Migrating To FLOSS!

A few alternatives to the privacy disrespecting programs and services that you might be using.

Published by - on
Category - Blog
Tags - #NonFree #Privacy #Free #Foss #Alternatives #Security #Tracking #Ethics

This list is not complete.
Please do note that just migrating to the alternatives mentioned in this list is not enough for user privacy.
For example just installing the operating systems mentioned here will not save you from the privacy exploits of the software you choose to install in it.
Be cautious of what you do, always make sure that there are no binary blobs in anything that you use. Get rid of things that automatically opts you into their telemetry services.
This is a list of FLOSS (Free/Libre and Open-source) softwares that can be used instead of the proprietary malwares in your life.
I have tried to list out every alternatives that I am using. And some of the softwares might not be maintained by the time you read this.
If they are outdated I recommend you to find alternatives from https://privacytools.io and https://alternativeto.net
You can also update this list with a pull request on my GitHub repository


There’s a big difference between privacy and security, In a nutshell security is confidentiality of your data, while privacy is appropriate use of your data.
Of course, without confidentiality (encryption), your data can be intercepted and used inappropriately, so entirely unencrypted transmissions are always susceptible to privacy violations.
But just encrypting your data is not sufficient for your privacy, a weak encryption or a backdoor will provide you a false sense of privacy and security. This is why you should always choose apps and services which you can read the source code and lets you modify them.

The best way to enforce privacy is to collect no data at all.

Alternatives

This will soon become a long list, so I have tried to optimize this page as much as I can for your convenience.

And I strongly encorage you to click on the Know More... button to know our reason for choosing these alternatives.
It would also be better if you could click through all the links we provided for more detailed information.


Avoid Use
Windows logo Windows, Apple logo Mac OS GNU logo Linux logo GNU/Linux
Know More...
Quoting from debian:
Software is not like making a car. Once you've made one copy of your software, the production costs to make a million more are tiny
(there's a reason Microsoft has so many billions in the bank).
It does make sense to pay/donate a little to the people who developed your favorite OS, but the amount should be tiny, not 100s of Dollars.

But that is just in cost perspective, there are other moral and ethical reasons for you to stay away from these Operating systems.

Windows 10 is a privacy nightmare and malware , Mac OS Does not care about user freedom!

But don't worry, There are other operating systems which exists which is free and much better. One alternative is GNU/Linux and this is the only Operating system I know which cares about user freedom.
You can get a list of GNU/Linux Operating systems from gnu.org.
PureOS is a fully free GNU/Linux distribution based on Debian and will probably suit your needs.

Personally I feel debian can be used as long as you don't install anything from its non-free repository. I use it in my main system and it works great!

But what if you just came from Windows or Mac and you want the OS to "Just Work" and install whatever you want? There are other GNU/Linux operating systems exists which are not fully free .
These non-free distributions came with the cost of your freedom, but much less compared to the other two mainstream desktop operating systems.
Android logo Android, Apple logo iOS LineageOS (Official Builds), Other AOSP based operating system for Android
Know More...
iOS also restricts user freedom just like Mac OS, The users are kept in a jail with less access to the free world. It is basically same as Mac OS in terms of user freedom.
I Do not recommend anyone to use Apple products if you wish to have a private life. They might promise you security but it is impossible for you to verify them unless they provide you with the source code which can reproduce their build.

There are no good alternatives for Android, if you install the malwares such as Google Play Services or Playstore you will compromise your setup. Sadly these comes built-in with almost all mobiles.

This is the reason I promote custom roms like LineageOS and OmniRom instead. The official guide asks you to install GApps (Google apps), but if you avoid it and install F-Droid instead of playstore, you are good to go.

You can always buy Librem 5 or Pinephone if you wish to have a GNU/Linux system in your pocket
But they are not yet a full fledged mobile and needs a lot of improvements in terms of performance.
Playstore logo Playstore, Apple logo Appstore F-Droid logo
Know More...
The pocket world is filled with spyware, but if you are an Android user you can install custom rom to avoid all proprietary apps and services! F-Droid is a repo for FLOSS Android Applications

Sorry iOS users, you threw away that freedom when you choose Apple. You could still sideload apps with AltStore (there are other stores available now) without jailbreaking. But it is not a FLOSS repo like F-Droid.

