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LineageOS with microG on Nexus 5

March 26, 2018 — BarryK

Wow, on a roll here!

I have been very concerned about the old version of Android (4.4.4) on my Mlais M52 Red Note phone. I bought this from China some years ago. Yes, 2015, here is a blog post:

And posted a short first-impressions:

As with most of these non-Google phones, Android doesn't get updated. There were some updates, then it stopped.

Hence, now looking at Unlegacy-Android and LineagOS, using my Nexus 5 to experiment on. I bought the Nexus 5 new, quite cheap as it is "old technology". It is a nice phone though. That was mid-2016:

Firstly tried Unlegacy-Android:

Then moved on to LineagOS:

Googling around, made a discovery. LineageOS is also available with microG. Now, microG is very interesting. It provides the Google infrastructure, but without any actual Google apps. Find out more:

And yep, it has the nexus 5 Hammerhead images, oh goody. Downloaded it and went through the same steps as in previous post (for LineageOS). One thing, the zip file was very difficult to download. I used 'wget -c' to continue download when it stopped (ctrl-c to kill wget, then rerun to continue download.

Safe In Cloud app

Now it gets extremely interesting. LineageOS with microG is installed on the Nexus 5, but I don't have, nor want, access to the Google Play Store. There is F-Droid, pre-installed, store for completely free apps only.

One of the most important apps for me is Safe In Cloud, a password manager, well, much more than that, stores anything, such as website logins. Even has its own web browser.

It is a paid-for product, and I have it on my Mlais M52. Android packages are .apk files, and all installed apk files of installed apps are kept in the phone. So, I want to get the Safe In Cloud apk out of the Mlais and install it in the Nexus 5.

Seems like a difficult task, however, I discovered the power of that 'adb' utility. This is how I did it:

good info here:

List all .apk files (Mlais connected to computer):
# ./adb shell pm list packages
Find where an .apk is:
# ./adb shell pm path com.safeincloud
Copy it to computer:
# ./adb pull /data/app/com.safeincloud-1.apk
In the mlais m52 phone, used file-manager to locate where have locally backed up safe-in-cloud. Copied database to computer:
# ./adb pull /storage/sdcard0/SafeInCloud_2018-03-26.db
610 KB/s (29655 bytes in 0.047s)
Now for the Nexus 5:
# ./adb kill-server
plugin nexus 5
# ./adb devices
Make sure Settings --> Security --> Unknown sources
is turned on.
# ./adb install com.safeincloud-1.apk
4198 KB/s (5023776 bytes in 1.168s)
Find out where most likely place to push the database file to:
# ./adb shell "ls /sdcard"
Alarms   DCIM       Download  Music          Pictures  Ringtones 
Android  Documents  Movies    Notifications  Podcasts  TWRP

# ./adb push SafeInCloud_2018-03-26.db /sdcard/
520 KB/s (29655 bytes in 0.055s)
However, Safe In Cloud syncs the database online as well. In my case on Google Drive. I pressed the "SafeInCloud" icon in the Nexus, and choose to sync with Google Drive ...we are about to see if microG works!

Yep, logged into Google Drive, safe In Cloud synced. and now running. Superb!

EDIT 20180328
I realised that one thing I do not want, is for the phone to access my main google account. Therefore, I created a new Google account, wiped all of the 'data' partition on the phone using TWRP, then re-installed Safe-In-Cloud and other apps.
Running Safe-In-Cloud, loaded the local database 'SafeInCloud_2018-03-26.db' (see above), then synced it to Google Drive on my new Google account.

I am very pleased about this. My Nexus is now good for years ahead, very secure and as Google-free as I can get it.

Oh, one extra thing. I have installed Firefox. F-Droid has 'FFUdater' app, which, apart from updating, will also do a first-time install.

Tags: tech