My thoughts on Replicant

Added by Linus Drumbler about 7 years ago

I bought my Nexus S from Craigslist yesterday, installed Replicant on it as soon as I got home, and spent a lot of time customizing it and generally using it. Here are some of my thoughts on it.

  1. Installation was trivially easy (although I chose the Nexus S specifically for the purpose of simple installation). What wasn't easy was installing the 32-bit compatibility libraries, but that's an unrelated problem.
  2. Boot time is no worse than my old phone; I timed it at 23 seconds.
  3. The UI was a little sluggish when I first booted the phone, but it's okay now. I'm not sure why that might be.
  4. It's really unfortunate that the Wi-Fi doesn't work, because I only get 200MB of data per month. But I'm entirely willing to pay that price for freedom in my telephony. I have a device that can make phone calls that contains no proprietary software, and I'm happy for that.
  5. Apps with long names, such as the OI File Manager, have their names cut off.
  6. Your wallpapers are beautiful! I'm currently using the creek bed full of pretty stones.
  7. F-Droid is just as good as the Play Store.
  8. I wish there were more fluidity with the bottom five apps. For example, I'd really like to be able to have more or fewer than five down there.
  9. In the camera app, the bottom of the interface has several nested oblong shapes that grow whiter with each iteration. Is this intentional?
  10. In the "Apps" application there are several apps listed that occupy no space on the disk. I assume these are proprietary apps that you removed. Could you also remove them from this list?
  11. Taking another look at this list, there are also two camera apps. One seems to have that friendly developer's name on it; the other has the icon that's actually used to access the camera app. Why do I need both of these? And why can the former access my messages, location, and network?
  12. This was also a problem on my old phone. Is there a way to turn off vibration when I touch the keyboard? On that note, is there a way to turn off the vibration when the phone shuts off? It's rather loud when I've placed the phone on a hard surface after turning it off.
  13. When you hold down the home button to get a list of running activities, why are there no thumbnails?
  14. I prefer black text on a white background. Is there a setting to change this for the system UI?
  15. Installed apps should be added to the home screen as shortcuts.
  16. The screen goes black when I rotate the phone. When this first happened I thought I'd turned it off.
  17. When the phone is held horizontally, the keyboard is a little sluggish. Is this necessary?
  18. How do I take a screenshot? Neither AndroSS nor the power button works.

TL;DR Other than my minor niggles in the list above, Replicant is just like using Android. Mr. Kocialkowski and Mr. Carikli, if you are reading this, please know that I deeply appreciate your work and I hope to contribute to this project as soon as my programming knowledge is sufficient.

Replies (3)

RE: My thoughts on Replicant - Added by Paul Kocialkowski about 7 years ago

Of course we are reading :) (Spending some hours on it every day actually.)

