My current situation is this: I use Mac OS X at home and Ubuntu Linux at work. My phone is a Samsung Galaxy S. Whenever I want to update my firmware the intended way (i.e. using Kies, I am aware of Odin), I have to boot into an old Windows XP installation that I have lying around.

I was wondering if there is a handset manufacturer that embraces Linux. The Samsung phone seems to be just the wrongest choice I could have made with the windows-centric Kies software.

Edit: I should probably point out, that I live in Germany and I want to use a prepaid phone service without contract. Also, I am looking for a great "out-of-the-box" experience without too much hackery (i.e. without voiding the warranty).

Edit2: I was hoping to learn about brands which support Linux (like NVidia does with their proprietary drivers) or maybe learn about tools and techniques:

  • Heimdall is a nice tool, but I don't feel that it has Samsungs approval, and I feel that using it might void the warranty.
  • Over-The-Air Updates is something, that seems to be useful, but it won't work for me, as I don't have a contract with a cell phone provider. (Edit 3: This line is just non-sense, I receive OTA updates over wi-fi.)

Therefore I am still looking for some enlightenment about which direction I should go with my next phone.

Edit 3: After my recent purchase of the Samsung Galaxy S3 (I know... fool me once...), I would like to reopen the issue. My setup (except for the phone) is still the same (Mac OS X at home and Ubuntu Linux at home and at work).

In order to access the file system I either connect to an Ubuntu machine via USB. This is not ideal, because the drive size of the external sd card is not reported correctly, which makes me a little less confident in this solution.

On the Mac, I can only get iPhoto recognize the device in PTP mode. Android file transfer does not recognize the device after the latest OTA firmware update.

As an alternative to the USB connection, I found DigiSSHD as a workaround to transfer files wirelessly.

After spending hours of looking for a better solution and adjusting my workflow to workarounds, I would like to ask again: Is there a there a handset manufacturer that embraces Linux and provides native tools to interact with the device?

I don't mind if the tool is proprietary or free as long as it works.

  • 3
    If it's any consolatino, Samsung seem to be moving towards OTA updates. The last 2.2.1 update to my Galaxy S added a "Software Update" option under Settings -> About Phone, and they've just recently pushed Froyo out to US Samsung Fascinates OTA. Your next Kies update could be the last.
    – GAThrawn
    Apr 27, 2011 at 9:11

4 Answers 4


If you don't want to be tied to Windows-based Kies, Simply don't pick Samsung phones. Almost every other Android manufacturer's phones can be upgraded Over The Air without the need of an attached computer; for some reason Samsung's can't or won't do it.

Android was designed so it does not need to be attached to a computer as much as possible; Android was designed to sync data (address book, etc), installs software (market, etc), and do system updates over the air. Some manufacturer/carriers do not yet embrace this unfortunately, and is forcing your phone to be attached to a computer.

  • Thanks for pointing out the Over The Air updates. I was not aware of those. But won't that make me dependent on the carrier? I use a prepaid service (without contract) in Germany, I don't think that they will push updates to my phone.
    – bjoernz
    Apr 28, 2011 at 7:13
  • 1
    Indeed, without a contract you may be locked out of official updates. Your option may be to root the phone and put on a custom ROM.
    – ale
    Apr 28, 2011 at 13:23
  • With an unbranded phone, I seem to get the updates directly from Samsung.
    – bjoernz
    Aug 2, 2012 at 7:31

I don't know of a Kies alternative, but there is Heimdall, an Open Source, Cross Platform, Odin alternative.

  • 1
    Heimdall is reverse-engineered, but very stable. It wasn't made with the help of Samsung, it was made in spite of Samsung. If the OP is looking for Linux/FLOSS friendly phones, it's not here.
    – Broam
    Oct 22, 2011 at 16:40
  • 1
    I don't know about the OP, but I'm certainly in the market for a Linux friendly phone or tablet.
    – DarenW
    May 4, 2012 at 8:04

I think that the linux support not only depends on the manufacturer.

In the case of the Palms, PalmOne only released desktop applications for Windows and Mac, but despite of that fact the linux community developed solutions like J-Pilot for example.


OTA updates are a better solution. Not sure why Samsung sticks to some update utility while many other manufacturers use OTA update. HTC does OTA on my Hero and now on my Desire Z also. My Acer beTouch 130e required a utility. Not sure for other brands.

  • HTC does not release OTA updates for everything - the Desire Gingerbread ROM is an RUU and not ever going to be OTA.
    – Broam
    Aug 2, 2011 at 19:38

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