This topic is not directly linked with Trisquel. But it is about freedom with mobile phones.
Do you know http://replicant.us/ ? Have you ever tried ?
You know... I want to use free softwares, free OS on computers. But why should I stay with proprietary softwares on mobile phones. Replicant seems to be very free.
If someone tried it. On which type of mobile phones can we install Replicant ? Where to get it ? How to install it ? Is some technical know-how required ?
Possibly without abonment, without sim-locking.
Thank you in advance for your answers.
Replicant is compatible with a few different phone models:
It is very easy to install. I recently installed it on a Galaxy S2 and a Note.
2 initial comments:
1) I cannot get 3G to work on either phone.
2) The WiFi card on these phones (bcm4330) requires proprietary firmware to work.
Without 3G and WiFi the phones are not much good for me. I also have been unable to get networking to work through the USB connection with the computer. I have been unable to find help regarding how to make WiFi work. I should have copied the firmware out of the phones initially before flashing Replicant on them, which I did not do, i.e.
There is no help to flash the stock ROM back into the phones either. I am not an expert but it seems that Replicant re-partitioned the phone's HD. I don't know how to re-flash using Heimdell (the flashing tool that works on GNU). I have found some tutorials to do this with Odin, but the tool only works in Windows.
In any case, for the time being, I am stuck without any networking on both telephones.
Replicant seems to work well except for the above. I would like to use it with the proprietary WiFi, as I consider it necessary. If I cannot get it and 3G to work on Replicant I will try Cyanogenmod.
Hope this helps you. The instructions for flashing replicant are on their website. They are easy to follow.
> 1) I cannot get 3G to work on either phone.
It is officially supported, have you reported it to the developers?
> Without 3G and WiFi the phones are not much good for me. I also have
> been unable to get WiFi to work through the USB connection with the
The USB networking scripts on their site need some changes. (It's not
for wifi, there are other issues with using USB wifi devices.)
> I should have copied the firmware out of the phones initially
> before flashing Replicant on them, which I did not do, i.e.
CM includes that firmware.
> There is no help to flash the stock ROM back into the phones either.
Does Samsung provide the stock ROM images? It should be possible to
install them using Heimdall.
> I don't know how to re-flash using Heimdell (the flashing
> tool that works on GNU). I have found some tutorials to do this with
> Odin, but the tool only works in Windows.
Isn't it the same as installing the Replicant recovery?
(Replicant has an IRC channel and forum.)
Thanks for the response!
(sorry, I don't know how to quote text, so I will answer one by one here without your quoted text).
I e-mailed the developers yesterday and I'm waiting for a response.
I tried copying the CM firmware into my Replicant but couldn't get the WiFi to work. The files under system/vendor/firmware on CM (the ones related to Broadcom) are different files than the ones listed on the Replicant website). I downloaded a stock ROM with the intention of extracting the proprietary firmware from that but they are .img files and I couldn't figure out how to unpack or mount them so I could see the directory tree.
As far as I could see, Samsung does not provide the stock ROM. They can be found elsewhere, but none of them include a .pit file (to re-partition). I am weary of trying to flash the stock ROM without a .pit file. As you can probably tell, I am not knowledgeable on this subject. It might work without a .pit file...it might not. I didn't want to risk bricking one of the phones to test.
I will try their IRC channel for the 3G. They make it clear they will not help with the proprietary WiFi firmware (which I can understand). The forum is quite empty. I may try to post there regarding 3G as well. I kind of wish they provided support for the WiFi since it is really quite necessary. I curse Broadcom and not Replicant though.
I also noticed on the homescreen of replicant that it still includes the Google search box. I would like to change that to duckduckgo but it seems it is also used to search within the phone, so I'm not sure if this is possible. I haven't done much to look for a solution to this, since without any networking all I do is make and receive calls. I don't use a cell phone much anyway, but the Note was for my wife and she uses her phone more than I do...she's...hmmm...not so happy with me right now :/
I found out the same things when I installed Replicant on my Galaxy Note just recently. The stock ROM can be re-flashed using heimdall-frontend. I am planning to purchase a used Nexus One and install Replicant on it as it seems the WiFi chip is supported.
