F-Droid, the Android app store for freedom beards.

This was to be a review of Replicant, the custom Android ROM with 100% free (as in freedom) software on board. That’s its default home screen above.

The ROM itself is perhaps not quite ready for day-to-day use, but it does have one killer app that can be installed on any Android device. It’s called F-Droid. Let’s check it out!

F-Droid is less an app store and more a Linux-style software repository. Here’s the listing for an Android version of Duck Duck Go, a Google search alternative.

Note the menu items across the bottom of the screen — particularly the links to the app’s bug tracker and source code. It’s also fairly surprising that DDG is available in the Android Market, since F-Droid itself is nowhere to be found.

Installing or updating apps might not be as elegant as it would be using the official market, but it gets the job done. Plus, depending on the app you might well be able to roll back to a previous version in the unlikely event that you break something.

That said, you needn’t worry that adding an additional software source will turn your handset into a big mess. On its first run F-Droid will reconcile your already-installed apps with any corresponding entries in its repo, and even tell you what the license is — important stuff for us freedom beards!

And just like the Android Market you can browse the F-Droid repo from your desktop web browser. Though you can’t initiate a remote install you can at least download any .apk for transfer to your device.  There’s lots of great stuff on offer… see for yourself here.

Back to Replicant for a second, its authors warn that user tracking can’t be avoided with a stock Android handset. But for Android users seeking a Google-free experience it’s nice to know there’s another way to get at least some of their favourite apps.


  1. F-Droid will almost certainly never be published on the Android Market, because it facilitates the downloading of other applications, which is against the Android Market ToS/ToU.

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