android 8 (suprisingly) makes that a lot better though!

On an Android 8 device the System will ask you specifically to allow the F-Droid app for installing other apps. Thus you need to allow this once and can leave it enabled as it’s only specific to that particular app.


Ideally you’d just download it from Google Play. But Google doesn’t like competition, and is very strict about its rule of “No Alternative App Stores”.

So the problem is Google, and there’s not much we can do about it from here. Options are:

  • Give up.
  • Try as best as possible to explain and guide people through the processs, technical as it may be.

I’m guessing this has been raised already, but has anyone approached pressure groups such as EFF etc about forcing Google to allow rival app stores?

Just curious to determine what leverage you imagine, e.g., EFF would have w/ Google to do so :interrobang::confused:

Actually I don’t think anyone has seriously considered starting a movement about this yet.

Also, if we do start a big push, I would like it to be about putting F-Droid in people’s hands (and phones), not about Google.

(Because although I said that thing about the Play Store, the ideal solution to this problem is for every Android phone in the world to come preinstalled with F-Droid.)


On initial question: does https://fossdroid.com/ look better for phobes?

Obviously EFF wouldn’t be able to do much about Google, but thought they (or some similar group) might be able to lobby governments e.g. the European Union.

I don’t mean to sound naive but once upon a time the EU forced Microsoft to include rival browsers in Windows, and GDPR came into force recently, so they do have at least some capacity and will to take on tech giants.

To a lay person this just seems like such a blatant anti-trust situation: Google controls about 90% of the world’s smartphones and they are refusing to carry any rival app stores. I was thinking maybe someone in government might want to take action.

Fossdroid is better, but there’s no link to the app there so people still have to go via f-droid.org.

And people still have to change settings to trust unknown sources so that is a bit of a roadblock too :confused: