AnBox versus Android


#1

I would like to start out apologizing for coming with a question that has probably already been answered. It is just that I am very unfamiliar with much of the tech-terminology, so I would need to phrase this in my own simplistic language:

From what I gather, looking at this forum and FAQs, Librem 5 will be delivered with PureOS, which will not allow android apps (“Google Play Apps”) to work.

If I still want to run android apps (and I probably do, at least until I get used to the alternatives) I could either install android OS on my Librem 5 (which will “probably” work), or I could wait for a certain AnBox to appear. Anbox simulates android within Pure OS.

What are the ups and downs of these two options? I realize I would have to wait until the Librem 5 is released and widely in use to get definite answers.


#2

I am not aware that any of your proposed solution would work on day one.

I did not yet read anything about anyone trying to install android on the librem 5. In case it works you would have yet another android device but with probably hardware you trust more. If you use only android without gapps or something you would probably also have a secure system. However the big con would be, that you stay with android and could not launch all the cool stuff which you might be able to launch with linux - as all the gnome apps, games etc which you can currently see in the “runs on librem 5” videos.

On the other hand I haven’t yet seen any anbox on a librem 5 devkit yet either. The pro of this solution would be, having the probably best tuned os at launch (pureos which is developed by purism directly for that hardware). Also you would have all the apps which run on the librem 5. You could also be free of android which might be kind of a metal thing in my head. Also think of all other features the librem 5 promised like kill switched, convergence etc which will work with the original os out of the box. However as I said, I haven’t seen any anbox or other android emulation yet and in case there are dependencies to e.g. google apps or other stuff like contacts or whatever you never know if your app might work well.

Personally I don’t use a lot of apps on android and everything I currently need is already implemented for linux. The only thing that I admit is that it could happen that I need propietary apps from banking or dhl in the future. However that’s no high prio for me - I prefer sharing more apps with the linux-world than with the android world. Have you checked if your apps which you think you need from android don’t have any linux comparable implementation? My hope is that everything I regularly apt install could also be installed on the librem 5 (and probably implemented to adapt to the screen). I had a hope that we might be able to list somewhere the apps which the community needs the most and have a poll, to see where a transformation should be done first.

Maybe you could also think of a third way having android and pureos side by side. At least that’s what some “linux installers” for android do. (and afaik ubuntu touch also did it kind of like this - ubuntu convergence was an android in mobile + ubuntu in desktop afaik) However I prefer a libhandy or kirigami-solution :slight_smile:


#3

It really depends on why you want a Librem 5.

One of the main advantages of this phone for me is that it doesn’t have to run Android, so I would not want to install an Android-based OS on it because it would defeat the object. However, if you did install Android, you would still benefit from the lack of binary blobs, the hardware kill switches, the serviceable hardware and the baseband/CPU separation, provided you trust that the particular Android distribution you install will not wipe out those benefits. I can that imagine some people might really just want an Android phone with those hardware features.

You might be thinking about dual booting Android and PureOS. In theory that would be possible, but I cannot speculate about how easy it will be, because I do not know exactly how the Librem 5 will boot, and whether there are any multi-OS bootloaders that are compatible with it.

To my mind, Anbox is a best-of-both-worlds solution, but it does not eliminate the problems that specific Android apps bring to the table.

Anbox is already available, but it’s optimised for use on desktop computers and does not necessarily have 100% app compatibility. It also doesn’t have any specific integrations with the Librem 5’s default apps.


#4

I’m also not aware of any major development on running android on the L5 but hopefully the ubuntu touch community will get (got?) a dev kit and port their distro, because i think they have anbox pretty high on their todo list. And as they have a running system for daily use with a community for some time now i expect ubuntu touch to be ahead of the other system for some time on. It’s most likely to have bugs and rough edges in your system which only come to light with daily use, so PureOS on mobile will need some time to catchup on this, i think.

So ubuntu touch might be worth a look for you.


#5

I had a look. At th Wikipedia article. And as stated way up in the beginning, I am overwhelmed by tech-terminology.

Bear with me. I am not pretending:

So, Ubuntu Touch is an OS that is (could soon be?) an alternative to PureOS and/or Android on Librem 5?

It doesn not seem to run android apps. So why is it better than PureOS for someone (like me) wanting to run android apps on Librem 5? Is it only the fact that it is more “mature” and therefore should have fewer bugs etc.?


#6

Beacause Anbox already works with UBports and not with PureOS:

http://docs.ubports.com/en/latest/userguide/dailyuse/anbox.html


#7

That was probably not very clear from my side:

I want the kill switches. I have actually thought about them for years, particularly for laptops: Why don’t they just manufacture all laptops that way?

I want a life free from Google, Facebook and whatever corporate monster next in line and after that. BUT I am just not quite ready to ditch everything, for pure lack of convenience. I have moved from Gmail to Fastmail, from Google Search to DuckDuckGo etc., but I still visit YouTube and I use my Facebook account to a limited degree.

And I am pissed off that I can’t decide for myself what apps I can have on my phone. At least not without rooting my phone, which I am not comfortable with, because of my lack of knowledge. To some extent I avoid using apps (e.g. Facebook) by opting for the browser-version of the same service.

But sometimes I just have to have the app: WhatsApp and one of my banks are examples. They need to be installed on a phone first, in order to work in a browser.


#8

Instead of an per app emulation what about thinking of a complete android emulation? :smiley:

In case the phone has sufficient ram, maybe it would at some extend be possible to have android as a vm running on the phone?

https://packages.debian.org/sid/qemu

or maybe even using android in lxd? (I never tested that)

Given that you emulate the complete android system, you could also install spyware that should not break out of your vm while on the other hand not having problems of missing connections to any google api etc.


#9

That’s certainly possible, but you will probably need hardware support for virtualisation to run it with acceptable speed and power-efficiency.