Can you explain to me how you reverted to the stock ROM with heimdall-frontend? Where did you download the Stock ROM from? Did it include a .pit file and is that needed? I guess I should have gone for the Nexus One. Pity.
Nexus One isn't supported by the current version of Replicant and it
needs firmware for wifi, audio and microphone unlike most other
Some phones have a USB host, while it doesn't provide enough power for
the ThinkPenguin FSF-certified wifi card to work without external power.
I guess the S2 and Note were better choices then. I mostly wanted a Replicant phone so I could use redphone and some other programs for encrypted comms. I'm willing to compromise on the non-free WiFi for now. I'm not happy about that, don't get me wrong. I'm also not happy with non-free bios or efi on desktops and laptops.
Without 3G and WiFi these phones are useless for me though. I'd rather use a 20 dollar phone and use it sparingly. They are all tracking devices anyway. I will keep trying to get Replicant working with 3G and WiFi. If not I will try CM (which I am not thrilled about). If none of that works, back to stock ROM and time to replace for cheap non-smart phone.
>If I cannot get it and 3G to work on Replicant I will try Cyanogenmod.
I have a creepy feeling about Cyanogenmod
Yep. And, if you want something really creepy, take a look at what the founder and leader of the project is wearing... http://cyngn.com/ (A "Google Glass".) ("Transhumanism", here we go... - http://www.danielestulin.com/2012/11/01/the-future-is-now-transhumanism/)
Notice also how one of the board members came from Google's Android project, and how the rest of the team is made up of people who came from the top corporations.
This whole project looks like a fake alternative, created by the same people behind Google Android.
And, it sounds like an Ubuntu equivalent, among the Android/Linux user community, which is starting to betray the principles on which it is supposedly based on.
The whole idea of CyanogenMod was (/seemed to be) to get rid of the proprietary software (that comes with the default Android/Linux). And, to go back on that principle (or to, purposely or not, never accomplish it), is to betray /the/ principle on which such project was (supposedly) founded.
And, besides this philosophical principle... Being this kind of devices... How can we know, for example, that such proprietary software doesn't have tracking, listening and filming spyware, inside of it?...
And, speaking of that... Is it legal for someone, in the United States, to walk around targeting everyone with a "Google Glass"? (How can we know that we are not being filmed?...)
And, not minding the meaning of the word "Android" - which is how the people at Google/CIA/NSA see the rest of us...
"Cyanogen" is a toxic substance (i.e. a poison).
So, I advise you all to keep away from it... :)
Thought I'd share this post about "freeing CyanogenMod" that I just stumbled upon:
Actually, as the author explains, it just removes some non-free userspace applications. There are still some non-free libraries, drivers and pieces of firmware on the phone, but it's a step in the right direction if you are unable to install Replicant and still want/need a smartphone.
Thank you for your answer.
3G and WiFi are not necessary for me on a mobile phone. But, anyway, are there WiFi card for Samsung phones that are compatible with free firmwares ?
It seems that all phones listed require non-free firmware. Is there a key/way to do with free firmwares only ?
Now I have none of these listed phones. I ask the question before to get one of these, in order to choose "the good one" (the free one).
Yes, it seems that they all require some non-free firmware. Hopefully someone will reverse engineer the bcm4330 at least. If it were a laptop I would have no problem buying a free USB WiFi stick. As it is a phone, I don't think the WiFi card can be replaced...but I don't know.
If we install a non-free firmware now, will it be later possible to replace it by a free firmware ?
Yes. But for heaven's sake, don't.
The Replicant developers (I'm one of them now; I just joined) are working hard to bring you a mobile device without proprietary software as much as possible. If you install proprietary software on your device, there is no point to using us. You might as well use CyanogenMod, which comes with that firmware pre-installed.
