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How to run Linux on Android devices?

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  • 2 min read

Android is based on a modified Linux kernel which lends the OS its openness. However, while the kernel is quite restricted, running full-blown Linux distros on an Android device makes it possible.

Now in most cases, to run Linux on an Android device natively, you’re going to have to root your device. However, certain apps allow you to run Linux on your phone by implementing a separate layer on top of the Android OS to run your preferred distro.

In this article, we’re taking a look at UserLAnd — an Android app that lets you run Linux distros straight on your phone without rooting.

Also read: Linux no space left on device: 3 Fixes

How to run Linux on Android?

Using the app itself is relatively easy. All you need to do is download the app, select your distro and set up an SSH or VNC session. You can download the UserLAnd app here.

How to run Linux on Android devices? | Candid.Technology
  • Open the UserLAnd app and select the distro you want to run.
  • Give the app access to your phone’s filesystem. This is required to download required system files and set the distro up on your device.
  • Type a username, password and VNC password for the session and tap Continue.
  • Select VNC as the connection type and tap Continue. If you’d rather work in a terminal, tap SSH instead. 

At this point, the app will download and extract the files required. Depending on your connection speed, this step may take a while, so be patient. Once the files have been downloaded, you’ll be redirected to the bVNC Play Store page to download the app. Once you’ve installed bVNC, head back to UserLAnd, and you’ll be able to run whichever distro you wanted. 

Note that GUI has certain challenges when running a full desktop version of Linux on a smartphone. For example, you may have to move around the screen if you’re working with multiple windows. Don’t expect PC level performance here either.

Alternatively, you can also try AnLinux or Debian noroot to run Linux distros on your phone.

Also read: How to install Kali Linux on Virtualbox?

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here: