Autonomía digital y tecnológica

Código e ideas para una internet distribuida

Linkoteca. Fairphone

The definition of online privacy has been expanded to include many more elements beyond the basic definition. With today’s advanced Internet technology, having “privacy” is no longer simple. In fact, it is about being able to have much more control over the information that others can access about you and your activities. Many people are concerned about the security of their phones. While it may seem like common sense, many individuals do not realize how easy it can be for a person to take advantage of technology when they have the ability to secure their online privacy by using Linux secure phones.

Fairphone and e Foundation are teaming up and taking the rare step of selling a non-Google Android phone to the public. The Fairphone 3, a midrange smartphone originally released in September 2019, can now come pre-loaded with the /e/ OS, a fork of Android that replaces the usual suite of Google apps and services with open source options and /e/’s cloud services. The goal of the two companies is to produce a «privacy conscious and sustainable phone.»

The new OS option, the oddly named (and impossible to Google) /e/ OS, was founded by Gaël Duval, the creator of Mandrake Linux. /e/ seems a lot like a real Linux distribution, in that it first tries to gather existing open source projects into a cohesive OS, then does whatever work is needed to fill in the gaps that exist. /e/ is based on Lineage OS, the Android community’s foundational open source operating system. Lineage (which was built out of the ashes of CyanogenMod) takes Google’s open source Android repo (AOSP) and cleans it up for individual devices, making sure all the hardware works on each device while adding a few extra features.

A major challenge for anyone trying to fork Android is keeping up with both the breakneck pace of Google’s Android development and the impossible amount of devices out there. Any users of /e/ should know they’ll most likely be on an old version of Android for the majority of the time. The LineageOS builds that /e/ is based on only hit Android 10 earlier this month, something like seven months after Google’s final release. Naturally, /e/ is still on Android 9, a 20-month-old OS.

/e/ OS is the brainchild of Gaël Duval, one of the developers that created Mandrake Linux, which is now known as Mandriva Linux. Formerly Eelo, /e/ is a privacy-minded mobile operating system. Based on LineageOS, which is in turn based on the late CyanogenMod, /e/ is an Android derivative and maintains app compatibility.

However, because of the un-Googling of the operating system, which any Android savvy users will understand is a large task, many apps that rely on Google’s services are left unusable. To remedy this issue, /e/ employs the MicroG package. It’s an open source subset of Google’s services that respects privacy. This allows many apps to work, but far from all.

¿A qué tipo de dificultades se enfrenta Fairphone a la hora de diseñar y fabricar su teléfono que otros fabricantes, grandes y pequeños, no tienen que hacer frente?

Creo que hay desafíos para cualquier organización, cada una en su marco de actividad. Para nosotros principalmente son los costes añadidos por no tener una economía de escala. También nuestra influencia en la cadena de suministro es limitada por la misma razón.

¿Qué ventajas encontráis fabricando vuestro teléfono respecto a las demás marcas?

Nos valemos de nuestra flexibilidad para lograr innovar pese a esos obstáculos. La toma de decisiones en una organización con 40 personas es más rápida y ágil que en organizaciones más establecidas. Nosotros no tenemos el lastre de tener inversores y nuestra marca nació sin miedo a los riesgos de reputación. Al contrario, somos una plataforma para probar nuevos modelos y ayudar a otras organizaciones a adoptarlos, aprendiendo de nuestros errores y siendo muy transparentes con las consecuencias.