The F-Droid Repository is an easily-installable catalogue of FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) applications for the Android platform. The server contains the details of multiple versions of each application, and the Android client makes it easy to browse, install them onto your device, and keep track of updates.
You can also browse the repository with a web browser, and download the applications directly from there if you can’t or don’t want to run the F-Droid client on your device.
Open the F-Droid application, press the menu key, and choose update. The lists should then be populated with the FOSS apps already in the repository. Stuff you already have will be automatically detected, and put in the ‘Installed’ tab. The ‘Available’ tab contains all apps in the selected category, whether installed or not.
Selecting any item from the list takes you to the details of that application. From there, hitting the menu key will give you the option to install, uninstall or update. You can also view (in the browser) the application’s web site, issue tracker and source code, and you can also choose to view the application on Google Play if it exists there.
Additionally, if there are multiple versions available, you can select a version directly in the list and install it. One version in the list will usually be shown with a * next to it – this is the ‘current’ version – i.e. the one the developer might publish to Google’s one-version-only market. Versions above this are probably beta releases, and versions below are older versions.
There are two types of build available in the repository, which are labelled in the client as ‘source’ and ‘bin’. The majority are source builds – these are verified, and automatically built and signed by F-Droid, and guaranteed to correspond to the source tarball for that version available on this site. For a small number, binary releases are provided – these are build and signed by the original developer.
Note that switching between builds with different signatures is not allowed by the Android OS, without first uninstalling. Thus, if you install an F-Droid signed build, you will need to uninstall it before installing an original developer build, and vice versa. The same applies if you build your own version from the source.
On the preferences screen, you can configure the FDroid Client to automatically re-scan the repos at regular intervals in the background. You can also receive status bar notifications when there are new updates available for any of your installed applications.
You can either download from here, or use the QR code on the right from your Android device. Either way, you’re going to need to have set the ‘allow install from unknown sources’ option on your Android device – you will need to do that for the client to be able to install apps anyway!