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A look at /e/OS on the FairPhone 3 – a FOSS OS for phones [video] (share.tube)
79 points by indidea 10 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 54 comments

I'm a FP3 and /e/ user for about half a year now. And well, it works for me but frankly there are some issues. Nothing I'm not willing to take, but it's different to the premium android device with google services before. The Appstore provides some apps. But not all of them and some are quite outdated. They seem to get their APKs from https://info.cleanapk.org/. Some apps just don't work or stop reacting to touches. But this can be an Issue with the missing Google Services. The FP3 is a decent phone. It does its job well images are ok (old camera) focus and stabilization are not as good as flagship phones. The fingerprint reader is pretty unreliable. It usually needs some tries... However, its repairable, the price is fair for what you get, they try to be sustainable, there is /e/-os and lineage available. That's the main reason I bought it: I expect to use it as long as I want and not only as log as the manufacturer publishes the patches.

I am also a Fairphone 3 user but I don't notice many issues. Are you sure you are updating /e/ ? I am on verions 0.11 now and it is very rare to have a crash or something else. I also believe apps are updated quite frequently now.

I'm on 0.11, too. OS crashes are rare ~2 time, maybe. It's minor things, embedded qr-scanner fails, AntennaPod crashes and needs a restart, some Apps like eBay just crash... But checking the apps I got from /e/'s-Store: They are up-to-date :)

I don't use eBay but AntennaPod crashes occasionally on stock Android. I wonder are these definitely /e/ issues?

As an Android developer I can't see how an app would stop responding to touches because of lack of Google services. It'll either crash completely because it won't be able to bind to them or just skip the functionality.

I wonder if it implements Accessibility APIs and a screen reader. It took Google years to catch up to what VoiceOver on iOS can do. I hope FOSS does not forget about this topic on phones. My phone has become the most ubiquitous assistive technology in my life. Checking public transport arrival times. reading labels on canned food. using tools like Be My Eyes to solve everything for which there is no deep learning application yet. All these things would be impossible without a good Accessibility API and screen reader. And before you ask, no, voice enabling a select few applications is not the solution. This is what Android tried in the first years. It was horrible and pretty laughable at the same time.

I wish that FOSS could serve this, but as you said, it took Google, a billion dollar company, a long time to get it right.

/e/OS has about 40 team members mentioned on their website, including regular contributors - so its not 40 full-time employees.

I think the best chance to get something going in this field is to try to get public funding for a research project around something like universal accessibility or some such.

If FOSS can not cater to people with special needs per definition, as you seem to imply, I will have to stop advocating it altogether. If advocating for FOSS means supporting a movement that is not willing to bridge the gap and fight against digital divide, we need to stop doing so. Technology is the best chance for people with disabilities to catch up in our society. If we take that aware from them, we are not doing any good.

Your comment shows a fundamental misunderstanding of F/LOSS. It's a movement for software's freedom and consequently users' freedom.

Programmers from all over the world work on their free time on projects, some foundations exist supported by individual donations and companies' funding. Some companies release their code as F/LOSS.

There is no single entity that dictates what software is built and moreover people working on F/LOSS are (I would say) on average more aware/sensitive of their work's impact. I know for example that GNOME people are actively trying to better accessibility and would welcome the help (your time and skill or donations, or both).


On the one hand, you are right. GNOME has been doing good work in the past. The move from CORBA to D-Bus didn't help to stabilize the AT-SPI, leaving us with a halfway broken system for years. But please dont get me going on donating to GNOME. I once donated 500 EUR to GNOME, back in the days when they had their friends of GNOME initiative. I was trying to earmark my donation so that it goes directly to Accessibility development. I neither got a thank you, nor did my donation ever get listed on their friends page. All I got out from this was the feeling that my money was effectively lost somewhere in the system.

Also, I am contributing to F/LOSS code since about 20 years. You might think I am "fundamentally misunderstanding" things. I believe I just have a different opinion on things then you. Lets leave it at that.

