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I wanted to know for quite some time why linux operating systems are not ported to phones or tablets SOCs with android? Like how they are on desktops and laptops.

I know linux can run on various devices with different CPU architectures, I use linux daily, and android uses a modified linux kernel so why it is so hard to run some linux OS natively on an android based device?

We have projects like andronix, termux and linux deploy but even with chroot that's not natively. I even played with them but they are limited. For example, hardware devices access like GPU is very problematic (e.g. use hardware acceleration).

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The main reason:

There is no revenue-generating stream for Linux on smartphones in comparison to Android.


Technical reasons, which can't be solved without heavy investments

Just porting Linux to SoC is not enough. Linux is only a kernel.

  • You will need to develop a distro suitable for a smartphone.

  • Android = 1. AOSP + 2. patches and blobs from SoC vendor + 3. user apps`

Patches and blobs from SoC vendor

#2 in the equation has restricted access. SoC vendors don't share internal details even with OEMs, only providing a minimum description for available APIs. Typical Android-capable SoC has a lot of proprietary peripheral modules (such as mentioned GPU or Audio, Image processing, radio modules). Some of them require OS drivers, others even specific complex FW with a separate OS. Even for some desktop peripherals, this factor blocks Linux support.


Existing attempts

There were attempts to develop an open-source smartphone. As we can see, they didn't get widespread till the moment, and some of the projects were discontinued. The main reason is the same: the model didn't prove its sustainability.

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