New user seeking assistance... and reassurance too

WARNING WARNING Danger, Will Robinson! This is a long, rambling post. It took up far more time than I thought it would and have probably ended up with an incomprehensible pile of nonsense. But I need to go now, and I don’t see a ‘save draft’ option, so I’m going to publish and be damned… apologies in advance!


A little about me first: I’m not new to computers (been using them for forty years, got a bachelor’s degree in computer science a couple dozen years back, though that knowledge is a bit out of date). Resisted use of a smartphone until last year (I’ve almost bumped into far too many meanderthals walking down the street; they give smartphones a bad vibe to those who don’t use them).

The thing is: I’m so old (and I do mean old) that I feel somewhat responsible (just a little bit) for the current situation regarding the ludicrous stranglehold that certain corporations now have over our lives. I was one of those who was fanatical about windoze when it first came out (because it was so much superior to DOS!), learnt as much as I could about it (by reading things called ‘manuals’, y’know, those books that aren’t even made any more) and subsequently acting as (unpaid, naturally) microsoft technical support for all and sundry. And then the internets came along, and, still being young and naive, I did much the same thing: delved into it, read up on it, spotted that google search was so vastly superior to the hotbots and altavistas and the like and promptly became an advocate for that, not realising that it would inevitably turn to the dark side despite its “don’t be evil” motto (of the time :roll_eyes:).

At one point, I did have dreams about divesting myself of windows (my plan was to move to linux). But in 1995 I set up a web design company. All my customers were using windows… so I really had no choice but to continue using it so as to be able to support them. And in much the same way, I’m now looking at trying to degoogle my life, as I’m getting a bit sick and tired of my personal information being hijacked by ‘Big Tech’.

Anyway… where was I? Oh, yes. I’ve been looking around this forum for an hour or so now. I think I must be suffering from a tinge of dementia or something, because I can’t now for the life of me remember how I first started looking at F-Droid today (I had thought that my browser history would reveal some clues, but even that is silent on the matter).

You’re probably bored and have wandered off by now, but just in case you haven’t, my point is this: for some reason that I’m unable to determine, I arrived at the F-Droid home page earlier today.

I scanned the QR code (note that I’m not all that familiar with these) on that page in my mobile phone, and that downloaded the FDroid.apk file into my 'phone. And then I got a bit stuck (I’m not at all familiar with apk files). Did some searching, on this forum and on the web, and I now (think I) know that in order to be able to install F-Droid from this apk, I need to do some things first:

  1. back up the data on my phone just in case (I should of course have done this before now!)
  2. reassure myself that what I’m doing is wise
  3. validate the FDroid.apk file
  4. figure out how to ‘side load’ (new term to me!) the apk

OK, so, I have a plan. Concerning (1)… well, that actually turns out to be a bit of a problem. I’ll need to investigate, but won’t bore you with it here :slight_smile:

(2) is really the stumbling block. As I mentioned, I now have no idea why I came to f-droid in the first place :slight_smile: it all sounds like a Good Idea and all, but I’ve only just met you guys, and I need to ensure that this isn’t all just some really elaborate scam! Although I can only trust Big Tech as far as I can throw them, I do feel pretty certain that their systems are designed in such a way as to protect me from malicious software… and I’m going out on a bit of a limb if I go down this ‘side load’ path.
As pointed out in this thread here, all this stuff is pretty techie, Although I’m not completely clueless where it comes to technology, I am struggling with a lot of unfamiliar stuff here – and to be honest, I’m beginning to wonder whether it’s all worth the effort.

Concerning (3):

  • VirusTotal gives the rather puzzling report on FDroid.apk ‘No engines detected this file’ – I assume that means it’s safe.
  • Malwarebytes reports that the file is safe to install
  • What am I missing?

Concerning (4):
I need to ‘enable Unknown Sources from the privacy settings’. I’ve looked all through my phone’s privacy settings and haven’t found a way to do that, yet. I’ll have to do some more research.

Any thoughts you may have on this insane rambling would be much appreciated.

File manager… touch the APK…what does it happen?

I know how to assure you that F-Droid is safe: we have DOCUMENTATION! :smiley:

I need to ‘enable Unknown Sources from the privacy settings’. I’ve looked all through my phone’s privacy settings and haven’t found a way to do that, yet.

What’s your Android version?

For a general overview, may I recommend you my article series on F-Droid?

are the parts you might be interested in (for now possibly only the first one).


Hi, relan! Thanks for responding.
Well, the ‘Android version’ is ‘9’ (although this ‘software information’ page I’m looking at on my phone gives me a whole bunch of other ‘versions’, such as ‘One UI version’ (that’s 1.1), ‘Baseband version’, ‘Kernel version’… and some other stuff too. Is any of that relevant?

Hi, Licaon_Kter! Thanks for responding.

Hmm… I haven’t found a ‘file manager’ on my phone. While I’ve been playing about with this apk file thingy I have seen a couple of things that suggest they might activate it, but I’m reluctant to touch them till I know a bit more.

