Inclusion How-To

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This page is a work in progress, and needs attention from experts on the subject, especially on facts checking.

This page documents how a new application gets included in the main F-Droid repository in technical details, from submitter's perspective.

Application Inclusion Proposal

To propose inclusion of new application to the main F-Droid repository, one could post application's relevant information to the Submission Queue. The more advanced alternative is writing a complete metadata file yourself, test, and propose inclusion (merge request) directly into fdroiddata Git repository; speeding up the process. Both ways will be described below in details.

Note that you can propose inclusion even you are not a developer or maintainer of the proposed application itself. See Inclusion Policy and Repository Style Guide for the policy aspect of this section.

Proposal by Submission Queue

This is the simplest way to get the application included. But due to an amount of reviewer labor required for each application, this is the slowest method.

One do this by creating a new ticket at the F-Droid Submission Queue on GitLab, add all details required by minimal template; and wait for people in F-Droid team to review the application and do all necessary steps for you.

Proposal by Metadata Merge Request

A more advanced alternative for application inclusion proposal is to write F-Droid metadata file for the application yourself, and propose inclusion by filing git merge request on F-Droid application metadata repository (fdroiddata GitLab repository). This will lead to much quicker inclusion as the already-available metadata file will limit the scope of what reviewers have to do on each inspection; the submitter assumes responsibility of providing a correct metadata file.

When proposing inclusion this way, it is assumed that:

Recommended steps to propose inclusion this way is written on F-Droid application metadata repository itself, which you could read them there.

Application Review Process

Once the inclusion proposal is filed, the application will enter a reviewing process which F-Droid staffs look into application's source code and determine whether the it fits for inclusion. (And when it's not, determine all necessary steps to make it so)

As F-Droid is a software repository which promises user on software freedom, a review process is for ensuring that all applications distributed from F-Droid main repository are Free Software.

This is a nonexhaustive list of what reviewer would do:

  • They will go to your source code repository, and look for copyright notices in license files, including README, to check that the proposed application is released under recognized Free Software license(s).
  • They will look at your build script to see which build system you use, and whether F-Droid build server can handle it (Ant and Gradle are the most common and easiest ones).
  • They will try to download a copy of your source code.
  • They will look in all source code files to verify that their licenses are consistent with corresponding license/README files.
  • They will check if your application uses pre-compiled library or binary blobs.
  • They will look at your non-source code files to identify non-free resources used in your application.
  • They will skim through the source code to see if your application uses non-Free dependencies, show advertisements, track users, promotes non-Free services/applications, or do anything that is harmful or otherwise undesirable for users.
  • They will list summary of Antifeatures in your application.
  • They will try patching your application to remove usage of third-party proprietary software (if there is any).
  • They will try to determine a suitable update process for your application (e.g. by looking at how your releases relate to VCS tags and/or version information in AndroidManifest.xml).
  • They will try writing a suitable metadata file for your application, and add it to local F-Droid build server instance. (fdroid rewritemeta, fdroid lint are used to ensure that metadata is well-formed)
  • They will try to build your application in isolated environment to see if the process succeeds and yield a functional APK.
  • If all went smoothly, they will add a new metadata file to their local fdroiddata git repository and synchronizes the change to GitLab.

In case that the application failed some steps in the review, feedback will be given in the original submission queue thread that the proposal was posted.

Once fdroiddata repository is updated on GitLab, it's mostly just a matter of time before F-Droid's official build server would fetch, build your application, and publish it on the main F-Droid repository.

You can confirm the inclusion of your application by looking at GitLab fdroidata revision history.

Special Consideration of Metadata Merge Request

In case the inclusion is from GitLab merge request, review process is theoretically the same, although they are done mostly to confirm that the proposed metadata is consistent with what are really in the application source code; and steps about writing and committing metadata are omitted, as they will use the original metadata file you proprosed. Feedbacks will be given on the original merge request thread that the application was proposed; and once the process is completed, the request will be merged to master branch of fdroiddata GitLab repository.

In an attempt to optimize the process, when you proposed inclusion via metadata merge request, F-Droid staffs relies on several assumption (lined above); so the reviewing process in several aspect will be much less intensive, and consumes much less time. Policy-violating applications that somehow sneaked in this way will be dealt with after the fact.

Build Process

After the application metadata is added to fdroiddata GitLab repository, the next step is a duty of main F-Droid build server to fetch application's source code and related components, build the application, and publish it on the main F-Droid repository.

The build process here is done daily, and applications are processed in batch. As steps are done behind the scene and are mostly automatic; all the submitter needs to do is to wait until it finish.

Record of build process for each application is provided on wiki, as a subpage lastbuild of application's information page (e.g. this one is for F-Droid client); to aid diagnostic in case the build was unexpectedly failed.

Metadata Refreshing Process

When the scheduled building time arrived, F-Droid build server will fetch changes from fdroiddata GitLab repository and merge it to local repository.[citation needed] Then, update checks will be performed for all applications, including new ones; their metadata files will be updated, and committed accordingly to the repository with F-Droid Builder <admin@f-droid.org> as author name and email.

Once metadata files are updated, F-Droid Sever will check them against a list of released APKs to constuct a bill of new applications and/or versions that are needed to be built, then enter application preprocessing process, followed by build process for each of them.

Application Preprocessing

Application Build Process

APK Signing Process

Wiki Page Generation Process

Repository Publishing Process

What to Expect

When your application metadata is approved and accepted into fdroiddata git repository on GitLab, it won't immediately appear in the main F-Droid repository.

Provided that your application does not have any build problem, it would takes somewhere around 24 hours to 48 hours from fdroiddata merge for the application to appear in the main repository.[1] This timing limitation is due to APK signing part of the build process, which requires human intervention on keystore access step.[2]

Nevertheless, your application will not appear in f-droid.org's Lastest Apps list just yet, even though people can now already search and download it: Once the application appeared in the main F-Droid repository, it would take another day before appearing on Latest Apps list.

External Links