There are a number of ways to run a desktop Linux environment on a smartphone, but usually it involves installing third-party software. Samsung is one of the first major phone makers that plans to offer official software that lets you use the company’s Android phones as Linux desktop PCs.

It’s called Linux on Galaxy, and Samsung gave us an early look late last year. Now the company is starting to show the software off to developers… and a recent video provides a pretty ismpressive demonstration of what you may be able to do with this platform.

Samsung seems to be targeting developers initially, and one of the highlights of its demo was loading the Eclipse IDE in Ubuntu 16.04. In other words, you could use your phone to write code.

But the demo also shows Firefox, GIMP, a terminal, and other applications.


Linux on Galaxy is designed for use with Samsung’s DeX platform, which lets you connect recent Galaxy S series phones to an external display to get a desktop-style environment with support for multi-window multitasking, among other things. But since the software uses the phone’s Android resources, you don’t need to reboot. Just connect your phone, fire up the Linux on Galaxy environment, and start computing.

Even with a relatively powerful smartphone chip like a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or Snapdragon 845, it’s unlikely that you’ll want to do resource-intensive tasks on a phone when you could do the same things much more quickly on a computer with a powerful Intel or AMD processor. But for light-weight activities, a phone that you can carry from workstation to workstation could be all you need.

And as phone processors continue to be more powerful, it’s not hard to imagine your phone being the only PC some people ever really need.

Or maybe Linux on Galaxy will prove just as unpopular as Motorola’s long-discontinued platform that allowed you to connect an Android phone to a laptop dock to use the desktop version of Firefox. It seemed like a nifty idea at the time, but it might have been solving a problem nobody really had… because if you’re going to carry around a laptop dock, why not just carry a laptop?

Likewise, if you’re going to plug your phone into an external display, why not just leave a PC plugged into it instead?

There’s definitely some serious wow factor at play here. I’m just curious to see whether Linux on Galaxy moves from neat party trick to something people actually find themselves using on a regular basis.

via Android Police

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15 replies on “Closer look at Samsung’s Linux on Galaxy (use a phone like an Ubuntu desktop PC)”

  1. So if Linux on Galaxy will supposedly support BYOD, Bring your own Distribution, it sounds like it may be able to run Chromium OS variant for ARM. How the hell is DEX app able to run an OS? Is this a container or VM?

  2. I’m more hoping for Google to integrate a more seamless mobile/desktop convergence experience. I even hope MS continues their Continuum work.

    This whole separate OS thing seems very clunky and doesn’t seem to be much better than just having 2 separate devices.

  3. How well does the Android side work with the Ubuntu side? For example, do telephone functions work while docked, do phone notifications show up, are files shared, any other shared data like email, chat and other apps?

  4. For the same price as Dex I run an Ubuntu chromebox with a usb cable to attach to my phone.
    Works well, and I can use the chromebox without my phone if I want.

  5. This is one of the most exciting things with the 2018 phone generation.

    Phone processors are getting insanely powerful and full-desktop capability is the only thing that can justify them.

    1. running full Linux just to run Eclipse is great, but really I’d like to see Android running VS Code, Atom, or Android Studio. With little work the phone OS could be the desktop OS. Same device, same OS

      1. Eclipse is a memory and resource hog. If it can run at reasonable speeds, Android Studio will run at least as good and VS Code / Atom even a bit better. These are all relative hogs compared to lightweight tools like Kate/Kwrite which will fly on this.

  6. This is cool but I am more worried about the security updates for Android. You tend to get a maximum of 2 years of updates, if you are lucky.

    1. Project Treble and the new, 6 year supported Linux LTS kernels will help in this greatly.

      Treble will make it much easier to release new images with newer kernels and Android userland. If the OEM doesn’t ship updates, homebrew ROMs will be able to target phones with much less effort.

      1. Treble will make it slightly better in updates for Android.
        Fixed That For You

  7. You seem to be underestimating the Exynos at least. Lots of laptops are slower and even on the desktop side, only recent high end CPUs would beat it by much.

    But the dock needs to be wireless, the phone stays in the pocket.

    1. Yep, the new Exynos in S9 and Snapdragon 845 are in laptop category in computing power.

  8. I always wanted this. Why can’t Apple or Google make this with their phones?

Comments are closed.