There won’t be a Replicant 6.0 SDK because there is already something better

And you can help making it accessible to more GNU/Linux users!

We have decided not to create a Replicant 6.0 SDK as part of the upcoming Replicant 6.0 release. For three previous Replicant versions (2.2, 4.0 and 4.2), a SDK was provided.

Replicant offered its own SDK because the Android SDK released by Google is distributed under a non-free license and suggests installing non-free plug-ins such as the Google APIs. For a long time, Replicant has provided the only Android SDK that is available under a free license and that doesn’t offer to install non-free software.

Android SDK in Debian

However, for some time, the Android SDK is available in Debian and it will be possible to build Android apps in Debian Stretch, the upcoming release. The Debian packages suffice to build an app that only has a minimal set of dependencies. Not all libraries that might be needed for building an app are already packaged, but it seems that nothing is missing that would otherwise be available in a Replicant SDK. The packaged Android SDK in Stretch even has the same target API as a Replicant 6.0 SDK would have.

The packaged Android SDK in Debian has many advantages over a Replicant SDK. Build tools should be installable from the package manager of the distribution you are using and not be distributed in a binary archive outside of it. Android SDK packages are provided in Debian alongside other Android build tools like Gradle. The packages can be built reproducibly. We only have very limited time and resources to work on the SDK. Debian has its own team, the Debian Android Tools team, that focuses on packaging more libraries and target APIs, among other things.

Packaging for more distributions

For these reasons, rather than spending time and development efforts on a Replicant 6.0 SDK, we encourage you to work with maintainers to get the Debian Android packages included in more distributions. As Replicant itself is  a fully free software distribution, we would be especially happy to see the packages included in fully-free GNU/Linux distributions, like Parabola or Trisquel.

The Debian Android Tools team is available to answer questions and they are interested in having cross-distro collaboration to solve remaining issues. They can be reached via their mailing list or in the IRC channel #debian-mobile. Their wiki page provides useful documentation.

Of course, we are available as well to answer questions and to coordinate these efforts.

Replicant 4.0 SDK release

It was brought to our attention that the Android SDK is now being released under an overall proprietary software license. In the past, we already had to release a free software SDK, back in Replicant 2.2 times, because the Android SDK was shipping with the non-free Google APIs. More recent SDK updates made these APIs only plug-ins that weren’t shipped with the SDK and it was made clear that these components were non-free while all the license files we could find on the Android SDK package were free software licenses.

However now Google decided to put an overall non-free license for the SDK, which brings back the need of having a fully free Replicant SDK. Since our only SDK release is getting old (it was API level 8), we built an SDK package from Replicant 4.0 sources, that is API level 15.

You can download the SDK from the ReplicantSDK page, find an installation and usage guide as well as the build instructions on the wiki.

Replicant 2.2 SDK available

Thanks to the huge amount of work by paulk (Paul Kocialkowski) we now have an SDK.
It should be functional enough to write android applications for Replicant 2.2 or any other Android 2.2 device.

As usual the main difference compared to the Android SDK is that Replicant¬†SDK should be fully free software. (Android SDK includes proprietary API like Google maps but we don’t want proprietary Google maps at all).

The Replicant SDK also includes an emulator like the Android one to allow developers to write their apps even without having a phone.

Please download the Replicant 2.2 SDK and help us building a better libre Replicant.

We wait for your suggestions and comments.

Again thanks a lot to paulk for the great work.