Free and open source applications for KaiOS, by BananaHackers community

"BananaHackers WebStore" is an initiative of the bananahackers community, which has as main developers Jkelol111 (for the web client, not compatible with KaiOS) and Perry (for the KaiOS client), and both are based on a single large database accessible to all:

bHacker app for KaiOS by Perry

website (desktop version) by Jkelol111

Database of all apps in BananaHackers WebSTORE and bHacker app

The apps uploaded here are free and open source projects, freely entered by their respective developers. This means that by downloading the packages from the site, you will be able to read the contents. It provides a portal accessible to anyone who wants to upload apps with a free license and that unfortunately the KaiStore cannot accept (for example the Linux Terminal and other applications for root permissions).

How to use the new B-Hackers STORE:

BananaHackers WebStore does not have a layout readable by versions of KaiOS lower than 3.0 (the release of which is scheduled for 2021), so the use is purely from Desktop or Laptop. However, it represents the complete web interface for a database on which new clients can be developed.

1) bHacker by Perry, the offline client app for KaiOS

The bHacker app has a quick search bar, a minimal design that makes it fast and snappy and various options that allow you to access the app's source code or scan its QR codes for quick download from your PC. Download bHacker by Perry from here:

2) bHacker and compatibility with the old B-Hackers STORE

Keeping the bHacker app client for the new WebStore in the background on KaiOS, any OmniSD compatible format app will be automatically installed as soon as it is downloaded.

3) Database, how to upload your own apps and why

Since all the apps are free and open source, BananaHackers WebStore and bHackers app allows you to insert a link for donations (PayPal or other payment systems), unlike KaiStore which, instead, uses ADS for monetization (multiple payments safe, to the detriment of the usability of certain apps for the end user).

To add your app you need to create an file that describes it. That file should have the name [app id].yml and be located in the apps folder. The app id is the domain of the app reversed, for example: 'app.example.com' is going to be 'com.example.app'. You can copy and fill out example/app.template.yml, look at the other apps to see how the format works. For storing/serving your opensource app we recommend github or gitlab releases. More details on the official repository, on gitlab.com/banana-hackers/store-db:

With the new BananaHackers WebSTORE, a developer can also feel free to add a PayPal link within their app and on the site page, for anyone who wants to offer them a free donation, and there is also the option to add screenshots to preview the content of the application. But what matters most is the developer's sense of accomplishment towards the open source community.

There are simply applications that for some indisputable reasons cannot be entered in the KaiStore, so it is not the fault of KaiosTech, it is the fault of some of its partners who decide for the end user, instead of deciding with the end user. I personally think everyone should be free to choose and do what they want with what they buy.

History of alternative stores for KaiOS

2018: year of the rebellion

Installing third-party apps is a natural property of Firefox OS, which is the heart of KaiOS. So the alternative app store was born with the aim of including all those projects that officially cannot be distributed by KaiosTech for partnership reasons. We, being a free community of users, mainly made up of "dissatisfied" customers, have decided to move in our own way, where due to the fault of some manufacturers / business partners, KaiosTech was sadly unable to help us.

In fact, even if the KaiOS code is open source, inside the installed rom we will find parts with proprietary license of the device manufacturer.

In this regard, starting from September 2018, several projects have been born from the BananaHackers community (B-Hackers Store, KaiUS, JBstore ...) with the aim of providing all those to debug-enabled devices, hundreds of free applications and not only that, also to distribute some important applications such as WhatsApp, to devices whose firmware has been locked to old and obsolete versions of KaiOS that do not support the KaiStore, for faults attributable solely to the manufacturer of the phone.

2019: B-Hackers Store and other projects

B-Hackers STORE is a Google Site born as a section of this same website towards the end of 2018, and then became a separate site in the spring of 2019. From the B-Hackers STORE you can download over 200 offline applications and webapps, and more than half of them have been recovered from the now abandoned Firefox OS Marketplace, all hosted on Google Drive.

To install them directly from the device you need to have installed OmniSD or Wallace Toolbox (learn more about the package format). Alternatively you can extract the internal application.zip file, by performing the normal sideload with WebIDE or other similar tools.

Structure of an OmniSD compatible zip

The offline client is just an interface with quick connections to the 24 different app categories, and to the "updates" section, which also shows news and new uploads. You can download it from here.

JBStore was another project that worked in a similar way, and which was discontinued by its own creator.

However, having to switch applications to install packages downloaded from a website is inconvenient, and this has led to the creation of a real client for KaiOS.

KaiUS is a real application that downloads and installs applications automatically, without having to exit the client. It adopts its own repositories, whose apps are 100% compatible with Firefox OS (touch screen). A small portion of them were adapted for use on KaiOS. Its brilliant creator, Sylvain BLOT, abandoned the project a few months after its realization.

