Samsung has announced it will soon become possible to run actual proper Linux on its Note8, Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones – and even Linux desktops.
Yeah, yeah, we know Android is built on Linux, but you know what we mean. Samsung said it's working on an app called “Linux on Galaxy” that will let users “run their preferred Linux distribution on their smartphones utilizing the same Linux kernel that powers the Android OS.”
“Whenever they need to use a function that is not available on the smartphone OS, users can simply switch to the app and run any program they need to in a Linux OS environment,” Samsung says. The app also allows multiple OSes to run on a device.
Linux desktops will become available if users plug their phones into the DeX Station, the device that lets a Galaxy 8 run a Samsung-created desktop-like environment when connected to the DeX and an external monitor (The Register rates DeX as “ready for prime time”).
Samsung thinks developers are the market for Linux on Galaxy, as it means they “can now set up a fully functional development environment with all the advantages of a desktop setting that is accessible anytime, anywhere”. Samsung's announcement suggests developers will “code using their mobile on-the-go and with Samsung DeX, and can seamlessly continue the task on a larger display.”
There's no word on when Linux on Galaxy will debut. Samsung describes it as “still a work in progress” and offers an email notification service if you'd like to know more.
Your correspondent imagines that plenty of Linux users will enjoy the chance to run their preferred distribution on a smartphone. But the notion that developers will code “on-the-go” using Linux on a five-inch screen seems largely fanciful. Laptops are pretty good these days, as are the Android emulators that run on them. One of you will doubtless prove me wrong in the comments. ®