Is LineageOS respectful of privacy?

After using /e/OS for months, I realized that /e/OS has drawbacks (Bliss, preinstalled apps, etc…) and I felt that LineageOS was more suitable for someone, like me, who loves to tinker with his smartphone.

The problem is that, /e/OS being bifurcated from LineageOS, I heard that some Google code snippets stayed on LineageOS and that /e/ would, since then, fix it (which I really appreciate).

So, my question is: is LineageOS privacy friendly, like /e/OS?

Because I’m facing a choice:

  • Either I stay at /e/OS, being sure not to give me any personal data, but I should, in this case, accept some ergonomic drawbacks (at the same time, /e/OS is designed for the general public, not for a geek like me, which is normal, in my opinion)

  • Either I move to LineageOS, and I appeal to my geek desires, while taking the risk of giving, even slightly, personal data to Google

What do you think?

Even if I came to LineageOS, I would still be a contributor to /e/OS, and I would always prefer the latter over LineageOS. It’s just that, as it stands, /e/OS is not entirely satisfactory. I’m waiting for the v1, and the option to install the minimum in /e/OS.

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

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hi @libertas , i agree on the point of apps being de-installable, but I understand /e/ also in that they made it the way it is, and i know they are now trying to make apps de-installable, but it will take some time to make these changes.
With regards to Bliss: why not just install a different launcher? I really like Openlauncher for example, and use that.

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Be a geek then :slight_smile: find a way to uninstall your system apps, there are some ways :wink: and in regard to bliss i think @Rik s suggested is really good :slight_smile:

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Ah, I hadn’t thought of that one. Thanks for the suggestion :grin: !

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But, LineageOS has Google in its code, right?

To make it short: I would not consider LineageOS more privacy friendly than /e/ as there are no efforts currently to completely ban Google from their code base and privacy is not in their main focus.
You can of course still tweak things like captive portal checks etc. in Lineage but that often requires root and still does not remove Google from the system core nor is persistent over updates (correct me if I’m wrong). But that is exactly the thing which I do not like about LineageOS but adore so much in /e/: /e/ puts the basic data protection principles “Privacy by Design” and “Privacy by Default” in practice.

I can totally relate with your dislike of the Bliss launcher and the limited ability to deeply customize your smartphone, at least when the software is in as-delivered condition. But you have to remember that /e/ is in first place made for users who might not be that tech-savy to give them an as easy as possible possibility to use a privacy-first mobile OS.

I always liked the Trebuchet launcher from Lineage and I really didn’t want to miss out on that even on /e/. So you could also either compile the app yourself or just back the .apk up from a LineageOS phone and install it back to your /e/ phone. This worked without any issues for me so maybe that’s something for you too.

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Or just simply wait. There will be an e version for geeks without all those preinstalled apps. Otherwise there is indeed a big variety of launchers, Zim, Librechair, etc. Bliss is for the public, imitating fruit phones.

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Using LineageOS, I’m just waiting for this version of /e/OS, which seems better suited for geeks. /e/OS is, of course, intended for the general public, but I have the impression that at the same time, the /e/team hasn’t forgotten its fans, who are either technology enthusiasts or privacy activists ^^

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As i understood you can delete system apps by using the console on you PC and the correct commands lines :

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No. /e/ OS improves privacy protection where LineageOS stops. But using LineageOS than using the stock ROM with which your phone came is more secure and privacy-friendly alternative.

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Okay. I will watch this :grin:

E is with microG. If you install any app who needs microG for G servers, you lose privacy to G. If you install LineageOS without microG, you gain privacy. No solution is 100%. Depends what apps you install.

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But MicroG can be disabled, and you can choose which app you want to register in MicroG.

I agree with the point that LineageOS or /e/ are a more privacy-friendly alternative to the stock ROM but I disagree with the claim that it makes your device more secure, that’s only partly the case.

I personally would differentiate between security on a software level and pyhsical tamper resistance. When it comes to software security, a custom ROM is a good choice if you are using a device which is no longer officially supported by the manufacturer as you as a user will still get access to latest security fixes on OS level. However, this may not apply if you are using old hardware as the semiconductor manufacturers (Broadcom, Qualcom…) often don’t release driver updates for their old chips anymore to update them to the latest Android kernel. Therefore, there could still be exploits in your hardware’s drivers which will remain on your system even if you are installing the latest fixes from Google and there is no way you can protect yourself against that.

A huge problem with custom ROMs is that they do not have a verified boot process as you have to unlock the bootloader to flash your custom software. There are only a few custom ROMs out there which currently allow boatloader relocking (e.g. CopperheadOS). Not having a verified boot process means that there is absolute no integrity checking of the software on bootup. This means that your device can easily be tampered, for example if you leave it unattended in a hotel (Evil Maid). An attacker could just flash his own software and also bypass device encryption over this way as you wouldn’t notice any change and continue using the device but with malicious software.

So to draw a conclusion, the physical tamper resistance of most custom ROMs is horrible. However, if you can take care of your phone and will never ever leave it unattended, then this probably won’t be a huge issue for the most people. If that’s the case, then a custom ROM makes sense as it’s a great way to benefit from specific features (privacy related when it comes to /e/), still receive software updates and also reduce electronic waste as you don’t have to buy a new phone every few years.

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But then, for a recent phone, like mine, is it relevant to keep the Stock ROM and the bootloader locked, as a security measure? If my phone is still supported by the manufacturer, why does it make sense to remove the stock ROM?

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At least this issue has been raised, but it could take time to see it one day (I know nothing about the difficulty of doing that)

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So I can block the bootloader, while staying on /e/OS, if I understand correctly?

No you can’t, that’s the point :slight_smile:

Oh, right. I thought that problem was solved.

It is just raised as an issue but not yet solved… Some people claim it would just be some commits in the source code but me either i don t know more about it…