F-Droid at 36c3

Some F-Droid contributors were at 36c3 this past December. Since it is a giant meeting place for so many related projects, we are including this small report of F-Droid activity there. We had developer meeting and a user meeting led by @Bubu. At the developer meeting, there was an exchange between about 10 developers involved in key free software projects like Replicant, K-9, Nextcloud, microG, Conversations, AntennaPod, and others. One big improvement is that CCC app updates were started a bit earlier, and the f-droid.org update process ran much smoother. We had no complaints about f-droid.org repo being out of date, unlike like last year.

There were discussions with Replicant about how to handle apps that are not 100% DFSG Free Software, e.g. apps marked with NonFreeAdd, NonFreeDep, or NonFreeAssets. Replicant aims for complete Free Software Foundation certification, so it follows a stricter standard than F-Droid currently does. For example, any apps that guides the user to installing non-free software is a no-go for Replicant. We plan to continue this discussion, looking at how F-Droid and Replicant contributors understand the Anti-Features. Also, a few ideas have been agreed upon, and are mostly waiting someone to implement them. For example, Anti-Feature filtering in the client app with the ROM able to set defaults. Find us on the forum, issue trackers, and/or chatrooms if you are interested.

  • We got feedback that the process of getting apps included in F-Droid is still quite unintuitive and poorly documented. One user offered to contribute there.
  • @Bubu distributed almost 5000 F-Droid stickers, through the congress sticker exchange boxes and by giving them to interested assemblies (Matrix, Nextcloud, FSFE).
  • There were also some related discussions at the Fairphone and microG meetups.
  • Both users and developers were complaining about search in the F-Droid client app. Developers because their apps show up at place 5 when you enter the exact name. users for the same reason and additionally because it could be a lot easier to find apps for a specific “topic” like email clients, etc.
  • We talked with people from FOSSASIA about how to get more Asian Android developers involved in F-Droid.
  • We talked to some FSFE people from Berlin about “free your android” workshops and organizing an F-Droid user meetup in Berlin.
  • We discussed “split APKs”, including about how Google is handling signing keys and whether they are asking all developers to split their apps because of size.
  • Another topic was user support, and whether there was common ground between app developers and F-Droid. There were some ideas for “joining forces”, like a “help” button in F-Droid. Some a lightweight versions of that idea are described in #157: “browse” section of website should also provide links to F-Droid resources and #36: Use Discourse for comments.

After congress, @Bubu met up with some Timeless/Repeatr contributors. They hacked on getting an F-Droid build environment ready to use in the Timeless stack. There was some solid steps towards building a small Android app. This is potential a much saner version of Docker for building things, once it is more polished. For example, we could use Timeless to build a container that has all the buildserver requirements. That would be more maintainable than Docker build files. The container rootfs can be reused with Docker to rebuild apps with the F-Droid stack.