Almost a year after promising to release software that would let you turn select Android phones into full-fledged Linux PCs, Samsung is now allowing users to sign up for its Linux on DeX beta program and the company says the private beta will officially launch November 12th.

In a nutshell, the software works by allowing you to download a desktop Linux distribution, set it up on a container, and launch it as if it were an Android app.

The cool thing is that by supporting Samsung’s DeX platform, you can connect a monitor, mouse, and keyboard to your phone and use it like a desktop computer — while running desktop Linux apps.

Samsung is accepting signups for the beta until December 14th and once you’re accepted into the program you’ll be prompted to install an app on your phone. You can either download a Linux image within the app or directly from Samsung’s website.

For now Linux on DeX has a few significant limitations:

  • The only operating system that’s officially supported so far is Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.
  • The only two devices that are officially supported are the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and Samsung Galaxy Tab S4.
  • Only apps that are compiled for ARM 64-bit processors will “operate properly.”

It’s possible that you might be able to get other operating systems to work with some tinkering, but Samsung says the disk image available for download from its site has been optimized for the DeX platform.

The disk image itself is about 3.6 GB, but Samsung says you’ll probably want at least 8GB of free space on your device, as well as 4GB of RAM. If you plan to install additional packages, you’ll need more free space.

Samsung notes that Linux on DeX runs in full-screen mode, but you can return to the Android user interface by moving the mouse cursor to the bottom of the screen and leaving it there for a second or so to bring up the Android navigation buttons.

Don’t need a graphical user interface? Folks who are comfortable with a command line can use a terminal app to interact with Linux without switching to DeX mode.

via /r/Linux



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9 replies on “Samsung launches Linux on DeX beta (run Linux on an Android phone or tablet)”

  1. I’m curious about graphics acceleration for ubuntu. Is it like a typical chroot on android where you have literally have no graphics acceleration?

    1. no sure about gpu part, but from what i heard, its based container, and the ui is pretty smooth alsome (my brother tried at the sdc yesterday)

    2. I am interested in that too.

      I don’ think it is worth anything if there is no proper GPU acceleration.

      I could somehow tolerate the missing video acceleration in this case but not the GPU.

  2. This is great but I think I will wait until the required hw drops in price. The Note9 is still $1000+ in my country.

    I don’t really see why this couldn’t work on the S8 and the S9.

  3. I’m more interested in running Ubuntu or whatever while on the go. It’s nice that you can still run command line applications while mobile though.

    For my, I’m sure niche, use cases, it’d be cool to have
    – A Samsung phone with a flexible display.
    – Run Linux terminal applications while on the go.
    – Open it up and run desktop Linux applications while not docked.
    – Dock the device and have a full desktop Linux experience.

    You know, that whole convergence thing. I’m still hoping it’ll happen.

    1. I like where Samsung is going with this convergence effort. If they can execute well on flexible display devices and Linux desktop integration (both while unfolded mobile and docked), I can see myself actually paying these flagship smartphone prices.

  4. You raised my hopes and dashed them quite expertly, Samsung! Bravo! (S8)

    I used to have a very similar feature on my N900 back then. It used a Debian image and next to nothing resources, since the Maemo OS already run on top of X.org and a debian-like collection of system-tool, all it really had to do was to plug the few holes with a window-manager and some basic system apps and scripts. It also had full access to the OS, unlike the sandbox here.

    As someone, who already had this and used it for a longer period of time I can tell you, you’d probably need that 8GB of storage space more, than this feature. DeX already offers a decent windowing tool, command-line tools can be installed without this, and on a smaller footprint.

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