That's open source, not FLOSS. Open Source is a pragmatic movement that simply believes in open collaboration. FLOSS is a much more activist movement, many of who's proponents believe that proprietary software is inherently wrong and an abuse of users. That's not really a tenable position to take when the FLOSS ecosystem so regularly fails users with assisted needs.

Don't judge a loose movement as a whole against the standards of some members. And it is perfectly fine to advocate for an ambitious position even if it is not yet achieved.

You can be the owner of a publishing house and advocate free speech and still you might not have the resources to publish every worthy book.

If there are more contributors then the accessibility will improve, but unlike a commercial project you can't just oblige/order someone to do it. You have to motivate people - with the right skill set - to donate their private time to this cause over all the other causes (or non-programming activities they could support).

So great to be idealistic but you have to accept your own limitations. Maybe getting something to work for most people is simply a more achievable mid-term goal than addressing each special case, no matter how important.

>Don't judge a loose movement as a whole against the standards of some members. And it is perfectly fine to advocate for an ambitious position even if it is not yet achieved.

Not just some members, but the founder members and in fact the organisation that they set up to promote free software, the FSF, which campaigns on the basis that non-free software is "An exercise of unjust power".

As for not yet achieved, the free software movement was founded in 1984. Richard Stallman was celebrating the achievements of 15 years of free software back in 1999.

I'm sorry, but your conflation of Open Source with Free Software would appall Stallman and the FSF who go to great lengths to emphasise that FLOSS is quite separate and has had a very specific meaning right from the start.

FOSS is not a company with a big budget and a CEO. It's a philosophy and a community built around the radical idea that user freedoms matter. If you want something particular to exist, then perhaps you should start building it or donating to those who are. No matter how nice or important it is, someone needs to build it and development requires more than just wishing — it requires money and time.

It's this user blaming by the FLOSS community that really sticks in my craw. On the one had proprietary software is immoral, on the other FLOSS software not living up to the needs of users is, er, the user's fault for not being programmers or personally sponsoring their own development effort.


Thanks for this comment. I hear this a lot from people who actually know about F/LOSS but were not able (or interested) to switch from proprietary solutions because their needs are simply not handled in an appropriate way by F/LOSS.

In the past, when I was still more enthusiastic about free software, I heard their words but they somehow didn't really sink in. These days when all I hear if funding and the lack thereof, I start to get what they were saying, and I am actually pretty concerned about this. The worst outcome we could have is that free software advocacy actually works and these inaccessible solutions dominate the market. This would mean that free software actively pushs disabled people out of our society. Thinking about this, I stand to my massively downvoted comment. This would be a horrible outcome. So as long as there is no solution to the "why should I think about these fucks" or "nobody is paying me to care for disabled people" it would be a bad thing to further advocate free software.

Quite, it's not that I'm against open source for FLOSS, there are a lot of hard working selfless people doing great work. It's the self righteous lecturing side of it that does so much damage to the movement and disrespects people.

> supporting a movement that is not willing to ...

Where did you get the impression that anyone is "unwilling"???

Do you have an example of this, or is it, as other comments point out, just a resourcing issue?

By supporting it, do you mean that you donate? Or do you mean that you just talk about it? It takes a lot of money to develop hard features like this.

If a lot of people like you stop supporting it because it lacks accessibility, it might not become big enough to have the resources to implement accessibility.

Chicken and egg thing.

We need to stop treating accessibility as an afterthought. Adding accessibility in a late stage of product development leads to suboptimal results, both in term of developer time needed and user experience. This is exactly why Google took so long to do proper Android accessibility.

I never said any of these things.

Why do you act like I want to take technology away from anyone?

Go ask Microsoft, Google and Apple how much money they spend on accessibility and then compare that to the income of /e/OS.

How would you fix that resource problem if not by trying to get better funding?

This is more a problem of man-time/funding than willingness.

