Smartphones are becoming increasingly invasive, with tracking technology, user accounts, and apps that log your activity. If you’re looking for a way to strip things down but still use a smartphone, a Linux phone is an option. But where do you start? The answer may already be in your pocket, thanks to Ubuntu Touch.
Ubuntu Touch, maintained by UBports, is now available on more smartphones than ever before. Want to try it? Here is how to download and install Ubuntu Touch Linux mobile operating system.
What is Ubuntu Touch?
First revealed in 2013, Ubuntu Touch was Canonical’s attempt to create a mobile Linux operating system based on the popular Linux desktop. Unfortunately, a corporate restructuring prompted the platform’s long-term ambitions and Ubuntu Touch was abandoned – or so he thought.
After the project was cancelled, the community chose Ubuntu Touch, which formed UBPorts. Like the similarly abandoned Unity, UBPorts continues the work Canonical started, and now the operating system (which I enjoyed when reviewing the Meizu Pro 5 in 2016) is available on a much larger range of phones.
Once installed, the Ubuntu Touch mobile operating system will give you a whole new way to use your phone. While it may be light on apps, this isn’t a big deal, since many of the app’s functions (social networking, news, etc.) are already built into the operating system. Easy to use, if you own a decent phone, it’s worth at least checking out this alternative for Android.
What devices run Ubuntu Touch?
Currently, 76 mobile phones can run Ubuntu Touch, with varying levels of compatibility. These include:
- OnePlus One, OnePlus 5, OnePlus 8
- Google Nexus 5
- Xiaomi Mi 6 phone
- Google Pixel 3a series
- Sony Xperia 10
- Samsung Galaxy S7 phone
- …and many more
(Plus, eight tablets also run Ubuntu Touch.)
In general, these phones run Ubuntu Touch without problems, although you do occasionally have problems with the cameras. Some phones have to be “bootloader unlocked” first; For details, check out our list of Ubuntu Touch compatible devices.
If you have a device on this list, you will be able to install Ubuntu Touch. Maybe try it out, or revisit it for the first time since Canonical abandoned the project? Whatever the case, the installation process is surprisingly easy.
What you need to install Ubuntu Touch on your phone
Are you ready to install Ubuntu Touch on your smartphone? You will need:
- PC: Windows, macOS, or Linux
- The appropriate installer for your desktop operating system
- USB data cable
- Unlocked bootloader on your Android device
The installer is available for Linux, Windows, and macOS.
Download: UBports Installer for Ubuntu Touch (Free)
The program works the same way on all three platforms. Ready to install?
Prepare your Android device for Ubuntu Touch
You should also make sure that your device’s bootloader is unlocked.
This is usually straightforward, although you may need some device-specific assistance to do so. Our guide to unlocking the bootloader on Android will help you here.
You also have to enable developer mode on Android, and it’s pretty much the same process on all devices:
- Opens Settings > About
- You find Complete the number
- Press this repeatedly
- A popup will appear letting you know how many clicks are required to enable developer mode
- Once enabled, tap behind to find Developer mode in the settings menu
With developer mode enabled, you’ll also need to enable ADB mode:
- Faucet Developer mode
- You find USB debugging
- press to Could
Go back to the Settings menu when you’re done.
How to install Ubuntu Touch on your Android smartphone
Installing Ubuntu Touch is surprisingly simple. The UBports website claims that “Installing 3rd party operating systems has never been so easy!” And it’s hard to argue with this.
Here’s how to install Ubuntu Touch on a smartphone, using the Google Nexus 5 as an example. (This is one of the oldest supported devices for Ubuntu Touch, so reliability is good.)
- Start by downloading and installing the UBports installer
- Next, connect your Android phone using a reliable USB data cable
- Once you do that, launch the UBports installer on your computer
- The phone (or tablet) should be detected automatically
- If the device is not detected, click Select the device manually And Choose from the list
- click install
- Configure installation options – It is recommended to use the default channel and check all three options
- click yes
- When prompted, restart your phone (if you previously installed a custom recovery, restart it)
- Wait for Ubuntu Touch to install, following any relevant instructions.
With the operating system installed, you’ll be ready to start using your phone or tablet in a whole new way! On first boot, you will be greeted by screens to determine your location and connect you to a mobile and/or wireless network.
Once it’s done, Ubuntu Touch will be ready to use.
Windows problems? Try Linux
related? You may have found that the installer app hangs when the phone is rebooted into bootloader mode? Be that as it may, if you’ve been struggling to install Ubuntu Touch using Windows, it’s worth switching to Linux instead.
You should be able to get away with this by using a Linux virtual machine in Windows if installing Linux isn’t your thing. If not, consider dual booting Linux and Windows.
Don’t forget: you need to use a reliable data cable. Older micro-USB cables tend to be cheaply made and are only suitable for charging. If you are having difficulty installing Ubuntu Touch on a phone that has a micro-USB cable connector (this is the trapezoidal connector), try swapping the cable for a new one.
Get in control with Ubuntu Touch
It’s not Android, not iOS. It’s definitely not Windows 10 Mobile or BlackBerry.
No, this is Linux.
Having Linux on your phone is a very exciting feeling. There is a sense of liberation here, with a phone away from the eyes of Google and Apple.
Sure, it would take a very different attitude to how you use your phone, but there’s a good chance Ubuntu Touch can turn into a mobile platform that you really enjoy using.
And if that doesn’t work, you can always go back to Android.