Revisiting LineageOS (custom ROMs) on Republic Wireless

Hi @emiljt,

Thanks for your feedback and for adding to the conversation.

This is key, and I think @louisdi has done a good job of answering it. There is no “artificial” limit. We work closely with the phone manufacturers and our carrier partners to be certain that the builds we allow on our network will work correctly with our service. Our plan pricing isn’t arbitrary; it is still based on a certain amount of Wi-Fi offload - calling and texting on Wi-Fi. When you introduce a build that bypasses this part of our service, calling and texting cost more than our price structure can support.

This conversation is an excellent one; it’s important for us to understand what the demand is for alternate operating systems, because we do want to find ways to grow our membership, and clearly being able to accept a wider variety of phones is one way of doing so. I’m also completely in agreement with you about having to buy new phones every couple of years, as that cost eats as me as well. (Still driving the 2008 mom van, just replaced my 2009 computer, and would gladly use my phone just as long, if it would last!)

Have you looked into which carriers will accept your phone and what their plans would cost you? I’d be interested to know how they’d compare.


I appreciate the feedback from everyone.

I wasn’t trying to say that new phones don’t get security updates. I’m well aware that pretty much all phones get them for some amount of time. That’s also not the only reason though to use something like Lineage; privacy is a huge selling point as well. I can have as little or as much involvement with Google as I want. My point was that for my phone in particular, I don’t get security updates despite the fact that it is entirely capable of running the latest version of android. So my options are to buy a new phone every three years at best, or use alternate ROMs that are actually maintained, unlike the stock ones, and breath new life into an “old” phone. LineageOS gets Google’s monthly security updates out to users as soon as they’re out. I agree the Pixel series isn’t a bad option, but even then you’re paying $800 for a phone that will only be kept up to date for 3 years. I value security a lot, and I’m more than happy to pay for it when justified, but in this case I have a phone that works perfectly well, even runs the latest software without a hitch, but I can’t use it simply because it can’t be activated. Not the end of the world for me, but still kind of a bummer.

I saw your answer above and completely agree with you. No argument there.
To be fair though, Lineage is more stock Android than most manufactures builds, and I’ve already proven that Lineage runs RW just fine when allowed to be activated. Plus, let’s be honest, how many of RW’s users would actually be interested? Like I said, I don’t ever expect RW to support something like Lineage, but if we wanted to, I’m sure there are ways to make it happen (the cellular industry is no stranger to rate limiting, etc., we could even have a “beta” version much like we do for RW Anywhere and Linux, or even have those users pay more).

At the end of the day I get that these are all just first world problems, nothing major or horrible, just a bummer. As I said above, I honestly don’t expect RW to do anything about it, I just wanted to add some differing view points and show that there are other users out there interested in the problem. RW has a great thing going, but one of it’s weaknesses has always been options. If you want to use the Apple ecosystem, or want more control over your privacy/security, you basically have to look elsewhere. But, obviously I wouldn’t be here after so long if RW didn’t have something that made those shortcomings worth it to me :wink:


For the record, flashing custom roms to phones is not as popular as it used to be. OEMs have made their phones much harder and very risky to root and flash, with much more strict proprietary security tech that will brick the phone if one should try and mess up. It is a thing only done by real techys these days, that understand how and also are willing to risk bricking their expensive device.

As the major OEM phone models continue to advance, they are becoming less and less the target of custom roms. Less and less devs take up the initiative to develop. When it does happen, it often takes a very long time before anything stable and fairly easy is available to flash, even back years ago(i think I waited just over 1.5 years before any root and 1 rom became available for the LG flagship model I had, by then, the thing was old and outdated tech and no oneone stepped up to continue work on it because everyone had moved on to newer devices).

The real market for custom rom lay in off brand or less known here in the USA brands, OnePlus, and other Chinese phones seem to have the main openness for custom rom. In fact, most of the custom rom devs are not in USA, but are in other countries. The rest of the world may have openly embraced Custom roms…but the USA market…I doubt they will ever will.

Personally, having been a custom rom wizard(and part time dev), and not being able to live with out the perks that came with them…back in the day…I have found that current android, 8 and 9, I have no need for root or custom roms. The OS, (Google’s Stock experience anyway) is excellent. I have seen how features that were invented by community XDA devs and only available in their own custom roms, now are built right into the core OS. And I no longer have to have the random headache that are bugs or odd quirks that come with any custom rom.

Since, it seems, that RW is interested in hearing about why folks like us are attracted to custom roms, aside from things you already mention, like more control over privacy and security, and possibly getting security and os updates past the OEMs lifecycle of the device, here are my main reasons I used to swear by to use a custom rom:

  1. Ad block. System wide. (no longer needed for me since all my apps are ad free paid versions, or open source no ads included version/Opera web browser have very effective ad blocker)

  2. Viper4Android (or other system wide sound mod/enhancement) this was a big one. I am a very picky audio guy with very particular audio/EQ requirements. I switched to Poweramp V3 which has the best EQ there is, no root or mod needed. Sounds better than even when a system sound mod was enabled. I also invested in a good USB DAC, so now I can take my preferred audio experience to any Android phone.

