There is no shortage of phones, platforms, and tools that promise the ability to use only your smartphone as your day to day computing device. Almost all of them, however, fall short when it comes to a few use cases, especially those related to multimedia work and software development. Samsung DeX is the latest such attempt and comes close to that dream. Soon, it will be taking one step closer with its upcoming Linux on Galaxy app that delivers a Linux environment of your choice right on your phone and, of course, on your makeshift desktop.
Why Linux? While Linux users and fans still wait for the mythical “Year of the Linux Desktop”, the opens source operating system is still the number one choice when it comes to servers and software development, particularly web and system administration. It is, in a way, what powers this so-called Cloud revolution we have going at the moment. That is also the reason why even Microsoft, once Linux’s vilest critic, now has a Linux subsystem built into Windows 10.
Samsung is pulling off something similar with its Linux on Galaxy app, providing a familiar Linux environment and toolset for developers. It has, however, two distinct advantages over the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). First is that Android is already Linux-based in the first place, making it easier, at least in theory, to have more direct access to resources without an additional layer of abstraction. The second is mobility, since you can literally take this Linux environment with you anywhere. While it might be a tad difficult to use it on a phone directly, you at least have that option. Of course, Samsung is pitching DeX as the best way to experience it.
A lot about the Linux on Galaxy implementation remains unknown at this point. There is no actually no shortage of ways to run Linux on Android already, ranging from simple emulation via Terminal apps to full-blown desktops that require root access. It is also still unknown how far Linux support will go. WSL, for example, has no official or direct support for running graphical Linux applications. Linux on Galaxy might similarly be limited. We won’t know for sure until the app does launch in the still undisclosed future.
One other thing that Samsung DeX has over something like Windows 10 Continuum is in the area of games. Many games can already be played while using DeX, with mixed results, but Samsung is adding more and more titles supported by its platform. Those include Super Evil Megacorp’s Vainglory, Game Insight’s Survival Arena, Eric Froemling’s BombSquad, Netmarble’s Lineage 2 Revolution, and, soon, Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition.