A phone a month for a year: September: Custom LineageOS 16.0/MicroG

Published October 08, 2020 on Chandler Swift's Blog

Here’s another post about the open-source phone exploration I started in July. Last month, I ran an unofficial LineageOS/microG build (containing no Google apps) to pretty good results.

The fun thing about being with you is that when I call and you don’t answer, there are so many reasons it could be.

–Käthe, yesterday, after my PinePhone looked like it might not receive calls

Not too many interesting points this month, which, in my opinion, is a good thing. Overall, it’s an OS I’m quite happy with, and one that strikes a good balance of reliability and privacy.

Apps

LineageOS takes its apps pretty much straight from AOSP, with a few tweaks that I generally appreciate. It’s a nice default set of apps—browser, email, camera, file manager, dialer; all functional enough that I don’t feel compelled to immediately add more. I did make the following shifts:

  • Play Store → F-Droid and Aurora Store (for apps like Spotify that I can’t get from F-Droid)
  • Google’s sync → DAVx5, with which I can sync my calendar and contacts.
  • Google Keep → OpenTasks
  • YouTube → NewPipe

I haven’t found a Maps app I particularly like, but Google Maps works fine with microG, so that’s my one remaining Google app. I’d also like an Android Auto app, but support for that is required and not currently implemented in microG, so that’ll have to wait for the time being.

Beyond the Lineage apps and Google replacements, I have a handful of apps that cover the rest of what I want to use my device for:

  • AsteroidOS Sync (F-Droid)
  • Bitwarden, via a custom F-Droid repo
  • Menards (Play Store, works without Google libraries)
  • Spotify (Play Store, works without Google libraries)
  • Pancheros (Play Store, sort of works without Google libraries)
  • RevolutionIRC (F-Droid)

Miscellany

I was pleasantly surprised that the Moto Actions I had set up persisted after I reset my phone, so I still have my chop-chop for a flashlight. Presumably the Moto Actions app writes something to the gesture detection chip that survives an internal storage wipe?

I’ve only run into one noticeable bug: Display colors are sometimes wonky after turning the phone on. I’ve found that this can be fixed by changing the LiveDisplay mode in Settings, or toggling sRGB in Developer Options…perhaps this resets something in the graphics chip that isn’t set properly on boot? It seems like it doesn’t really matter what setting I change nor what I change it to; any combination works, as long as it’s not the combination the phone was booted with. Here’s what I see, compared to what the phone thinks I should be seeing:

A photo of the Dialer app with incorrect colors The same screen, with correct coloring
A photo of the home screen, with incorrect colors The same screen, with correct coloring

LineageOS quietly added official LOS 17.1 builds for ocean early in the month, so perhaps that’s in the future! MicroG has them too!

Next Month

[[email protected] ~]$ ssh chandlers-pinephone
Welcome to postmarketOS!

This distribution is based on Alpine Linux.
Read both our wikis to find a large amount of how-to guides and
general information about administrating and development.
See <https://wiki.postmarketos.org> and <https://wiki.alpinelinux.org>.

You may change this message by editing /etc/motd.

chandlers-pinephone:~$