Sure. All the free software we use today has been written on some sort of secret contract, everyone has been paid for their work. Unfortunately, tehre is no money to fund accessibility. So we cant do anything about it. But we still advocate free software since it is morally sooo much superior to all these evil commercial software companies. If the solutions we advocate inherently prevent people with disabilities from joining in mondane tasks in our society, that is really a bummer for these people.

Please explain. Why was Steve Jobs able to explain to Apple that in the case of Accessibility, ROI has to be ignored, because it is a social responsibility to build a platform that works for everyone. Why, to the contrary, is the free software movement trying to argue that this is absolutely impossible because of lack of funding?

Off topic: how is one supposed to search for "/e/"? Is there some alternative spelling?

On topic: I like that /e/ foundation is selling new and refurbished phones with the OS installed. It (hopefully) gives them some income and it helps get this OS in hands of users who would rather not tempt the goddess of bricks.

I think searching e foundation is the easiest.

Is this in any way related to Enlightenment which also styled the "e" similarly?


/e/ is a project started by Gaël Duval, founder of Mandrake Linux (nowadays known as Mandriva).

See [1] [2] [3]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki//e/_(operating_system)

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ga%C3%ABl_Duval

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enlightenment_(software)

I think they use e_mydata at some places [1].

[1] https://mastodon.social/@e_mydata

It is a placeholder name. The previous name was Eelo, but it was in conflict with an already existing brand.

Slash-E? How authors themselves do it?

eOS ?

From the page:

It consists of:

an installable mobile operating system for smartphones, which is forked from Android and strongly “ungoogled”

a set of sorted and improved default open source applications

various online services that are linked to the mobile operating system, such as: a meta search engine for the web, drive (with synchronization), mail, calendar, notes, tasks.

Anyone outside Europe can buy the Fairphone 3+ from Clove UK [1]. They have 25 yrs experience shipping phones. The official fairphone store ships only inside europe.

But first check FP3/FP3+ Network specifications below to see whether the 4G LTE bands of your carrier are supported:

In case you need it for your specific situation, the network specifications for the FP3/FP3+:

    Configuration Dual-SIM, Dual-Standby (DSDS)
    SIM Sockets 2 x Nano-SIM (4FF)
    Network Technology 2G / 3G / 4G LTE - Advanced 
    GSM/GPRS/EDGE Quad-band: 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz 
    UMTS: Band 1 (2100 MHz); Band 2 (900 MHz); Band 5 (850MHz); Band 8 (900 MHz)
    3G Max Downlink Speed - 42 Mbps
    3G Max Uplink - 11 Mbps
    4G / LTE Advanced Band 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 7 / 13 / 20 / 26
    4G Max Downlink Speed - 300 Mbps
    4G Max Uplink Speed - 75 Mbps
Source: https://support.fairphone.com/hc/en-us/articles/360047326452

[1] https://www.clove.co.uk/collections/smartphones/products/fai...

The e.foundation home page caters to users without any technical knowledge, which is great but I'm not sure users of alternative mobile operating systems are quite there yet. It's not even immediately obvious this is Android-based.

It would be useful to list some more specifics. Is this built on LineageOS? Does it come with their own cloud services? Can you opt out of that? How close do you track LineageOS?

The video shows someone installing the Facebook app. That puts a limit to how de-googled this could possibly be. How are those products distributed? Can anything from the Play store be installed the same way?

Happy user of LineageOS here, but there is definitively room for a more complete system with best of breed open source apps installed for those services most people require (mail, chat, maps etc.). Alternative application stores makes me wary however, F-Droid does an admirable job but compared to something like Debian they are still tiny.

I have been using /e/OS on a Fairphone 3 for several months now, and I am quite satisfied.

Yes, it is built on LineageOS, though I am not sure how closely it is tracked.

