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Android Operating Systems Linux

Samsung To Let Proper Linux Distros Run on Galaxy Smartphones (theregister.co.uk) 226

An anonymous reader shares a report: Samsung has announced it will soon become possible to run actual proper Linux on its Note8, Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones -- and even Linux desktops. Yeah, yeah, we know Android is built on Linux, but you know what we mean. Samsung said it's working on an app called "Linux on Galaxy" that will let users "run their preferred Linux distribution on their smartphones utilizing the same Linux kernel that powers the Android OS." "Whenever they need to use a function that is not available on the smartphone OS, users can simply switch to the app and run any program they need to in a Linux OS environment," Samsung says. The app also allows multiple OSes to run on a device. Linux desktops will become available if users plug their phones into the DeX Station, the device that lets a Galaxy 8 run a Samsung-created desktop-like environment when connected to the DeX and an external monitor.
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Samsung To Let Proper Linux Distros Run on Galaxy Smartphones

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  • Progress? Will the sound drivers work? Wifi?
  • About time. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jonr ( 1130 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @08:13AM (#55395669) Homepage Journal

    About time. Why can't my phone be my PC? Plug in a monitor, wireless keyboard, and voila! Unless you are running seriously heavy software (Where you would probably use a desktop anyway) a smartphone could probably run 99% of your stuff. I am only talking as software developer here.

    My daily-driver laptop is an 8GB RAM 128GB SSD i7 8 core computer.
    I can get a, say, Samsung Galaxy Note8 with 6GB RAM and 128GB SSD ARM 8 core CPU. Definetly not fast as my laptop, but probably fast enough to compile some files and run a development environment.

    • by UPZ ( 947916 )
      It's not just about the hardware. I want to be able to buy a reasonably priced phone that doesn't phone back my private life to Google and yet has apps like Uber/Lyft so that I can travel without getting ripped off by cabs. Too much to ask?
      • It's not just about the hardware. I want to be able to buy a reasonably priced phone that doesn't phone back my private life to Google and yet has apps like Uber/Lyft so that I can travel without getting ripped off by cabs. Too much to ask?

        Depends on what you call "Reasonably Priced"; but you can get a CURRENT MODEL iPhone SE, with a 4.7" screen, 12 MP camera capable of shooting 4k video, 64-bit A9 Dual Core ARM, WiFi, Bluetooth, Fingerprint Reader, etc. etc. (and a headphone jack!) for only $349 for 32 GB or $449 for 128 GB, Brand New. UNLOCKED (Carrier-Free) directly from Apple! Or you can get Carrier-Subsidized models for around $15 per month.

        https://www.apple.com/iphone-s... [apple.com]

        Personally, I call that pretty Reasonably Priced. ...And it will

        • by UPZ ( 947916 )
          Thank you, to both TFTC and anonymous. It looks like that it definitely does and I'll be looking into it tonight.
          • Thank you, to both TFTC and anonymous. It looks like that it definitely does and I'll be looking into it tonight.

            No problem! Glad to help!!!

      • by bazorg ( 911295 )

        erm... Get a Windows Phone with Continuum while it still exists?

      • So just buy any Google phone. You know a Google account is optional right? As is running Google's Launcher, and anything else by Google on it.

    • In my case, I'd rather have a $200 phone and a separate $300 desktop that far outperforms said phone than need to buy a $600 phone to get less performance. Sync is a solved issue, so I don't really see the benefits of using a single device.

      • Good luck putting that desktop in your backpack.

        • You are going to carry around the dock, monitor, keyboard, and mouse for your phone? No, probably not. You leave the desktop sitting wherever it is you planned on sticking the dock.

      • by nasch ( 598556 )

        Now imagine you're someone who 1) wants a $600 (or more) phone anyway 2) doesn't do anything with a computer that a phone couldn't do and 3) uses your phone much more heavily than your computer. Now a phone dock starts to look more attractive.

        • I'm just trying to picture the teeny-tiny little overlapping circles on the Venn diagram for how many people fit that description.

    • Why can't my phone be my PC?

      Because it's a PHONE, dammit!!!

      Just because it has a LITTLE computer inside of it, like your Microwave Oven, DVD/BD Player, and Set Top Box, does NOT make it a "Desktop Replacement", FFS! There are a MILLION reasons why; not the least of which is an entirely different CPU architecture. Yes, I've heard of Compiling for a different Target; but that only solves 80% of the problems, and the other 20% are the toughies...

      Remember, PHONES are optimized for BATTERY LIFE. Slow-Ass RAM (as compared to a modern Deskto

      • Why can't my phone be my PC?

        Because it's a PHONE, dammit!!!

        Earth to you: no it isn't! Phones stopped being primarily phones years ago, and are now general purpose computers.

        • Why can't my phone be my PC?

          Because it's a PHONE, dammit!!!

          Earth to you: no it isn't! Phones stopped being primarily phones years ago, and are now general purpose computers.

          I get it. Do you think I don't own a Smartphone?

