Will F-droid plan an AIO Os - Tutorial - Common Apps for common people?

Hi F-droid devs and community, I would like a general topic to address a lot of thoughts I bore and stored in some years, with compliments, critics, and the final requests all along that I feel (hope?) could interest many of you. I’m Italian so sorry for any bad english. First, the interesting part: conclusions.

  1. F-droid seems to me just plain simply the only community left whom I give trust without any doubts and shadows, to this date. This can change any time, should I stumble upon some unclear activity, but the philosophy behind it seems just the right spot, in my human limits and experience.
  2. Real world and job and families does NOT have the duty to understand all that’s going down the surface of their device, and F-droid does not much to help the common user who just wants things to work, plain simple, without tracking, ads, bad behaviour in general. Gives the feeling of being the perfect place to go to fully solve android functionality, but it turns out only for pros who can give it a lot of time.
  3. Many many Foss, freedom, privacy, fairtrade subjects just plain hate F-droid, even without shouting it loud. They even hate each other just like it happens in every small idealistic community of experts, of any kind: most of them think they “hold the truth” and their likes are “betraying the true meaning” of their ideal. But mostly, they hide it well.
  4. F-droid just sits doing a HUGE lot of UNUSEFUL work, checking source code after source code of tons of unuseful, sometimes ridiculous apps that will never be downloaded by anyone, or that will be forgot in six months, while not making a real effort to solve (or going near it) the main problems of the scene. It’s such a shame to see this small community of true experts, with the best philosophic point of compromise, confined into its limited community of experts while the whole world in the hands of the “baddies” could be beaten off its ass with just a pair of clicks, if the project is well thought.
    It’s like a community of experts working for experts, for themselves. Is this the purpose of IT revolution?
  5. F-droid should gather/create/point to, and mainly make it huge to see and loud to hear, the simplest way to quit google and all the other crap and put simplicity and mainstream users at the first place. Os should be less important than now for apps to work, so that updates are less needed and more focused on fundamentals, and apps should work in their single environment, should come with all dependencies and functionalities, so to just plain simply, tap and Work.

I’m 36 yo and back in school years played a lot with pc and software and dreamed of informatics bringing freedom justice and democracy, and soon in the years got very (VERY) sick of the state of things, while bad capitalism (I do think there’s a “good” one, MAYBE) got its dirty hands on it. But to make the long story short, I left a future in IT and now I got a normal job, two kids and a lot of “real” troubles opposite of virtual troubles. I follow the scene very little but I’m still the “nerd” while people all around follow the last game, phone model, version upgrade and does not understand a bit of what’s in their hands, and they’re the “normals”.
But I’ve got real work to do and I now really understand that their point of view is THE right point of view, where in the past I often thought of common people being very stupid and mediocre and not deserving freedom nor justice. But, now I see it, everyone can be just and expert only in a few things, and with all the rest that’s needed in life, simply remains a mediocre and stupid noob. When you are a coder or a very expert IT pro and you find your boiler broken, your car, your bike, your fridge, your furniture, etc etc you do canNOT think for long you’re the one who should understand everything and all about your needs. You cannot be a politics expert and make the faction you vote or even the whole system not fool you, you cannot avoid all the tricks and traps the media and information industry launches at you, you cannot avoid being misleaded in all the subjects you are not an expert. I try my best and I think I’m quite good at it, but I have to understand that’s impossible to do so enough to be free and live a just life. With kids, job and bills to pay you can even try to achieve a lot of DIY but in the end, for the MOST things in your life, you have to rely on an expert and you want the objects, service, information, opinion you take to be as simple, durable and easy as possible (AS POSSIBLE! Not over too easy) so you can focus on what’s your expertise or need, like coding, working, raising good kids or what you choose.

But it’s nearly impossible to do so with “common” apps and device tweaking, even more when coming to Foss, anti tracking, not bad behaviour apps, they seem to be impossible to use for the "normal"people.

This is fully related to planned obsolescence, in material objects, but the IT whole scenery is like planned obsolescence, raised to the power of ten.
How comes I found this simple, still very important concept only at Drew DeVault blog (a really good IT philosophy site, in my opinion) in a post where it says all software should aim to be as stable as possible instead of needing continuous upgrade and update?

