Escaping Google’s walled garden on handhelds [2]: Installing Lineage OS

So after further investigation I decided Lineage OS would be the most straightforward means of getting my Nexus 5X off Google. This is quite a lengthy process that involves replacing the installed Google bloatware on the phone with the LineageOS installation images.
LineageOS provides guides, which are pretty good except that like me, you can get some steps wrong the first time. And of course the instructions differ depending on your version of Android.
The most important points found are as follows:
  • When you install adb you will need to install the udev rules on Debian. Using the instructions for Ubuntu are what worked for me. But of course because Buster won’t let us run all the commands in a bash shell, as usual we have to go out to a full screen terminal (Ctrl-Alt-F1) to do some of it, and then come back into KDE (Ctrl-Alt-F7) to finish things off.
  • When you go into recovery mode, the Lineage instructions have missed out a step or two. The steps you need to follow to boot into recovery mode are
    • Power off the Nexus
    • Hold down Volume Down and Power to boot into recovery mode
    • According to Lineage the next screen gives you “Recovery mode”. This is not so. You actually have to press Volume Down button to get to Recovery Mode. By default it just comes up with “Start”.
    • Then you see a Android icon tipped on its side with a exclamation point hovering over it. 
    • At that point you have to hold Power and then press and release Volume Up to get into recovery mode.
  • The recovery environment install is tricky because if you don’t reboot properly, it seems that Google will conveniently replace the TWRP recovery environment with its own (Android Recovery). How you know this has happened is if recovery comes up to TWRP it is a graphical touchscreen environment. But Android Recovery is all text based and using the volume up/down keys to select options and the listed options do not match the ones for TWRP at all.
  • So you have to make sure you reboot properly to use TWRP to run the commands you need because Android Recovery will not let you flash anything into the system. So you can’t use it to install.
  • So after you have flashed TWRP into the system then reboot properly.
    • On the recovery options DON’T CHOOSE REBOOT. Choose POWER OFF
    • Once the Nexus is off then turn it on by pressing Volume Down and Power together.
    • This will get you into TWRP with its graphical touchscreen and then you can get on with flashing Lineage and any other packages onto the phone.
I have chosen to flash only Lineage and the rooting package. I am no way absolutely never verboten from my cold dead hands etc NOT INSTALLING THE GOOGLE APPS PACKAGE. This means unfortunately not being able to use any app from the Play Store and anything that will rely on Google Play Services if from another source. However that is why I have other devices running regular Android but these devices are not a phone or do not have a cellular services SIM card installed or can be turned off when I am not using them thus preserving my privacy. 
After I had done the flashing I told TWRP to reboot the system. The most annoying thing at that stage was TWRP telling me that I had no OS installed and was I sure I wanted to reboot.  After rebooting you are going to see “Google” and then instead of the animated boot icon for regular Android you will see the Lineage one instead. Then there is a slightly scary moment when the whole screen is black and the system doesn’t respond to pressing any buttons. Fortunately after a few more seconds your computer will pop up and tell you it recognises the Nexus (assuming the USB cable is still plugged in) and at that point checking the Nexus shows us that LineageOS boot screen has come up.
The setup steps are practically the same as for regular Android except you don’t get asked to do any of the Google apps stuff but I was quite pleased to see it work with the fingerprint reader and allow me to enrol fingerprints just the same as before. After this it went into the home screen of Lineage and at that point was ready to go. I’ll leave it there for this post and I am not going to do any more stuff on it right now, that will be covered in my next post after I have had plenty of time to play with Lineage and see what I can do with it. I will be using it initially with my tablet share SIM, which can make phone calls and send and receive texts but can’t receive phone calls, until such a time as I might be ready to switch over to it becoming my regular phone again.