Eelo, an Android OS that protects your privacy
Gaël Duval, creator of the successful, early Linux distro Mandrake Linux, is sick of both iOS’s restrictions and battery malware. He’s also tired of Google looking over everyone’s shoulders. So he’s developing his own Android-based mobile operating system that puts privacy first: eelo.
Duval believes, “Apple, Google, Facebook etc., business models are dangerous for our economic and social environments.”
Stock Android is dependent on Google services, which means users can be tracked.
So, eelo uses open-source software. Duval aims to protect privacy while still including online services and a user-friendly interface.
Duval doesn’t want eelo to be a business, but a free product that will make Android users safer. “I want eelo to be a non-profit project in the public interest,” he says.
Duval wans eelo to be easy for anyone to use an understand. That made him reject Firefox’s OS.
Duval also will not try to make a smartphone operating system using Linux, as others have tried. He’s launching eelo from existing Android clone LineageOS.
But LineageOS, a CyanogenMod fork, is not enough for his goals:
“The core of AOSP [Android Open Source Project]/LineageOS is usable and performing well, but it’s not stable enough for my needs: the design is not very attractive and there are tons of micro-details that can be showstoppers for a regular user. Also, unless you are a geek, LineageOS is not realistically useable if you don’t want Google inside.”
Admitting he’s not the person to do the whole project himself, Duval hired a full-stack developer. Their first release will be a launcher, notification system, and ‘control center.’ Eelo started running in beta after a few weeks of work.
The biggest challenge isn’t changing the front end, but taking Google Services, Play Store, and Play Services out of the equation. While Android users don’t absolutely need these, they do come in handy and people are used to them. Instead, Duval plans on employing MicroG, Magisk Manager, Droid, and APKPure, all alternatives to Google’s proprietary Android materials.
For search, eelo will offer DuckDuckGo and Qwant, both search engines that protect privacy. Eelo will also offer a choice of search engines, including Google, if that’s what the user wants. Sometimes it’s hard to get away from Google.
Eelo isn’t going to replace hardware drivers as it’s not building a phone, rather creating an alternative OS.
Duval is welcoming help on eelo’s page, where the main goal is to raise $120,000 to keep the work going.
Many people are anxious about privacy, but with all the hacking and malware becoming increasingly sophisticated, maybe eelo’s time has come.