Eelo, the Google-less Android OS from the creator of Mandrake Linux
For some users, the level of detail captured about us by our smartphones borders on intrusive. This concern is magnified when the company which provides the completed OS and most of the default software services is also a search and advertising juggernaut that benefits from data about their users.
Now Gaël Duval, who is no stranger to forking and managing operating systems as the original creator of Mandrake Linux, has created a new non-profit project known as ‘eelo.’ The goal of the project is to build an open source environment using the open-source LineageOS as the base, and which will come with only free open source software (FOSS) installed. There will be no Google services or software by default, neither will there be any other software which has been shown to be ‘data hungry.’
Once the operating system and software are sorted, the next step for the project will be to build associated web services (such as email and maps) using only open source software, and with a strong focus on privacy. Once an eelo supported phone is in the hands of users, they aren’t restricted to only using FOSS if they don’t want to. As a fork of LineageOS, Eelo will be compatible with existing Android software, so users can install mainstream Android apps if they wish.
Those who want to try and create their own Google-free experience can already choose a phone with great ROM support, flash a ROM, and then avoid installing Google products and services, but this isn’t necessarily a smooth experience for a daily use phone. Eelo wants to provide a stable product that is easy for consumers to pick up and use, while also maintaining the functionality expected of a smartphone by substituting in their own privacy-orientated services.
The eelo project is currently in the early stages of development. They have some working prototypes (LeEco Le2 and Xiaomi Mi5S), but there is a Kickstarter campaign running to help fund the process of producing a consumer-ready product and for development of the web services. Kickstarter funding options include options to receive a phone running the software.