Android:My Phone Configuration

I rebuilt my phone this weekend so I could test out AOSPA (Paranoid Android) for my phone, since unofficial support was just released a few days ago.

During my rebuild, it occured to me that I haven’t seen much documentation on people’s processes and software sets, especially for the folks who want to run a phone on as much open source software as possible. I have found one post written by the nice folks over at the Tor project, which discusses how to harden an Android device and provides a similar set of information I am about to provide, but it’s slightly out of date. That said, here’s how I run my phone.

Disabled Applications

The first thing I do when booting my phone for the first time, is disable several applications that come preinstalled on most roms or come as a part of Google Apps.

Android Applications

  • Browser: I disable this one becasue with Google Apps installed and an account set up, it forces you to log in to all of Google’s services. I use Lightning Browser instead (it’s available on the f-droid market).

  • Email: Disabled because I use k-9 mail instead, due to its support for account backups, source code being readily available, not being developed mainly by Google, etc. K-9 is also available on the f-droid market.

  • Exchange Services: This one I disable because I don’t have any exchange accounts on my phone. No sense in having it enabled if you aren’t using it.

  • One Time Init: This is executed one time, on first boot, or so its name indicates. If it’s running more than that, I don’t want it running, so it is disabled.

  • Sound Recorder: I disable this one mostly because I don’t use it, and disabling it removes its icon from my application drawer, thus saving space.

Google Appls Services

  • Google Backup Transport: I don’t back up my phone to Google’s services.

  • Google Calendar Sync: I don’t sync my calendar through Google anymore.

  • Google Contacts Sync: I don’t sync my contacts through Google anymore.

  • Google One Time Init: It’s a one time init. No sense in leaving it enabled once it has run once.

  • Market Feedback Agent: I don’t give market feedback on my phone.

Installed Applications

These are the applications I have installed on my phone. The majority of them are open source and can be found on the f-droid market.

  • And Bible: Open source Christian Bible for android.

  • Barcode Scanner: Useful for scanning all kind of barcodes. Open source and available on f-droid.

  • Conversations: This is my chat client. It supports encryption end to end, and has a very friendly interface. Open source and available on f-droid.

  • DAVdroid: I currently host all of my contacts and calendars on my own hosted Owncloud instance. This provides support for caldave and carddav syncing, which allows me to no longer keep my contacts or calendars on Google’s services.

  • Duolingo: One of my favorite language-learning tools. Closed source though (I wish they’d change that, but oh well).

  • f-droid: Exclusively open source Android market. I have to download all these applications somehow after all.

  • spaRSS: Open source rss stream reader based on Flym and Sparse rss.

  • K-9 Mail: Open source fork of the stock Android email client. Supports backup of all accounts so they can later be re-imported (useful for us flash junkies)

  • Kore: Open source Kodi (or xbmc) remote control client. Available on f-droid.

  • Lightning: Open source and lightweight browser. Very smooth and fast. Available on f-droid market.

  • oandbackup: Application backup software. I don’t flash a new rom without first using this to back up each individual application. Available on the f-droid market.

  • Open Camera: With the introduction of the lolipop camera, it has gotten much "dumber". I like all the advanced settings, so I have this installed.

  • OpenKeychain: Imports pgp keys. Integrates into Password Store and K-9 mail for encrypting/decrypting passwords, and encrypting/decrypting and signing emails, respective.

  • Orbot: Open source Tor client. Available on the f-droid market.

  • OsmAnd~: Open source map application. Fair replacement for Google Maps. Available on f-droid market.

  • Password Store: Password manager. Uses pgp to encrypt/decrypt password entries. Also has clients for Linux, Windows, and OsX. Available on f-droid market.

  • Syncthing: How I backup my phone, off-phone. Open source peer-to-peer synchronization client. I have mine set up to sync /storage/sdcard0 and /storage/sdcard1, which gets all the necessary data from my phone, onto my laptop. Available on f-droid market.

  • Google Voice: This is the one last Google application I haven’t been able to replace yet, open source or no, free or no. It seems the majority of competing services in this arena are all tailored to business voip customers. I just want one phone number with text messaging support, and thus can’t justify $40 or more per month for this kind of service. I’m still on the hunt though and will update this post if I ever manage to replace this application.