What is LineageOS and What Happened to CyanogenMod?

The custom ROM will not be deterred by company turmoil


One of the many benefits of rooting your Android phone is the ability to install, or "flash" a custom ROM; that is, a modified version of the Android OS. Because Android has an open-source platform, there are countless custom ROMs available. LineageOS is but one of them and replaces the popular CyanogenMod, which was sunset in 2016. The LineageOS community is continuing to build out the operating system under the new name. This custom ROM can even extend your device's lifespan.

The beauty of custom ROMs is that your phone isn't weighed down with bloatware (pre-installed apps that you can't remove) and you can even make it run faster and last longer between charges. Before you choose a custom ROM, though, you have to decide whether you want—or need—to root your Android phone.

The information below should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

What LineageOS Adds to Android

LineageOS takes the best of the latest Android code and, at the same time, add features and bug fixes beyond what Google offers. The custom ROM provides a simple, distraction-free interface, an interactive tool to make installation painless, and an Updater tool that gives you access to updates immediately, and control over when to update your device. You can also use it to turn your smartphone or tablet into a mobile hotspot, for no additional charge. 

LineageOS Customizations

Flashing a custom ROM means you can access custom themes or design a color scheme. You can also set up multiple profiles depending on where you are or what you're doing. For example, you could set up one for when you're at work and another when you're at home or out on the town. You can even change them automatically based on location or use NFC (near-field communication).  

You also get more options for customizing your lock screen, including accessing apps, displaying weather, battery status, and other information, and viewing notifications, all without having to unlock your screen.

Finally, you can reconfigure your Android phone's buttons to your liking — both the hardware buttons and the software navigation bar.

Security and Privacy

Another upside to rooting your phone is gaining access to robust security apps. CyanogenMod (now LineageOS) has two notable features in this category: Privacy Guard and Global Blacklist. Privacy Guard lets you customize permissions for the apps you use so that you can restrict access to your contacts, for example. You can use the Global Blacklist to flag and block annoying phone calls and texts, whether they're from a telemarketer, Robo-caller, or anyone you'd like to avoid. Finally, you can use a free tool to remotely locate a lost device or delete its contents if you're unable to find it.

Other Custom ROMs

LineageOS is but one of the many custom ROMs available. Other popular ROMs include Paranoid Android and AOKP (Android Open Kang Project). The good news is that you can try more than one and decide which one is best for you.

Rooting Your Phone

When you root your phone, you take full control of it, just as you can customize your PC or Mac to your liking if you have administrative rights. For Android phones, this means you can get OS updates and security patches without waiting for your carrier to release them. For example, the well-publicized Stagefright security flaw, which could compromise your phone via text message, had a security patch, but you had to wait until your carrier chose to release it. That is, unless you had a rooted phone, in which case, you could download the patch right away. It also means that you can update the OS on older Android devices that no longer receive these updates through a carrier. There are pros and cons to rooting your phone, but, in general, the benefits outweigh the risks.