FOSS in Android: Android App Store With All and Only FOSS Apps (F-droid)

| Comments

Android as Google claims is not a completely open platform. Mozilla has launched their own initiative to provide a completely open-source mobile platform with Firefox OS. I am looking forward for a switch form android when it launches in my place. But Android is not that bad. And for the open source lovers, there is a paradise yet unknown to many. There are a shit load of Android apps open-source and free. I found many of my friends unaware of them, so here I am writing this post. Google play is undoubtedly most prominent source of downloading android apps. Average android user seldom goes out to download apps despite the presence of some other quite trustworthy stores. But we are open source lovers right? And we want all open-source tools. So what do the Android world have to offer to us? It rarely happen on the Google Play store that some open source app make it to the featured list. They get lost in the crowd of all those ‘fancy’ apps.


F-droid to the rescue

Here’s the awesome. F-droid is a repository of open source software for the Android platform. If it is open source and free (FOSS you call ‘em), you will find it on the F-droid. In their own words
The F-Droid Repository is an easily-installable catalogue of FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) applications for the Android platform. The server contains the details of multiple versions of each application, and the Android client makes it easy to browse, install them onto your device, and keep track of updates.

You can visit the F-Droid website and use their web interface to download apps and then install them on your device, or you can download and install their Android client app (yup! they nailed it). The native client for f-droid is kind of nice. I liked it. It is easy and simple, and no BS, totally no Bullshit. It downloads a list of all the apps in the repository and keeps it offline (don’t worry it’s less than an MB). So you can still browse and check the apps in the repo even when not connected to the mighty Internet. And best of all, you don’t need to register to a Google account to get those apps. They have a pretty nice tutorial and description of features on their home page. How can I leave without giving a list of awesome and open apps. So here’s one.


Open source Android apps I am using



What else? I know Mozilla people are awesome, I am a big fan of them myself. I don’t know what I can say about the awesome Firefox browser for Android, it’s plane awesome. I was using Dolphin browser prior to firefox, but it’s nowhere close to the awesomeness of Firefox.



I have literally been a big fan of spaced repetition learning for few months now. It has changed my life upside down (that’s a matter we’ll discuss some other day). It is the second most used app in my phone. Whenever I have a little spare time, I revise my cards. And being an all time learner, I am never short of them.



Almost everything character of text I write is from Emacs (sparing the Java/Android apps). All my blog posts/ideas/brain dumps/plans (bla bla bla) are written in org mode. Besides org-mode itself, mobileOrg has been a great companion of mine since I have started following GTD.



Although I don’t use this one too much, but it’s on my phone. It’s a quite nice offline dictionary. Come handy many times when I get into quarrels with my friends over meaning of words.



It’s calculator done right. My phone’s (2.3.3) calculator is an insult to calculators. It lacks many functions which I need on daily bases. Mathdroid do that job. It is a nice simple calculator with many functions.


Honest Review of the F-droid

It’s awesome. Because it’s all FOSS (Free and Open Source Software). I love using above apps (and few more I din’t mention) even if there are better closed alternatives. It makes me feel better. But honestly speaking, there’s no glamour. In the games section I couldn’t find any little bit funky game. Same story in most sections. But things will change. For good that is. Open source software are created by freedom lovers and truly generous people. Besides, I am thinking of writing an open source game (Note: I am just thinking :-P). I have a kind of nice concept in mind (which is eating dust in org files like all my other ideas).