In this edition: Two new heavy duty servers, first alpha release of F-Droid 1.5, metadata cleanup, automatic buildserver setup, Portuguese Courts rule against Google, and F-Droid confirmed malware-free. There are 4 new and 32 updated apps.
F-Droid is a repository of verified free and open source Android apps, a client to access it, as well as a whole “app store kit”, providing all the tools needed to set up and run an app store. It is a community-run free software project developed by a wide range of contributors. This is their story this past week.
Two new servers from the GCC Compile Farm Project
Many thanks to the GCC Compile Farm Project, who have arranged two bare-metal servers for F-Droid, each with 16 cores, 145 GB RAM, and 2.6 TB disk. These are actually old Facebook machines, but the specs are still pretty impressive! And this is in addition to the F-Droid mirror from Tetaneutral.
The GCC Compile Farm Project is a facilitator for free software developers to get access to resources. The management system for this project is hosted by Tetaneutral, and the machines themselves are hosted by various organizations around the world. These two machines will actually be hosted by the Oregon State University Open Source Lab (OSUOSL).
For people who will be working with them: Remember that these machines have real hard disks, not running in RAID configuration. They should only hold disposable content, as the hard disks could fail.
First alpha of F-Droid client 1.5 released
F-Droid client 1.5-alpha0 is out with a new ROM feature. There is now a way to pre-install F-Droid with additional repositories. These repositories can only be added, and can’t override the main f-droid.org repositories. Also, the user is free to disable and delete, so this is only for the initial setup.
So for example, Lineage could supply an image with a standard F-Droid APK pre-installed, and have it preconfigured with a specific repository. Or this could be Replicant, Fairphone, etc. This feature was designed in cooperation with Emteria, who largely implemented it, with substantial contributions from F-Droid people.
F-Droid metadata cleanup
If you follow the “Website” link from an app’s description page, it should lead to a real website. Otherwise, it should be absent. Our metadata is full of cases where the website links to the source code, either directly duplicating the “Source code” link, or pointing somewhere very similar, for example to the README file. This work is fixing that, and unifying the way in which we link to things, which makes for a smoother experience.
Progress with automatic buildserver setup
This week we created the new fdroid-bootstrap-buildserver project in GitLab. This project holds the ansible script responsible for setting up and configuring a buildserver fully automatically. It has already successfully set up two buildservers. Once the script can do everything, which is quite close, the whole buildserver setup, including host and guest, will be recreatable and thus disposable. This is huge for us, especially in combination with the news above.
Portuguese Courts rule against Google on behalf of Aptoide
Aptoide is an alternative app store. Incidentally, the one the F-Droid app was originally forked from. Apparently Google have been remotely removing/hiding the Aptoide app store on over 2.2 million devices in the last 60 days.
Fortunately, the Portuguese Courts ruled that Google has to stop doing that. This isn’t the end of it, as Aptoide will also be filing for damages caused by this. Read the full story here.
Independent academic confirmation that F-Droid is free of malware
We only just learned of this, although the study was actually conducted in 2017. We now have another independent, academic confirmation of 0 malware in F-Droid. Download the results of the study here (PDF).
- Hide “running in the background” Notification: Hide the annoying “running in the background” notification.
- lWS: Lightweight web server (lws).
- lWS QR: Lightweight web server qr code generator plugin (lws qr).
- Weather Forecast: View weather forecasts from yr.no.
In total, 32 apps were updated this week. Here are the highlights:
Major More updates for the simple mobile tools. This time Calculator, Music Player and Notes updated to major version 5, again bumping up the minimum required Android from 4.1 to 5.0 and replacing the G+ button with Reddit.
Periodical was updated from 1.16 to 1.18, bringing updated translations from Crowdin, and reverting language codes back to their generic form to avoid missing translations when a regional language setting is used.
Major Zapp released version 2.0.0, with background playback of “Mediathek” videos, automatic pausing when a different app plays sound or during a phone call, a lockscreen widget, progress bar only showing when the video really stalls, and minimum Android version increased from 4.4 to 5.0.
AntennaPod was updated from 1.6.5 to 1.7.0, with the new ExoPlayer, a fix for Bluetooth Forward, preferences + search redesign, notification improvements, different screens for feed info and settings, sort queue with Random or Smart Shuffle, true black AMOLED theme, improvements to feed parsing, and a fix for being killed by Android Oreo.
Major AFWall+ released version 3.0.0 with better support for Android Nougat, Oreo and Pie; a firewall toggle tile; adaptive icons; notifications channel; compatibility with magisk 17.x; better handling of background processes; and updated libraries, translations, and bug fixes. The minimum required Android was bumped from 4.0.3 to 5.0.
SQRL - Main updated to version 0.11.0, now handling screen rotations, offering manual language choice, and implementing x=n functionality. It has three new languages: French, Japanese and Spanish.
Your local weather updated from 4.2.6 to 4.3.1, with rewritten background services for faster and smoother updates, indication of wind direction in the current weather and forecast, and an option for time format.
Tips and Feedback
Do you have important app updates we should write about? Send in your tips via Mastodon! Send them to @firstname.lastname@example.org and remember to tag with #TWIF. Or use the TWIF submission thread on the forum. The deadline to the next TWIF is Thursday 12:00 UTC.
General feedback can also be sent via Mastodon, or, if you’d like to have a live chat, you can find us in #fdroid on Freenode, on Matrix via #fdroid:matrix.org or on Telegram. All of these spaces are bridged together, so the choice is yours. You can also join us on the forum.