When you look around you, the technologies you use in your everyday life will always look like they will live forever or trend forever, but when better technologies show up they will give way.
We are all going fuzzy about Android and iOS today, these operating systems kicked out some older trending operating systems to be where they are today. But that might be changing very soon.
I don’t know about you but there has always been a situation where you dislike your OEM and wish there will be something better out there apart from Apple or Android to power your mobile. When you are feeling this way, you are not alone, we exist in hoards.
Gaël Duval, who is the creator of the popular early Linux distribution, Mandrake Linux, is turning his talent to build an alternative Android-based mobile operating system called eelo.
Duval is being driven by the fact that, “Apple, Google, Facebook etc are business models and they are harmful to our economical and social environments.” In particular, he wants his privacy back. Stock Android depends on Google services, which means he doesn’t control his privacy. So, eelo is being designed with open-source software to preserve privacy while still using online services and adding a more attractive interface.
Eelo is going to be a non-profit project, as Duval is not trying to turn it into a business, unlike the failed CyanogenMod which eventually failed and now theirs’ is a reincarnation of it called lineageOS.
Also, Duval will not be creating a Linux-based smartphone operating system as so many others have attempted. That’s because building a complete operating system on smartphone hardware from the ground up isn’t easy. Just as Mozilla (FireOS), Canonical, or even Microsoft (Windows Mobile) did. Instead, Duval is launching eelo from the existing Android clone LineageOS (reincarnation of Cyanogen).
Duval explained, LineageOS is a CyanogenMod fork and its design and some other nitty gritties are not enough to fit his purpose. Also, unless you are a geek, LineageOS is not realistically usable if you don’t want Google inside.”
After several weeks of development, eelo is running as a beta
According to Duval, the real problem he is facing right now is removing Google Play Store, Google Play Services, and Google Services.
For installing programs, Duval is turning to the alternative Android program repositories F-Droid and APKPure. He will also need an “eelo store,” which would deliver both official free applications like APKPure and open-source applications such as offered in F-Droid.
Then, to replace Google Services, Duval plans on using MicroG. This is an open-source implementation of Google’s proprietary Android userspace apps and libraries.
To deal with programs that use Google’s SafetyNet Attestation Application Programming Interface (API) — an API that checks to make sure the application runs in a Google Android compliant environment — Duval thinks eelo will probably use Magisk Manager. This is a program that enables Android applications to run on smartphones, such as rooted systems, that would normally block them.
For search, Duval plans to offer privacy-enabled DuckDuckGo and the new privacy-oriented search engine Qwant. You’ll also be able to pick your own search engine, since as Duval admits, “in some cases, it [Google] is still offering the best results.”
Then, heading to the next phase, here Duval will meet all the invisible internet services most people never think about, which includes Domain Name System (DNS), which can also be used to track you. To deal with this, by default, eelo will use the Quad 9 DNS. The Global Cyber Alliance (GCA)’s Quad 9 both preserves privacy while blocking access to known malicious sites.
It’s still early days for eelo, and Duval is welcoming support both on eelo’s Kickstarter page, where the current goal is to raise $120,000, and by talking directly to him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by following him on Twitter or Mastodon.
An Android alternative, can it work? You can’t be so certain because so many alternatives to Android and iOS have failed. But the fact that Android forks have had more success and with people desiring for more privacy which Android OS is so deficient in. I think eelo has an excellent chance of becoming a viable niche operating system.