WhatsApp rears up its ugly head

Back in 2019 WhatsApp stopped working on my WindowsPhone. Since I only used it for chatting with family and friends, while hating Facebook/Meta and their policies and intentions I thought it good riddance.
Back then, I was mv own boss, and only needed a one-on-one chat connection with my working partner. We could manage very well using sms, and later on Telegram.
(Meanwhile I have changed my mind about Telegram, and am hoping for the quick release of a registrable Signal client - more specifically Axolotl.)

Nowadays I am working as a teacher in a big team, and of course the team communicates through WhatsApp. I have already informed them I think schools should not force their staff to use the piece of shite that is WhatsApp, but I am on my own here. And I can hardly tell them to switch to Signal when I can’t even use that myself for lack of a registerable app on the L5.

So, I am afraid I have to give in, for know.

Problem is, I can’t.

I do not want to ‘infest’ my L5 with Android apps (sandboxed or otherwise). And I can’t install or run WhatsApp on my Windows Phone to scan the QR-code, so I can’t switch to one of the secondary clients that are available in the PureOS store.

So, after this somewhat lengthy intro, here is my question:
Is there a way to get WhatsApp up and running on the L5, without installing a caged primary and without access to my original primary Windows Phone install?

I know there are ways to bridge into WhatsApp from a Matrix client, but that strikes me as a very complicated option, and maybe not so practical in daily usage. Although I am open to (free) suggestions.

Thanks in advance for your help!


I don’t know if you can convince your colleagues. I have a strong opinion in favor of telegram. The telegram app exists for any device I know and you can use it even with a browser on any operating system which has an Internet browser. I use it even on the L5 in firefox because the existing desktop app for the L5 has issues.

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I feel sorry for you, you are in a shitty situation, I was in a similar one with much better luck

  • Isn’t there some kind of web access to whatsapp ?
  • Else do you have some close friendly colleague that could keep you up-to-date on what’s going on it ?
  • Also, If it’s a mandatory tools to work with, couldn’t they provide it one to you ? it would be a phone that stays in the school, with the only purpose of using this app
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Not free, but might be option to consider…

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WhatsApp web on a browser? :slightly_smiling_face:

I am in the same situation as OP.

I have been using WhatsApp in a web browser (WhatsApp for Linux | Flathub) on my L5, since it’s the only thing my father in law uses to communicate.

Now I’m getting asked to re-scan the QR code on my old Android (it’s around somewhere but I lost it after getting my L5), and meanwhile he is texting me daily to tell me he sent me something on WhatsApp. I explained that it won’t work for me, he doesn’t get it. Sigh…


This would be the best solution and a strong case to argue for, as it keeps the phones physically compartmentalized from each other.

Thanks for the replies so far. And especially for the support :slight_smile:
Maybe I could ask for a school phone. Who knows, maybe they will agree.

I will check out Elements. Sounds promising.

I could try to promote Telegram - it is certainly not as bad as WhatasApp. But I do think open source software would the better choice for a public institute like a school.


Using Whatsapp is a sinkhole like many other closed source Products and Devices the little ones will have contact with.

Solutions depend on your offerings. If you have some school Admin you can ask to set up Matrix or a Raspberry-Pi with an XMPP Server. You still need a Domain and have to administrate this.

If you have free E-Mail by your school and every pupil has one - or you could generate some new and have enough Disk Space on the Server/Backup. You can use “Deltachat”, its an encrypted setup of a Messenger like Whatsapp, based on Email with encryption.

If you have spare free time, and like to teach Informatics, set up some Raspbery-Pi, teach your Pupils, how to use Linux - only basics. Add 30 Accounts on that Raspberry Pi, let them choose a Password/Login. Teach them about Folders and File Management. And Just use SSH and every Pupil can Login on that Raspberry Pi and Chat about Saving strings on Public files and collect them. Its a rustic, but easy to use and understandable lesson for young folks - and they an Set up the Device at home too. ;D

It depends how much time you will spend and how much service you would like to see. What i love on open source, is that you can teach and let the kids carry it home and set up and running later there own system on full self control. Like to cook some pancake.

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What’s in the QR code? (Don’t post it here.)

Maybe you can get the effect of scanning the QR code by doing something on a different device.

flatpak install flathub-beta app.drey.PaperPlane ?

Good luck with your pursuit.

:slight_smile: Let’s not give up hope…

Thanks for that link. I’m reading it as we speak.

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Oh. You need a primary device for all options in that link. Don’t have it.

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I stopped having faith in public institutions a long time ago because they treat my perspective with hostility and prejudice; I direct my hope onto myself instead of them now.

I don’t know about that hostility and prejudice. But what surprises me, is that people working in education, being smart and well educated as they are (really), come across as so stupid, ignorant and gullible when it comes to shit companies like alphabet, meta and apple. It’s very frustrating indeed!
(It’s akin to living in nazi-Germany in the thirties, I guess.)


Well, to give you some background of my personality: I am curious; straight-forward; and exercise critical thinking. in schools, students are taught to be disciplined, reserved, and to respect the instructor as a credible source of knowledge and information.

So when I interact with teachers/professors, they see my actions as challenging their credibility instead of taking my language at face value. I want to learn.


Is there any way you install Android in a virtual machine on a desktop computer or a server and then install the official WhatsApp app in that? Then you could use that as your “primary device” to enable you to use one of the methods that only works if you already have a primary device.

Waydroid or Anbox could also be an option, but a virtual machine has the advantage of providing some isolation between Android and the host system.

I can see some downsides to this approach:

  1. You have to leave the virtual machine running all the time, consuming energy, so that your secondary access methods can connect to the “primary device”. (I don’t really know the details of WhatsApp’s architecture, but I get the impression the messages all pass through the primary device, which has responsibility for holding the encryption keys, even if you are using a different device to send and receive them.)
  2. You may not want to infest your desktop or server with Android either!
  3. WhatsApp might have some policy where you have to use the primary device a minimum amount to be able to continue using secondary access methods, in which case having the primary in a static location is not terribly convenient.
  4. If WhatsApp needs access to any phone-specific features, such as camera, NFC, accelerometers, your location, etc, for whatever reason, then that’ll be difficult to provide in a VM.

Another option would be to buy a cheap Android device, leave it at home and shove WhatsApp on there. This is basically the same idea but less effort to set-up and maintain, less wasteful of energy, but you have to spend money on the device, which will become e-waste sooner or later when it stops getting support. (I guess you could do the same thing with an iPhone, but “cheap” and “iPhone” don’t tend to belong in the same sentence.

But I like @fralb5’s suggestion to ask for the school to provide a phone. I tend to think of it that way too and the law in my country agrees that employers should provide all the equipment you need to do the job. In practice it can be a bit of a grey area.

I think people who are using WhatsApp on personal phones for work purposes are often doing so as an informal arrangement rather than as a matter of official policy, so there is a tension that exists there. It might turn out that you are not just asking for them to provide a phone, but effectively for them to formalise the whole whole WhatsApp arrangement, and people, acting in their personal capacity, might resist that.

I’m not saying they’re right. I’d be in the same no-WhatsApp position if I had that job.

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