[Replicant] Anbox

Denis 'GNUtoo' Carikli GNUtoo at cyberdimension.org
Mon Jun 21 02:05:58 UTC 2021

On Sat, 19 Jun 2021 16:04:31 +0300
Michael von Glasow <michael at vonglasow.com> wrote:
> There is an Android port to the x86 architecture [1], albeit a few
> versions behind (latest being 9.0). They have multiple flavors, some
> based on CyanogenMod (which was also the basis for the respective
> Replicant versions), some directly off AOSP. If you are looking to
> run a de-bloated Android distro right off x86 hardware, I would say
> this is the most promising option.
While android-x86 has many free drivers / hardware abstraction
libraries, it would still be worth doing some quick check to look for
nonfree software. Beside the usual nonfree firmwares, it may (still?)
use nonfree software to run ARM binaries on x86.

> At that point, I wonder why Replicant is not offering an x86 port.
> It’s a different processor architecture, but most devs would already
> have hardware for testing, and obtaining free hardware drivers should
> be much easier than for most handheld devices...
For Replicant 6 or before, adding devices takes some time, even when
the code is available as it still needs to be integrated and tested, and
the people working on Replicant 6 or before were already (too) busy with
other things.

Once Replicant 11 is released and has similar hardware support than
Replicant 6 (calls, data, audio, WiFi, etc) one of ideas of projects
would be to work on making generic Replicant images that would
auto-detect the hardware and use upstream GNU/Linux hardware
abstractions libraries (like ALSA UCM for instance) whenever possible.

Though we didn't start thinking yet about the freedom, privacy and
security implications for end users when supporting x86 laptops broadly
within Replicant. Though Libreboot computers are probably not harder
than a Pinephone where in both cases the modem could be isolated with
usbguard for instance.

For ARM devices we could simply build bootloader images for the devices
we support (to be installed either in the BOOT/KERNEL partitions or as
first bootloader with devices like the Pinephone) and list the devices
in the Replicant website and/or wiki.

For devices that don't meet the criteria (isolated modem, replaceable
batteries, etc) the idea would be to make it as trivial as possible to
fork Replicant, which at minimum would just require to change the name
to something else (bad robot? the terminator in your pocket? some
other name?), and handle the release process (build images, test them if
needed, and help users with issues with these images). In that case the
fork could even share most of the resources (git repositories, redmine,
mailing list, etc).

This way users will know that, depending on the project they choose,
they would have an isolated modem or not for instance.

For contributors, other criteria like removable batteries tend to
make it easier to support the devices, so it'd be up to the forks to
decide what they want to do with that for instance.

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