Maru OS Brings Desktop Linux to Android Phones

Maru OS converts phone into desktop

Running Linux on Android is not a difficult task if you just want to use the terminal. But what about running a full-fledged Linux desktop on and Android device?

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 further tried accomplishing it on a smaller scale by creating Ubuntu Mobile for phones and tablets, which shares a code base with desktop Ubuntu. That didn’t work as well.

Microsoft tried to do the something, but both Windows Mobile and Windows Phone failed miserably. 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, 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.

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, 5X and Nexus 7 tab, because that’s what he has available. As more people work on the project, it will support more devices.

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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  • Yes Yes Yes ! Being able to run full desktop isn’t the only advantage. For me is important that i have full control over OS, firewall and app running exactly what, how i want and what i do not want. Android has build in some “nasty” Google sevices that can’t be turned off (also meaningless if one dont use internet on the smart phone – for various reasons i do not use internet on my phone due lack of control over it) Google is also using active tracking and geolocation to pinpoint every user. They also have hooled Android (hardware/software) so everybody else can do some unwanted things like “silent” messages that can turn the phone on activate cameras and microphones and geolocation all that without user knowledge ! The only sign that something not “cosha” is going on is your battery running hot and one do nothing with smartphone – for ordinary user ! i have observed the strange behavior on my smartphone – WiFi turned off, sometimes gets on without my intervention. Google and others use that for geolocating trough WiFi ID’s (go and look for your self on net).That was intentionally have leave open, so states agencies, secret service, police …(can be miss used) doing their things, but what then if that same holes are being miss used by hackers and criminals. Some have the whole life on their smartphones. iPhone is only better due is closed architecture and Apple user policy somewhat. Lately Smartphones being developed with life-time battery no way to turn it of ! Very bad ! No camera and mike switch and geolocation cant be turned OFF ! So u are buying an active tracking spy bug, that is very vulnerable and people do not know nothing about it ! The level of security on Android is almost zero ! And the full control over Android has only Google, designed that way – Google Chrome is exactly the same on web browser level – should be avoided ! That’s why everybody should have desperate need of FULL control over their smartphones.

  • You can also run desktop Linux ARM distros in containers. UserLAnd (note spelling) works well with DeX on recent Samsung phones like my S9+.