The F-Droid Repository is an easily-installable catalogue of free and open source apps for Android. With F-Droid, it's easy to browse and install apps on your device, and keep track of updates. You can also browse the repository with a web browser, and download the app directly from there, if you can’t or don’t want to run the F-Droid client on your device.

All applications in the default F-Droid repository must be Free and Open Source software – for example, released under a GPL or Apache license. Every effort is made to verify that this is actually the case, both by visual inspection of the source, and by building the application from the published source.

Software that reports user activity without permission (e.g. via Google Analytics) or tracks user behavior (e.g. most advertising platforms) is specifically excluded from F-Droid’s own repository, as is software with the primary purpose of interacting with a non-Free network service. You are, of course, free to set up your own repository for this kind of software – the server source is available, and the client will allow addition or removal of repositories as you see fit.
Google Chrome (Mobile), Safari (Mobile) IceCatMobile , Fennec F-Droid , TorBrowser (Guardian Project) , Firefox Mobile
Know More...
I did not add Chromium and other browsers based on it in this list purposefully. It has some of Google bloats that needs to be removed and some folks have made ungoogled chromium for that specific purpose.
But user needs to add an extra unofficial repo to F-Droid to install this.

WebKit engine based browsers are forced onto iPhone users, Apples policy does not allow developers to develop a browser that is not based on their tool (Another reason to stay away from Apple).

While Firefox source code from the Mozilla project is free software, they distribute and recommend nonfree software as plug-ins and addons. Also their trademark license imposes requirements for the distribution of modified versions that make it inconvenient to exercise freedom 3.

Fennec F-Droid is based on the latest Firefox release. It's focused on removing any proprietary bits found in official Mozilla's builds. There might still be some binaries left and the app (or some builds) might get removed or re-pushed anytime.

But Fennec is also not fully Free-- it is just a variant of firefox without the binary blobs. This is the reason why IceCatMobile was developed. IceCatMobile is a Browser using the Gecko layout engine to render web pages, which implements current and anticipated web standards. This is a free software rebranding of the latest Firefox-ESR release. read more about IceCat here.

Another option is the Tor Browser, though it is not in official F-Droid repo yet, you can enable the Guardian Project Official App Repository in F-Droid to install it.
WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Duo, hike, line, etc. Element (previously Riot.im) , Signal, Telegram FOSS
Know More...
Communication must not be done in a walled garden, using protocols instead of apps makes sure that you can talk to anyone regardless of the app they use. This is the main reason I ask people to switch to Element.
Element works with all Matrix-based apps and bridges into proprietary messengers too.

Signal is another candidate, but I am adding it here half-heartedly. Unlike Element, using it with other apps will be a hassle right now and requires you to use your phone number to create an account. Signal app does not exist in f-droid and the developer has been hesitant to do so for many years (here is one instance).
The Signal clients and server does support federation, it is just a matter of time before it becomes fully federated. It is said to get a phone number free feature in the future and until then theoretically one could use a burner number for it.

Telegram also raise some concerns as the chat is not default end-to-end encrypted and requires you to identify yourself with your number. The encryption is done on the server side with their own solution. User will have to just "Trust" the maintainers, so I recommend you to use Telegram only if you need to part of a public channel - not for secure messaging.

But these are much better in terms of privacy and security compared to the mainstream applications.

There is a widespread misconception that WhatsApp is secure and privacy-friendly. While WhatsApp can’t see what’s inside the messages, they can see your activities, who is sending a message to whom and when - which is a large risk (read more on their policies from the links below).

And according to the WhatsApp privacy policy, the company reserves the right to record this information, known as message metadata, and share information with "others" including(but obviously not limited to) law enforcement and to respond to legal requests. If you use their service, please check their statements regularly.
They also design the privacy policy page in a way that it is hard to point to a section of their statement through links.
Details on information shared to law enforcement can be found at WhatsApp's privacy and security page.

Facebook Messenger is even cruel in terms of privacy, I could not find a privacy policy for their messenger app, the best I could find is this. I will just assume that it has the same policies as Facebook. Google Duo, Hike, and Line follows the same trend.

Facebook Diaspora
Know More...
Description Coming Soon!


- Be safe

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