Signal is a popular open source, cross-platform messaging app with an emphasis on privacy and security thanks to end-to-end encryption for all text messages and voice or video calls.
There are versions of Signal available for Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, and Linux. But until recently folks who wanted to use Signal on a Linux phone like the PinePhone had to either load the official Android app using a tool like Anbox, or use a third-party Signal client like Axolotl.
Now developer 0mniteck has found a way to bring the official Signal desktop client to smartphones with ARM64 processors running the Mobian Linux distribution.
Originally developed by undef1 as a tool to build the Signal desktop client for Debian 11 on ARM, Omnitek’s version of Signal Desktop Builder takes the latest official builds of the Signal desktop app for Linux and adds the features necessary for it to run on Mobian, and spits out a .deb file that can be installed on a smartphone.
Right now if you want to install Signal desktop for Mobian, you’ll need to compile it yourself – it takes about 3.5 hours to build using docker. But the upshot is that you’ll get the latest version of the software, which runs maybe a day behind the most recent builds delivered straight from the makers of Signal.
Eventually we could see mobile Linux developers incorporate Signal into repositories, making it a little simpler for end users to install.
Or you could just fall back on third-party clients like Axolotl, which have the advantage of being designed specifically for mobile devices with small touchscreen displays. It’s nice to have options though.