/e/ Phone and Stock Android Comparison?

I’ve been using my deGoogled Galaxy S9 as a daily driver for a while now ; I love it. /e/ has put an awful lot of work into making an intuitive, useful, and privacy focused OS on a capable phone.
I would, however, be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that I’m handicapping myself a bit. Some are small - Vudu is my preferred streaming service and it isn’t available in the app store. Others are a bit more of an annoyance - the eBay app doesn’t work. Some are downright huge - my primary bank cannot be accessed at all. (I’m aware that I could use the Aurora Store, but I feel like attempting to fool the Play Store can only lead to trouble).
I’ve always been cautious with privacy settings on phones and periodically comb through my Google account to disable any problematic settings. Is there a way to see in real time how often my standard Galaxy phone is “phoning home” vs. how often my /e/ phone is? I appreciate everything the /e/ Foundation is doing, I believe in it and honestly like their version of Android better than stock or OneUI. But I want to know that I’m getting a sizable return on investment for the gaps in functionality I’m living with.

Regain your privacy! Adopt /e/ the unGoogled mobile OS and online servicesphone

Hi! If you want to check what’s being sent you will need to do a “tcpdump” of your network interface (a packet capture). You need to install a terminal emulator in your phone. Run it as superuser and then run tcpdump and create a file with the information. Once you’ve done that you can download that file to your computer and check it with “Wireshark” desktop application. There you will see all the communication the phone is sending/receiving via the network card.

NOTE: I’ve never done that. I’m just guessing using my IT background ^^ :slight_smile: but I think I will do it to see what’s going on behind the scenes. Thanks for the idea :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

If you don’t know how to use tcpdump just look for examples in the net. There are plenty of pages that will give you the information.
Cheers,
Luis

I have been using it without problems for quite a while. I remember having a few problems when I first used it (sometime in the middle of 2020) but recent versions have been fine for me. Maybe worth giving it another try, with a fresh install from Aurora Store.

I’ve been using Aurora Store ever since I discovered /e/, and had no problems. I’m not sure why you think it would ‘lead to trouble’: anonymous login pretty much ‘just works’ ™. I’m much happier using an open source app that accesses the Play Store, than /e/'s Apps, which picks its apps up from an anonymous source.

Is there any particular reason why you think using Aurora leads to trouble? If you have experienced issues with it in the past, please report them so that they can be examined and fixed.

Progressive Web Apps (PWA) are good alternatives to native apps. PWA are just websites, and you can install them in your phone directly from the browser. Try to visit eBay or your bank’s website, and see if you have a prompt that asks you to “install” the website:

pwach

If you are using Firefox for Android (I recommend Fennec instead, available on F-Droid), the option to install a PWA will be at the address bar, the house icon with the plus sign.

pwaff

Note that this is only possible if the owner of the website specifically made it this way, but I think it’s worth a shot. Otherwise I fallback to recommend Aurora.

I wouldn’t recommend enabling root user in your phone, this is considered bad practice security wise. You can install something like NetGuard or TrackerControl, although I think only the pro versions will display real time traffic. I’m not really sure about this so I will let you look into it.

I have a follow-up question, though it may be slightly off-topic

While trying to fix a problem on my second /e/ phone (first one works fine), I ended up talking to the LineageOS people, since the problem supposedly started at their end. While trying to reproduce the problem, they had me flash stock rom then Lineage. It has a lot of similarities with /e/.

So my question is, how different are LineageOS and /e/ (especially in regards to privacy), and do version numbers correlate between the two? (/e/ is on 1.15 for my device and is separated into vesions Q, pie, etc, while Lineage is on 1.18 with one version)

Well I guess if a lot of /e/ users don’t have a problem with it, I’ll give Aurora a shot. I guess I was just concerned that there might be something in the Google Play ToS that is against using Aurora to circumvent them. Seems to be fine for my banking apps, although Vudu doesn’t appear to be available.
PWAs seemed like a good idea, but it doesn’t appear as though many are available for what I need. Unless they can be accessed simply through the “Add to Home Screen” menu option? (EDIT: never mind, I see that turns into an “Install” option when a PWA is available).
I also do run everything through ProtonVPN, not sure if that impacts the amount of info Google gets.

I’d also be interested in hearing the differences between /e/ and Lineage, was a big CyanogenMod fan back in the day.

I have NetGuard Pro. It does indeed display real time traffic.

That is the specific reason for the “Anonymous” login option with Aurora. It is against the user TOS to use non-/G/ Play assets to access /G/ assets without using /G/ Play. As least this is my understanding.

That’s also the primary reason why Aurora seems to “go down” on a regular basis- /G/ is constantly changing the API which forces Aurora to respond. Again, this is my understanding! :slight_smile:

  • /e/ OS Q builds are based on LineageOS 17.1, which is Android 10
  • pie builds are Lineage16, Android 9
  • oreo builds are Lineage (or maybe CyanoGen Mod, LOS’ predecessor) 15
  • nougat builds are CyanoGenMod 14

Lineage OS has no Google apps (gApps) - users usually install a version of OpenGApps, which has functioning versions of the Google Apps - Maps, Play Store, GMail - at the same time they install the Lineage ROM.

LineageOS for MicroG ships with replacements for the Googles libraries that are needed by some apps from the microG Project, alongside the F-Droid and Aurora Store app stores (as system apps, so they can update built-in system apps).

/e/ builds on LineageOS for MicroG. but changes some apps to remove calls to Google libraries and network resources. They also add their own app store called ‘Apps’ in place of F-Droid and Aurora Store, (although users can add these back but not - or not easily - as system apps).

/e/ have worked through the code in LineageOS and removed calls to Google resources.

6 Likes

Wow, Pete thanks for this comprehensive explanation! As a relative newb, your outline of the interplay and differences between OpenGApps and MicroG in a short concise manner is greatly appreciated.

And thanks also for the link to the LOS for MicroG project- I never even knew it existed! I regret I have only one “like” to give… :beers:

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