  3. Black theme. I do not understand the more modern trend in deleting the 16 million color palette and shadowing/shading design elements, to just all flat white and lots more whitespace. It is bad on the eyes, eats battery, and puts very talented graphic designers/artists out of work. (a “Dark” theme is now built into Android. Most OEMs also have their own stock theming settings, dark theme included)

  4. More advanced power and hardware controls. A necessary thing, for a rom that is mass produced for many phone models. Google, as akin to Apple, is the only true OEM that is able to exclusively optimize their OS ROM for their own exact devices…and boy, does it show. My 3 yr old Pixel XL is still faster, and buttery smooth with little to no “jank” than my coworkers 1.3yr old Samsung phone. I have no need to fuss with a cpu governor or tweak frequencies or hunt down software timers, triggers, and wakelocks…the phone and its OS just works buttery smooth, and gets me days of battery life…and has yet to slow down or degrade after 1.5 yrs, as every single other phone has on me.

  5. Customization. Here is where things are a bit poor. Many custom roms have a HUGE amount of customization available to the user, some, too much so. Part of me is glad that I don’t have to spend days trying to tweak every single of the million things to make it just perfect to my liking. But, there are things I wish that I could tweak or customize about the UI on my Pixel that do kinda bug me and would make my life a tiny bit easier if I could. But, the amount of stock customization is just sufficient, with the basics I need are there.


Thanks for your very reasonable and reasoned response. I agree that Republic would benefit from more flexibility in the hardware that they’re able to deliver their services on and the software it runs. I also know that Republic would love to expand the customer base it can serve, if it can figure out how to do that without significant risk. This leads me to believe that the mode they hear from customers interested in such things, the more they will consider them, so thanks for raising the questions here. Just a few years ago, with 1 phone available to use, the number of phones they have available now would have seemed a pipedream. I personally am really looking forward to what Republic has up its sleeve for all of us in the coming year!


Since Security and Privacy was a big thing mentioned here…about wanting to have update software patches on smartphone…well…I just came across this video of a security flaw that has been known for years, and never patched. So even a custom ROM is not going to help you with some security things. Would love to know of said custom rom makers even know of this security issue?

Hi there. This pops up for me as well. Try opening your phone app, refresh the phone activation by dialing *#*#8647#*#*. (that’s star pound start pound 8647 pound star pound star) Then go back to the activation. It has worked on my Nexus 6p multiple times on ABC ROM (Oreo 8.1) Resurrection Remix (Oreo 8.1) and Statixos which I’m currently running (Pie 9.0). Everything is working fine. Hope this helps


Is there any new info on using open source android on RW phones and RW app?

My son bought a pine64 (linux) and as far as the basic phone and texting - it works fine. He’s going to try and move his RW phone number to the new cell provider and then he’s done with the RW phone. Of course he loses the wifi benefits that RW offers but to him - he prefers the linux phone.

Candidly, no, Republic has had nothing further to say.

While sorry to hear this, if needed:

Then, for him, moving service to another provider willing and able to support his new phone is a perfectly valid choice albeit not a mainstream one. Snipped from Pine’s website:

The purpose of the PinePhone isn’t only to deliver a functioning Linux phone to end-users, but also to actively create a market for such a device, as well as to support existing and well established Linux-on-Phone projects. All major Linux Phone-oriented projects, as well as other FOSS OS’, are represented on the PinePhone and developers work together on our platform to bring support this this community driven device.

And, therein lies the challenge. Republic is a relatively small operator. It’s one thing for a traditional cellular operator to support (presuming they actually do so) Pine’s phone on its network. For Republic since its unique (sufficiently unique to be patented) blended WiFi/cell service depends upon its app, support would mean expending app development resources for a market that by Pine’s admission doesn’t yet exist. That’s a big ask of a smaller operator like Republic.

The above said, many of us here are, apparently like your son, tech enthusiasts. This tech enthusiast, wouldn’t object to hearing how things work out for him.


The pine64 is really only intended for a very small audience of linux enthusiasts. The basic phone works - calls, texts, various other apps like telegram, signal and matrix all basically work.

I have to remind myself that for the majority of my life I never had a cell phone. For many people they can never live w/o one.

Out of the 4 people in this household, 3 are linux programmers. We are not scared of opening up the terminal(command prompt) and looking under the hood;)

It’s all a learning process and very educational.

Yes he’ll lose the wifi aspect and that’s what brought us to RW in the first place. But I have to wonder about using a voip service to get back some of that wifi functionality?

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I understand that. That small audience is why it would be a big ask for Republic to support something like the Pine Phone.


Well, that’s certainly not the typical household.

It certainly could be done over WiFi data. With the right provider, outbound calls could be made to look like they’re coming from the cell phone number. Unless a forwarding option were used (which would cost more because one would be paying the VoIP provider for the outbound forwarding) inbound calls would require a second phone number. Of course, there would be no WiFi/cell switching as with Republic.

FYI - I bought a used google pixel 3 unlocked phone from ebay. Installed grapheneOS on it and f-droid app as an alternative to play store. Got a SIM card from redpocket using att. So far it works fine. All the apps I need (which are very few) I can get from the f-droid website.
The one thing I’ll really miss from RW will be the republic anywhere app.
I also have a pinephone on order.
For anyone who may want to try this - be aware that you must know what you are doing. Just blindly following some instructions on a website for flashing an alternative OS may not always work. Do it on a phone that you would consider disposable if something goes terribly wrong.

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