Late last year, Samsung and Canonical partnered on an app that allowed select Galaxy phones to run a full Linux desktop on top of Android. Less than a year later, Samsung has announced that they’re discontinuing the Linux on DeX program, coinciding with the update to Android 10.
One of the sci-fi-style dreams that many of us have had since the onset of smartphones is the idea of plugging your phone into a desktop-size monitor to get a desktop-style experience. Through the years, many have attempted it in earnest, and the latest offering from Samsung brought an interesting approach.
For years, Samsung has offered DeX hardware for their flagship Galaxy S and Note phones and tablets, which introduced a larger custom UI for those devices, but the overall experience was still Android. Where Linux on DeX differentiated itself is that the app downloaded and ran a full Ubuntu Linux environment, with some DeX-specific optimizations.
Our Damien Wilde did an early hands-on with Linux on DeX, showing a surprising level of smoothness, with the occasional difficulty stemming from the need for apps built for ARM64 (as found in most Androids) instead of x86 (as found in most PCs and Chromebooks).
Despite the clear potential of Linux on DeX, especially for developers, Samsung has sent out emails today, including to Damien, announcing that the program has been discontinued. This, of course, means there will be no further updates to the app or the version of Ubuntu being used. More critically, Samsung is removing the functionality altogether with their Android 10 update, including the Beta version that already rolled out to Galaxy S10 phones this week.
Thank you for supporting Linux on DeX Beta. The development of Linux on DeX was all thanks to customer interest and valuable feedback. Unfortunately, we are announcing the end of our beta program, and will no longer provide support on future OS and device releases.
NOTE: Linux on DeX will not be supported on Android 10 Beta. Once you update your device to Android OS 10, you will not be able to perform a version rollback to Android Pie. If you decide to update your device to Android 10 Beta, we recommend backing up data before updating.
Needless to say, the announcement is a disappointment to anyone who had hoped that high-powered flagship phones could take more advantage of Android being based on Linux or possibly even replace the need for a dedicated laptop for some people. Similar apps to Linux on DeX are available, namely Linux Deploy (root required) and UserLAnd, but these apps aren’t nearly as simple to configure for non-enthusiasts.
Did you ever use Linux on DeX on your Galaxy phone? Let us know in the comments.