I’m quite sure that 90% of Android changes and updates are meant only, or mostly, to break functions and apps that are not being convenient to the big G, putting them into proprietary coding or other ways to make then gain money and power over you and your device, and in the years I saw this race for unuseful change not being fought by the ultra vast majority of users. F-droid has this problem too, the vast majority of apps I tried are not up to date, so they’re “broken” because the system and hardware has changed. The discussion with Signal and the “ecosystem is moving” has got a point, but my question is: how much of this “movement” is for good of users and how much is not? On the other side, how much is decentralisation bringing division between Foss or privacy or “good ones” users and making common people stay long away from custom roms, unsupported apps, “unsecure” coding and the likes?

So in search of a solution I discovered F-droid, Fairphone, tried a lot of Linux on my ten y.o. pc, but NOTHING that just does its job without a lot work to make it usable and efforts in trying to solve privacy issues, bad commercial and social behaviour, all bad things that are undergoing these dark years of informatics.

I think that all this great community, from the whole Linux ecosystem devs to F-droid, should focus his great work on some simple solutions that are most energy efficient, hitting the right spots for the vast majority of people, instead of burying deep into splitting hairs. In this, I think that F-droid has got the best philosophy, and whenever I find some news like this last one, that Fairphone has got in team with /e/OS, and that /e/OS steals apps from F-droid instead of making it default app, I wonder: where are all the efforts of F-droid team going? To be stole by others? To be insulted by self claimed Foss apps that pair with the big companies to steal data? When we got open source Android, when we got good fairtrade companies for the hardware, when we got a good community of app devs that spends a lot of hard efforts in degoogleizing this and that (thus showing to me that those codes are not written with simplicity and clarity in mind, they’ve got something to hide?) why is not the first thought of F-droid or every other dev in the scene to get a simple, few clicks system to get a simple OS that just makes its work, with the most common used apps just a click away? I wonder the same for Linux but I know getting all this idealistic experts to ally into a sole direction is mostly impossible, history teaches. But Android phones are not for the nerds, they’re for the commons, they’re for the people who makes another job. They’re perfect to get the best app just work and spread, they’re perfect to fight the whole bloated liar marketing system with some GOOD honest marketing on some good OS and apps that just plain do their work and do not steal your data.

The whole thing of even just finding the infos for correct rooting, correct Os, correct version, flashing, tweaking, then this version doesn’t work for this app, but that other app doesn’t work with the other version, it’s so much impossible to achieve that most of us “normals” just throw away your site and your kind, spits on your name and on all the concerns of privacy, market imperialism, and the likes, and just pays. The moment that it’s WAY easier to get the money every year or two for a full googled and bloated new phone, than obtaining a free long lasting just working phone, it’s the moment I understand things are going the opposite of what they should.

I know this is a matter I already saw around, I even read a post saying that Linux communities “need a dictator” for how much bloated and mostly unusable the whole thing become. AppImage and the likes are way to go before they solve the situation. I think the Android universe, and F-droid community, should lead the way of common sense, common people functionality, long lasting devices with LESSER updating needs - because it has got the right qualities and thinking and I don’t understand why it doesn’t go this way. Phones are less demanding than PCs and more likely to let the Os remain quite the same for a long time, mostly if it is written with that in mind and if apps work with their separated environment and dependencies all together so that the Os is not requested to have all the different functions working differently for any app, because every dev could use the coding-dependencies-logic he prefers. F-droid could drive the efforts in the way of making an inclusive environment that can include and merge the different ways of thinking and coding and tastes of developers and in doing so, it would expose those who try to hide their intentions behind this sort of “FOSS-washing” behaviour I saw lately (like the greenwashing many industries are making). But to do so F-droid should first become the easier way to know how to install and use simple degoogleised OS and apps, and become the most used and popular way to do so. For now, it seems to me that F-droid is quite despised from the main actors in Foss.

Thanks for reading this much. I hope you will fare well.

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Hello and welcome!

