A Linux kernel is a core element of Android but despite this, Android cannot be called a Linux distribution because it lacks a GNU interface typical of a Linux distro. Android and Linux apps are not exchangeable because of different runtime systems and libraries. But with the efforts of some brilliant developers, you can actually run a legit Linux distribution on your smartphone which traditionally runs Android. The steps are as simple as installing a custom ROM and this is especially helpful if you have an aging smartphone that isn’t likely to get much – or even worse any – support.
If you’re looking to experience something other than Android – more specifically, Linux – on a smartphone, there are several touch-based Linux distros like Ubuntu Touch, postmarketOS, and Maemo Leste. You can head over to Can My Phone Run Linux, a database set up by TuxPhones and type your phone’s name in the search bar to find a list of Linux distributions that are supported by your phone.
Just like with installing a custom ROM, you’ll be required to unlock the bootloader of the Android smartphone or tablet. The UBPorts Installer makes it fairly easy to get Ubuntu Touch running on your phone but other distros such as postmarketOS might need the additional step of installing a custom recovery such as TWRP.
You must keep in mind that a lot of these distros are in development phases and all of the features may not be functional. Further, the support for devices is limited to some extent and you’re most likely to see popular older devices in the list. The TuxPhones database is using crawlers to fetch data from the official websites for each Linux distro.
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