LineageOS is an open source operating system for smartphones and tablets based on the Android Open Source Project. It is a fork of the CyanogenMod project which was discontinued in 2016. It can be installed on over 180 devices as of September 2022, including devices for whose manufacturers have stopped releasing updates.
Installing LineageOS is made relatively easy through the custom recovery image. From the recovery image you can then sideload the rest of the OS, as well as Google Apps, Magisk and other packages. The exact steps for installation depend on what device you are using, and instructions for your device can be found on the LineageOS devices page.
The process of setting up LineageOS is much the same as other Android distributions, albeit without the extra steps related to carrier and manufacturer features, and without Google setup if you like.
Using LineageOS is much like using any other Android distribution. Trebuchet, LineageOS’s default launcher, is simple and easy to use. LineageOS comes with a myriad of pre-installed apps that provide basic functionality such as internet browsing, texting and calling, contacts and calendar, a calculator and a clock. The preinstalled camera app is very basic, only taking pictures and video with automatic settings. LineageOS can run almost any Android app, including those from the Google Play Store if the Google Apps are installed.
LineageOS comes with all the customization features of stock Android and more. Fonts, wallpaper, icon shapes and more can be changed through the settings app. There are some features missing, such as changing the UI accent color, but third-party apps exist to fill the gaps.
LineageOS Privacy and Security
LineageOS is designed with privacy and security in mind. It ships with features to keep your system safe such as device encryption by default and SELinux enforcement enabled, and receives monthly security patches. LineageOS does not include Google Play Services by default (though it can be installed as part of the Google Apps add-on).
Until version 17, the LineageOS root add-on was the preferred way to root devices running LineageOS. The add-on has been discontinued in favor of solutions like Magisk, which can be sideloaded as an add-on would. Updating LineageOS will keep Magisk installed.
LineageOS is a great way to take back control of your device and experience Android to its fullest, or give an old device a second chance. Why not try it out on a spare device? Have you tried it already? Leave a comment below!