I’d like to address some points from your post first:

If I remember correctly, F-Droid doesn’t check the source code manually, there are automation tools for that, so I wouldn’t say there is a lot of work on this regard.

That is a very bold assumption since noone should dictate whether one app is useless or not; as much as users have the right to choose, developers have the right to publish.

There are lots of guides and materials on the internet, though nobody reads them and wants a one-click service.

That’s the idea of Android, ideally every application should come with its own set of libraries. Most ( if not all) F-Droid applications comply with that while a lot of popular closed-source applications rely on GSF heavily.

The question is why this approach can’t be transferred on phones? If you want to root your phone or make your phone more private, but can’t do so for some reason, you can pay someone to do that work for you.

In my opinion, there are multiple reasons to why there is such situation with software, including:

  • Android being a complicated and limited system. Lots of things one can do on e.g. Linux distributions are not allowed on Android (like more diversity in choice of programming language or easy access to superuser rights), the system requires a lot of resources to be built. To build an app for android, one needs a computer with a lot of RAM (in most cases).
  • Consumers are not concerned about privacy nor FLOSS in general. To approach them, one needs to do a lot of marketing and literally waste their money since there is literally no market for such product and there is close-to-zero willingness to pay something for software that is free to redistribute and modify. Sure, one can sell services or receive donations, but in figures that is nowhere near to monetizing apps with ads and paid content.

So, we have such situation: there is almost no interest in FLOSS, Android is very restricted and it gets worse with every release. Why would developers (I mean not only F-Droid, but FLOSS developers in general) work on solving such problems, if they are treated like shit: their apps are called useless waste of time, they are underpaid (if ever paid) and demanded to work on issues for some mythical lazy and tech-illiterate persons instead of themselves like they’re obliged to.


Cool answer, I liked it.

So I learned that (probably) F-droid does code control within a reasonable amount of work, Very good to hear that, sorry for my previous statement.

To the second point, I have stated it bold because I had too much to write to enter in details of every matter. It’s right that no one should judge what’s important or not for others. I am talking about a more general, global approach, trying to understand in a global view what’s important for the people, considering that the Foss communitis work (fight?) for something that’s invisible to 99% of people. I think the communities that work for freedom obviously get constantly divided on their opinions for every little thing because that’s the right nature of all of us when we try to get deep into a matter and solve it the way we feel is “right”: so many times, even in recent IT history, this has resulted in total division of opinions, almost one opinion per person. That’s perfectly normal, in my view. But it’s a problem to solve and a weakness to spot. So when I said about the amount of work spent in unuseful apps, I was suggesting to focus on the questions: what are the most important bad behaviours of big companies? Where the majority of Foss experts should focus efforts? Which work would make the biggest result with the minor effort?
Moxie’s concept has a point. Centralisation is a strong tool for control over a project, in a moving ecosystem. It’s plain right. We all know this control makes the work easier and faster but it needs trust in the company or developer and we all know where companies get paid for their efforts, what they are doing with our trust. But I also see the division, even with federation, is keeping the Foss ecosystem at the margins while centralised, shadowy companies, even self declared Foss companies, take their work and put it under their control, gaining with it the money they need to keep that control tighter and tighter. I think that even with individual freedom, small groups, federation, there is AT LEAST some level of common intent, so there should AT LEAST be some level of common objective, but it’s a communion that does not rise alone. Like normal people who does not have time to undergo big tech issues, and they must be guided from experts (IT companies act as these, some Foss expert could act as this but I did not find one Foss expert to pay for my phone and pc in all Rome, are they hidden in secret virtual machines with a secret identity like superheroes??) then Foss people need to be pushed to reach common objectives, their divisions will not be overcome spontaneously, I honestly think people like moxie may (MAY!) be working exactly for pushing Foss people to NOT become unite in the direction of real freedom, because they know well how is easy to break united intents into this communities. Maybe you’re right, it’s just me not being able to follow the abundant guides out there to find a solution that works for as long as possible, but I repeat, I’m the only one I know around me who even knows this issues, in the real world, it’s just impossible for most people to even detect the matter, finding the time, the energy, for solutions that become unuseful some months later. Foss communities should go some step further if they want to become really useful, I have tried many years quitting mainstream companies and here, as I said in the previous post, I find that’s impossible to do for 99% of people because of their normal lives. Finding the easiest to use, less “moving”, most working solution would be not only the way to win over companies, that’s the only and the best marketing campaign a community of volunteers can have.