To answer some other questions, mobile devices do not have a "Wi-Fi card" like desktops and laptops. They have a modem, which controls all network communications (including telephony and data). The modem and the OS interact through the RIL (Radio Interface Layer). Wi-Fi and Bluetooth will not work at all without those blobs, under any circumstances.
The good news is, I'm going to try decompiling them. Stay tuned.
> You might as well use
> CyanogenMod, which comes with that firmware pre-installed.
CyanogenMod has more nonfree firmware and nonfree userspace libraries.
Replicant replaces some of these libraries and modifies the free code to
not require 3d acceleration which requires nonfree libraries on all
supported devices. CyanogenMod doesn't use these replacements unless
they have all features of the nonfree ones.
> To answer some other questions, mobile devices do not have a "Wi-Fi
> card" like desktops and laptops. They have a modem, which controls all
> network communications (including telephony and data). The modem and
> the OS interact through the RIL (Radio Interface Layer). Wi-Fi and
> Bluetooth will not work at all without those blobs, under any
Any source for this? Many devices supported by Replicant have a single
Broadcom chip providing wifi and Bluetooth which is separate from the
modem (see e.g. ). Tablets without the modem have that chip too.
Wifi and Bluetooth have free kernel drivers and nonfree firmware, unlike
modem which has also a nonfree userspace driver in RIL that Replicant
Thank for your answer.
Should I buy now a Nexus S ? should I wait a "moment" (your developers team will bring something new (?), new advices, new free firmwares) ?
When I will buy one mobile phone (where Replicant can installed), I will comme here and ask where to begin, how to change it.
Samsung Galaxy S3 can have Replicant. Is it also possible with the "Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini" (read in MediaMarkt in Switzerland) ?
I recommend the Nexus S from experience, but the Galaxy S3 is the highest-end phone we support, so you may wish to look into that. The new ports Paul has planned are:
* Samsung Galaxy Note 2
* Nexus 10
* LG Optimus L9
* Various Allwinner tablets
And I'll be working on the LG Optimus Black. There are other potential targets, such as the international version of the Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy Premier. The Note 2, once added, will be the most advanced device we support, but it could take months for the new version to be released.
We have full installation instructions for all our devices. See the links under the "Supported Devices" section. So there'll be no need to come here.
Paul Kocialkowski considered the Galaxy S3 Mini a few months ago, but I doubt a port will be made. There needs to be a CyanogenMod port to a device before we can port to it, and the only ports of said OS are unofficial, which is a big disadvantage. So don't count on it.
*Edit* One other thing. The Replicant project has forums for stuff like this! http://redmine.replicant.us/projects/replicant/boards I'm known as "Linus Drumbler" there.
If you're looking for a completely Free variant of Android/Linux, start with CyanogenMod.
It's a much more developed project than Replicant. (And, I'm surprised at how come I had never heard of this, until a few days ago, when informing myself about the Android phenomenon, and had only heard about the Replicant project...)
They have a big list of devices who are well supported by this "distro", and of others that are in the process of becoming well supported.
And, for the rest - in the case of the tablets, at least - there are other people, outside of this project, creating support for devices not listed there (but, that you'll have to search the Internet forums about, and for which you'll have to do some work of your own...)
Correcting my own statement...
The introduction on Wikipedia is misleading... The CyanogenMod "distro" does still include proprietary software:
(So that's why I had never heard of it...)
They say, though, that they are trying to become a completely Free alternative...
(I'm sorry for my previous post... As I said, I've only started informing myself about this Android/Linux phenomenon a few days ago.)
They are trying: they added and improved some replacements for nonfree
libraries from Replicant, they don't do it when it removes features.
(Vendor-written nonfree code has low quality and security issues, so
there is a nonfreedom motivation for this.) There are long lists of
nonfree files that they import from stock systems on some phones.
Replicant also removes the Google keylogger from the browser's address
bar and doesn't add nonfree apps.
Galaxy Note (N7000)
I have managed to get both WiFi (with proprietary firmware unfortunately) and 3G working on this phone. Replicant is working great so far.
