A Fully Free Android based Mobile OS? FSF is Aiming for the Skies with Replicant Project


Android OS is a free and open source piece of software, just like an Ubuntu or a Fedora, no questions about that. But is it devoid of proprietary software entirely? No. Though the OS itself is completely open source, there are always components like drivers and such, which in many of the cases, will be closed source. Not really satisfactory for someone who want a pure open source experience on their mobile. That's where Replicant Project comes in. Replicant is a project aiming to provide a fully free Android distribution running on multiple devices. Ideologically speaking, Replicant OS is very similar to FSF's own GNU Hurd OS.

replicant - fully free android distro by fsf

Replicant OS: A fully free Android distribution for mobile phones
While most of the software running on the Android phones is free, and can be distributed by anyone, some components are proprietary. These components include several libraries and drivers necessary for interfacing with the phone’s hardware. Since these components are not free software, the user community cannot redistribute them. And since some of them are necessary to make the phone work, the user community can’t share working firmwares.

The Replicant project started in middle 2010 in order to gather various initiatives attempting to produce a fully free-as-in-freedom Android derivative for the first 'Google phone', the HTC Dream. It was founded by Bradley M. Kuhn, Aaron Williamson, Graziano Sorbaioli and Denis ‘GNUtoo’ Carikli. The project quickly led to the writing of replacement code for the non-free parts that were required to make the HTC Dream functional.

While Replicant was originally based on the Android Open Source Project code, it was decided to switch to CyanogenMod as a base starting from Replicant 2.2, in order to make it easier to support more devices. The current crop of supported devices include Nexus S, Galaxy S2, Galaxy S, Galaxy Nexus, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1) and Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0).

Replicant Project Funding Campaign
FSF is currently conducting a fund-raising campaign for Replicant Project. Donations will help the Replicant team buy new devices and port Replicant OS to them as well as help the developers attend free software events to promote Replicant OS.
[Sources: wikipedia, replicant.us]

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