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Fairphone 2

Added by Daniel Kulesz almost 2 years ago

I wanted to suggest the upcoming fairphone 2 as a target for evaluation. Pros / cons:

+ focus on longetivity and open source (albeit using firmware blobs)
+ unlockable boot loader without voiding your warranty
+ the vendor promised to make source code and sdk together with instructions available
+ very open and encouraging for installation of alternative operating systems
- "known bad" MSM device (bad modem isolation etc.)

Despite this device being listed in the "Known to be bad targets" I think it is still a target worth considering due to the points mentioned above. Is this definitely a no-go or maybe worth considering?


Replies (16)

RE: Fairphone 2 - Added by Paul Kocialkowski almost 2 years ago

I have no interest in it for the reasons mentioned. If the vendor was really trying to be cooperative with free software, they would have chosen another platform to work with. Unfortunately, they decided to go with Qualcomm despite our counter-indications, so I will not be spending time on this device.

RE: Fairphone 2 - Added by Daniel Kulesz almost 2 years ago

Thanks for clarifying this, Paul.

I asked this question myself several times, so just out of curiosity: Is there better, recent platform you would have recommended to this vendor instead, keeping in mind also the goal of longetivity? As far as I know, all more or less current platforms from MTK (which personally is a nogo for me due to the way how they violate(d) the GPL), Intel and Samsung do not sell SoCs with logically separated modems anymore.

RE: Fairphone 2 - Added by Paul Kocialkowski almost 2 years ago

There are indeed many options for chips that are somewhat friendly to free software and do not embedded a modem, such as i.MX, OMAP, Rockchip, Allwinner and various others.

RE: Fairphone 2 - Added by Daniel Kulesz almost 2 years ago

Yes, but are there any separate LTE modems not embedded in a SoC as well?

RE: Fairphone 2 - Added by Wilhelm Glaessner over 1 year ago

I understand that for the above reasons, there are no efforts from official Replicant developers to bring Replicant to the Fairphone 2. For better understanding on my part, I would like to ask the following question:
Considering that Fairphone wants to publish everything needed for the users to build the OS themselves (see below quote), is it likely for the community be able to build Replicant for the device themselves without further ado?

Quote: "we’re excited to announce that we are going to release the complete build environment for Fairphone OS (Android Lollipop version) on Fairphone 2, which contains the full open source code, all the tools and the binary blobs that will allow users to build their own Fairphone OS" Source: https://www.fairphone.com/2015/09/23/opening-up-fairphone-to-the-community-open-source-fairphone-2/

My situation is this:
1) I live between 2 countries, thus i need dualsim.
2) I would like a libre OS on my phone.
3) I am clumsy, thus robustness/repairabilty is important to me.
Sadly there is no phone which has these 3 out of the box, thus I must make compromises. Currently I am compromising on 1) and 3) by operating an ALCATEL FIRE E with FirefoxOS. I was very sad to hear Mozilla will discontinue that. Since I also have a shattered screen on the FIRE E, I am looking for alternatives. I understand a FSF approved setup will not be possible with the hardware selected by the Fairphone developers, but at least maybe a google free android is possible for the device...

RE: Fairphone 2 - Added by Daniel Kulesz over 1 year ago

Well, the Google-free Android is already what you get by just rebuilding the AOSP tree of the FP2 sources or installing Fairphone Open Source OS distribution instead of the default one (for which no binary builds are available yet). There are at least two reasons why you can't get Replicant on the device at the moment:

- the platform does not respect your freedom
- there is no CM support (Replicant is based on CM, not on AOSP)

The whole idea in Replicant is to make it more libre, which involves deblobbing the ROM. With the current FP2 platform this seems almost impossible, since the device is probably completely non-functional without blobs. Just look at the size and number of blobs the device actually needs. :( If you want Replicant on a future Fairphone, I suggest you post in the following thread as well:

https://forum.fairphone.com/t/fairphone-3-hardware-discussion/10522/65

RE: Fairphone 2 - Added by Wilhelm Glaessner over 1 year ago

Many thanks for this valuable info. I will be sure to make a post in the thread!
In an ideal world I would not only like a google-free OS but a libre OS on my phone.
I know that RMS usually goes by the rule "if you cannot get it libre, don't get it at all", I sympathize and see his point. But in the end there is only so much compromise I can make. Today I am compromising towards libre with FirefoxOS, but I am getting frustrated with the lack of robustness and dualsim.

is there any dualsim phone at all on which replicant is supported?

Hopefully with the eSIM coming up, the dualsim criteria will fall, giving me more options.
By the way, what is your take on eSIM? Will this basically kill the idea of a libre, blob free OS, or have libre issues been considered in this process?

