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    With Google tying Android closer and closer, I am starting to wonder if it’s not better going with Apple phones. Even though on paper less free, it feels my data is not part of the price I pay. Have been using Android phones since Samsung S2.

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      Going from Google to Apple does not solve the problem of having some overlord deciding what you can and can not do on ‘their’ device. The trust some people proclaim in Apple’s good intentions is flabbergasting as Apple is a decidedly profit-centred company which is only a change in management or plan away from using the data they’ve been harvesting for years.

      The solution is the same as the one that worked to break free from Microsoft-dependency, i.e. free software on open hardware. The more open the hardware, the easier it will be to get something like Sailfish, the project formerly known as FirefoxOS or just plain Debian with some mobile bits running on it. In other words, open hardware specifications will help us get there.

      While you’re waiting for something like this to grow - or while helping to build it - you can get Google off your Android device and use it in any way you please. I’ve used Google-free Android from the moment I started using Android (about 8 years ago) and can vouch for the fact that this works just fine. Combine it with your own server running mail, web. VPN and kitchen-sink and you’re set for the near future.

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        Going from Google to Apple does not solve the problem of having some overlord deciding what you can and can not do on ‘their’ device.

        That’s true. But it is overlord vs. overlord + steals all your data.

        the data they’ve been harvesting for years.

        What data have they been harvesting? Most data processing is on-device.

        I’ve used Google-free Android from the moment I started using Android (about 8 years ago) and can vouch for the fact that this works just fine.

        YMMV, I used open source Android builds for a while (in the Cyanogenmod days) and there were a lot of random bugs that affected basic phone functionality (from spontaneous reboots, from not being able to call). Upgrades fixed one set of problems, but introduced a new set of problems. It was a very frustrating experience.

        I agree that an open platform with open hardware is the answer. However, sometimes people have to pick their fights, and if you need a phone that just works all the time, iOS is the far better option from a privacy and security perspective at this moment in time than (Google) Android.

        Another aspect of it is that running a completely open source build gives a certain amount of isolation. A lot of friends/family use messages that don’t work without Google Play services or whatever Apple push notification system is called. You are excluded from contactless payments, which are becoming more prevalent in many countries. Etc.

        I can understand the choice to forgo all of that, but you also have to be realistic: it is not for everyone.

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          it is overlord vs. overlord + steals all your data. / the data they’ve been harvesting for years.

          Both harvest data, Google is in the business of actively (ab)using that data. Apple also uses it and has been accused of selling data alt. allowing data to be sold w.r.t. music choice [1]. Apple collects location data, it gave special permissions to the likes of Facebook to collect data over the range of their applications (Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook etc). [2 et al]

          …It was a very frustrating experience.

          The level of usability varies greatly between devices and builds, users of some devices will have the frustrating experience you mentioned while those on other devices will wonder what the former are complaining about as their Google-free experience is way better than the Google-encumbered one - better performance, lower power consumption, far less network traffic and the (potentially false) feeling of not being tracked and milked at every opportunity. When planning to embark on this journey it is worth choosing a device with a larger developer community.

          running a completely open source build gives a certain amount of isolation

          Well, the OS is free software, the applications come from F-Droid and as such are free software with as few obnoxious blobs as possible (preferably none). Google Push Notification is not part of this but it isn’t needed either as can be seen by e.g. Telegram working just fine on Google-free Android. It might be that Whatsapp doesn’t work (I never tried as I don’t want to feed that monster either) but… you’re not using that anyway as it is part of Facebook, right? If your friends and family insist on you using FB/Whatsapp/etc. you can either try to get them to see the light, suck it up and install the apps or … (there is no real solution here other than patience and perseverance).

          If you have your own server you can install XMPP (Prosody, Ejabberd or something similar) and use Conversations [3] and try to get - at least some of - your family and friends to use it. Another alternative is Delta Chat [4] which should work with your existing mail server and IMAP daemon (it does work with Exim and Dovecot) for an instant-messaging interface to SMTP and IMAP.

