September 21, 2018

Securing the freedom of mobile, part 3

In this blog miniseries, we will explore current mobile technology threats and our solutions for making them better.

This is the third part of our Securing the Freedom of mobile blog miniseries. You can read the first part here and second part here



Software problems



Like we have previously learned, unknown code cannot be trusted. Blackbox code is all about control. Google and Apple, the duopoly, reigns supreme here and it is normal to use Android or iOS because of their application ecosystem. And understandably so, to win consumers over, you need extremely rich app ecosystems. Even Microsoft failed with their Windows phone trying to compete with the duopoly.

Android as AOSP is an open source project but completely different than “store” bought Android. Googles and ODMs (Original Design Manufacturer) proprietary services, that one could buy from a store. Google has made using Android without these proprietary services almost unusable. These Google Mobile Services are almost a necessary evil for the average user, since app developers are almost forced to use these Google Mobile Services to create apps more easily. For example an app utilizing maps is a lot easier to create using GMS.

On the other hand iOS is its own walled garden, Apple goes as far as possible in preventing freedom of mobile and their operating system, even as far as claiming it illegal to jailbreak their phones. There are known backdoors in these softwares for example https://www.gnu.org/proprietary/proprietary-back-doors.html and the latest where Google demonstrated their capabilities and control over their userbase by remotely enabling battery saving mode on Google Pixel devices.

Googles response:

Hi all, some of you may have noticed that battery saver turned on automatically today. This was an internal experiment to test battery saving features that was mistakenly rolled out to more users than intended. We have now rolled battery saver settings back to default. Please configure to your liking. Sorry for the confusion.

Then there’s the mobile malware. And the very high end and capable Pegasus malware that recently made headlines again.

There really is no real alternative for mobile operating systems besides US made. Now Google has been showing intent on moving away from Linux with their new operating system called Fuschia. Wonder what that means to freedom of mobile?



Software solutions



Some countries and companies are trying to distance themselves from the tight grip of the duopoly, like Samsung (South Korea) with Tizen, Huawei (China) with their new Linux-based operating system and Russia which acquired SailfishOS and is planning on creating it the default governmental operating system to make them less dependent on US software. Communities and companies have tried to break the duopoly with no avail. We, as FOSS community, have awesome software projects like UBPorts, NemoMobile, PostmarketOS, Plasma Mobile, LuneOS, Maemo Leste, Replicant and SailfishOS but we are lacking the truly open hardware for mobile devices. To tackle this issue we had to go deeper than operating systems running on top of binary blobs. Now it is time to join our forces to fight for this mission and work together for freedom of mobile.

Linux

Our decisions



We didn’t reinvent the wheel when starting with operating system for our open and secure mobile device. We are using Linux as our kernel and our goal is to have mainline always running on our device. We have concentrated on the LTS 4.14 version. In our own system we have used components from known embedded and phone projects. ‘Our’ operating system will be opensource, it did come from the community and we want to give back to the community. More about our operating system will follow with official announcements.

We are well aware that we cannot complete our mission of securing the freedom of mobile by ourselves. We don’t think that our operating system is superior to other FOSS operating systems, and we don’t like to think this mission that way, as a competition. Collaboration in spirit of open source and freedom ideologies are neede to secure the freedom of mobile. We want to work as much as possible with FOSS mobile projects and support them in any way we can.

That is why we invite all (mobile) FOSS enthusiasts and communities to join us and participate in this mission of providing a truly open mobile ecosystem. Please contact us at contact@necunos.com if you have ideas for collaboration or any other suggestions for us. We are big fans of all of you!

Stay tuned for more

 

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