How to Dual Boot Ubuntu on Android ?

The popularity of Android has shown without a doubt that it is a very powerful operating system capable of meeting most requirements of an average user. If you are one of the guys who want more from their devices, an additional OS on your mobile to take care of those teeny weenie inconveniences that Android is not able to help with, then Ubuntu is for you.

Having a compact, portable Linux computer with you all the time definitely has its merits. There was a time not long ago when Ubuntu could be downloaded only on certain Nexus devices, but things have changed now with a lot of other devices supporting this mini Linux OS as well.

Ubuntu is now available in a dual-boot platform that ensures that you do not end up ruining your mobile in your pursuit. The tried and tested Android is pretty much a part of your phone even as Ubuntu joins in.

Things to do before you Install Ubuntu

Check Device Compatibility

Ubuntu has come a long way from being compatible with a handful of Nexus devices to its current compatibility with a lot of other handsets. However, it is important to ensure that your handset is compatible with the OS before you take the plunge. Certain Nexus devices are compatible to run with Ubuntu Touch while certain other devices can have Ubuntu ported to them.

Here is a link to check the working ports compatible with Ubuntu. While Ubuntu hosts the Nexus ports, the ports for the others are from a third-party. Once you are sure your hardware supports Ubuntu go to the next step.

Take a Backup

We can’t emphasize this enough. While rooting your phone and installing the new dual-OS is all relatively safe, the fact remains that there is some element of risk involved. Make a Nandroid copy of your phone so that if things do go wrong then you can get your original device back.

Root your Mobile

In case your android phone is already rooted then you are good to go, else you would have to root it in order to install Ubuntu.

Install Ubuntu on your Computer

This is a prerequisite for installing dual-boot on your phone. Free space of around 25GB on your computer or a spare drive can make this process easier.

Install ADB

You need to install ADB on your device for setting up a dual boot and even for rooting. This is fairly simple in the modern Linux distros, the installation can be achieved by typing ‘sudo apt-get install android-tools-adb’ on the Ubuntu terminal.

Get Rid of the Clutter

Dual boot installation progresses without issues only if there is around 2.7GB of free space available. Ensure that you have enough space before getting started to avoid trouble later.

Steps to Install Ubuntu

There was a time when installing Ubuntu required patience and skill. Today it is possible to simply flash the OS onto your device. Google Play offers a selection of Linux distros that you can install on Android devices with tools like ‘Complete Linux Installer’. There is even an option for trying out Ubuntu without really installing it.

You can run Ubuntu for devices in an emulator to test if it really appeals to you before actually installing it. In case you decide to go ahead with the installation there here is what you need to do.

Enable USB Debugging

Successful installation of Ubuntu requires that you enable USB debugging on your device. You can do this by going to the Settings tab, click on ‘About Tablet’ and then tap ‘Build Number’ seven times.

This enables the developer mode. Return to the Settings menu where you will find some additional Developer options. Enable USB debugging from amongst these.

Install Ubuntu Dual Boot App

Install the Ubuntu installer script into your home directory.

Press Ctrl+Alt+T to open a terminal window. Make the downloaded script executable by running ‘chmod +x’.

Once this is done you can install Ubuntu by executing the script with the command ‘./’.

Occasionally the script is caught in a loop as it tries unsuccessfully to execute a curl command. If this happens to you during installation then close the Terminal window, open a fresh one and then run ‘sudo apt-get install curl’ to install the required components.

Executing the Ubuntu script once again after this command should help finish the installation successfully.

Install Ubuntu for Devices

The Ubuntu installer script resets your device multiple number of times before finally opening the Android home screen upon its finish.

Open the Ubuntu Dual Boot App from your app drawer and then click on ‘Choose Channel to Install’ There are a number of channels that you can select from but Canonical which is the original Ubuntu developer urges users to use ‘utopic’ as the preferred channel.

The system would ask for superuser access for which you tap on ‘Grant’ and then once the download and installation of Ubuntu in your mobile is complete click on ‘Reboot to Ubuntu’. That’s it; Ubuntu Dual Boot is now a part of your mobile.

Remember that Ubuntu Touch is still in its Preview stage and does not have all the capabilities to be your daily driver. The dual-booting capability of offer is to make sure that you have your regular Android to fall back on in case things turn awry.

Final Thoughts

Despite Ubuntu being installed on your phone Android remains the default OS which shows up after every reboot. Most other dual-boot systems allow users to choose the OS that they want to start their device with.

However, with Ubuntu Dual Boot you get Android after every reboot. In case you want to switch to Ubuntu then open the Ubuntu app and tap on ‘Reboot to Ubuntu’. All updates to Ubuntu require you to boot through Android and then update via the Ubuntu Dual Boot app in Android.

If you’re a technophile adding Linux to your Android device adds more power and functionality. Give it a spin and let us know about your experience.


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