Replicant homepage and roadmap for the future

For a long time, the entry point for Replicant on the web was our blog, which holds status reports and news about the project. However, it did not fit well for providing easy access to relevant material about the project, nor did it give our (growing) community the attention it deserves. This is why we decided to launch a new homepage for the project, highlighting what really matters, in style.
We believe it is a good thing to have, in order to clearly spread the word about Replicant and ease the understanding of our message. The new homepage provides a clear explanation of what Replicant is about, provides answers to some common questions about the project and most importantly, holds a detailed overview of the core freedom and privacy/security issues that we face on mobile devices today, as well as recommendations regarding these topics.

Regarding progress in development, a few things happened recently and a lot more is on the way: time to take a step back, look at what’s in the works and what is next on our roadmap.
After attending RMLL/LSM in Montpellier, France, most of the development time was spent on completing a full rewrite of Samsung-RIL, the software in charge of the various aspects of telephony and mobile data on the Samsung devices we support. This rewrite brings many advantages in terms of stability, features support and also provides a sane and clear base to make external contributions easier. While this is an important contribution to achieve software freedom on mobile devices, these Samsung devices are severely flawed as they don’t allow running free bootloaders.

For some time already, we have decided to focus our development effort on better devices, that can run free bootloaders, in addition to a free system such as Replicant. First, we decided to bring Replicant 4.2 support to the Goldelico GTA04 and have already made good progress since the start. It is not currently usable as a daily phone, but we are confident about the future. The next step in the process is to work on supporting Allwinner devices, starting with cheap Chinese tablets. We are proud to be collaborating with the free software community built around the Allwinner Sunxi platforms: linux-sunxi. Our goal is to provide generic Replicant support for these platforms, so that as many devices as possible can be supported, with little effort required to support a new device. Thanks to the work of the linux-sunxi community, many of these devices can already run a free bootloader and have a community-maintained kernel available, providing a solid base for Replicant on Sunxi devices. In addition, we have spotted a few widely-spread devices that would also be good candidates for running a free bootloader and a free system: stay tuned as we will start documenting these devices soon!

In the meantime, we are more than ever willing to make Replicant as privacy/security-oriented as we can, especially by targeting devices that either don’t have a modem at all (Wi-Fi-only tablets, such as the many Sunxi ones) or are not proven to have bad modem isolation.

As of today, Replicant is still a one-man effort and while all these new directions are very exciting, it takes a lot of time to actually turn them into reality. Since we prefer to focus on these new directions, Replicant will stay based on version 4.2 of Android, even though newer versions are available upstream. Porting Replicant to a newer version requires a lot of effort and doesn’t bring any significant advantage when it comes to freedom.

Regarding the devices we already support that do not match the free bootloaders criteria, we are not going to drop development for them, but the majority of what was possible to achieve on them is already there and while we could keep adding support for more and more of these devices, we believe that development time is better spent on these new exciting directions!

14 thoughts on “Replicant homepage and roadmap for the future

  1. The next batch of images will be released soon. I’m terrible at giving ETAs, so I will stick to soon. That soon is probably sooner than other soons that I have made out to be soon and that didn’t turn out to be soon at all.

    There won’t be any new device support, this is mostly a bug fix release, with the exception of the new Samsung-RIL.

    However, I am working on adding support for other devices! Those include the LG Optimus Black (P970), Some chinese Allwinner tablets (see http://linux-sunxi.org/User:PaulK for the ones I own currently) and probably the first generation Kindle Fire. I will certainly write about all that soon, so stay tuned!

  2. When can we expect the next batch of releases? Do you have a list of all of new devices that you plan on releasing in the next batch so we can place some of the items on our Christmas lists?

  3. We are probably not going to target so many new mainstream devices in the near future, as I prefer to focus on devices that are more respecting of freedom and our current supported devices, like the GTA04, the LG Optimus Black (P970) and the Kindle Fire (first generation). Thanks for your support!

  4. I’ve started using Cyanogenmod without GApps since four months and I am sure that I will never come back.
    Waiting for Replicant to be fully-available to many more devices (hoping someone make reverse enginering the evil Samsung drivers, etc.) I can only voice to you my deepest gratitude.
    Thanks for your work.

  5. We try to publish updates when there is something new to roll, so that really depends on how much time I spend on development and what aspects of the system I work on.
    I think it’s safe to assume an update about every 4 month.

  6. Hi i would like to say thanks am very greatful for this ROM, l just hate icky backdoors! May I ask how often [roughly of course] we will get updates.apologies if you’ve already ansered this (Qs) I’m not expecting a monthly update like CM as I’m aware you have little resources.

    -T

  7. Perhaps this is a reasonable compromise, but you cannot expect others to think like you do, can you? Some see the GTA04 as the only viable option and it is our role to make it possible to run Replicant on it. I don’t personally feel like our goal is to make Replicant as widespread as possible (after all, we are not a capitalist company, are we?). There are some advantages to this, but it is not a final goal.

    I don’t see why the GTA04 is not a valid phone. It is technically the very same as any other such device out there. The electronics and software are not somewhat coming from another dimension or something.
    The only noticeable difference between mainstream phones and the GTA04 are pretty much only power management and marketting bullshit.

  8. The decision to support a device like the gta04 is really sad. This device offers not more features then the Galaxy s2 i9100. Yes, Samsung devices are really flawed. But you can boot them with free os, using a none free boot loader. That is a reasonable compromise. These devices are common and affordable. Hence, you can spread free OS with them.
    On the contrary, the gta04, is a free device which is not common, not affordable and does not work as a phone (it is a board capable of making phone calls, but it is not a complete device).
    This live free but die alone approach makes me sad. It will take more years until we have a decent free device.

  9. Or a device in which there isn’t a modem at all, as your article mentions. I am anxious to see it drop!

  10. Please do not use the comment section of the blog for general-purpose questions that are not directly related with the article. Ask in our forums or mailing-list instead! You are welcome to start evaluating your device as a next target for Replicant!

  11. Will you be adding support for the Nexus 7, Acer ICONIA a500, Nextbook 8hd8g, or HTC One V. If you do, I would be willing to beta test to help with development. This sounds very promising and of course IS a great idea.

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