Will this deGoogled Privacy-aware Android System become your next mobile upgrade?


/e/ is an Android-based mobile operating system with primary focus on user's privacy and security.

/e/ is Google services and apps-free system, the user will not get any Google services or other Android built-in Google apps running in the background.

The main selling point for this system is that it doesn't collect or sell user data. Everything is transparent, starting with the code: open-source ending with how the e.foundation supports and manages this large project.

/e/ (src: e.foundation)

The foundation that manages /e/ system production and responsible for maintenance is led by Gaël Duval. If you had the chance to use or hear about Mandrake Linux, well, Duval is its creator.


The /e/ system started as a fork of LineageOS with several modifications which include installation, settings, default settings and even removing Google as the primary search engine.

The LineageOS is a free open-source mobile operating system based on Android. It features a long list of customization that improves security and enhance user's privacy.

Features

/e/ Privacy Indicator (src: https://e.foundation/)
  1. Privacy-by-design;
    The /e/ system is private by-design, there is no data collection or services in the background, no Google services that some games and apps used to collect data, as well as it uses F-Droid store with a privacy indicator for apps.

  2. A Complete deGoogle Phone;
    No Google services in the background, No default Google applications that synchronize the user's data to Google like photos or address-book records. If you are not a big fan of Google certainly you will like this feature.
  3. Fancy Application Launcher;
    The launcher is created from scratch, it's clean, simple and efficient.  If you used iPhone (iOS) before or some new Android launchers that follow the same concept you will fall in love with /e/ launcher.
  4. Apps Privacy Indicator;
    As you are download applications, you can check how far it respects your privacy. It's a simple tool but adds more flavor to the mix that /e/ system provides.
  5. Open-source;
    The /e/ system is completely open-source. Anyone can fork, customize and compile it.
  6. Supports many devices;
    Even though, you can buy an /e/ phone with /e/ system like the Fairphone 3 and Fairpnone 3+. You can buy Samsung Galaxy S7, S8, S9 and S9+ phones packed with /e/ system.

    If you are looking to install /e/ system on your current android device, you can, if your phone is supported.  In the next section you will find the supported devices.

  7. Self-hosted your cloud infrastructure;
    As the /e/ system does not have any Google services, so your data will not be synced to Google cloud, /e/ offers new cloud infrastructure that the user can host themselves and/ or  use the single /e/ user identity ([email protected]).
  8. Mobiles and laptops;
    The /e/ system is not just installable on Android devices, It's also available for laptops like Olimex and Pinebook.

  9. Detailed instructions to build and install.

Pinebook (src: Pine64: https://www.pine64.org/pinebook/)

Supported phone models

By far there is 93 mobile model supported, here are the most popular ones:

  1. Asus: Zonfone 3, Zenfone Max Pro M1, Zenfone Max Pro M2
  2. BQ: Aquaris X2 (beta), Aquaris X2 Pro (beta)
  3. Google Nexus 4
  4. Google Nexus 5
  5. Google Nexus 5X
  6. Google Nexus 6
  7. Google Nexus 6P
  8. Google Pixel
  9. Google Pixel XL
  10. Google Pixel XL2
  11. HTC 10
  12. HTC One (M8)
  13. HTC One A9
  14. Huawei  Honor 5X
  15. LeEco Le Max2
  16. LeEco Le Pro3 / Le Pro3 Elite
  17. Lenovo (Tablet): Yoga Tab 3 Plus LTE
  18. Lenovo (Tablet): Yoga Tab 3 Plus Wi-Fi
  19. LG: G2, G3, G5
  20. Motorola: E, G, G2014, G2015, G Ag, G4, G4 Play, G7, G7 Plus, Moto X Play, Moto Z Play, Moto Z2 Play
  21. OnePlus: 5, 5T, 6, 6T, 7 Pro, One, OnePlus 7, X
  22. OPPO: F1, R5/R5s, R7s, R7s
  23. Samsung: A3, A5, A7, J5 3G, J5, J5, J5N
  24. Samsung Galaxy Note: 2, 3, 3 LTE, 4
  25. Samsung Galaxy S series: S III, S III Neo (Dual SIM/ Samsung Camera/ Sony Camera), S4 Mini, S5 LTE, S5 Plus, S6, S7, S9, S9+,
  26. Sony: Xperia XA2, Xperia Z5
  27. Xiaomi: Mi 3, Mi 4,  Mi 4c, Mi 5, Mi 5s Plus, Mi 6, Mi 8, Mi A1, Mi MIX2, Mi Mix 2S, Mi Note 3
  28. Xiaomi Redmi: 3S/3x, 4, Note 3, Note 4, Note 5 Pro, Note 7 Pro
  29. ZTE Axon 7

Unfortunately, my phone (Realme XT) is not supported yet, but many reported that they can install /e/ on their phones which are added to /e/ devices list yet. However, you can do that with caution.  

Please note that, there is an official and an unofficial list for certain device models which are being tested but most of they are primary supported by LineageOS. So, you may consider heading there first to check if your device is supported or not.

The /e/ system is leading us to a serious question, which is: Will the normal user be able to use Android without Google or not?

Resources


Photo by Noah Erickson from Pexels






Hamza Mu Author: Hamza Mu

A physician with programming skills, Linux user since late 1990s, Open source supporter. Coding with Python, NodeJS (Meteor, VueJS, Express, D3, PhantomJS), SmallTalk & R language.





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