I have a quite powerful x86-64 Android phone. I want to run a GNU/Linux desktop distro (preferably Debian-based) on top of Android.

I have the stock firmware, but rooted and with Xposed Framework.

I know about Complete Linux Installer, and it seems excellent. But they have a pre-prepared image. I assume that image is ARM, so it won't work? Right? Also, they say my ROM has to support "loop-devices." Does it? And if it doesn't is there any tweak to enable it?

But I'm sure there must also be tons of other ways to do it? FWIW I have access to a laptop with an Intel processor that I can use for the process. (But I'm not too keen on hours of tinkering to make it work.)

Other than that, I want to really take advantage of the specs of the phone. A user friendly process is also a plus.

Please note that even though I have a accepted my own answer here, I still very much welcome additional answers.

  • 1
    Complete Linux Installer crashes on my rooted Samsung S4 running CM13. Linux Deploy works though.
    – Matthieu
    Commented Jul 3, 2016 at 9:20
  • @Matthieu CLL also crashed on my rooted Samsung S3. Never tried LD on the Samsung.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Jul 3, 2016 at 9:32
  • You don't need to use any third party app to run Linux on Android device. Just get the rootfs of any distro you want to run, mount it and chroot into it from any terminal emulator app like Termux. Very minimal configuration is needed usually e.g. adding new user, adding DNS server etc. I use Ubuntu, ArchLinuxARM and VoidLinux this ways on my device. In addition to chroot I also use mount, PID, network and UTS namespaces to further isolate Linux environment from Android. Also possible to use VNC or XServer, but I don't do usually. Commented Mar 6, 2020 at 16:10

1 Answer 1


I found way to do this that I'm very happy with.

I used Linux Deploy. (It requires root, but here's an alternative for those who don't want to root.)

Here's a nearly full version of Xubuntu 16.04 (x86-64) running on my phone.

enter image description here

It performs really well. I had no performance issues. Note that this is not a virtual machine. Android and Xubuntu share the very same Linux kernel at the same time. If, while this is running, I switch to OS monitor (in Android), I can actually see the individual processes from Xubuntu (dpkg, etc.) running and how much of the CPU they're using. (That has to be enabled in a setting, though.)

An external keyboard and mouse are a must (though not strictly required). And an external monitor is also a good idea. Or you can just VNC into this system directly from another computer. Linux Deploy supports that out of the box.

The setup is really easy. The default settings of Linux Deploy pretty much work. Just select your distribution and desktop environment. But, by default, the system creates a 2GB .img file as a file system. That wasn't enough for me. So since the internal storage of my phone is ext4 formatted, I was able to set it to 40 GB. If yours is FAT32, the maximum will be 4GB. But it's also possible to have a directory or partition instead of a .img file. (Although I didn't figure out how to do that.)

The process is described in detail here. Skip down to the "Linux Deploy" section. It's important that you install the correct version of Busy Box. Otherwise, it won't work.

This kind of thing has potential. If you have a powerful enough phone, it can actually replace your desktop computer in many cases.

  • You mentionned an external keyboard and mouse are a must. You mean you could install one actually on your phone? I'd be interested to do that, as my rooted Samsung S4 microphone is dead, but the phone is powerful.
    – Matthieu
    Commented Jul 3, 2016 at 9:13
  • You might also want to accept your own answer. I think it makes sense, seeing VirtualBox running on Android! :)
    – Matthieu
    Commented Jul 3, 2016 at 9:15
  • 1
    @Matthieu Sure, keyboard and mouse are possible on the S4. Just get an USB-OTG cable and a hub. Even better, get an OTG that supports charging at the same time (rare.) Connect to an external screen, and your phone has become a real desktop computer. Personally, I use Bluetooth for the keyboard and mouse. Regarding Virtual Box, while I managed to install it, I still haven't been able to actually get it to work (that would be so cool, though.) I think on your Samsung you have to ARM compile a lot of packages from source? Can the S4 manage it, you think?
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Jul 3, 2016 at 9:48
  • 1
    @beeshyams Alright, I've accepted. Can always change it later if something better comes along.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 12:00
  • 1
    @beeshyams Good idea.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 12:02

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