After all these years, I learned that an app-by-app approach has not given good results in terms of overall followers, with all the money and people IT companies spend in making their control tighter, they just need to change continuously some key commands or functions to force all dependant apps/libs/whatsoever to update, only for the purpose of kicking out volounteers and keeping the ecosystem under control. I see as the only truly interesting solution, thath does not belong ONLY to the lucky ones who got the talent to become Free and the time to work for it all the rest of their lives, is a common intent from scratch (or the nearest possible, since hardware is a tough matter to discuss but also less moving than software - we’ve got Fairphone, but they switched to /e/OS stealing from F-Droid, how could you suffer that!!), starting from an easy OS, packed all-in-one apps taken from the most popular and put aside the best suggestion from the community (for example: putting Telegram Foss because it’s largely used, surely attractive, and suggesting the best truly Foss messengers aside it).

To make you understand the average time I spend on the matter, I only have an hour or two a day when sitting in metro. Stop. Some saturday mornings like today while my kids and wife and house really needs my presence, so i will quit this soon. This makes me the “nerd”, even when around me people is using the last phone model ALL THE TIME. We are not stupid: we’re true experts in OUR matters. We need to be helped and Foss needs to find a way to be stronger, and easiness is the key. Easier to use (in the limits of possible), but also easier to code, if efforts of all devs and volouteers are less wasted into too many ways.

To answer the rest: yes there are tons of guides, but I’m reading them in my spare time for years and I’ve not been able to implement them because they just don’t focus on efficience, often there are years to spend on learning (like my Linux tries, but we’ve already got real lives that requires the same) or they CANNOT focus on it because since they still depend on IT companies’ systems, these systems are suddenly changed just to break the guides or the goodness of them. Mostly on time efficience, the IT companies win, it’s almost always more efficient to pay them for their bad work and for the control they have on IT, because you gain more time to get your salary or solve tyour real life problems. I would better pay Foss for good work if i could rely on it, but I did not find a work good enough to be paid. Where are you hidden? A common user like me, NOT deep into the scene, cannot distinguish who’s trustable and who’s scam. Having found F-Droid in the last year has been a HUGE luck and a LONG search.

You teach me Android and F-Droid apps mostly rely on their indipendence from framework, it’s really good to hear that. You also teach me Android is not so good, despite being a Linux fork. That’s probably one of the key points where Foss community should focus, there are too many things to study before I can understand and implement a Foss phone, that in the meanwhile they will be changed.

Your last statement is also a key point: why should devs work for nothing? They should not. But those “mythical lazy and tech-illiterate persons” you say is just showing my point: devs are experts in their matter, but if your car breaks, do you like to be treated like a shitty lazy mech-illiterate person who does not distinguish a bolt from a nut in the car engine? It’s obviously and excessive example, to make the point easy. I think that IT companies and single app devs should not work for free: I think the money they gain is 1% for the good work they do and 99% for the control they have over your system. This is not reason enough to joint efforts? The more work is needed to make the system usable, the more devs need to be paid for their work and so the system itself turns NOT free without even starting to USE the device for the REAL work, the work that should be paid, the work that produces a REAL product in REAL life to be paid for. So my answer is that all efforts should focus on making the device work with LESS efforts. LESS coding, less updating, less maintenance, less external control. Coming back to the car example, you like to pay the mech ONCE to make the system work, then having your car free for you to use to make the REAL work. You won’t like to pay for your car to be in total control of your company so that if you have to go from house to job you shall pay them every time, or pay them for continue updating your car, or continue maintenance. You would like a car that needs the less and easier maintenance ever, breaks as less as possible. The engine we pay in car is a real, manufactured product, but the way it works, the main system and the various gearings, it’s basically always the same. If we put it into IT, we should pay phone manufacturers, and the tech expert who sets the system ready and working, NOT the control and continuous maintenance and new apps every day. Devs should be paid for making the system work ONCE, and some maintenance or upgrade every BIG change or BIG problem. If devs work hard for a new little bit of an app every day, and they are not paid so they have to turn into the corrupt privacy-stealing ads system, are you sure it’s the tech-illiterate people’s fault? I hope I made it clear but i think i did not…