They have their own cloud services, but you can opt out. You can use your own Nextcloud server as well, which I think is pretty neat: you can have a convenient cloud-based experience (contact and calendar sync etc.) with the stock /e/OS installation, while also having ownership of your data in your Nextcloud instance. (Their own servers are also heavily based on Nextcloud.)

Regarding app stores: I think it is the weakest point. F-Droid is nice but not enough, the /e/OS App Store is a bit murky for me; for most of the non-FOSS apps I use the Aurora Store, which seems trustworthy to me so far.

Using Play Store via microG in /e/ is akin to using non-free in Debian. The philosophy of the OS recommends against it. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. You can though.

As far as I understand it is currently based on LineagaOS but this could change. Main difference in philosophy is that they aim to support the selected official devices longer than LineageOS does. Which is a good thing.

yes, it's based on lineage.

for apps that need google, microG is avaiable, and aparently does the job. (i don't use apps that need google, so i don't even have microG activated)

Regarding the ban: this is why a community forum needs to be separate from the company.

/e/ is a great idea, but it really leaves a sour taste in my mouth how the /e/ foundation hides the contributions of the free software projects they rely on.

https://microg.org/ is the core that makes it possible to create the /e/ distribution, but good luck finding that in any of /e/'s promotional material.

In July, /e/ said that they were funding the MicroG developer. The blog on their website appears to be down, but here is a copy of their press release:


MicroG also accepts donations through Liberapay and GitHub Sponsors, if you want to contribute directly:



I guess better late than never, but after 2+ years of people complaining about this they announce it on 'oldwww'?

Weak sauce, if you ask me. But you're right, they do mention it.

From the FAQ: "/e/ is forked from LineageOS. We’ve modified several parts of the system (and we’re just getting started): installation procedure, settings organization, default settings. We’ve disabled and/or removed any software or services that were sending personal data to Google (for instance, the default search engine is no longer Google). We’ve integrated microG by default, have replaced some of the default applications, and modified others. We have added a synchronization background software service that syncs multimedia contents (pictures, videos, audio, files…) and settings to a cloud drive, when activated."

MicroG is mentioned a lot as a part of /e/ check https://e.foundation/get-started/ Does /e/ = Lineage OS + MicroG?

Searching for microg, excluding gitlab and the forum, returns over 1100 results (with google):

site:e.foundation -site:community.e.foundation -site:gitlab.e.foundation "microg"

References to LineageOS (which /e/ is a fork of) and microG can be found on their "Getting Started" page [1]. I wouldn't call that "hiding". Also, don't they fund microG development since a couple of weeks?

I too am critical towards /e/ because I think that they have done very little own work for now. But hiding their reliance on other OSS projects isn't something I'd call them out for.

[1]: https://e.foundation/get-started/

for what little work they did, they created a much more polished experience compared to lineageOS. i have been using both, and the difference is noticeable.

that and effectively auditing the android for google dependencies and privacy violations, i think are already a quite substantial contribution.

it is also worth considering how many resources it took to achieve that, so i think it's unfair to say they didn't do much as if anyone with a few weekends to spare could have achieved the same.

They were removing LineageOS headers from files and when called out just added "and others" instead.

I love to see any project that aims to end smartphone duopoly craziness - but seriously, he's trying to end the dependency of a central google account by replacing it with an /e account as the first step? This does not make any sense and is so contradictory to the idea that I did not look any further into the project (some while ago).

As long as the API is well defined, and the /e/ account can be easily replaced by a 3rd party, it’s probably the only way to a successful replacement.

It’s also ok to not define the API immediately, but to wait a few years to understand what the API should actually look like and then publicly define it for v2.0 once you have enough feedback about what you did wrong.

Thinking of buying a fairphone and using e on it, but I have a question about apps, and thought hackernews might know:

I don't need that many apps, but the few I do need are very specific, such as the local public transportation app, and bankID from my bank.

Can I just download those from the normal google app store?

Recent discussion about Fairphone 3+ , for those interested:


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