Replicant (operating system)

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Replicant Logo
Developer Denis "GNUtoo" Carikli and Paul Kocialkowski,[1] sponsored by the Free Software Foundation[2]
OS family Unix-like
Working state Current
Source model Open source
Latest release 4.2 0003[3] (December 7, 2014; 4 months ago (2014-12-07)) [±]
Package manager APK
Kernel type Monolithic (Linux kernel)
License Apache License 2.0 and GNU GPLv2
Official website
Replicant 4.0 on the Nexus S
An example of phone information in Replicant, including a brief hardware description

Replicant is a free and open source operating system based on the Android mobile platform, which aims to replace all proprietary Android components with their free software counterparts. This also makes it a security focused operating system as it closes discovered Android backdoors.[4] It is available for several smartphones and tablet computers.[5][6][7][8]

The name Replicant is drawn from the fictional replicant androids in the Blade Runner movie.[9] Replicant is sponsored and supported by the Free Software Foundation.[2]


The Replicant project started in mid-2010 with an effort to consolidate various initiatives attempting to produce a fully free-as-in-freedom Android derivative for the HTC Dream. The original team consisted of Bradley M. Kuhn, Aaron Williamson, Graziano Sorbaioli and Denis ‘GNUtoo’ Carikli.[10] The project quickly led to the writing of replacement code for the non-free parts that were required to make the HTC Dream functional. The first component to be replaced permitted audio to work without a proprietary library. Replicant originally provided its own FOSS application repository, which was later replaced by F-Droid.[11][12][13]

The software that was in charge of handling the communication with the modem (which is called Radio Interface Layer – RIL) was then replaced by free code, thus making the telephony part usable. A library handling the GPS was then adapted from free code that was originally written for another phone and permitted the HTC Dream to have GPS working with Replicant.[13]

Early versions of Replicant were based on the Android Open Source Project code, while versions 2.2 (April 2011) and later use CyanogenMod as their base, in order to make supporting more devices easier.[14][15]

As development continued, many members of the original Replicant team retired from the project, making Denis "GNUtoo" Carikli the only remaining member from the original team still actively working on the project. In April 2011, Paul Kocialkowski decided to get involved with the project and gradually became the main Replicant developer, after successfully porting it to the Nexus S and Galaxy S devices.[1][16]

Replicant is sponsored and supported by the Free Software Foundation.[2]


The following table lists major releases of Replicant:

Version Release date Based on Notes
Old version, no longer supported: 2.2[17] 26 April 2011 N/A N/A
Old version, no longer supported: 4.0 16 November 2012 Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" Five updates of Replicant 4.0 have been released; the last one, 0005, was released on October 1, 2013.[18]
Current stable version: 4.2[19] 22 January 2014 CyanogenMod 10.1 Two updates of Replicant 4.2 have been released; the most recent one, 0003, was released on December 7, 2014.[3]
Old version
Older version, still supported
Latest version
Latest preview version
Future release


In March 2014, Replicant developers found and closed a backdoor present in a wide range of Samsung Galaxy products that allows the baseband processor to read and write the device's storage,[4] sometimes with normal user privileges and sometimes as the root user depending on device model. It is unknown whether Samsung's proprietary firmware for the radio chip can be remotely instructed to use these access features and whether the vulnerability was introduced with legitimate uses in mind.[20]


On January 3, 2013, the project released Replicant 4.0 SDK as a fully libre replacement to Android SDK.[21] The Replicant SDK was released in response to Google updating the license for add-ons and binaries under a proprietary agreement.[22]

Hardware support[edit]

Supported devices[edit]

Scope of the Replicant project has been gradually expanded to include support for new devices, starting with the Nexus One, Nexus S and Galaxy S. Replicant developers are continually working to add support for new devices. As of January 2014, the following devices are supported, with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth requiring proprietary firmware in order to work:[23]