Anyways, happy new year, thanks for your support, keep up the good work! I just send you a donation via paypal for your project!

RE: Fairphone 2 - Added by Paul Kocialkowski over 1 year ago

Yes, but are there any separate LTE modems not embedded in a SoC as well?

Yes, those exist. For instance, Intel is producing some, such as the XMM7160, that are often used on devices that don't have a modem embedded on the SoC (e.g. on Samsung devices).

Considering that Fairphone wants to publish everything needed for the users to build the OS themselves (see below quote), is it likely for the community be able to build Replicant for the device themselves without further ado?

The ability to build the OS doesn't say much about whether it is free software. A lot of proprietary parts will still be required. This approach allows crafting community Android versions, but doesn't help on the freedom issues.

RE: Fairphone 2 - Added by Abcd Efgh over 1 year ago

Daniel Kulesz wrote:

[...]
- "known bad" MSM device (bad modem isolation etc.)

Despite this device being listed in the "Known to be bad targets" I think it is still a target worth considering due to the points mentioned above. Is this definitely a no-go or maybe worth considering?

I could't find any Infos about the Fairphone 2 having a Bad Modem Isolation, I checked the site you mentioned but could't find anything. Does it really have a Bad Modem Isolation an/or Otter Security & Privacy Problems? Even if theres no Replicant (or CyanogenMOD or OmniROM or any CustomROM) for the Fairphone 2 im still a little bit interested in the Device, I like the fairness and repairability Concept a lot, but without any CustomROM and Android 5.x on the Device theres not much room for Security and Privacy...

Paul Kocialkowski wrote:

I have no interest in it for the reasons mentioned. If the vendor was really trying to be cooperative with free software, they would have chosen another platform to work with. Unfortunately, they decided to go with Qualcomm despite our counter-indications, so I will not be spending time on this device.

This sounds like you actively contacted the Fairphone Team and made suggestions? Can you tell what they responded and why they decided to go another way?

RE: Fairphone 2 - Added by Daniel Kulesz over 1 year ago

This is a little bit offtopic here, but there is not really a need for a custom ROM for the FP2 (not the FP1) since they offer build instructions and (lots of) blobs for builing the regular AOSP yourself. Check out their site:

http://code.fairphone.com/

And I think Paul has the impression that all newer MSM chipset have bad modem isolation and the Fairphone team should be aware of this fact as well - especially when they build a device that is non-functional without a bunch of proprietary blobs. Their #1 goal is fairness (in terms of production chain) and not openness of the software / fairness for the users.

RE: Fairphone 2 - Added by Abcd Efgh over 1 year ago

Daniel Kulesz wrote:

This is a little bit offtopic here, but there is not really a need for a custom ROM for the FP2 (not the FP1) since they offer build instructions and (lots of) blobs for builing the regular AOSP yourself. Check out their site:

http://code.fairphone.com/

And I think Paul has the impression that all newer MSM chipset have bad modem isolation and the Fairphone team should be aware of this fact as well - especially when they build a device that is non-functional without a bunch of proprietary blobs. Their #1 goal is fairness (in terms of production chain) and not openness of the software / fairness for the users.

Hello Daniel, thank you for your response. I know that Fairphone is offering this Stuff and I appreciate it a lot, but I think a pure AOSP Build is not what I am looking for. A "real" AOSP based CustomROM with a Developer who knows what he is doing can improve the ROM a lot in terms of Stability and Usability I think. Not to mention all the useful Stuff like Copperhead OS is including in terms of Security or OmniROM in General are doing. But the biggest Problem is that you still build a Android 5.x ROM and no 6.x ROM if I understood it right.

And to not be absolutely offtopic, there is no evidence or hint that the Fairphone has a Bad Modem Isolation? Is it just speculation? And are there no other Phones with a good Isolation out there? The Galaxy Nexus is pretty old, there were tons of Phones that came out till today, do they all have Privacy Issues? Or do we dont really know for sure and assume they are Bad? And my Last question is, if these Phones are all bad, if they have all the Same Privacy and Security Issues, why is this the case? Do some Goverments or Parts of them influence Them to use these Issues for their purposes?

RE: Fairphone 2 - Added by Daniel Kulesz over 1 year ago

Hello Daniel, thank you for your response. I know that Fairphone is offering this Stuff and I appreciate it a lot, but I think a pure AOSP Build is not what I am looking for. A "real" AOSP based CustomROM with a Developer who knows what he is doing can improve the ROM a lot in terms of Stability and Usability I think. Not to mention all the useful Stuff like Copperhead OS is including in terms of Security or OmniROM in General are doing.