Thanks for your feedback and it is good to know our work is appreciated by some people out there. I'll answer using the same numbers as you did to state your points:
1. Installing 32b compatibility libs is per-distro specific (so we don't bother to include all the command lines to install them on every install guide): you can very likely find that information on your distro's wiki pages.
3. First boot is always longer and slower than usual boots (that's because it's still dealing with the java apps installation and such after the UI started).
4. The firmwares are non-free and we do not advise using them for that reason. However if you really want to make an exception for them, you may get (unofficial) help on how to install the firmwares from IRC or such. Some people prefer to go back to CyanogenMod instead of using Replicant only because of the lack of WiFi, so it's considerably better to install the firmwares on top of Replicant rather than using CyanogenMod. But again, the instructions and help will not come from the project itself but from 3rd party individuals.
5. I guess you mean that in the main launcher cotext. It's not a bug, it's a feature :) (not specific to Replicant at all actually).
6. Thanks! These are actually a selection from Wikimedia Commons' best pictures (POTY and such).
8. That is something you should report to CyanogenMod (we are not working on the UI side of things at all and use the one from CyanogenMod directly).
9. What you describe is because we don't have proper graphics support. One you haven't spotted yet: there is a tiling problem in landscape mode: a diagonal adds a 1-pixel offset that is very noticeable.
10. No, these are not proprietary apps we got rid of, but rather internal apps to the system that don't use storage. Most likely, you cannot remove them.
11. Again, these are internal parts of apps. One is probably the Camera service while the other is the Camera app. As for the permissions, they may have added some that are unused, or maybe the Camera service needs more access for some reason. In any case, there is do dark magic there, the source code is available and there is a constant review of it from the (large) community of Android source developers, so there is probably nothing to fear.
12. The first one can be disabled if you look deep enough in the Settings (I remember doing it already, but don't recall exactly how), but the second one cannot be disabled through the system (it's either coming from the hardware or is something hardcoded in the kernel).
13. Again, that's because of the lack of proper graphics support. The EGL library we use in 4.0 is one Google wrote a long time ago as a fallback, but that no one except us really uses. It's incomplete and has bad performances, but it was the most convenient one to use at the time.
14. I really have no idea about that one, sorry.
15. Not the way it works currently. You may want to suggest that to CyanogenMod, but I doubt it'll be accepted as many people will probably disagree.
16. Lack of graphics support again I think. It's probably supposed to play an animation that is not displayed in Replicant.
17. Rotated mode makes it slower, yes. There you can appreciate the poor performances of the EGL library we use.
18. Doesn't work for the same reason as why preview doesn't work in the tasks switcher. I remember writing a fix to dump the framebuffer for old CyanogenMod versions (for static screenshots only) but I must have forgotten this time (it's a dirty fix anyway). I use ddms from the SDK to do screen capture (screenshots): for some reason, this one works.

RE: My thoughts on Replicant - Added by Linus Drumbler about 7 years ago

Some more thoughts and questions:

  1. I can understand why the Replicant logo grows darker as boot is ending—it's because my brightness is set to automatic. But why do horizontal lines appear through the robot? And what's that adorable little guy's name, anyway? He should have a name; I vote Rep, for Replicant and Representative.
  2. Soon after the locked screen loads, it goes dark for a second and reappears. That's annoying. Can it be prevented or fixed?
  3. The calculator and file manager apps should be included.
  4. The USB Storage screen displays a green Android robot, which turns orange when USB storage is turned on. It should show Rep (I'm calling him that until someone tells me I can't) in his signature red colour and roller skates, and he should turn blue (to reflect this project's CyanogenMod-based nature) when storage is turned on. In fact, if you can point me to the appropriate image files I'd be happy to do this job for you.
  5. A feature I'd like to see is the ability to customize the UI fonts. I'm okay with Roboto, but if I want to read my messages in Lobster I should be able to. My old phone had an option to select from two system fonts, and although I wasn't allowed to copy to that folder, I think I could have added more choices by putting the appropriate files into /system/fonts.
  6. On what version of Android is Replicant 4.0 0005 based?
  7. Why can't I record video? The "record" button does nothing.

RE: My thoughts on Replicant - Added by Paul Kocialkowski about 7 years ago

1. What horizontal lines are you talking about? I don't seem to have any here. We didn't name the robot, but Rep sounds nice, I'll raise the topic with GNUtoo.
2. I noticed that one too but didn't really look into it. It's slightly annoying but frankly, I can live with it.
3. Calculator is there, but not file manager indeed. Replicant 4.2 will have both.
4. Okay, I'll try to get this wrapped in Replicant 4.2 if I don't forget about it, as I doubt there'll be any new 4.0 image.
5. I think there is a theme engine that we inherited by CyanogenMod, maybe it can deal with fonts. Anyway, I'm not at all working on the UI side of things.
6. Android 4.0.4
7. Missing hardware support: the video encoder needs a non-free firmware that's not distributed, and our graphics are so slow that it would end up being 5fps or so anyway.