Device Device Class Codename Replicant Version 2D Graphics 3D Graphics Sound Telephony Mobile Data NFC GPS Sensors Camera Wi-Fi Bluetooth
Nexus S Smartphone crespo 4.2 Yes (slow) No Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Proprietary Proprietary
Samsung Galaxy SIII Smartphone i9300 4.2 Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes (back) / proprietary (front) Proprietary Proprietary
Samsung Galaxy SII Smartphone galaxys2 4.2 Yes No Yes Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Proprietary Proprietary
Samsung Galaxy S Smartphone galaxysmtd 4.2 Yes (slow) No Yes Yes Yes N/A No Yes Yes Proprietary Proprietary
Galaxy Nexus Smartphone maguro 4.2 Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No Proprietary Proprietary
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1) Tablet computer p5100 4.2 Yes (slow) No Yes Yes Yes N/A No Yes No Proprietary Proprietary
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) Tablet computer p3100 4.2 Yes No Yes Yes Yes N/A No Yes No Proprietary Proprietary
Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Smartphone n7100 4.2 Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes (back) / proprietary (front) Proprietary Proprietary
Samsung Galaxy Note (original) Smartphone n7000 4.2 Yes No Yes Yes Yes No No Yes No Proprietary Proprietary
Goldelico OpenPhoenux GTA04 Smartphone gta04 4.2 Yes No Yes Work in progress Work in progress N/A Yes Work in progress Work in progress Proprietary Proprietary
Nexus One Smartphone passion 2.3 Yes No Proprietary Yes Yes N/A Yes (no AGPS) No No Proprietary Proprietary
HTC Dream / HTC Magic Smartphone dream_sapphire 2.2 Yes No Yes Yes No N/A Yes (no AGPS) N/A No Proprietary Proprietary

Likely additions[edit]

Additional target devices are evaluated, based on the suitability of their hardware platforms and required device drivers; as of January 2014, devices listed below are not yet supported, and porting Replicant to them is only in consideration.[24]

Device Codename Replicant Version
Nexus 10 manta 4.2

In November 2013, it was announced that Replicant could work on a Fairphone device and that the bootloaders may even be free software. The Fairphone team seemed "definitely interested" in helping to get Replicant ported to the device.[25] In December 2014, Fairphone admitted that it had failed to convince chipset vendor MediaTek to open up the source code for first-generation Fairphones.[26]

Rejected devices[edit]

Based on either the unsuitability of their hardware platforms or the lack of available free software drivers, porting Replicant to the devices listed below has been considered and rejected.[24]

Device Possibility Reason
Galaxy Tab 8.9 Unlikely Tegra slowness
Nexus 7 Possible but unlikely Unspecified
Nexus 4 Very unlikely Too many proprietary drivers
Motorola Defy Impossible Kernel is signed

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "People - Replicant". Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  2. ^ a b c "FSF launches fundraising program for Replicant, the fully free Android-based mobile OS". Free Software Foundation. Jul 24, 2013. Retrieved 4 February 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Paul Kocialkowski (7 December 2014). "Replicant 4.2 0003 images release". Retrieved 7 December 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "Replicant developers find and close Samsung Galaxy backdoor". Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  5. ^ "Overview". Replicant. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  6. ^ Paul Kocialkowski (February 4, 2012). "WikiStart". Replicant. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  7. ^ "Android and Users' Freedom - GNU Project - Free Software Foundation". Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  8. ^ "About". Replicant. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  9. ^ "FSF passes collection plate for free Android clone Replicant". The register. 26 July 2013. Retrieved 23 January 2014. 
  10. ^ "Replicant: distribution Android 100% libre". September 20, 2010. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  11. ^ Replicant Making Android Truly Free
  12. ^ "F-Droid, the Android app store for freedom beards. | Open attitude". Open attitude. August 24, 2011. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  13. ^ a b Par aKa. "Le projet Replicant ou Android totalement libre présenté par PaulK". Framablog. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  14. ^ Manuel Jose (July 2013). "A Fully Free Android based Mobile OS? FSF is Aiming for the Skies with Replicant Project". Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  15. ^ Rohan Pearce (March 10, 2012). "Replicant developer interview - Building a truly free Android". Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  16. ^ "Replicant developer interview - Building a truly free Android - Interview -". Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  17. ^ "Replicant 2.2 SDK Available". Replicant. 26 April 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  18. ^ Paul Kocialkowski (1 October 2013). "Replicant 4.0 0005 images release". Replicant. Retrieved 2013-10-23. 
  19. ^ Paul Kocialkowski (22 January 2014). "Replicant 4.2 kicks out!". Replicant. Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  20. ^ Paul Kocialkowski. "Samsung Galaxy Back-door". Replicant Wiki. Retrieved 5 July 2014. 
  21. ^ "Replicant 4.0 SDK release | Replicant project". January 3, 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  22. ^ "What's up with the Android SDK? - Paul Kocialkowski's coding blog". January 5, 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  23. ^ "Replicant Status". Retrieved 2015-03-28. 
  24. ^ a b "Targets Evaluation". Replicant. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  25. ^ About the Fairphone, in the official Replicant blog.
  26. ^ Our approach to software and ongoing support for the first Fairphones, in the official Fairphone blog.

External links[edit]