Escaping Google’s walled garden on handhelds [1]: Intro

I’ve owned smartphones since 2012 when I was given one as part of a new employment role. It (HTC) was running Windows Phone 7. It was followed by a couple of Nokias running Windows Phone 8 (the later one since updated to 10) and then a low-end Motorola Moto E running Android 4. The next thing was a Samsung Galaxy J2 running Android 5 and a Galaxy Tab A 8″ tablet also running ‘Droid. My latest phone is a Nexus 5X which is currently on Android 8.
What has become particularly noticeable in handheld operating systems apart from Apple’s (in a class of its own) in recent years is the extent to which vendors have sought to take ownership of the user’s device and data. MS first did this with Windows 10 and went to extraordinary and obnoxious efforts to push users of older versions into upgrading to 10. 
Google has been sneaking upgrades into Android over the past few years, particularly in the “Google” app which in Android 5.1 has gone from 13 MB to 209 MB in size without any explanation or choice on the user’s part as to the justification for installing this massive bloatware. But what we do know about Google’s recent efforts is that voice recognition and the obnoxious Google assistant are now enabled by default with every new Android phone or upgrade and are very hard to disable. The assistant in particular is listening to everything that the microphone can pick up and transmitting it back to Google. In addition, it is becoming known that in Android 8, Google screen scrapes data from every app installed in the system, and that it tracks every location that the device travels to.
So we have entered an era where more than ever, operating system vendors are forcing updates onto systems to increase their ability to grab every possible piece of information they can collect on the device owners and transmit it back to the mothership so that it can be used to make increasingly bigger profits. And we are supposed to trust these gigantic multinational corporations that they have a benign intent and really are going to use our data to give us better products and services? LOL! 
So in much the same way as I have been through a journey of giving Windows the boot and installing open source software on my PCs, I am going to be doing the same sort of process with my handhelds. First of all, I will be switching my phone back to the Galaxy J2 with only a limited set of apps, and then the Nexus will be reinstalled with something else. At the moment, Lineage looks good, but I need to delve deeper into its architecture before making a final decision. The Galaxy Tab A will be left as is. If Lineage is what I want then it should be capable of becoming my day to day thing on the Nexus. Of course, it won’t be running any of the Google apps or the Google Play Services. 
More to come…