          To conclude I can only confirm that it does take some effort to rid yourself of the shackles the likes of Google and Facebook and, yes, Apple want to put on your private life. Freedom has it costs, no matter whether it is political freedom or freedom from privacy-leeching parasites. In the political realm wars are fought to gain freedom, seen in that light the costs of digital freedom are minor I’d say.

          [1] https://9to5mac.com/2019/05/25/apple-itunes-lawsuit/

          [2] https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/01/apples-hypocritical-defense-data-privacy/581680/

          [3] https://conversations.im/

          [4] https://delta.chat/

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            The level of usability varies greatly between devices and builds, users of some devices will have the frustrating experience you mentioned while those on other devices will wonder what the former are complaining about

            Well, I had a Nexus 4, which was as mainstream as one could get at the time for alternative OSes.

            If your friends and family insist on you using FB/Whatsapp/etc. you can either try to get them to see the light, suck it up and install the apps or …

            There is more than friends and family. My daughter goes to primary school, there is a parents chat group, which is more or less mandatory if you do not want to miss out on social activities and all kinds of arrangements. Most people at work use Skype for video conferencing, I am definitely not able to convert them one by one, since they in turn communicate with gazillions of others who also use Skype. This was my point about isolation. Sure, it is possible to completely abstain from these services (outside work), but you will miss out on a lot of social activity. I don’t think it is a good situation, but it is also a balancing act. If one already makes other lifestyle choices with impact (e.g. being a vegetarian, using Linux in a Mac environment, etc.), you will pick your fights, you cannot be the outsider in everything or a nuisance to everybody (not saying that you are, it depends on your social/tech environments).

            If an OS outside Google Android and iOS is not possible, I am convinced that iOS is by far the best choice privacy and security-wise.

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              If an OS outside Google Android and iOS is not possible, I am convinced that iOS is by far the best choice privacy and security-wise.

              No, in that case the best choice would be an AOSP-derived Google-free Android distribution running on a well-supported platform. It has several advantages over iOS:

              • it is possible to run a minimum install by only enabling the services you need - no such thing on iOS
              • it is possible to run a full firewall from boot, no such thing on iOS
              • it is possible to run only free software (apart from the ubiquitous radio blob), not possible on iOS

              All this only goes for those who have the technical acumen to get the device in the desired state or have access to someone they trust who can do so. It could work for a company or a family with a resident hacker but it is hard for an individual without (access to) the required knowledge.

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          Cross posting my reponse from similar HN thread a couple of days ago.

          How much I like the idea of a truly open phone platform there are some obstacles:

          • Decent hardware available at competitive price

            • While I could make do with some degraded performance for a truly open phone concept, most people would not, especially if price point is similar to, or higher, than established closed platform brands
          • Must have apps available - needed for wide acceptance

            • My personal examples of must have apps:
              • BankID (Swedish e-id, needed for banks, taxes, government sites, payments)
              • Swish - Swedish app for personal micro transactions
              • Public transportation apps (buying tickets/timetable)
              • Bank application
              • Signal

          Without these apps, a open platform phone would be next to useless to me. And I am a big proponent of open platforms.

          And looking at how reluctant BankID were to even support older version android phones, I am not optimistic to them adding a completely new platform to support.

          I know people who were forced to upgrade from “old” phones because BankID no longer supported their Android version, and phones would not get newer Android version.

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            You really cannot blame BankID to requiring new and updated software. It’s an extraordinarily sensitive application and reducing the potential attack area has to be paramount.

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              No, not really. That is more an observation on the issue of having to replace a perfectly working device just because a required app no longer is compatible.

              But still it is a major hurdle for anyone wanting to use an open platform, if these “required” apps are not available. I am not really prepared to own a second device just for running these apps.

              In that light an iOS device might be the lesser of two evils, even if I like Android and it’s ecosystem better.

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              Stuff linke BankID, Swish and the public transport apps could be handled by an Android VM running on-demand on the platform. The likelihood of BankID becoming available on a free platform is small, it used to run under Linux for a while but that branch has been discontinued as far as I know. Swish is very similar to BankID in this respect, banking apps are different but they tend to limit themselves to the big 2 (Android and iOS at the moment). Signal should not be a problem as it is free software.

              The Android VM can run on-demand and ONLY on-demand so that Swish and Västtrafik and whatever can’t track you through their apps.