Galaxy S2 (GT-I9100)
I have managed to get WiFi working (w/ proprietary firmware).
I have not managed to get 3G working yet. My guess is that the modem configuration installed by Replicant is somehow not compatible with the carrier's network. The idea is to find a compatible modem.bin and flash it, something I have not yet been able to do. Other than 3G, Replicant is also working great on this phone.
Limitations so far:
One of the reasons for choosing Replicant over a non-smart phone was to be able to encrypt voice and text.
Encrypted text works well through Gibberbot (Apache2), which includes OTR.
For encrypted voice I wanted to use RedPhone (GPL3).
However, Redphone is only distributed through the Google Play shop (which I would not use even if they paid me to).
There is a thread where someone claims RedPhone relies on proprietary services: https://github.com/nylira/prism-break/issues/552. I don't know if this is true.
The people at F-Droid were apparently unable to compile from source:
The main developer, Moxie Marlinspike is apparently unwilling to provide a compiled version outside of Google Play or create an official repo for the project (like Guardian Project did): https://github.com/WhisperSystems/TextSecure/issues/127
All of the above makes me wonder if I even want to try compiling it myself (I have no knowledge on how to do this, but would be willing to learn).
I found a different Android market called Aptoid and they seem to provide a RedPhone .apk: http://apps.store.aptoide.com/app/market/org.thoughtcrime.redphone/25/3334141/RedPhone%20%3A%3A%20Secure%20Calls
(1) I don't know that I should trust their version (although my guess is it comes straight from Google Play.
(2) I have to install their client. I don't know if they're trustworthy. I don't know what the license of their client is. They include a bunch of proprietary software from what I can see.
From the articles provided and the photo of the team leader wearing google glass (creepy), I agree with those of you who think Cyanogenmod should probably not be trusted.
GPS seems not to work on the N7000 at least. I haven't looked into it much. I'm quite happy if it does not work.
Trying out Ostel.co and CSipSimple as an alternative solution to RedPhone. Seems to work well...
For heaven's sake, remove that proprietary software! People have worked hard to bring you a phone containing only free software, and installing proprietary firmware defeats the purpose.
I understand and agree with your sentiment, Armworm. I am unhappy that the WiFi firmware is proprietary. I am a FS advocate and I understand the risks of running such software, as well as the vicious cycle that compromise in this area often fosters.
While I agree with you on principle, a smart phone without 3G or WiFi is pretty much useless for me. There is no workaround this issue. So it boils down to a binary choice. Just like I am forced to compromise and use proprietary BIOS or UEFI on most computers (as most do not support Coreboot), I have decided to compromise with the WiFi on these phones, until a free solution becomes available. As I see it, it is still much better than IOS, AOSP or CyanogenMod.
Regarding the people who worked hard to bring a phone containing *mostly* free software (as far as I know the boot loader, or some program in the boot section, is still proprietary), I both admire and respect these people. I don't feel that I am disrespecting them by making this decision. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if some of these people themselves chose to use the proprietary WiFi firmware, and it would indeed be their choice (I would also understand if they chose not to publicly state it). So far (I have just started using Replicant), my way to show appreciation has been to make a financial contribution to the project. This is the same thing I do with the Trisquel project, as well as being an associate member of the FSF and contributing to some other FS initiatives that I respect.
I live in an imperfect world. I do not encourage people to use proprietary software, quite the opposite in fact. I am, however, willing to make some small compromises for the sake of the reality in which I live. In a perfect world, my telephone would not be a tracking device. In a perfect world, I just wouldn't use a cell phone at all, given the architecture of current mobile networks. In an imperfect world, I choose thoughtfully and from time to time make small sacrifices. They allow me to survive, as I am bound to this system, unfree in many other ways. In this way, these sacrifices enable me to find greater freedom in other areas of my life. I don't expect you to follow suit either.
