Replicant 6.0 early work, upstream work and F-Droid issue

Replicant 6.0 early work and associated efforts: At Replicant, things are moving again: Replicant is being updated from Android 4.2 to Android 6.0 by Wolfgang Wiedmeyer. The status and feedback takes place in the forums before it is reviewed and integrated in the official Replicant repositories. This work is currently being done for the Galaxy S 3 (I9300).

At the same time, Wolfgang Wiedmeyer is also working on the following for Replicant 6.0:

  • Graphics acceleration with mesa and llvmpipe: while this still uses the CPU, it should be faster and more feature-complete than the default implementation. This will hopefully fix some of the previously non-working applications in F-Droid.
  • Building the toolchains: Replicant has always used some pre-built toolchains and utilities. Building such tools and/or using the ones from GNU/Linux distributions will make Replicant more trustworthy.

Replicant 6.0 should also bring full device encryption and SELinux support.

Future directions: In the future we also want to be able to support the upstream Linux kernel for devices with a minimal amount of effort. This was made possible thanks to:

  • Android becoming more standard: it now requires very few changes to the upstream Linux to work. Linux also received changes that made it possible.
  • The fact that the amount of work required to mainline a device in Linux has drastically been reduced, for some of the devices we target.

Devices such as the GTA04 and the Optimus Black are good targets for upstream Linux kernel support. They also allow running free bootloaders.

In a similar fashion, we also want to be able to support upstream bootloaders, such as U-Boot.

We hope that this will allow us to have longer term support for such devices. Even if Replicant is unable to continue to support such devices in the future, having them supported by upstream software will potentially enable users to use them with other free software distributions.

We have thus started the work to support devices such as the Optimus Black and the Kindle Fire (first generation) in upstream Linux and U-Boot. Other projects and individuals are also very actively adding support for other devices, such as Allwinner tablets, that will benefit Replicant eventually.

Helping Replicant by contributing to F-Droid: Replicant is supported, recommended by the FSF and listed as a fully free software distribution that respects the GNU Free System Distribution Guidelines, along with other GNU/Linux distributions such as Trisquel or Parabola. Replicant
ships the F-Droid package manager in its images.

F-droid is committed to distributing only free software, and it does. However some of it does not comply with the GNU Free System Distribution Guidelines.

Practically speaking some of the applications F-Droid distributes:

While the list of such anti-features is displayed in red when selecting an application in F-Droid, applications with anti-features are still listed aside compliant ones. This is also quite confusing since free software isn’t expected to contain
such anti-features in the first place.

It took Replicant a long time to realize the issue, this is due
to its developers being very busy, to the fact that the anti-feature
display is confusing and that there was no clear smoking gun.

After an investigation, that was delayed due to the lack of time, a
smoking gun was finally found, and a bug report was opened on the Replicant side.

At FOSDEM 2016, the issue was discussed with F-Droid developers in order to find a way to fix it. On their side, F-Droid developers also opened a bug report. Due to various reasons, progress was very slow and we recently learned that efforts to fix this issue came to a stall.

Replicant developers are more dedicated and used to working on system programming than writing or modifying Android applications. They are also really busy doing so. However, some individuals wanting to help Replicant may be able to work on Android applications, with some time to do so. This is exactly the kind of skills required to solve this issue in F-Droid. Getting it fixed is crucially important for Replicant.

If you’re interested to jump-in and help resolve this issue, please get in touch with us or with F-Droid developers directly to get directions on how to get started.

19 thoughts on “Replicant 6.0 early work, upstream work and F-Droid issue

  1. AFAIK there’s no one on Replicant working on SDL based apps. But you should definitely open a thread about this in the Replicant forums. You can also joins us at #replicant IRC channel on Freenode and raise the subject there.

  2. I’m porting SDL based FLOSS applications so that they’ll work with Android devices. I’m using a standard GNU toolchain and Android NDK and cross-compiling to build them. I would be very interested in helping with applications for Replicant. Who could I get in contact with?

  3. Pingback: Open Source Android ROMs You Can Use For Your Device - Intellectsoft Blog

  4. Interesting article, especially the underlying point about «Android becoming more standard». Some people have a much worse view on the prospects of Android, for instance «Google has moved more and more stuff to the proprietary Google application package […] As more and more applications start relying on Google Play Services, Replicant and Android-as-usually-shipped diverge as development platforms».

    Were you just talking of the Android “core”, or do you believe that the “usual Android” in general is becoming more standard too?

  5. I’m just visiting… Been directed to replicate numerous times, as reason for my visit.
    Cyanogen end saddens me…
    I so dislike Google Android…
    I’m not new in OS stuff… My experience and expertise is low…
    What everyone needs is options… Options to change from the frustrating Google Android…

  6. Do you want to try out some Allwinner devices?

    Allwinner A10, A13, A20 has been supported basically in mainline kernel.

    A23, A31, A33 is also progressing to getting supported. has some early advances I made to run a Linux 4.4-based Android on an A10 SBC (Cubieboard).

    A10/13/20 tablets usually come with blobed USB Wi-Fi card on board 🙁 , but maybe we can attach an ath9k_htc on it to use 🙂

  7. Hi,

    Will there be some developments for the FairPhone 2 which will be made by modules and seems to be a great phone around ethical stuffs?


  8. After I’ve gotten fed up with the Google ecosystem I’ve recently switched to Replicant on Galaxy i9300. I had to compromise by enabling proprietary firmware blobs (boo, hiss) but the resulting device is highly functional.

    Thanks for the good work. It’s too bad the project only has one developer. Perhaps it would possible to donate financially?


  9. Hello, I bought Galaxy S2 to use replicant, this version (6) could be used in the future with this phone please ? Thanks anyway 😀

  10. There are a lot of nasty HTML tag “br”, this is not good for reading. Otherwise, thanks for the good news and the work needed for it.

  11. When do you estimate will be ready Replicant 6.0 and which device will support it? Will it be wireless or plug a USB?

  12. Hi, I’m a novice dev that recently started developing apps in Qml. I have basic experience with programming, moderate to advanced knowledge about Linux and a passion for free software. My main interest lately lies in UX/visual design and usually spend lots of time iterating on those.

    If there’s anything I can contribute with, email me and I will see what I can do in between my internship and family time.

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