The US-Huawei-Google tussle has forced us to look for alternative phone operating systems for Android. Although Apple’s iOS is available, it is nearly impossible for the majority of people to own an iPhone.
Some open source Android alternatives that are being developed or being used in mobile devices are listed below. Developers can grab the code and fork it to create something new for free.
Best Open Source Android Alternatives To Try
Plasma Mobile is the most competent Android alternative at present. This open source operating system uses the power of Kubuntu and uses the multiplatform toolkit Qt. Plasma Mobile OS, which is currently under development, can be used on devices like Nexus 5X. Custom images for x86-based tablets have also been created. Another option is to go for postmarketOS that offers Plasma as an interface. If your device supports Halium, Plasma can also be used by following the porting guide.
For the first time, the KDE Foundation is working with partners like Purism to ship Plasma Mobile on a commercial device. Developers are also trying to create a Linux-based phone operating system to replace Android and iOS.
KaiOS runs on millions of devices, just like the Tizen OS from Samsung. KaiOS aims at making non-touch phones smart by adding capabilities like 4G, Wi-Fi, GPS and HTML5-based applications. In India, this open source Android alternative has gained great success with the help of JioPhone and has overtaken iOS to become the country’s 2nd most popular OS.
KaiOS is basically a Linux operating system and is based on the discontinued Firefox OS. Seeing the stupendous growth in recent times, the future of this open source OS seems bright.
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LineageOS is currently under active development and LineageOS images are available for a lot of devices. LineageOS is itself a fork of another custom ROM CyanogenMod, which was discontinued in December 2016.
This open source OS is now available for more than 180 smartphones from brands like Xiaomi, Motorola, Samsung, Pixel, etc. Plenty of personalization options are offered that let you customize your device as per your preference. Unlike Google’s endless tracking, LineageOS can be used to reduce that tracking to some level.
Just like Plasma Mobile, postmarketOS is another Linux phone project that is becoming extremely popular. postmarketOS aims to deliver a ten-year lifecycle to the mobile devices. The OS is based on Alpine Linux that takes just 6MB storage space and is capable of running Wayland X-based environments like MATE, Xfce, and GNOME.
There’s an extensive list of devices that can boot postmarketOS. With the continuous developments and growing documentation, the project seems to be very promising.
Canonical’s Ubuntu Linux is the most popular open source operating system. The mobile version of the OS was named Ubuntu Touch by the company. However, the project had to be shelved in April 2017 due to lack of market interest. Later, UBports adopted it and started developing it as a community project.
OTA updates for Ubuntu Touch are released by UBports from time to time. Not many devices were released for this open source Android alternative. However, the non-profit UBports Foundation is working hard to keep Ubuntu Touch alive.
Tizen OS is a Linux-based open source Android alternative supported by the Linux Foundation. The operating system was primarily developed and used by Samsung and shipped with the company’s smart TVs, smartwatches and home devices. Tizen was introduced by Samsung with its Z series smartphones in developing markets like India, but it did not get a good response. Lots of security issues errupted, which further restricted developers from forking for Linux smartphones.
As mentioned in the beginning, these Android alternatives are open source but most of them are still in the development phase. You can visit their websites, take a look at the list of supported devices, and follow the instructions to run the Linux-based operating systems on your phone. If you find any of these interesting and try them out, do let us know about your experiences in the comments section.