Hello, Izzy! Thanks for responding.

I’ll check out your article. Looks like just what I need atm! :smiley:

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Well you need to install that apk…you need to do something with it.

Why does your device lack a file manager exactly?

When downloading the APK via a web browser on-device, there should be a download notification. Once the download is completed, tapping that notification should call the package manager asking you to install the app (it will even complain about “unknown sources” it it’s not toggled yet, and lead you there). This way, no file manager will be needed.

Thanks for that article F-Droid: The privacy-friendly alternative to Google Play Store – very useful. However…

O.0… F-Droid Ltd looks a tad shaky. It sails pretty close to the wind when it comes to filing its accounts. Not something that inspires confidence :worried:

I will need to spend some more time looking into this :thinking:

F-Droid is recommended by thousands of developers and free software foundations. You can ask in each privacy-oriented Android forum and you will be brought back here.
In fact, it is more reliable and secure than Play Store, which has hosted a lot of malware in the past and eventually.

All privacy-oriented operating system projects recommend/bring F-Droid as a source of apps. (GrapheneOS, LineageOS, DivestOS and more…)

Honestly, I think you’re being a little paranoid, although I can understand that since this is all new to you.

All Android smartphones come pre-installed with Google Play Services, a closed source application installed on the system with all privileges, the app consists of different services, such as push notifications, frameworks, and more… but more important, a lot of spying on the user.

To avoid this, people flash AOSP (Android Open Source Project) without Google, like the projects I mentioned above.


Sounds like you have a Samsung. Use My Files app to install an APK.

Here’s an article with screenshots explaing “Unknown sources”:

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Hi Morgoth, thanks for your efforts to reassure me!

Honestly, I think you’re being a little paranoid, although I can understand that since this is all new to you.

I agree: I am being somewhat paranoid. Thank you for your understanding! :+1: As I explained in my overlong OP:

Although I can only trust Big Tech as far as I can throw them, I do feel pretty certain that their systems are designed in such a way as to protect me from malicious software… and I’m going out on a bit of a limb if I go down this ‘side load’ path.

My hesitation is due in roughly equal parts to (a) the need to get up to speed with the technology (a problem that, in fairness, Big Tech has done a good job of minimizing, even for non-techies) and (b) the need to reassure myself that this path is sound – and has a future. Yes, I know, this has always been the dilemma faced by all open-source software. It’s not sufficiently well resourced; it’s always been totally out-gunned by Big Tech. And given the prevailing economic paradigm, I don’t see that ever changing. In order to succeed, the open source movement needs to have a ‘killer app’ – but this will never happen because it’ll be hijacked by Big Tech as soon as it appears :frowning:

I am still pondering, though. Learning new things is good brain fodder. It’s only a few days since I first heard about F-Droid, but just today I came across an email in my ProtonMail account as I was deleting/ archiving some old messages that contained:

So, I’m starting to notice references to F-Droid that would have just slipped by me before :smile:

I think I just need a bit of time.

You’re right, relan, my phone’s a Samsung (Galaxy J3).

‘My Files’, eh? I went to the Play Store, searched for that, and sure enough an app with that name is listed there. But then something[1] made me think of all the apps I already have in my phone, many of which duplicate the functions of others, and I thought Waitaminnit… and looked on my phone for ‘My Files’ – and, sure enough, there’s already a ‘Samsung My Files’ app installed. (The UI seems a tad clumsy to me but) using that, I was able to locate:

FDroid.apk from: 17 Jan 15:33, 8.00 MB
(Wot? Day, month… and time, but no year? It would seem that the lessons humanity should have learned from the Y2K problem have already been forgotten! – but I digress. Again. Sorry!)

Thanks for that link. I’ve skimmed it and have saved it for later. But I think the pointer to ‘My Files’ you gave me has done the trick, since I’m now able to get to this point:

… and having come this far, I think I’ll take a breather :smile:

Thanks again!

[1] I think it’s the fact that I’m aware that I’m going to run out of space on the phone before long if I’m not very careful! ‘Samsung My Files’ tells me I only have 8% free. I’m hoping I’ll be able to learn which of these (apparently?) duplicate apps I can safely remove without, err, what’s the term? … ah, yes, ‘bricking’ my phone. I did mention I was a n00b when it comes to dumbphones, right?

acting as (unpaid, naturally) microsoft technical support

Thanks for confessing your crimes against humanity. Have you made amends?

I’m going to run out of space on the phone before long

Can’t you feed it a bigger sdcard for peanuts?

What am I missing?

You trusted microsoft. You trusted google. Both of those were monopolies and evil as fsck. What do you have to lose by trusting f-droid? Life is short. Enjoy the ride.

I’ve only had my identity stolen once after first installing f-droid, and only 20% of my assets weren’t recovered. Yeah, the culprit(s) were never identified. Say LaVie. Buyer beware. Or maybe this is total fake news… :slight_smile:

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