Android Linux

How To Dual Boot Your Android With Ubuntu

Christian Cawley 15-05-2015

Need a desktop OS on your smartphone or tablet alongside Android? Having a lightweight, portable Linux computer by your side can prove remarkably useful, and with more and more devices now able to run Ubuntu it makes sense to choose this distribution.


Beyond Ubuntu On Nexus

Those of you with Nexus 5 handsets Google Nexus 5 Review and Giveaway Approximately a year after Google released the Nexus 4, the company behind Android has come out with its successor -- the Nexus 5. Read More have been able to install the Ubuntu Touch – a mobile version of the Linux operating system — on your devices since 2013. The devices originally supported were the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10, and in the months since the launch of the alpha release, the OS has been improved bit by bit to add features and stability.

This video provides a recap:

We provided readers with the steps they need to install Ubuntu Touch on their Nexus handsets How To Install The Ubuntu Touch Preview On Your Nexus Android Device Ubuntu is developing on a touch-focused interface for smartphones and tablets, with plans to ship Ubuntu smartphones in 2014. If you’re interested in trying it right now, there’s good news: You can install the preview... Read More , but since 2013 additional devices have been added to the list of supported tablets and phones.

Which Devices Will Run Ubuntu?

Although only a handful of Nexus devices are confirmed to run Ubuntu Touch, many others have had the mobile operating system ported to them. If you’re wondering whether or not your hardware is suitable, the first thing to do is to take a look at the list of working ports, which you’ll find on the Ubuntu Wiki. Note that unlike the Nexus versions, the ports on this list are not hosted by Ubuntu.

When reviewing the list, make sure the list matches your device version. In an age of gradual iterations and multiple devices with the same name (HTC, we’re looking at you), it can be easy to think you’re downloading a ROM for device B only to find it is in fact intended for the older, and slightly different, device A.


As with Ubuntu Touch on the Nexus, these versions for the renamed Ubuntu for Devices are still in the developer preview stage. Remember: this isn’t ready for the big time just yet, which is why dual booting is the sensible option here, and is part of the installation.

Install Ubuntu On Android, the Easy Way

We’ve previously covered the steps you need to flash a new Android ROM How to Find and Install a Custom ROM for Your Android Device Android is super customizable, but to fully take advantage of that, you need to flash a custom ROM. Here's how to do that. Read More , but dual booting is a little different.

While the initial release of Ubuntu Touch with the Ubuntu Dual Boot app could only be installed using an Ubuntu computer (Live CDs were unreliable, although a version installed to a virtual machine Testing A New Operating System? Stay Secure With A Virtual Machine Read More should have worked) it is now possible to flash the operating system in just a few minutes.

You’ll find the device-specific steps you need via the Ubuntu Wiki. Before proceeding, make sure that your device has an unlocked bootloader. Some devices require S-Off to be set. You should also make a Nandroid copy of your device What Is A Nandroid Backup and How Exactly Does It Work? You need that backup at the ready. Read More should the installation fail, so that you can restore your data quickly.


You should also have USB debugging enabled (Settings > Developer Options > USB Debugging). If this isn’t visible, open About and tap Build number seven times; you’ll see a notification when Developer Mode is enabled, which will in turn add Developer Options to the Settings menu. The original install demanded 2.7 GB of free storage on your device, and as the ports are all based on this then you should make sure that you have this space available.

Finally, take the time to prepare a system running Ubuntu (either full install or with a virtual machine – the Live CD isn’t good enough for this task) in the event of problems, and install ADB.

Ubuntu, in Your Pocket!

When the Ubuntu Touch OS was first unveiled, installing it on even the approved Nexus devices was tricky. Fortunately, thanks to the hard work of developers, almost all working in their own time, it is now possible to simply flash the operating system to a phone or tablet. But, this version of Ubuntu might not be what you’re looking for. In this event we suggest checking Google Play, where other Linux distros can be installed on Android devices using tools such as Complete Linux Installer.

Meanwhile, if you can’t find a suitable ROM, or aren’t keen on installing the touch version of Ubuntu at this stage but still want to try it out, you can run Ubuntu for Devices in an emulator Want To Try Ubuntu Touch? Here's How If you don't own a Nexus device, don't worry: you can still try out Ubuntu Touch on your Ubuntu computer. Read More .


Did you install Ubuntu successfully? Perhaps you ran into a problem? You might even be running Ubuntu successfully on your Android phone or tablet. Tell us all about it in the comments.

Related topics: Android Customization, Dual Boot, Ubuntu.

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  1. jake
    December 16, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    It's been a long time already. It's time for Canonical to put up or shut up. Get out of the way
    if you can't bring this project to completion. Technology does not wait for anyone.

    No thanks. When Canonical and overly anxious tinkerers prove that this conception is workable and applicable, I will give it a try. Otherwise it's a fancy waist of time.

  2. pranav sk
    May 15, 2016 at 11:36 am

    can i install ubuntu on Asus zenfone 5 501cg....?
    or can i dual boot to any other os....?

  3. Rick
    December 9, 2015 at 11:03 am

    sdrive of seagate, for your own cloud, does not run under any linux. why?

  4. Anonymous
    June 9, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    Can we do it on an Android VM? For example, I have 3 virtual machines with android, and one is virtualbox, the other is gnome boxes, and third is VMWare. If i wanted to install android on on one of those machines, would it break? Or should I use a single ISO instead, or a fourth option, use android studio.

  5. Chinmay S
    May 17, 2015 at 5:54 am

    Just checked the list, the work for Moto G is underway!

  6. D W
    May 15, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    If you have a supported device multirom app makes it very easy to install and dual boot android with ubuntu touch.