MaruOS is like Continuum for Android, turns the Nexus 5 into a Linux computer


Ever since Canonical showed off Ubuntu Convergence in 2014, the idea of a desktop and mobile environment seamlessly co-existing on the same device has captivated many a smartphone user and software developer. Then Microsoft stepped in to bring us closer to the dream with Continuum for Windows mobile devices, followed by Canonical coming up with the Aquaris M10 tablet this February. However, a team of independent developers has been hard at work to bring something similar to Android devices as well. Now, the fruit of their labor – MaruOS – has a public release, and you can try it right now, provided that you own a Nexus 5. That's right. Unfortunately, MaruOS is available only for the Nexus 5 right now, but that doesn't make it any less exciting.

The difference between this and Convergence/Continuum, is that in the case of MaruOS you have two operating systems on your mobile device instead of one. That means that the OS does not simply scale and switch around its UI for a bigger screen, but presents its users with a full-fledged desktop environment with support for desktop apps. MaruOS comes with Android 5.1 Lollipop for your Nexus 5 – Google Play Store included – and switches to Debian GNU/Linux when connected to a screen. When in desktop mode, you are not tied to “universal” apps or anything of the sort – you can basically install whatever you want – and your only limit is in the hardware department (Snapdragon 800 and 2GB of RAM in the case of the Nexus 5). There's also shared wireless connectivity, so your network, be it Wi-Fi or cellular, is shared between mobile and desktop, which means no need for spotty and unreliable tethering. The desktop environment can be easily navigated via Bluetooth mouse and keyboard and has direct access to the phone's internal storage for easy file transfers.

Now, that sounds great and all – and it is for many people – but let's move on to some downsides. As already mentioned, MaruOS is available only for the Nexus 5 right now, and there's no concrete information on when it will be available for other devices. The FAQ page of the project states that “Nexus devices will be given first priority. Non-Nexus devices will be primarily community-driven ports off of the open source project”, which is not bad actually, as with everything Linux, it might garner a lot of community support if it catches on. The second caveat is that MaruOS requires a hardware connection, so you'll need a Micro USB to HDMI cable. And the third caveat is that installing MaruOS on your Nexus 5 is basically like flashing a custom ROM on it. That will void your warranty and there's the off-chance of you bricking your device if you are not at least a little bit experienced with this type of operation (although why would you need Linux on your phone of you weren't?).So, if you own a Nexus 5 and you're feeling adventurous, head over to the official MaruOS page for more information.

Source: MaruOS via Reddit

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