Run Ubuntu 13.10 on Android

How would it feel to have the power of a desktop operating system in the palm of your hands? If you’re a power user, and also a fan of Linux, then you came to the right place. Running Ubuntu 13.10 on your Android device is not very hard to do. Don’t think that this is some slow or stripped down version of Ubuntu. You will have access to all your favorite Linux apps and commands. However, you will need to have a rooted Android device in order to do this. Here’s how to run Ubuntu 13.10 on Android:

What You Will Need:

  • Complete Linux Installer
  • Terminal Emulator
  • Android VNC
  • Astro File Manager(or any of your choice)
  • SE Linux Mode Changer(If you’re running Android 4.4 or above).
  • A rooted Android Device
  • 1-4GB of Free Space

Step 1: Enabling USB Debugging and Installing Complete Linux Installer

First thing first, download Complete Linux Installer and all the other applications above.  Then open Complete Linux Installer. Go to the install tab and choose Ubuntu 13.10.  On page 2, it will prompt you to enable USB debugging.  To enable USB debugging, go to your settings, then go to about phone/tablet.  Tap on the build number 10 times.It will prompt you with “You are now a developer“.  Go back into settings, you should see a tab called developer options. Within that tab enable USB debugging.

Step 2: Downloading the Image

Now go back to Complete Linux installer on Page 2. Select the button that says Download Image. It will ask you to choose the image size that you want to download.  If you want complete customization and prefer interacting with Linux via the terminal then I recommend that you download the core image.  Else, you should download the full image (Large Image).  I also suggest that you choose the option to download the image via sourceforge.  

Step 3: Extracting the Image

Once the image has finished downloading, you will need to extract it.  To do this, navigate to your downloads folder via your favorite file browser and extract the contents.  You should end up with two items. Ubuntu.13.10~…img and Ubuntu.13.10~….img.md5.

Step 4: Make Ubuntu Folder

After extracting the contents, you will need to make a folder at the root of your sdcard directory and call it ubuntu.  Transfer the files you extracted to this folder.

Step 5: Changing Files

Finally, change the file name of the .img to Ubuntu.img and the .img.md5 file to  Ubuntu.img.md5.

Step 6: Changing SE Linux Mode (Kitkat Only)

If you’re running android 4.4 or above, the extra security measures will interfere with your ability to boot Ubuntu.  So open the SE Linux Mode changer app that you downloaded earlier and select permissive.  (Don’t forget to change this back once you’re done using Ubuntu)

Step 7: Starting Ubuntu

Now go back into Complete Linux Installer and in the sidebar select the launch button.  Change the distribution to Ubuntu and hit the “start linux” button.

Step 8: Booting into Ubuntu

Terminal Emulator will open and it will begin to run the script to boot Ubuntu.  It will ask you whether you want to start the vnc server.  Type Y then hit enter.  Then it will ask whether you would like to start a SSH server, you can type n for no.  Finally, it’ll ask you to enter your desired resolution.  Since I’m using the Nexus 7 (2013), I typed in 1920×1080, but of course your device might be different.  Finally, if you see root@localhost then you have successfully booted Ubuntu.

Step 9: Accessing the GUI

The final step is to get to the actual GUI. To access the GUI launch Android VNC Viewer.  In the nickname field you can enter whatever you want. The password is ubuntu.  You can keep the address field blank or type in localhost.  The port is 5900.  (In some rare cases, your port might be 5901 or even 5902).  Finally, change the color format to 24bit (4 bpp).  Then hit connect. If all goes well, you should be looking at the Ubuntu KDE desktop.  Of course you’re free to change it to something more eye-catching such as gnome. In addition,  if you have a USB OTG Adapter you can connect an external keyboard and mouse for the extra convenience.