          But seriously, there are a bunch of reasons why Smartphones/Phablets will always remain VASTLY inferior with what you can put together in a desktop or rack system, and will LIKELY remain VERY inferior with even what you can do in a laptop. For some things, we're already " there" with phones; but never kid yourself that they are in any way a replacement for desktop and laptop systems in many applications.

    • About time. Why can't my phone be my PC? Plug in a monitor, wireless keyboard, and voila!

      You are seriously asking? Seriously: because Android UI sucks for basically anything that does not resemble media consumption. I know what I'm talking about, I've been using Android this way for years, and it's a slit-your-wrists painful experience, with exactly one advantage: it runs on the tablet, with typically 3-8X battery life of a laptop, doesn't give you spinal curvature when carried in a backpack, and fits on an airline folding tray. Oh, and has touch screen, gps, etc... stuff that somehow didn't ma

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @08:22AM (#55395725)

    After all, it is totally ridiculous to carry around powerful universal computers and restrict them to be used as a phone and phone-type app only.

    • Of course that could just mean you can get by with a cheaper, less-powerful phone. Spend the money on your upgradeable computer.

    • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

      The issue is more about the form factor : small screen, no keyboard, no mouse.
      Even if my phone had all the capabilities of a full Linux PC, I don't think about any app that I would use that doesn't have a better adapted alternative on Android.

      Attempts to address this issue with docks have all failed. If you want to stay mobile and do real work, the proper tool is a laptop. All solutions that involve a phone, or, to a lesser extent, a tablet, feel like a kludge.

    • After all, it is totally ridiculous to carry around powerful universal computers and restrict them to be used as a phone and phone-type app only.

      Actually, media consumption device, and most importantly, advertising media consumption device. Ridiculous to you, certainly, but not to the billionaires at Google.

  • Isn't this just Crouton for Android?

  • ... on how to catch the attention of the opinion leaders. Sort of like Apple with Mac OS X back in the day.

    If they can get feasible convergence on its way, more power to them. It's just a shame that I find Samsung's phones and their UI so ugly.

    But this might prompt other vendors to follow suit and fingers get convergence going. It's not that today's phones aren't powerful enough.

  • I wish (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @08:48AM (#55395879)

    I wish they would just run Linux natively and dump the whole Android part.

    • Re:I wish (Score:4, Insightful)

      by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @09:45AM (#55396365)

      This to me sounds like the Worst Idea Ever (TM).

      A few companies have put a huge amount of effort into making GNU/Linux usable on a smart phone and have failed spectacularly. You only wish for Linux on your smartphone because of altruism not because you have put any thought into how well in its current form it would actually work.

      • A few companies have put a huge amount of effort into making GNU/Linux usable on a smart phone and have failed spectacularly

        Those companies were working at the problem from the hardest possible angle... if you are doing software only then you have to reverse engineer all the device drivers. If you ARE the hardware vendor on the other hand you have significantly more power over manipulating this effort (albeit at other cost).

        Samsung have opted for the most economical option possible here by actually sidestepping that whole hardware support issue, but it's a pretty big compromise (kernel level virtualisation)... By using the same

        • Sorry but you have that backwards. The spectacular failures were all the result of what the phone was trying to be and none at all to do with the hardware / drivers which basically were provided by partners as it was. Driver support was not some great difficulty, and it wasn't some basement neckbeard reverse engineering some half-arsed support to bake into the kernel.

          GUI design is hard. GUI design for a touch is even harder. Adapting an existing GUI to a completely different form factor universally results

          • by tomxor ( 2379126 )
            I think we are talking about completely different aspects, GUI design is not uniquely part of "having linux on a phone", sure it's important to consumers, but we are talking about running arbitrary linux distros, not another "phone OS" attempt to compete with the likes of android.
          • GUI design is hard. GUI design for a touch is even harder. Adapting an existing GUI to a completely different form factor universally results in the train-wre[c]k...

            What is so hard about adding optional, familiar window decorations to existing Android full-screen windows? Just do it like QT, those sunk research costs are so done years ago, there isn't a lot it doesn't already do in a perfectly elegant way. For one thing, let's have our fucking sensible keyboard shortcuts back, it's not like that essential functionality has to be reinvented or anything.

      • The N900 ran native Linux and it ROCKED.
        I could compile and run just about any unix/X-windows program on that thing.
        It had USB networking built in.
        I could write apps using standard python libraries like gtk. You could add/modify GUI widgets with python scripts.
        It was a Debian system that used standard repositories with thousands of apps.
        Plus it made phone calls. It could make cell calls, voip calls, XMPP calls, all from the same app.
        Yes, the average moron would not care about most of this stuff, but for a

      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

        Baloney.
        If my phone ran Linux I could simply dump my work laptop/desktop and keep/do everything on my phone.

        • If my phone ran Linux I could simply dump my work laptop/desktop and keep/do everything on my phone

          If your Linux also includes support for all the phone functionality you currently get with Android. That's a pretty big if. Not rocket science, but practical obstacles are in the way, mostly put there by vested interests.

    • I wish they would just run Linux natively and dump the whole Android part.

      You do; but hardly anybody outside of this website would agree with you.
      As shitty as Android is (and it IS shitty!), it's STILL more-optimized for being a "phone appliance" than anything that would run under stock Desktop Linux.

