Using F-Droid "DeGoogle"

Excellent thank you

Well, it’s not impossible but you need to use another alternative to play store. It’s much easier to install from Aurora Store.

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Of all the apps needed that isn’t on the list :slight_smile:

It you really want to (almost) entirely de-Google you’re phone, you can take a look at microg…

One really should not use de-google and microg in the same sentence or paragraph. Though it is technically possible to use microg for location without using google, microg is for using google services: The opposite of de-google.

another alternative to play store. It’s much easier to install from Aurora Store.

Similarly, one should not use de-google in the same paragraph as Aurora or alternative store apps that use google: the opposite of de-google.

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Where is microg using google for location? On my phone I see three installed services (GSM Location Service, Mozilla Location Service, and Nominatum), and in addition I believe there is UnifiedNlp. So far as I know none of those have anything to do with Google.

I guess you’re confusing a few things here: microG is a FOSS rewrite of the GServices framework. Basically it gives the same “outer interfaces” (so apps depending on Google Services will think they have them available and use them fine), while internally handling things entirely FOSS.

Example: an app wants a map tile from Google Maps, so it calls the proper methods of (it thinks) Google Services – which is where microG receives them, and returns tiles from Open Streetmap instead. App is happy getting the tiles and using them.

Example: an app wants to “phone home” to Google Analytics. microG accepts the data, simply discards them, and reports success.

Example: an app wants the current location. microG retrieves it from one of its own backends (on my device e.g. the OpenCellId database – no network connection needed for “network location”, funny as that might sound). Similar for Nominatim (giving a location name like “5 Baker Street, Funny Town” and receiving the GPS data for it).

And so on. The only 2 exceptions are (currently): Using Firebase Cloud Messaging, testing SafetyNet. Both must be explicitly enabled by the user (I have them disabled on my devices). And even FCM will hopefully be replaced soon – alternatives are already available, e.g. Gotify or NoProvider2Push. And UnifiedPush as a wrapper on top – so apps supporting UnifiedPush basically leave the choice to the user which service to use.

On this I agree, to a degree. While Aurora Store uses Google Play as backend, it allows the user doing so with more privacy, stripping of quite a lot of Google tracking. So in a way, it is “de-googling” – at least partly. Just to clarify: no, I don’t use that either. The only “app store” installed on my devices is F-Droid. I don’t even have a Google account anymore – as Google thankfully closed that for me.

UnifiedNlp is part of microG Core. So the place where you see the 3 back-ends you’ve mentioned is UnifiedNlp :wink: There are several Location Provider available, including apps to help improving them (I eg. use Tower Collector to contribute to OpenCellId (which I use myself, see above) and Mozilla Location Services; as a side-effect the app can be used for route tracking, as you can export your locations in e.g. GPX format).

Correct. The Mozilla back-end uses MLS (online, so you need a network connection), GSM Location Service uses OpenCellId (also online), Nominatim uses OSM (again online). I’m using the LocalGsmNlpBackend on multiple devices; the database is created on my Linux machine and then pushed to all of them. So “create once, use many” :smiley:

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What is sort of odd is that when I visit Settings > microg Settings, it says 4 “backends configured” right near “Location modules”, but when I visit the Location Modules screen it only shows the 3 I mentioned. I assumed that the UnifiedNlp was the 4th. So I guess I am confused.

Location: I already said technically this part of microg does not use google. It makes it easy to use Apple, however, which isn’t better IMO.

Everything else:

while internally handling things entirely FOSS.

Then microg apps should not have anti features tags they do have:

  • microg services framework proxy, promotes nonfree network (google?)

  • microg droidguard helper, promotes nonfree network (google?) + upstream source not all free

Some people want to buy the concept you can run microg-LineageOS or others like \e/ with microg, install all your favorite playstore apps, and magically stay de-googled. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably ain’t true… I don’t buy this big lie some are selling.

CalyxOS has a OK description, and “Options for running” fairly well summarizes a 3-step slippery slope.

GrapheneOS does not include microg.

And that’s without getting into the signature spoofing issue…

That is a known bug which was introduced by the UI overhaul. Will hopefully be fixed with an update. AFAIR there’s already an issue open for that – I remember having seen a report, but cannot find it now. Ah, here it is, not in GmsCore but in UnifiedNLP’s own repo: More location backends are displayed than installed.

Well, a web browser also makes it easy to visit non-free sites. The choice of back-ends is up to the user. The Apple back-end (or Baidu, AMap and possibly other non-free ones) isn’t even installed by default – so “going proprietary” requires the user to explicitly install proprietary parts.

As those features are optional – and even opt-in (disabled by default), I agree. Be welcome to tell Marvin he can drop them (microG ships via its own repository, it’s not part of ours).

That’s “fooling yourself”. But also very much depends on your selection of “favorite playstore apps”. To my experience, apps available play-only in about 90% are not fully F/LOSS – because if they were, why are they available in a walled garden only?

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Well, a web browser also makes it easy to visit non-free sites. The choice of back-ends is up to the user. The Apple back-end (or Baidu, AMap and possibly other non-free ones) isn’t even installed by default – so “going proprietary” requires the user to explicitly install proprietary parts.

You are helping me better understand the FSF’s criticisms of F-Droid, Debian and others, for making it too easy to install “proprietary parts.” With F-Droid app, installing the Apple part is as easy as Search “nlp”, click “Apple UnifiedNLP backend”, click Install. Yes, there is a warning in the description, and thanks to F-Droid for that. Maybe F-Droid should use these teaching opportunities by adding “Are you sure? Here’s why you shouldn’t install this…” and 2nd: “Are you really really sure? Maybe you don’t understand all these implications…” Only after 2 “yes” clicks would an anti-feature part be installed.

As those features are optional – and even opt-in (disabled by default), I agree. Be welcome to tell Marvin he can drop them (microG ships via its own repository, it’s not part of ours).

You mis-understand. Marvin needs no suggestion for change. Marvin is correct.

Edit: “Ours” is not completely clear because I understand you have your own personal repo’ too. In any case, some Location add-ons ARE part of the main f-droid repo.

Fleshing out the full logic: If your position is true: microg is NOT for using google services; Then microg apps would NOT have “promotes nonfree network” anti-features. However, microg apps DO have the anti-features (correctly). Therefore, your position is faulty.

I agree microg attempts to minimize info sent to Google, but I think the overall result of using microg is “helping” users stay dependent on more proprietary apps, and on google and other proprietary “services.” Using your web browser analogy, it’s like using Privacy Browser to visit “non-free” sites. PB tries to minimize info sent, but don’t fool yourself. Through browser finger printing and all the scripts and cookies you eventually “have to” allow, to see the site, they are getting more than enough info’.

Who says this? I don’t believe this is a real thing. Anyone who goes to the significant trouble of installing microg is quite likely to fully understand the issue. Every place that I have seen discussion microg is quite clear on how this stuff works and people aren’t going to go add gapps.

For locations the discussion is here: https://github.com/microg/UnifiedNlp/blob/master/README.md

This would be damned annoying. I usually think there are too many warnings already. When I download the duckduckgo browser I know it promotes a non-free service. Do you know any “free as in freedom” seach engines? It’s not F-droid’s job to “teach” people, and it isn’t their job to decide which choices people should make.

I have sadly repeatedly observed the direct opposite of this.

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I agree we disagree, yes. It’s a far way to an ideal world – as much as we all wish to live in it…

Be welcome opening a feature request – or even better, offering a merge request implementing that. I agree to the idea – though others might compare it to the vendor in the supermarket asking similar questions when you come with a pack of cigarettes (though I’d be fine with that, too :rofl:) or a bottle of wine (eh, one can take things too far)…

Then I had either written “mine”, or explicitly pointed out I mean multiple and which ones. But OK, let’s not split hairs.

