2019-11-17-lineageos-with-microg.md (4203B) - raw


      1 <!-- title: Switching to LineageOS with microG -->
      2 <!-- slug: lineageos-with-microg -->
      3 <!-- categories: FOSS, Privacy -->
      4 <!-- date: 2019-11-17T00:00:00Z -->
      5 <!-- lastmod: 2019-11-22T00:00:00Z -->
      6 
      7 One of the things I wanted to do when switching to more privacy-respecting
      8 providers was getting rid of Google Services on my phone. According to multiple
      9 articles, your Android phone gathers a lot of data and sends it to Google. It is
     10 true that my daily routine isn't a big secret, and any friend who asked me could
     11 probably get my location, but giving it away without my (explicit) consent is a
     12 completely different thing.
     13 
     14 ## First attempt
     15 
     16 I first installed LineageOS on my phone in January 2019. I tried installing it
     17 with Google Apps, but I then realized I was back with Google, so I decided to go
     18 with [microG][mg] (a free/libre re-implementation of Google’s proprietary
     19 Android user space apps and libraries). But for some reason—unknown to me back
     20 then—, microG didn't work. As a result, the apps that required those libraries
     21 didn't work either. Apps that I wasn't willing to stop using, so I switched back
     22 to Android's stock ROM[^note].
     23 
     24 [^note]: It wasn't actually that quick. I tried to reinstall LineageOS with
     25   Gapps once again, but, for some reason, it wouldn't work and the phone stopped
     26   working (it was stuck on the boot screen, I left it for hours). I finally got
     27   help from an acquaintance (we had to go into Emergency Download Mode using the
     28   test point) and I was finally able to go back to Android's stock ROM.
     29 
     30 ## Finding the problem
     31 
     32 For some time I used Android's stock ROM, when, by chance, I read the following:
     33 
     34 > MicroG requires a patch called "signature spoofing", which allows the microG's
     35 > apps to spoof themselves as Google Apps. LineageOS' developers refused
     36 > (multiple times) to include the patch, forcing us to fork their project.
     37 
     38 LineageOS' developers had their reasons to refuse to do it. Luckily, the microG
     39 project has found a solution: they forked the project to add the signature
     40 spoofing patch. This way, you can get LineageOS with microG without having to
     41 worry about the patching part. They also added the "F-Droid Privileged
     42 Extension":
     43 
     44 > [F-Droid Privileged Extension] allows F-Droid to install and update apps
     45 > without the need of user interaction or the unsafe "Unknown sources" option.
     46 
     47 You can find more information about the fork at <https://lineage.microg.org/>.
     48 
     49 ## Second attempt
     50 
     51 So I tried installing microG's fork. The installation process is the same, so it
     52 was very easy, as I already had all the required software installed on my
     53 computer and had already done all the steps multiple times before.
     54 
     55 This time everything turned out fine and microG libraries worked fine. I
     56 installed the apps I needed from [F-Droid][fd] and those that weren't there, I
     57 got from the [Aurora Store][as], an app that allows the user to download apps
     58 from the Google Play Store without actually having it installed.
     59 
     60 ## Performance
     61 
     62 I had my doubts on whether the apps that require Google's libraries would
     63 function, but most of them did (and perfectly fine!), even the ones using Google
     64 Maps—which are now using MapBox—or the ones using location services. There was
     65 one app that didn't work, a game. I am not sure which was the problem, but I
     66 wasn't playing the game much anyway, so I just deleted the app.
     67 
     68 Most of the time I don't even notice that my OS doesn't have any Google
     69 proprietary code, as it behaves (nearly) the same as if it did. If you are
     70 thinking of moving to LineageOS, check out the fork, microG works very well!
     71 
     72 ## Final comments
     73 
     74 There is one alternative to microG's fork (besides LineageOS itself) that is
     75 also an "unGoogled" version of Android, [/e/][e]. Their product looks
     76 interesting, however, I didn't need the extra features they add on top of
     77 LineageOS so I went with the simpler option. If you are thinking about
     78 installing /e/, you might be interested in what the [ewwlo][ew] website claims
     79 about the project.
     80 
     81 
     82 [mg]: <https://microg.org> "microG"
     83 [gd]: <https://f-droid.org> "F-Droid"
     84 [as]: <https://auroraoss.com> "Aurora Store"
     85 [e]: <https://e.foundation/> "/e/ Foundation"
     86 [ew]: <https://ewwlo.xyz/> "ewwlo"