When it comes to custom firmware for Android devices there are quite a number of them out there, including the popular CyanogenMod distribution. Unfortunately generally these firmwares aren’t 100 percent open source as the source code isn’t available for some drivers needed by the handsets. Even the Android Open Source Project is forced to release proprietary binary drivers for different devices as the chip makers haven’t released the relevant source code.
However there is one Android firmware, the Replicant project, which is trying to make a full free version of Android without relying on any proprietary software. To help buy new devices for development and testing, as well as helping to fund infrastructure and promotion for the project, the Replicant project needs donations!
As a result the FSF has launched a fundraising initiative for Replicant. The situation looks pretty bad at the moment since even getting hold of a fairly common device like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 required special funding. The latest release of Replicant, which was posted just over a week ago, supports ten devices mainly from Samsung including the Galaxy S3 and the aforementioned Galaxy Tab 2.
With concerns about how much the NSA is listening to our phone calls and reading our emails, the FSF sees the development of a truly free open-source version of Android as critical. “For a long time, it wasn’t possible to operate a mobile phone using free software, even though that is one of the areas of computing where the most important issues are at stake,” said Replicant developer Paul Kocialkowski.
As well as asking for donations, the Replicant project needs developers. If you are a developer interested in working on Replicant or you have a question about the project, the FSF recommends that you introduce yourself on the IRC channel, #replicant on irc.freenode.org, or use the mailing list.