Samsung sometimes tries to be too much like Google and engages in moonshot projects that are often abandoned quickly. So when it launched its new DeX “phone as a desktop” platform, it was natural for some people to wonder how long it would last. At least, for now, it seems that Samsung is investing a sizeable amount of resources to expand its coverage, like its upcoming Linux on Galaxy feature. Samsung just posted a concept video hinting that it could be more than what others have been able to do.
Running a Linux environment on an Android phone is really nothing new. Even without Samsung’s help, that has already been possible through various means and in different forms. Some simply put a command line app on top of Android. Others require a rooted device to run a full, graphical stack. Samsung’s Linux on Galaxy might be somewhere in between.
Our initial reaction to the concept was to equate it with the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) on Windows 10, which was pretty much a command line only integration of a Linux operating system. We’re happy to be proven wrong, at least based on Samsung’s concept. In the video, the user is seen to launch a full-blown “Ubuntu 16” (probably 16.04 LTS) running in DeX mode, complete with a graphical desktop and the ability to launch normal, graphical apps.
That distinction is critical for Samsung’s target audience. While WSL mostly aimed for web developers, systems programmers, and server administrators, Linux on Galaxy potentially targets software developers who need graphical tools to do their work. It could even support developing graphical applications or even Android apps, though there are more efficient ways to do the latter, like using AIDE.
Still, with a full Linux desktop, you’re practically limited by the software available for the ARM architecture and the hardware limitations of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 themselves. The video implies, however, that compiling software should be no problem.