Starting from KaiUS, there was discussion on several occasions for the creation of a new community project, maintained by several people and which could recall all the best aspects of the Firefox OS Marketplace.

2020: the new B-Hackers WebSTORE

The new BananaHackers WebStore was born in 2020 to replace the B-Hackers Store, and its database will continue to be a reference point for any app client that will be developed, from now on to the next few years, as long as the free community continues to exist.

Conclusions: KaiOS must not die (the cry of a fire fox)!

I want to clarify that the multiplicity of app stores on the same operating system is not new. Even on Android and iOS it is possible to install applications outside of its pre-installed official store. This does not mean that KaiStore is not a valid product, on the contrary, I myself use some applications from there, while having the possibility to install others from external sources.

This is what prompted me to write the bananahackers site and post videos on YouTube.

Freedom is a right, in the case of software it's a choice.

I've seen and tried everything from our community's open source projects: I made a phone call using a prototype of a SIP client to make a free phone call from Italy to Ukraine in January 2019 (Batty app by LuxFerre, still in alpha). I played Super Mario and other GameBoy Color games (I'm not much of a gamer, but many are using the KaiBoy app right now) on my Nokia 8110 4G. I met the first developer from France (Sylvain) who adapted WeboGram, a working client for Telegram in late 2018 (you don't have it yet) on KaiOS, and we were the first to use WhatsApp outside of India, five months earlier (December 2018) of the official release on KaiStore (May 2019), when everyone considered KaiOS a rip-off (a year of promises to release the application globally, and a long waiting and disappointment from everybody).

With this I just want to emphasize how simple and malleable KaiOS is.

I love KaiOS! All BananaHackers love KaiOS! Everyone who follows us has learned to love KaiOS!

All the applications of the operating system are basically websites in offline version, the "webapps", and the ever increasing number of developers for this sector is constantly growing.

Web development is something within everyone's reach, as the programming language is simple, unlike Android apps. For example, WhatsApp for KaiOS weighs around 700 KB, while the Android version over 25 MB. Few lines of code and files to compile. Less work for more experienced developers. More opportunities for everyone to learn.

KaiOS could use all this to its advantage, but the KaiStore is the only officially recognized way to transfer new apps and services to these devices, and at the same time it's also a hindrance to itself.

The applications loaded on the KaiStore are mainly dedicated to games and entertainment, but there are also applications classified as "utilities", that should improve the efficiency of these phones. Utility that vanishes every time appear the KaiAds, the advertisements, the only earning opportunity that KaiosTech offers to new developers.

That's right, everyone deserves to be recognized for their efforts and all the work they've done, but unfortunately these advertisements penalize what the user experience is, on these small screens.

Those who buy a KaiOS device are looking for simplicity, without too many sacrifices.

So if it's so easy to develop webapps, why is the KaiStore so full of mostly useless apps?

The truth is that there are some projects that are rejected by the KaiStore, as they do not respect the upload rules. At KaiosTech, developer portal moderators are constantly working to enforce standards. The demand is high, also thanks to the push of the company that wants to convince developers to insert many more ads in their apps, allowing them to monetize.

Implementing advertisements can help you earn money, but penalizes the actual use of these applications. On a 320x240 resolution screen all you need to focus on is usability, and KaiOS devices have this kind of display.

KaiosTech should focus more on the quality of its product, rather than worsening its usability.

There are other ways to make money with webapps, for example through donations, at least with free and open source software. This experiment is underway with our new third-party app store.

We know very well the hidden potential of KaiOS, but as long as it remains hidden, closed by the limitations imposed by KaiosTech for reasons of commercial partnership with its major investors, KaiOS will always and only remain the parody of an operating system for mobile devices, and consequently not will never, ever compete with Android and iOS.

KaiosTech should review its rules on allowed uploads, for example by adding OmniSD to the KaiStore and thus also delegating the sideloading of third party apps to external sources, thus generating more interest.

I now turn to KaiosTech and all its brilliant developers: do we all want to bring KaiOS to the fore?

Mozilla, creating Firefox OS, left you a huge heredity!

Many functions that we, BananaHackers, have discovered through external research, on our own, are all things that already existed in the operating system itself!

So, wake up folks!

KaiOS must be in the place it deserves!

Why waste this opportunity?

Let us make the most of the potential of web applications!

Allow free and open source projects to enter the KaiStore, giving everyone the opportunity to grow the operating system! Telegram, emulators, applications for VoiP ... these are just some of the many things I have seen and tried together with the members of the BananaHackers community, and which have made KaiOS a very special operating system, the best among mobile devices! In my eyes and in the eyes of those who follow us. And you know it well!

There are hundreds of users here looking forward to a real breakthrough from you! Come on!

Freedom is a right! In the case of software it is a choice! And we want KaiOS as first choice!