It can help them getting away from the “full load”, and finally stay away completely. Which by the way is how it worked for me: initially I had some of those G-options enabled, until I was “weaned”. Not everyone is prepared to turn a full 180° all in a sudden. It takes a bit. So now I use microG mostly just for location services (having my own copy of the relevant parts from the OpenCellId stored on-device).

Some people want to buy the concept you can run microg-LineageOS or others like \e/ with microg, install all your favorite playstore apps, and magically stay de-googled.

Who says this? I don’t believe this is a real thing.

Look at E/eelo’s marketing hype. They go on and on about “de-google,” but say only a few words about the downsides of installing all your favorite playstore apps, which they make too easy to install, from their questionable app store.

“There’s a sucker born every minute” --Barnum.

Do you know any “free as in freedom” seach engines?

In theory searx. There is a F-Droid app without anti-features tags, FWIW. Also, E/eelo forked and rebranded searx to be “spot” search, which may eventually be another TM issue, with “spotsearch” dot io.

@mgolden

When I download the duckduckgo browser I know it promotes a non-free service.
@Izzy
It can help them getting away from the “full load”, and finally stay away completely.

I wouldn’t use duckduckgo browser, although I sometimes use their website search, with different browsers, and TOR, but you can do what you want…

As for F-Droid’s purpose and what it should do, IANAL, but I feel they may have moved too far away from F-Droid’s official purpose, which says “as defined by the free software foundation.” Does software they feel obligated to tag with anti-features* really respect software freedom and privacy? (rhetorical. No.)

*Edit: privacy-related. Don’t dare get rid of OsmAnd+. :smiley:

From Page 11 of F-Droid’s Certificate of Incorporation,

3.(1) The Company’s objects are:

  1. TO PROVIDE FACILITIES ENABLE OR ASSIST OWNERS OF COMPUTING DEVICES TO RETAIN CONTROL OF THEIR HARDWARE, VIA THE USE OF FREE SOFTWARE (AS DEFINED BY THE FREE SOFTWARE FOUNDATION). 2) TO CATALOGUE, DEVELOP AND PACKAGE SOFTWARE THAT RESPECTS SOFTWARE FREEDOM AND THE PRIVACY OF THE USER, AND TO DISTRIBUTE IT WITH NO REQUIREMENT THAT THE USERS INSTALLATION OR USE OF THE SOFTWARE BE TRACKED OR MONITORED. 3) TO FACILITATE, SUPPORT AND PROVIDE A FOCAL POINT FOR COMMUNITY EFFORTS DEALING WITH SOFTWARE FREEDOM AND PRIVACY ISSUES.

justsomeguy https://forum.f-droid.org/u/justsomeguy
April 16

Some people want to buy the concept you can run microg-LineageOS or others like \e/ with microg, install all your favorite playstore apps, and magically stay de-googled.

Who says this? I don’t believe this is a real thing.

Look at E/eelo’s marketing hype. They go on and on about “de-google,”
but say only a few words about the downsides of installing all your
favorite playstore apps, which they make too easy to install, from
their questionable app store.

We were talking about microg and lineageos. Look at lineageos.microg.org. The only app store in the lineageos.microg.org ROM is F-droid. To do that, one has to go really out of the way to install the app store, and I don’t believe lots of people are doing that having sought out and read the microg site, and installed the ROM.

Do you know any “free as in freedom” seach engines?

In theory searx. There is a F-Droid app without anti-features tags,
FWIW. Also, E/eelo forked and rebranded searx to be “spot” search,
which may eventually be another TM issue, with “spotsearch” dot io.

That is FOSS in the same sense as gapps - it delivers a proprietary product using a FOSS vehicle. Yes, it obscures your ID, but it’s not a search engine, much less a FOSS one.

I wouldn’t use duckduckgo browser, although I sometimes use their
website search, with different browsers, and TOR, but you can do what
you want…

And indeed I do. I actually have added no fewer than 7 browsers to my phone, and I use all of them from time to time.

As for F-Droid’s purpose and what it should do, IANAL, but I feel they
may have moved too far away from F-Droid’s official purpose, which says
“as defined by the free software foundation.”

