In order to make Android boot on most devices, developers have to mix the open source code with proprietary files delivered by the vendor. For those users who value a truly free operating system, Android is actually not as free as they would like it to be. Developers have no access to the source code for many hardware components and have to ship their custom software with so-called proprietary blobs.
But Replicant seeks to change that. Replicant is a fully open-source operating system that aims to replace ALL proprietary Android components with open-source counterparts. Changes are made mostly in the C programming language, as developers have to re-write drivers and Linux kernel. The name Replicant is drawn from the fictional replicant androids in the Blade Runner movie.
In its 7-year old history, Replicant has had three releases based on Android 2.2, Android 4.0, and Android 4.2. Now the team behind the ROM has officially announced Replicant 6.0 which is based on Lineage OS 13.0 (Android 6.0). Developing open-source drivers is not an easy task which is why Replicant OS is available only for the following devices:
The team plans to bring the software to the following devices:
- OpenPhoenux GTA04
- Samsung Galaxy Nexus
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1
- Samsung Galaxy Note
Before you tap on factory reset in your recovery, please note that some key functionality is missing. WiFi, Bluetooth, Hardware media Encoding, and Decoding, and 3D Graphics do not work at this moment. Replicant is hardly a daily driver, but the idea behind the ROM shows how software on a smartphone would look like if all components were fully open-source.
Besides the development, the team has also updated the wiki page, putting up a lot of new documentation. The Replicant team is still looking for developers able to help them to tackle some of the most crucial tasks.