Custom Android ROMs Primer ( LineageOS & Others )

SwapFile

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Custom ROMs?
Unlike iPhones that run iOS versions that act pretty much the same out of the box, Android phones can come with vastly different variants of Android. Android phones made by various companies often have various modifications (branding) or applications added. These addons and changes may not be able to be disabled and may not be in your best interest, especially if you want to use a phone for a dedicated purpose like JBV1.

If you have an Android phone loaded with junk apps and branding, or an older Android phone that is no longer getting updates, you may want to replace your version of Android with something else. Aftermarket custom Android versions are called custom ROMs.

How do I pick a ROM for my phone?
A custom ROM that is known for being lightweight, reliable, clean, and fast (and removes all google apps by default) that supports many phones is LineageOS. There are official versions of LineageOS at https://lineageos.org/, but there are also unofficial versions for older phones on https://www.xda-developers.com/

ROMs are specific to a brand of phone, I'd also recommend checking XDA to see what is available. There may be unofficial lineage builds or stripped down factory ROMs available. Some phones have very little custom ROM support and you may be out of luck.

How do I get a custom ROM on my phone?
The specifics change between phones, but in general you will need to first install TWRP https://twrp.me/ and then flash the ROM from there. You will want to check the instructions specific to your device.

How do I get Google Apps?
Lineage doesn't come with Google Apps preinstalled. If you want them, you can get them from https://opengapps.org/ and install it via TWRP. You do not need to install the full bundle of Google Apps if you do not want to, you can always get them later from the Play Store. Other custom ROMs may come with Google Apps preinstalled.

What if there isn't a custom ROM for my phone?
You can still try rooting your phone to gain full control over your phone. Being rooted allows you to disable apps that cannot generally be disabled, use wifi tethering, install adblockers (you can block Waze ads this way), and basically do whatever you want.

Why doesn't this post have any concrete information?
Sorry, your options are very specific to the phone you have.

In general, I'd highly recommend only buying phones that have some level of custom ROM support. Otherwise you are fully beholden to the phone manufacturer for updates and when they stop you are abandoned.

If you don't want to mess with custom ROMs, the most pure version of the Android Operating system out of the box is generally on the Pixel line of phones. Oneplus is also pretty good. There are likely others.
 
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Up All Night

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jon5

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Just a note that while google's line (nexus, pixel) tend to be the closest to upstream android, it is by no means close to vanilla android.

For vanilla android, look into roms like LineageOS. These basically do not have any packages bundled, not even an app store.
If you ever wanted to know how hooked you are on google, try LineageOS with F-Droid.
 

SwapFile

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Personally, I just like to know exactly who I am beholden to, and I like to have a known backup option.

I'll use the play store to make my life easier but I'm ready to drop it at a moments notice if I get burned.

For now, I'd think most people will be best served with something like a Pixel or OnePlus phone that mostly works out of the box, but also gives them a backup option (LineageOS). I have to admit, installing or finding a good LineageOS rom isn't always a walk in the park on some phones, and time is money...
 

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