it started with an experiment

On my other website, I posted an article about an experiment to not use any Google products. I wanted to try this experiment to see what it would take to completely not use any Google services, so that I can probably effectively cap the data collection on me, and to realize that I can live without Google.

In order to make this experiment successful, I knew I needed to switch things eventually and not all at once. Switching everything over all at once would run the risk of me going back to Google. After a couple months of switching products, I knew that I had to go to the core of my phone. Android would keep sending data to Google with Google Core Services. I needed to install a new operating system that would cut those services out.

So I found LineageOS with microG. This was exactly what I was looking for: to cut out the Google Core services on the phone. MicroG isn’t a complete replacement of the core services, but it seemed like it would suffice for what I wanted. And LineageOS is a custom ROM that is similar to stock android, which I like. There are several other features presented on LineageOS website, like a PrivacyGuard on applications. So I decided to try out a new mobile operating system.

first trial

My first trial failed. I had to scramble in order to make sure my phone was not in a boot loop. Let me tell you what happened and what I learned.

I followed the instructions given on the LineageOS website. After following the instructions several times, my phone never got past the unlocked bootloader message. I eventually figured out that there was some combination that I was missing. I needed to unplug the USB from my phone, shutdown my phone, then boot into fastboot. Once in fastboot, then plug in my phone to the computer. I eventually was able to get TWRP flashed to install a fresh OS.

Once the OS was installed, I never got past the unlocked bootloader message again. I may have hit something wrong here too. I rebooted the phone several times, but it never went past that message screen. I sort of panicked because I lost a functioning phone. Sort of.

I found some software online from OnePlus, and that software provided a way to recover a phone that was stuck in a boot loop. I ran the software, and I was back to my factory original stock ROM. A side effect that happened, the ringer would no longer ring for notifications, and the GPS positioning was very poor. I had a slightly hampered phone.

second trial

I wasn’t satisified. I wanted to try and take Google out of the system of my phone and possibly getting the ringer working again.

So I decided I needed a back-up phone for a couple reasons. One, in case the phone goes haywire again, I have a phone that still works. Two, I saw a warning that custom ROM phones may have the possibility of not being able to download some applications. There are some applications that I would need, like a car insurance application.

So I got an iPhone. I know, Apple still does data collection, but at least Apple seems to have different personal data policies than Google.

Time passed, I sat down to start again on the second trial. I found an article that had detailed steps and explained what the process means to install a new OS on an A/B phone. I learned a few things!

I followed through with the article. The article specified clearly to unplug the phone at certain times. And with that, I got LineageOS with microG installed succsesfully. This was a remarkable easy success. It still puzzles me why I had such a hard time during the first trial, and why it was so easy the second time.

updating the os

There was a new update released this week. I wanted to try it out. The update came, and my phone started a reboot. But then it didn’t reboot. It got stuck at the bootloader unlocked screen again! Oh no.

Here is what I ended up doing. I got into recovery mode, and found LineageOS simple recovery mode. This didn’t have the options I needed. So I did a quick flash into TWRP, and I was able to sideload the update from there. Then my phone booted up fine.

While in TWRP, I realized that doing the update swapped the slots on my phone. That is why I got stuck with the update. The update seemed to only update the slot that had the OS. So I am guessing for future reference when I update, I will need to do a quick flash with TWRP and swap the slots.

in the end

I have a complete option of not using google. I feel accomplished. I am putting an emphasis on my data privacy. I would certianly like to vouch for these principles, and even help out in this open-sourced community to make sure data private software gets done.