What exactly are Linux phones?

Charles Tech

Leaving the “big tech” ecosystems on the desktop is easy enough with a laptop linux or a manual Linux installation. The smart phoneson the other hand, it seems to be strictly in the domainApple and from Google. Are there Linux-based smartphones? Let’s take a look at this type of smartphone, mostly emerging.

First of all, it’s worth making a technical caveat. Both iPhones and Android phones are, in a way, Linux phones, or at least Linux-related. Google built its Android operating system from AOSP, which is an open source project based on linux kernel, the basis of all Linux distributions.

Code ofAOSP is free and available to anyone to modify and use for their own purposes. The android version that you use on your phone, on the other hand, is closed source. This means that changes have been made by Google are proprietary and not publicly available.

iOS and macOS are descendants of Unix (via the BSD kernel), on which linux kernel is also based. However, iOS is mostly closed. Technically, iOS and Android are therefore part of the same family tree as Linux. The main difference is that neither preserves tradition free and open source software. So to be clear what we mean by ” linux phone“We define it as a smartphone with an operating system whose source code remains open. And these phones exist.

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If you’re in the market, there are several vendors that sell smartphones with both custom linux operating system (also called ROM) preinstalled. Some examples are eSolutions with the so-called operating system /e/OS, Purism with PureOSVolla sa Ubuntu Touch and Pine64 with the mobile edition of Manjaro Linux. F(x)tec sells PRO1Xwhich actually allows you to choose between Lineage OS, Ubuntu Touch and android traditionally.


These operating systems are often touted as more privacy-friendly than Android and iOS, and some back up this claim with physical switches for the microphone and camera. Clean OS of Purisms it also boasts “full convergence,” meaning you can open an app on your phone and then seamlessly drag and drop it to your desktop to continue using it, and vice versa.

While this may sound great, you’ll quickly notice something: there aren’t many shipping options outside of Europe and the UK. Also, these phones are usually not high-end. Don’t wait for them impressive hardware specifications from the last one iPhones or Samsung Galaxy.

You should also keep in mind that while this is not always the case, some of these phones are intended for enthusiastsdo it yourself, and sometimes to people with a extreme need for confidentiality, not the average consumer. Chances are, you’ll run into some problems and have to do your own troubleshooting. This is especially true if you’re hoping to run google apps classics on your phone.

If you’re tempted by the idea of ​​a smartphone experience that doesn’t involve Google or Apple, it’s possible to install an operating system Linux on an Android phone which you already have. As an installation custom roms involves certain risks, we recommend that you do not do this with the phone you currently rely on. Flashing a ROM is also no small task and involves the use of tools such as ADB.

Aren’t you discouraged? A good place to start is to check if your phone is supported by looking at the list of devices /e/OSor LineageOS and Ubuntu Touch. You can also check out GrapheneOS and postmarketOS. If you can’t find an attractive Linux ROM that supports your phone, a good plan is to identify a device with well-documented support under the operating system you want. Then you can buy this phone knowing that your Linux installation will go smoothly.

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