              (I live in Sweden so I’m used to the conundrums around BankID, I had to get a new device when they stopped supporting Android 4.4)

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            With Google tying Android closer and closer

            If you want a proper device LineageOS seems like the way forward. I’m currently using https://gerda.tech/ w/ a Nokia 8110 for a phone-only and no distractions kinda situation.

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              The problem with Lineage is still Play Services - if you go with microG as an alternative, IME many things (particularly location based apps like Uber) just don’t work. If you use Play Services on Lineage it’s not clear to me that you’re in a better position that using stock Android.

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                Yes, LinageOS might be a way forward, but still missing some must have apps that are only available for devices with Android+ GoogleServices or iOS atm. Se my reply to Yetanfou above.

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                  Also on Gerda on a 8110, and while I have loaded a 32gb card with music. I am still looking for a better podcast solution to syncing to the sd card.

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                Can I just stress the importance of using your own domain for email?

                If you want to move away from gmail, go the whole hog and use your own domain name! That way you can switch email services as much as you like without having to change your email address.

                If you still love gmail and can’t move away from it, you can use gsuite with your own domain.

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                  That is fine but gmail often puts your emails in spam if you use your own domain or a mail server. It happens for no apparent reason (sometimes even when you reply to someone) so I think it is done on purpose.

                  For this very reason I avoid using my own email address for important things like work related communication.

                  https://www.tablix.org/~avian/blog/archives/2019/04/google_is_eating_our_mail/

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                    It happens for no apparent reason (sometimes even when you reply to someone) so I think it is done on purpose.

                    But Google as a whole is very different than individual googlers. Google Chrome ads started appearing next to Firefox search terms. gmail & gdocs started to experience selective performance issues and bugs on Firefox. Demo sites would falsely block Firefox as “incompatible.” Over and over. Oops. Another accident. We’ll fix it soon. We want the same things. We’re on the same team. […] 2. When google wants to get a thing done, it is very effective. Mistakes happen, but when you see a sustained pattern of “oops” & delay from this organization - you’re being outfoxed.

                    http://archive.is/tgIH9

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                      It helps a lot to have SPF, DKIM and DMARC properly setup. If you have a certain mail volume with gmail (that you could generate with passing some mails back and forth between your domain and a gmail address created for that purpose, but don’t look too spammy while doing so) from your domain, you can also use postmaster.google.com to see GMail’s opinions about your domain.

                      Generally speaking, mail servers have arcane cargo cultish setups to reduce spam (most commonly it’s guilt by association by running your mail server in the wrong data center. Don’t host email at OVH), and gmail provides more visibility into their scoring than most.

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                      Seconding this. I tried out fast mail for a bit on my own domain, couldn’t really deal with issues related to calendar syncing and the like on Android (and some other QoL stuff that google does too well) so bounced back to Gsuite no problem

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                        What kind of issues? I’ve been using FastMail for years for contacts and calendar across Android, Sailfish en desktop and I’ve not run into any issues.

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                          For calendar syncing to work nicely I needed to use this app called CalDavSync (I didn’t want to use the Fastmail app, but a third-party calendar app), and it was a bit flaky (notably on reboots I would need to remember to re-open the app for the syncing to kick in).

                          I feel like I had problems with shared calendars too. This could have been more due to “everyone else being Google”, which isn’t FastMail’s fault per se, but I’m not in the business of solving the calendar ecosystem, I’m in the business of living my life, and I was hitting issues.

                          Though in theory there are standard protocols for a lot of this stuff, the stuff you gain from having everything be in the main ecosystem is … quite significant.

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                        I used to host my own email, but spam control was a constant pain in the ass. I was very good at it, but it took a lot of time. I eventually decided enough was enough and migrated to Google Apps for your Domain, now G-Suite.

                        I’m now sick of Google, and I feel trapped. So while I agree that everyone should own a domain and control their email, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend Google for hosting it.

                        I’ve always been on the paid version of G-Suite, which has avoided some of the evil (no ads and maybe less tracking), but since I use my G-Suite Google Account as my primary Google identity, I feel like I’ll be stuck with it forever. Even if I successfully migrated myself, I’d have to migrate away my kids, spouse, and parents, too.