These questions are not easy to answer indeed, but I think that it’s okay to solve the problems in different ways, with a complex approach covering all possible threats. If the developers focus on one problem, they’ll miss out on others, so I think the current organization of the community is not bad. One big problem I see is the lack of legal enforcement to fix tracking issues, let users repair, modify and update devices, to force companies comply with FOSS licenses’ requirements. Unfortunately, developers aren’t good lawyers (in general) and they need assistance and help in that regard, as well as moral support of consumers. While some steps were made in this direction (e.g. GDPR), there is a long way to go.

I can agree with that, though that is not enough. We have to educate users that there is a solution like that, because companies are doing bad marketing against FLOSS projects and FLOSS in general. E.g. when I tell people about linux, usually they respond with stereotypes like “linux is old” or “you have to be a developer to use it, it’s very difficult”. I’ve seen a false advertising by Microsoft where it’s been told that Windows can be installed in 10 minutes and some other OS (I doubt they mean something but Linux) takes 6 hours. So, if everyone of us shares experiences of using FLOSS not with same “nerd” people, but with relatives, friends, etc, it may change situation.

While I like the idea of serving users with applications picked by experts, I think that it would be better to offer something like a special version of F-Droid or installation wizard where the user has a list of best FOSS projects and can choose what can be installed on the device from that limited list, keeping distractions away.

Some work is being done in that direction, e.g. there is a number of Linux distributions for phones and there is a phone (Pine64 Pinephone) which is mostly open hardware and gives ability to boot these distributions. These projects let people have a system with latest versions of software and Linux kernel which is good for security reasons. The problem here, as you have stated, is that the community is being split. There are almost 20 distributions already and the list keeps growing. Some projects could unite and have less distributions in result, but with better stability and more software, which would add value to their efforts.

And speaking of the last part, I’ve understood it fine and agree with that.

Hi Henry
after many headaches I decided to get DivestOS and buy a PinePhone, even if it’s still labelled as Beta Edition. Maybe that’s why it costs half than a Fairphone? Anyway, having Fairphone adopted the /e/OS logic, I decided to try this the “hard way”. I’ll be always in time to install any other Linux or even /e/OS to have it working the easy way, with microG and all the work done to make user life easier, if I understood correctly. After having had a bad time trying Linux at home PC, with all security logic ruining the main logic of tool simplicity, I want to try it in phone because I have more time to study it while working.

Your reasons made me think the last weeks. I’m happy that my complaining did not bring prejudice. I don’t know what it takes for the activists on these topics to join a common effort, but I’m happy to have brought the question. Hope to have some more experience in the next months to add on this thread.

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Cars are interesting side examples, because: (1) Modern cars also use computers, possibly more computers than phones. So all the same software issues are involved, if not often discussed here. Dealers and repair services usually use a variation on the server-with-RedHat model: customers buy or lease the server hardware with software, and also pay for a support contract. Car-related payments can also be complicated by included or extended “warranty” on newer cars, and service agreements for repair work. Some cars are also connected to the internet and may receive OTA updates for free or for charge. (2) Cars, with license, registration, insurance, and tax requirements and fees, are tools for controlling people, while also giving them a sense of freedom of movement, similar to phones. (3) As said earlier, cars are “real” products. But so is phone hardware. Sellers set prices, sometimes negotiate, but almost never use a donation model like F-Droid and most free software. IMO the assumption of a donation model instead of implemening a market model for free software from the beginning was a major mistake.

Fairphone versus PinePhone prices: Pinephone components are not as good quality or as much/fast, including CPU, GPU, RAM, storage, display, and camera. And yes, Fairphone takes advantage of Google’s Android, but Pinephone has smaller coat tails to ride on.

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