Well, the issue here is - the more you modify and the more you deviate from AOSP, the more it becomes difficult to catch up later. Most of these ROMs would support newer Android versions much faster if they didn't have to port all their customizings back and forth. Thats an advantage of the FP2, as their customizings are pretty light. But as far as I know, they still don't offer any AOSP builds yet.

But the biggest Problem is that you still build a Android 5.x ROM and no 6.x ROM if I understood it right.

Yes, but I am pretty sure this will become available in the next weeks/months.

And to not be absolutely offtopic, there is no evidence or hint that the Fairphone has a Bad Modem Isolation? Is it just speculation? And are there no other Phones with a good Isolation out there? The Galaxy Nexus is pretty old, there were tons of Phones that came out till today, do they all have Privacy Issues? Or do we dont really know for sure and assume they are Bad? And my Last question is, if these Phones are all bad, if they have all the Same Privacy and Security Issues, why is this the case? Do some Goverments or Parts of them influence Them to use these Issues for their purposes?

I guess you should redirect this question to Paul. For me, one reason behind the bad isolation is just "cutting costs" - it is more expensive to have separate chips, and even if you just logically isolate these units this are all efforts you need to spend. And it seems like either the buyers do not care about it or the marketing analysts think that almost nobody would be willing to spend extra money to have that isolation.

With that being said, another problem apart from modem isolation of the mentioned platforms is that they need huge amounts of blobs to work. Very few vendors make these blobs available for download, but if you look at what is available from Fairphone, Sony or Google you will see what dimensions we are talking about. Take a look at Google's archive for instance, download a few of these archives and see for yourself:

https://developers.google.com/android/nexus/drivers

RE: Fairphone 2 - Added by Abcd Efgh over 1 year ago

Daniel Kulesz wrote:

[...]
Yes, but I am pretty sure this will become available in the next weeks/months.
[...]

Some days ago I was looking at the Fairphone Forum for some Infos about Android 6.x. Some guy who seems to be related to Fairphone stated that he asked the Main Developer and he said that a Release is internally planned for this Summer, but thats not official, it seems they are kind of careful with Anouncements because they announced an Update for the first Fairphone which they couldnt deliver since the vendor dropped support or something like that.
So Android 6.x got released at the End of November 2015, a Summer Release would be 7-9 Months after the initial Release. And I'm not really sure if we get Security Updates by time or months later too.

Daniel Kulesz wrote:

I guess you should redirect this question to Paul.

The question was meant to adress Paul, maybe I didn't pointed it out enough. Maybe I should write to him directly.

RE: Fairphone 2 - Added by Daniel Kulesz over 1 year ago

Timo Wilkens wrote:

Daniel Kulesz wrote:

[...]
Yes, but I am pretty sure this will become available in the next weeks/months.
[...]

Some days ago I was looking at the Fairphone Forum for some Infos about Android 6.x. Some guy who seems to be related to Fairphone stated that he asked the Main Developer and he said that a Release is internally planned for this Summer, but thats not official, it seems they are kind of careful with Anouncements because they announced an Update for the first Fairphone which they couldnt deliver since the vendor dropped support or something like that.
So Android 6.x got released at the End of November 2015, a Summer Release would be 7-9 Months after the initial Release. And I'm not really sure if we get Security Updates by time or months later too.

That's not really an issue as security updates for Android still land in the branches 4.4, 5.1 and 6.0 at the moment. So I am quite confident they will support 5.1 with security updates for quite a while. The feature I would miss most from Android 6.0 is the ability to use the internal microsd for internal storage.

If I understood Paul correctly, he has no problems with supporting "known bad" devices, but he is not willing to spend time on them himself. But I see not much sense in porting Replicant to a device which would be almost completely non-functional without blobs, since this is actually what makes Replicant unique. If you want to install so many blobs anyways, you can just go directly for CM or another mod.

RE: Fairphone 2 - Added by Xan VFR over 1 year ago

Interesting news about this project: Releasing the Fairphone 2 Open Operating System:

...

"The Fairphone Open Source OS includes the standard Android operating system (version 5.1) plus all the special Fairphone features. Google Mobile Services (GMS) are NOT included"

...

"That’s why we’ve made it possible for you to install different operating systems on your phone (meaning the bootloader is unlocked)"

...

RE: Fairphone 2 - Added by D G about 1 year ago

Even if it had good modem isolation it would not matter because practically everything needed for a functioning device is based on some proprietary software. Even to get anything on screen you need a non-free firmware at the very least (and that is if you manage to hack around and get Freedreeno working). Even if the Google apps aren't included you can still have your phone controlled remotely, and you can't get other operating systems to work with your device without obscure workarounds and excessive amounts of time.

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