                        I also really like the Gmail web interface and searchability, and to my knowledge, nobody else has anything remotely as good.

                        If anyone is stuck in the same boat and has successfully migrated to Fastmail or another provider, I’d love to hear from you.

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                          I’ve been going the the same exercise as the article details for about a year. I felt very stuck as well. I switched to Amazon Workmail hosted on AWS.

                          Workmail has its own interface but I plan on experimenting with various email front-ends via docker such as Rainloop at some point. I really like where things are at and I believe it provides a lot of flexibility with plenty of escape hatches to lower level aws services.

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                        this is bait. do not execute a random obfuscated python script.

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                          oh ja, that’s for sure. Don’t execute random anything, but the style is definitely written to mimic the various tools we see in the space at the very least.

                          I think my fav comment to this was responding to the “my ssh tool is too dangerous to release” thing; definitely going for the “we have an internet badass over here” direction, even if unintentionally.

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                            It’s odd, the author says that the tool is too dangerous to release but then they released it anyway

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                              in the past that was often done for “cred,” to make things look more bad ass than they actually were. Here I have no idea, but it came across as silly to me.

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                          As of now, tmux is my daily fullscreen working environment, and Vim usually takes up one of the tmux panes. This lets me use Vim while keeping a few other shells open – usually a server and one or two other utility panes.

                          I don’t get it. Why not use a tabbed terminal emulator like xfce4-terminal instead?

                          I’ve tried using tabs but never found them useful. All tabs do is create an additional way of hiding information and they require you to memorize another keybinding or command to get at them. If you’re using tmux, it’s simply easier to open Vim in another pane.

                          It makes much more sense to use Vim tabs instead of running separate Vim instances in tmux tabs. Simplifying Vim tab movement with custom key bindings is trivial: https://github.com/stefantalpalaru/dotfiles/blob/3493395f9ba70b4e99e8a085d430bd2a1402ae31/homedir/.vimrc#L28

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                            I’ve been using vim + tmux exclusively (except for when i jump into java stuff) for about 5 years.

                            The big selling point for this setup for me personally:

                            There is no difference in my workflow when switching operating systems. It allow me to jump from windows, linux, mac, raspberry pi with the exact same light weight development environment.

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                              I use tabs primarily and don’t work directly with buffers to much but I do get his point.

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                              I don’t get it. Why not use a tabbed terminal emulator like xfce4-terminal instead?

                              I’m probably missing something here but I use tmux+vim in a similar way, and at least on macOS it’s really way better for me, because I can copy/paste with yank buffer inside vim sessions, with tmux scroll buffer across them and into pbcopy and friends when necessary, and all that before I even need to get near to highlighting with the mouse to use the macOS pasteboard via cmd keys.

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                                I don’t get it. Why not use a tabbed terminal emulator like xfce4-terminal instead?

                                tmux lets you save your panes (tmux-resurrect plugin), has lots of keyboard shortcuts for things like temporarily “zooming” into one pane, switching layouts, rotating panes or moving them around, breaking off panes or joining them back together, grouping panes into sessions, and lets you copy/paste in the scrollback with only the keyboard (without inserting linebreaks in continued/wrapped lines!). And so much more. Even if you only use a couple of those features, that’s a couple features that most terminal emulators don’t have (and don’t need, since, well, tmux has them).

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                                And yet still, umpteen years later when nobody cares other than perhaps for historical interest, all that’s available is a “demo”.

                                Or am I missing the beef?

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                                  be glad it happened, eventually :)

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                                    Yes, but did it actually “happen” ? Can I use this technology in my work?

                                    I don’t mean to be bashing other people’s work, but IMO this kind of exemplifies the wrong way to do software development. Xanadu has been this almost unrealizable ideal for DECADES.

                                    So, until I can download it, play with it, and truly understand it and use it for myself, I disbelieve, and this demo leaves me unconvinced.

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                                    In my humble opinion the beef is that it’s an amazing idea. It’s great to see an amazing idea come to life especially after so many years. I enjoy his passion and hope history vindicates his concepts.