I do not use any proprietary software on my Trisquel systems, apart from the UEFI. My wireless USB cards were purchased from libre.thinkpenguin.com. I will not support or endorse any non-free program in this regard.
I do admire and support your sentiment, as I admire RMS's position. I apologize for not being able to live up, 100%, to these standards (as far as cellular computing is concerned). Digital freedom is but one aspect of the struggle for freedom in my life.
We can do nothing about the bootloader, as it is unmodifiable, but we can do something about the Wi-Fi firmware: remove it!
According to the Replicant Status page, mobile data is working on the Galaxy Note. Is it not working for you?
The bootloader (such as GRUB) is modifiable. I believe you meant the BIOS or the UEFI. However, they are modifiable as well. They can be flashed.
Is there a free BIOS for mobile devices?
Boot firmware (called BIOS on x86) is much different on other systems.
Commonly used ARM SoCs have bootrom (real ROM in the chip: just like
circuit) that boots a bootloader from NAND (the phone memory where the
OS is usually stored) which might be signed like in restricted boot.
(There might be more stages and the names are usually different: I don't
know the details.)
Most Replicant-supported phones have a nonfree bootloader in NAND which
is signed (not replaceable on nearly all phones except for flashing
nonfree updates from the vendor) with the exception of GTA04 using free
Mobile data is now working on the N7000 as stated in my previous post. It is still not working on the GT-I9100. I have been working to fix this under advice from the developers of Replicant and hope to eventually resolve this issue.
As to the WiFi firmware, I will not remove it. I hoped my previous post would provide a reasoned explanation regarding my decision. I would be happy to see you as a "member" of Trisquel, for example, but I won't chastise you if you're not.
Okay, if a buy one of the mobile phones that I can install Replicant on, which (mobile phone) do you advise me ?
When I will have one, I will come here and say "Hey, I bought today a mobile phone (for example a Samsung S3) ! What's the first step to install Replicant ?"
Possibly only with free firmwares, softwares, hardwares, bios, etc.
This is a difficult question and my experience is limited. I made my decisions based on:
_GT-I9100 (Galaxy S2)_
- Quite modern and cheaper than S3.
- Smaller screen to S3.
- Most important features supported (except the WiFi, but there is no perfect solution yet).
The 3G *should* have worked as soon as I configured it, but apparently the vendor that sold me this phone sold it with the wrong modem configuration for my country (the phone was purchased in a different country). I still hope to resolve this issue, and it shouldn't affect you if you make sure that the modem (baseband mostly) is indeed configured for your country.
_N7000 (Galaxy Note)_
- My wife wanted a big screen.
- I found an offer for a reasonable price.
While everything works well on this phone, if you don't need a big screen I would go for the S2, which also appears to run faster, in my subjective experience.
In conclusion, I would not buy an older phone because I want these to last for a while (i.e. Nexus One or HTC), and I did not buy an S3 because it's more expensive and the screen is too big for my taste. I hope this helps.
I strongly recommend the Nexus S. Installation is incredibly easy, it's cheap and it works well.
I second that. I have a Nexus S and it works well. My only complaint is the lack of free firmware for some of the devices but it still has mobile data and makes phone calls, which are the two things I needed most. Like Armworm said, installation is easy. I've tried to root other phones before in order to install different boot loaders and Cyanogenmod and it was a nightmere! The Nexus S is cake by comparison.
Thank you for your answer. I will see if some other people have also experimented Replicant (totally free, in sense of Richard Stallman).
Cyanogenmod is linked with Android, so Cyanogenmod is linked with proprietary hardware (and softwares ?), isn't it ?
As I understand it, CyanogenMod is not concerned with software freedom, but rather with open sourcing and the benefits that it can provide. They also include binary firmware with their distribution, whereas Replicant does not. I imagine, although I have not played around with CyanogenMod, that it must include more of google's "features" than Replicant.
Replicant comes with the standard google search bar on the homescreen, which can be disabled in settings. It also does not allow you to create a calendar without linking it to an "account," unless you download a program from f-droid called offline calendar. As far as I have tested, it is also not possible to make contact groups without this so called "account" (I imagine this means syncing my information to someone else's server, which I don't plan on doing).
