Maru OS Brings Desktop Linux to Android Phones

Maru OS converts phone into desktop

Being able to run a full desktop on a phone or mobile device has been the dream of geeks for a while.

Ubuntu has tried to accomplish that with the failed Edge project. They are accomplishing it on a smaller scale by creating Ubuntu Mobile for phones and tablets, which shares a code base with desktop Ubuntu.

Microsoft tried to do the something, but with their Windows Phone OS on life support, I doubt it will happen. However, a single developer has succeeded where larger, well-funded teams have failed. The name of the project is Maru OS.

What is Maru OS?

If you picked up a phone running Maru OS, it would look and function like an ordinary Android phone. But as soon as you plug in an HDMI cable and hook up a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, it becomes a full Linux desktop.

In an interview with Linux Luddites, Maru OS creator Preetam D’Souza said that the project was created to take advantage of the power of modern mobile devices. He said, “we use only a small portion of our device’s computing power to take calls, send messages and use small apps. Quite often those mobile devices are more powerful than our laptops”. He wanted to take advantage of that extra computing power to get productive work done.

Maru OS runs a combination of Android 5.1. AOSP and Debian. According to D’Souza, there are basically two systems running on the same kernel, using the Linux containers project to handle the visualization. What sets Maru OS apart is how it integrates the Linux desktop into Android’s display stack. Android runs as the host and Linux runs as a guest container, while sharing the same kernel. You are also able to share files between Android and Linux.

Right now, the Linux desktop that comes with Maru OS is Debian. D’Souza says he picked Debian because he was most familiar with that system. He added that Maru OS is a framework that can work with any Linux distribution.

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Here is quick video review of Maru OS running on Nexus 5:

Who’s working behind scenes on the project?

The Maru OS beta was created by D’Souza after a year of work. He has open sourced it, so other people can work on it. Right now it only runs on the Nexus 5, because that’s what he had available. He’s planning to open-source everything except the proprietary drivers he used. As more people work on the project, it will support more devices.

Update: Maru OS is now completely Open Source.

Does this sound like something you would be interested in? If you have tried Maru OS, let us know what you thought about it in the comments below.

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Now that it has been made open source, all other OSs may also participate.

I really like this idea. Ever since I got my first smartphone (Apple iPhone 3GS), I thought it would be great if everything interfaced with it. You could slide it in your dashboard of your car, connect to a monitor to be a desktop computer, everything. I still use iPhone and have never been much for Android - I feel like the only Linux user that has an iPhone.

A super smartphone would be superb. I'd love to have one as soon as it becomes available. Pretty sure it will happen soon enough so I won't die without this. Also I have an iPad as well. It's good. Pleas don't feel lonely

I hope

In the futute I would get the linux desktop directly on my phone/tablet, without need to use external display,keyboard and mouse.

It is not so simple to bring an external monitor, keyboard and mouse everywhere in our pocket.

Linux desktop can not be Linux mobile by its definition. It Linux "desktop" after all.. Not Linux mobile. Have a good time with your stupidity boy or girl or queer.

I can't see the quick video review. Why do you use Flash instead of HTML5 video??


Flash is default on Youtube unless you choose HTML5. I don't think there is a way to choose between Youtube and HTML5 when embeding. Here is a direct link to the video: .

Some time ago you could force youtube to play html5 videos by adding ?html5=1 in the URL. Don't know if it still works..

Abhishek Prakash

It's by default now, if I am not wrong.

Yes, I think it's default too, unless you unselect html5 in youtube settings:

I think is a great project. I wish it was based on Ubuntu instead of Debian. Everything else is great!


Personally, I wish he had used Arch. :)

I completely agree, Arch would have been far more preferable and far better overall.

Michael Zanetti

You're totally not getting the idea of what Ubuntu and Windows are doing :)

Still a nice project, good luck with it!

Can you tell what's the big difference in brief???

Michael Zanetti

The difference is that "Maru converts your phone into a PC" while on Ubuntu (and as far as I understand also Microsoft works towards that goal) the phone *is* the PC.

Example: In Maru you start composing an email on your phone but decide you'd rather do that on a large screen and a keyboard, you plug a Screen, and then you have to open a different email client and start from scratch. On Ubuntu instead, your phone just adds a second screen and you can move the exact same running instance of the email app over to the larger screen and continue typing from there. Just like the phone would be a laptop where you just plugged a second screen. No duplicate Addressbook, chat apps and all. It's the same thing.

Maybe you are right, but with Android dominating the smartphone OS landscape, a flanking movement instead of a head on confrontation appears to be the right move. Hopefully, Ubuntu phone will build on this experience of running Linux on a smartphone and converting it to a desktop.


The difference between what and what?