      • As shitty as Android is (and it IS shitty!), it's STILL more-optimized for being a "phone appliance" than anything that would run under stock Desktop Linux.

        That's a broad claim. One thing a stock Linux system can do is, run thousands or millions of user-installed programs. For example, when you run Kodi, it makes your Linux desktop look and act exactly like a DVR, because, ahem, Kodi is exactly the same software the DVRs run (on top of basically stock Linux, for that matter).

        In case it isn't clear, what I just said is: run Android as an application, if you must.

        • As shitty as Android is (and it IS shitty!), it's STILL more-optimized for being a "phone appliance" than anything that would run under stock Desktop Linux.

          That's a broad claim. One thing a stock Linux system can do is, run thousands or millions of user-installed programs. For example, when you run Kodi, it makes your Linux desktop look and act exactly like a DVR, because, ahem, Kodi is exactly the same software the DVRs run (on top of basically stock Linux, for that matter).

          In case it isn't clear, what I just said is: run Android as an application, if you must.

          Yeah, that's a practical example! Kodi's a dumbass pseudo-embedded application, that you should be able to run on any 8 bit microcontroller from the 1980s. Impressive that Linux running on hardware easily few thousand times more powerful could pull that off, LOL!!!

  • by jwymanm ( 627857 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @08:57AM (#55395931) Homepage
    This is pretty damn cool. This will bring about a large homebrew workforce that will only help Samsung sell even more sets. Great news. Makes me like mobile even more now.
  • by kyubre ( 1186117 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @09:27AM (#55396223)
    Unfortunately, I just bought a Galaxy S7, so I'll probably sit this one out like I did with the N900 launch. Hopefully, it's still an option with my next upgrade cycle in 2 to 3 years, unlike the Nokia N900 that died on the altar of Redmond before I was ready to upgrade.
  • by merky1 ( 83978 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @09:37AM (#55396295) Journal

    So, while I appreciate the theme of being able to run a full blooded Linux environment, it doesn't fix the fact that the basic OS provided by Samsung is complete crap and not worth keeping on the phone. Unnecessary processes and constant unwelcome intrusions are the main reason that I replace the OS. Adding a compatibility layer doesn't remove the underlying problem that Samsung's out of the box OS experience is craptacular and abusive.

    I'd run a pixel over this any day.

    • It used to be, especially prior to KitKat, but it stopped being "complete crap" a long time ago and now is little more than personal preferences. Samsung's launcher is a bit weird, but easily replaced. Underneath though it's pretty much as Android as Pixel and seems to run just as well.

      "Unnecessary processes" don't run. Hell half the shit people complain about are basic functionality of the phone. If you want a feature phone, get a feature phone instead of a phone with features. Most of the "unnecessary pro

  • by grasshoppa ( 657393 ) <{skennedy} {at} {tpno-co.org}> on Thursday October 19, 2017 @09:41AM (#55396343) Homepage

    Wouldn't it be hilarious if 2018 turned out to be the year of the desktop because of mobile phone adoption?

  • Disappointed (Score:5, Informative)

    by JohnFen ( 1641097 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @10:06AM (#55396535)

    I though at first that Samsung was unlocking the bootloader so you can install the OS of your choice.

    But no, this is an app. Meh.

    • Disappointed? Why? When have you ever not been able to unlock the bootloader of a Samsung device other than maybe on the day of release?

      Hell I used to preference Samsung phones because other OS images were so well supported on them. But now ... workphone. Sigh. Just as well they got a bit better at making software.

      • Yes, all the Samsung phones can be cracked to unlock the bootloader (sooner or later). This is what I do. I was disappointed because I thought this might have indicated a change in attitude about these things from Samsung, but it's not.

  • Considering that Samsung can barely get updates out for their devices as it is, how do they have the bandwidth to put out linux distros? The last Samsung device I owned was an S3, and based on my experience with it I will never own another Samsung device again. Trusting Samsung to support their devices is like the frog trusting the scorpion on it's back not to sting him.

    • Considering that Samsung can barely get updates out for their devices as it is, how do they have the bandwidth to put out linux distros?

      What the fuck are you talking about when was the last time you use...

      The last Samsung device I owned was an S3

      ooooh. Yeah man, get with the times. Samsung have kept their devices up to date with security patches since the patching framework in Kitkat was released. Hell even the Galaxy S4 received updates this year.

  • This is what I want to see! Not for myself, but because it would be hilarious to see a room full geeks outfitted this way!
  • Checking a .c or .h file to clarify something, or checking and quick changing a config file, or checking a document or making a quick memo in Libreoffice, or quick answering an email in Thunderbird, or quick testing a website with desktop Mozila while conmuting or taking a break in the coffe shop... count me in!!!

    the posibilites are endless.

    It would be mighty fine that all my environment is with me all the time, and in my pocket, not in a magical cloud, were you live and die by the quality of the connectivi

  • Am I missing something?

    I could swear that I once installed and ran some version of Debian on the first Android Phone, the HTC Dream.
    Obviously super slow, and IIRC, the display worked via VNC. Was a fun little thing to show off back in 2009, though!

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