3.(1) The Company’s objects are:

  1. TO PROVIDE FACILITIES ENABLE OR ASSIST OWNERS OF COMPUTING DEVICES
    TO RETAIN CONTROL OF THEIR HARDWARE, VIA THE USE OF FREE SOFTWARE (AS
    DEFINED BY THE FREE SOFTWARE FOUNDATION).

Do they do this? Check. They definitely ENABLE and ASSIST people to retain control of their hardware and distribute software that is free in the terms defined by the FSF. They also distribute some software that might not pass FSF’s muster. Then again, the FSF is not the be all and end all of this matter, as the existence of the OSI, for example, attests.

  1. TO CATALOGUE, DEVELOP AND
    PACKAGE SOFTWARE THAT RESPECTS SOFTWARE FREEDOM AND THE PRIVACY OF THE
    USER, AND TO DISTRIBUTE IT WITH NO REQUIREMENT THAT THE USERS
    INSTALLATION OR USE OF THE SOFTWARE BE TRACKED OR MONITORED.

Do they do this? Check. F-droid does not require anyone to have software catalogued in order to download it, nor do they monitor the use of the software they distribute. Some of the software may enable other parties to track users, but this sentence says nothing about that. If the F-droid repo were only to distribute software that didn’t allow other parties to track users, it would be pretty useless. It couldn’t even distribute an e-mail client or a web browser.

  1. TO
    FACILITATE, SUPPORT AND PROVIDE A FOCAL POINT FOR COMMUNITY EFFORTS
    DEALING WITH SOFTWARE FREEDOM AND PRIVACY ISSUES.

Do they do this? Check. We’re using their forum now.

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@mgolden

We were talking about microg and lineageos.

Were we?

You wrote

It you really want to (almost) entirely de-Google you’re phone, you can take a look at microg and /e/.

and I wrote

Some people want to buy the concept you can run microg-LineageOS or others like \e/ with microg, …

So we were talking about more than just microg and lineageOS. If we can’t even agree on what we’re talking about, then it’s time to drop it. Adios!

Yes, I originally said he should take a look at /e/. That’s all I said, because I know very very little about /e/. But my comment to which you replied subsequently said this:

“Anyone who goes to the significant trouble of installing microg is quite likely to fully understand the issue. Every place that I have seen discussion microg is quite clear on how this stuff works and people aren’t going to go add gapps.”

So yes, by this point the discussion was about microg and not what /e/ might or might not say in its marketing materials.

Adios.

You not only quote me out of context, but even put me into wrong context here. I wasn’t talking about DDG, but about microG (just saying that for readers who might get the wrong idea).

But yes, I get your point – and yes, I accept your point of view even if it differs from mine. The “pure F/LOSS experience” is certainly what we aspire to – but it’s a long way to get there. Remember that there’s more blobs in your device’s firmware, ROM etc, and not even the hardware is “totally pure”. We shan’t measure people by our own “standards”, but give each life its individuality. It’s fine to help them improve – but the wrong way to force them.

That said, recommended reading: Opt Out by Rory Price. The story deals with exactly this, and you will certainly enjoy reading it (I did for sure). Quoting my short intro:

They say that rumors regarding spying on their users and manipulating them are nothing but baseless accusations and pure fabrications. But can they be believed?

A fascinating SciFi novel with plenty of references for those who know…

The eBook is libre, so just grab it. If you like it, Rory welcomes your “pay back” :wink:

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Good golly, you know your stuff Izzy! You need to be a stand-alone service on this F-Droid forum. I am quite serious, the logic you employed in your answer was impeccable and the way in which you refuted “justsomeguy” made me think that you might be making little pistols with each hand and firing those little hand pistols at “just someguy.” You need to change your username for purposes of your stand alone answering post on here to “IzzyPedia.” Be easy on em in here Izzy, warm regards, Akkas Voerka Artasir.

There is a like button for a reason, if we start writing comments like “in your face! X person” causes a situation not too comfortable for free and healthy discussion.

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