Ever since 2014, I’ve been using a custom ROM on my Android based devices as I value my privacy and and because I only consider myself owning a device if I have root rights on the OS. Back then, I used CyanogenMod, which, after a bit of a crisis with the commercial company behind it, morphed into LineageOS. And now it seems LineageOS in turn is in some sort of crisis as they have purged a significant part of their supported devices from their rooster, including very recent device models.
In fact, even my Samsung Galaxy S9 which was released back in 2018 and was quickly adopted by the project seems to have lost its maintainer and is listed as ‘unsupported’. The last image was produced in mid-May 2019. Going through the list of devices which contained way more than 200 devices (including variants) before, around 100 devices continue to be supported. This is certainly not a small number. However, most of them are fairly old and if I started from scratch today, selecting a device I would use with a good camera, set of international of LTE bands and carrier aggregation capabilities is far from easy.
This really makes me I wonder what is going on!? Has there been a gradual decline of people with the right skills and willing to support a device, or are there some internal quarrels that have prompted maintainers who do support the project in their quality time to leave abruptly? Both cases would be worrying. As things stand, one can’t trust that relatively recent devices continue to be maintained over the years. This in turn makes it difficult recommend others to go for LineageOS to regain their freedom and privacy on their smartphone.
Remaining on an unsupported ROM that doesn’t receive security fixes will only work so long. But the Android Open Source Platform community has been in trouble before, let’s hope they will get out of it again like before.