Samsung’s DeX dock lets you connect one of the company’s recent phones to an external display, mouse, and keyboard to use your phone like a desktop PC… assuming you’re comfortable with a desktop PC that runs Android.

But soon you may also be able to use your Android phone as a Linux PC. Samsung recently unveiled plans for “Linux on Galaxy,” promising that you’d be able to run a full-fledged Linux environment on a phone hooked up to a DeX dock.

Now the company has released a brief video that provides more details. One of those details? At least one of the Linux environments in question seems to be Ubuntu 16.04.

In the video, we see someone dock their phone, choose the “Linux on Galaxy” option from the desktop, and then choose Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. While that’s the only option shown, the fact that it does seem to be an option suggests you may be able to run different Linux environments as well.

Once Ubuntu is loaded, the video shows a user opening Eclipse, an integrated development environment that’s used to create Java (and Android apps). In other words, you can develop apps for Android phones with ARM-based processors on an Android phone with an ARM-based processor.

While Samsung seems to be showing off the developer-friendly features of Linux on Galaxy right now, theoretically non-developers could use the Linux environment to run desktop apps rather than Android apps when a phone is docked. For instance, this could open the door to desktop versions of Chrome, Firefox, LibreOffice, GIMP, or other popular GNU/Linux applications… although it’s worth noting that Samsung hasn’t shown any of those programs working yet, so it’s not clear how easy it would be to install them or how well they would run.

via /r/Android and The Register



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28 replies on “Samsung’s Linux on Galaxy software will bring full-fledged Ubuntu desktop to your phone (with an external display)”

  1. For the 0.01% of users who actually want Linux. The rest would rather have desktopified Android apps, and if not that, Web apps.

    1. I would love to be able to run a fullfledged word processor like LibreOffice off my phone. It’s certainly more than powerful enough to do so, spec-wise.

      1. I don’t think power is the issue at all–it’s storage. I’ve never tried the Android version of Word, so I don’t know what features you give up.

      2. I been using Debian noroot by pelya on Note3 with LibreOffice installed. give it a try.

    2. With windows now supporting ARM architectures i have a feeling they will jump on this

  2. Seems nice. Although I’d prefer to be able to start a desktop session without the dock. Maybe even use the phone’s screen itself when in a pinch and you need to run a desktop application.

    Also, I agree, that there probably isn’t much of a market for Linux desktop + phone convergence even though I’m one of those who would be in that small market. There’d probably be a bigger market for running full desktop Windows on your phone but, unfortunately, there isn’t much of a market for Windows phones (reversed situation, I guess).

    With MS trying again with Windows on ARM (full desktop this time, supposedly), I hope they’re still internally working on phone/desktop convergence.

    1. Seems like the solution is for a Samsung Galaxy S9+ with the DEX cradle.
      Running Android 8.0 on the phone, and running Windows 10 Pro when connected.
      However, doesn’t anyone think its odd that a phone that thin and small would need a cradle that large to do the external computing thing?

      …which makes me wonder, why someone just can’t get an Intel Atom X7-8750 and put it into a tiny dock like the DEX. Then allow the dock to charge your phone. The built-in fan would be used instead to cool the Intel chipset. Performance should be close, and you would also get x86-legacy executables without even emulation. Even better if you could upgrade that to a 6th/8th-gen (same thing) Intel Core M3/M7 (same thing)…. but it would use more power and generate more heat, but provide a lot more performance, definitely enough for most business workstations.

      1. Are you talking about a separate mini/micro PC or somehow the x86 CPU shares resources with the phone (ie. storage, memory, connectivity, etc.)? I’m more interested in the “convergence” thing where everything is running the phone and switching modes is seamless.

        1. A separate solution.
          The Dock has its own x86 SoC and runs full Windows 10, but it charges your phone and can access the phone’s storage. It’s less elegant, but it solves many of the issues from the x86-to-ARM ridge.

          The convergence thing could be done on Android, but if you use Dex, you realise its quite unfinished. Its evident that multiple separate teams were working on the convergence, and the phone, and TouchWiz at the same time. They should have built the AndroidOS for the phone properly from the ground up with that use case in mind, with a single development team. If you want a unified “tool” like that do it right, or simply separate the two “tools” to their own agenda. The current Dex experience is less than subpar.

          The convergence thing runs best with Continuum. Too bad Microsoft sucks, they killed it. And they killed Windows Phone. They have too many directors at the top end doing whatever they want, they need a single-leader, that rules like a harsh monarch/authoritarian and get the company back into building successful solutions. They can really transform the platform into a competent third option.

          Some background: We set all our servers to Windows a couple years ago, with the promise to be able to tinker/control it from Windows Phone. It worked very janky. Now no-one uses it, and it doesn’t even work after some updates. And we have a mixture of some systems running Xp, some Windows 7, some Windows 8, and some Windows 10. Our IT systems are just as bad as Microsoft.

  3. That’s a lot of irony. Ubuntu just gave up its own full-on attempt at convergence of mobile and the desktop. This isn’t quite that I suppose. Still, close enough to give me a good chuckle.
    Long live the subtle power and straightforward simplicity that is Xfce.

    1. I have to admit that xfce is as good as it gets for those of us who favour function over fashion. Whenever I’m too lazy to cli, nothing beats thunar, and the customization options for the desktop are excellent.

  4. I would definitely be interested in something like this if instead of a cradle + external monitor + keyboard… Samsung would find a way of turning that cradle into a laptop shell. The phone becomes a trackpad which also (em)powers (delivering storage, etc) the rest of the laptop. Portability is the selling point and the solution above feels like a step back to the ball and chain of the desktop tower days.

  5. Is the Linux desktop aware of the phone? That is, can you answer/make calls, send/receive texts, etc.? Are files shared across the modes? Or is the Linux desktop just some container (ie. VM, separate rootfs/chroot, etc.) where it’s just running standard Ubuntu?

  6. I’m not interested in it, but I do wonder how much storage this would take up on the phone.

  7. It’s log, it’s log,
    It’s big, it’s heavy, it’s wood.
    It’s log, it’s log, it’s better than bad, it’s good.

    Everyone wants a log
    You’re gonna love it, log
    Come on and get your log
    Everyone needs a log
    log log log

  8. I’m certain there is a market for a paid app that brings the Dex experience to other Androids and this linux experience to a phone without the dock requirement. Maybe not a large one, and there would be the rub – margin is likely much better on hardware and non-existent for an app.

  9. This is very welcomed I fully support Dex and bringing Ubuntu to phones. I was said to see the convergence phone not make it and die before it started 🙁

  10. This looks great, but how much storage will it use up? Also, does it mean I can use my tablet without Google spying on me?

  11. Samsung has been trying to make Android-based computers for many years now. Android however is difficult to scale into powerful, multi-tasking computing. Linux could be better.
    Personally my Samsung Galaxy Note Tab Pro tablets need more power & capabilities than Android.

Comments are closed.