I want to break up with Google. We’ve had our ups and downs, but it has all gotten a bit out of hand. They’re a big target because of their success, and that means doing business with them is actually an increased risk. In the end, they may be forced to do things that they don’t really want. No hard feelings, but its time to start saying goodbye.

No offense, but the alternatives aren’t entirely on par with what Google offers yet. If people chipped in money or code it would help close that gap. I’m still finding the right apps for me, but once I have I will pay for what I’m using. So, I used the f-droid market to find most everything.

I need to say that there were a few sources I’d collected that gave me the courage to give this a try:

I’ve compiled CyanogenMod before, but it didn’t cooperate this time. I’ll admit to using a nightly. I also used the f-droid market’s supplied APks instead of rolling my own. Some time in the future I’m going to see about changing that.

So, I have to work. I also had a few apps I couldn’t find a good replacement for yet. I’m also aware of the blobs and baseband that are out of my control on my phone. I will point out where I had to compromise (for now).

My phone was already running CyanogenMod and CWM recovery. So, I booted into CWM and performed a backup. I then transferred that backup to the safety of my desktop. I needed to be able to back out if it turned out to be really bad.

I then use TitaniumBackup to grab one app. My bank uses the app in two factor authentication, and I needed the app data.

The folks over at onyxbits.de make some great software. I used an anonymous Google account along with their Raccoon software to grab APKs with east. Very useful product for things you can only get from the Play store.

I exported my SMS’ from TextSecure. I exported my contacts from People. I dumped the OPML from DoggCatcher. I turned off two factor authentication with Google. At this point I was ready to go.

  • I put the install zip for CyanogenMod on my phone’s SD Card.
  • I flashed my recovery to TWRP.
  • I used TWRP to “advanced wipe” the phone’s internal storage excluding USB-ToGo and my SD Card.
  • I flashed CyanogenMod using TWRP and then started to boot it.
  • At this point the Tor Project link above was very useful for the first few bits.
  • DroidWall and orBot were first on my phone–pushed using ADB.
  • Next up was TitaniumBackup. It was able to restore my banking app without problem. Then, I uninstalled Titanium backup.

At this point I did something like “ls *apk | xargs -n1 apk install” and went back to see what had problems.

  • Google Authenticator - an older version is open source, but the latest versions are not. Why?? So, I used motp
  • Email - k9mail, of course
  • Encryption for email - Open-Keychain
  • RedPhone for secure calling
  • TextSecure- I THOUGHT this would provide secure SMS, but it requires Google for message handling. This is disappointing I am still using it, because its not bad and it handles HUGE amounts of SMS’ very well, but I’m looking for another solution.
  • Pushover - This was probably obvious, but has the same need of Google for message routing. They proudly run OpenBSD servers, so maybe they will find a solution one day.
  • Audible - I love audiobooks. The app I found is Material Audiobook Player. However, Audible books are encrypted. After a little work… You can go to Audible and they will let you download the DRM’d files. Therea are two formats: aax and aa. Download the aa version. Then there’s a program for Windows called SoundTaxi that will convert them to MP3. You do what you have to sometimes.
  • I listen to a few audio streams. I found ServeStream to be quite capable.
  • I listen to a lot of podcasts. AntennaPod is a bit confusing, but it gets the job done, and imported my OPML.
  • Alarm clock. I like Kraig’s
  • VyprVPN - I think this can be replaced in the future.
  • Firefox - I need to work out a good set of add-ons for mobile
  • Maps - OpenStreetMaps have come a long way and OSMand is great.
  • an FTP server to easily get files on and off over wifi. I haven’t decided which is better: prim or swiftp
  • A QR code reader - zxing
  • Plex - despite not always liking their decisions, ..
  • Skype - work requires it.
  • CalDAV and CardDAV - DAVdroid I do plan on looking at Flock though.
  • Reddit - RedReader
  • Hacker News
  • VLC
  • KeePass - keepassdroid

Those were the apps I needed to not feel inconvenienced. You might expect that since they’re open source or free that they won’t be very good. You’d be wrong Some of them are quite good. I also found some apps along the way that I think are neat:

So, once you’re done, be sure to turn off ADB debugging and ADB root on your phone. Also, k9mail can’t do two factor authentication, so you’ll need to use application specific passwords for that kind of situation. And don’t forget to use DuckDuckGo for search.

Future updates as I learn more.