The only difference between my phones and a "totally free" Replicant installation is the non-free system loaded WiFi firmware (in any case, many chips contain hardcoded proprietary code. The FSF has chosen not to regard these as proprietary software because they are hardcoded on the chips and not loaded by the system (and because it would make it impossible to use any computer in the world, as far as I know). Whether or not you agree with FSF, it is impossible to run a computer without at least the hardcoded non-free code running on the hardware. Obviously it is not an easy problem to solve, as making hardware is a very expensive proposition. The case of system loaded firmware is arguably worse because it means the firmware is modifiable. It does not mean the hardcoded code cannot abuse the user, as I understand it. In the case of Replicant running non-free WiFi firmware, it seems unlikely to me that broadcom could push updates without my consent. Who knows. I'm not an expert. It certainly opens up the possibility of backdoors, malware, etc. through the WiFi firmware, and the impossibility of analyzing the code to make sure it does not abuse the user). So, a "totally free" Replicant install would work exactly like my phones do, just without the ability to enable WiFi.
P.S. RMS does not use a cell phone, including non-smart phones. He (correctly) points out that they are still tracking devices (through cell tower triangulation for geo location, because of the (potential) ability of turning any of them into listening devices remotely at will, etc. So, it is not possible to find a cell phone that RMS would approve of ;)
For my part, I won't miss a proprietay software/firmware/hardware/bios. Internet on a mobile phone is not important for me. Between freedom and prison, I choose freedom.
But using something that is linked with google disturbs me. It's not for nothing that I left all google applications (GMail, Google Maps, Google search engine, Google+, Google Translate, etc.).
Replicant is not connected to google and such by default. CyanogenMod I'm not so sure.
According to this http://media.libreplanet.org/u/libby/m/denis-carikli/ Replicant developer Replicant is a freed Cyanogenmod. The main difference used to be that a CM base install included the blobs for things like WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS etc. The Google Apps etc were not included in CM's distribution, indeed Google hit them with a cease and desist when they did in th past. However, Cyanogenmod has recently been incorporated and they've put an installer on Google Play, what ships with that I don't know.
Hi people, just wanted to add some questions to this thread... is there a free alternative to whatsap? Many contacts of mine use this app and it is my way to communicate with them. Thanks!
I would advise all of your friends to start using XMPP directly without this censorship. There are many xmpp servers and just about anyone of them is better than this... except perhaps google.
Kontalk is a fantastic free alternative to WhatsApp. I highly recommend it. It's easy to use and completely free as in freedom :-)
It can be downloaded from F-Droid or Google Play.
I forgot one question :
Are you satisfied of Replicant ? With Replicant can you do everything you wanted ?
- send and receive calls and messages,
- transmit open formats files (ogg, ogv, webm, pdf, etc.),
- change your alarm/call/message sound,
- have and save photos/videos/sounds,
- install and uninstall free softwares,
- pocket lamp,
Yes, you can do every one of those things, either built-in or via third-party applications from F-Droid.
Hi, I'm the lead Replicant developer, also a Trisquel user and obviously free software enthusiastic!
If you have any question about Replicant, it might be better to ask them on our dedicated forums: http://redmine.replicant.us/projects/replicant/boards, mailing list: http://lists.osuosl.org/mailman/listinfo/replicant or irc channel: #replicant at freenode.
Also, if you encounter any unusual behavior (on components that are supposed to work, as described on the Replicant status page: http://redmine.replicant.us/projects/replicant/wiki/ReplicantStatus), you're welcome to open a bug report on our tracker: ! Make sure to include logs taken when the problem happens: http://redmine.replicant.us/projects/replicant/wiki/GettingLogs.
Also, note that we do have a direct contact email address, but it is not intended for personal inquiries, support requests or bug reports. It should only be used when the discussion has to be private, for instance when the press wants to send us an interview, etc.