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Debian on mobile devices

This page is about tracking every initiative to fully or partially install the system on mobile platforms:


Debian is the universal operating system. Thus, it should run on mobile devices. This wiki page is a tool to help bring Debian to mobile platforms.

It would be great if Debian could run on many kinds of mobile devices: iPhones, Android capable HW, Windows Mobile HW, tablets, but this is very unlikely to happen anytime soon for the majority of devices.

Devices built to run FLOSS stacks are more promising alternatives, for example ?PinePhone and Librem 5.

Debian on mobile devices should have GUI capabilities, appropriate to the hardware capabilities.

It would also be great if Debian could run applications written to be native to the original OS for the hardware. This will enable Debian to serve the many people in society who want to easily use those applications.

Debian might benefit from having its own User Interface, or UIs, based on progression from the desktop Debian UIs - ex, GNOME or KDE. It would be great if the GNOME, KDE and other GUI communities could come to agreement on a common UI for Debian, to save unnecessary duplication of development effort, both of the Debian UI, and application software for Debian.

Origin and Purpose

To get this wiki page started, see the original message I sent suggesting this project. It includes some reference URLs, to help seed thinking on Debian on smartphones development.


Many people made useful replies to that email, and it would be great if they would add their suggestions of software components, foundations, and URLs thereof to this page. If we all take a few minutes to make contributions to this page when we have something valuable to add, this page will grow to be a great resource for us all. So, please take a moment to add something valuable to this page right now, or when you have the opportunity. :)

This page could use contributions like: Links to component software (embeded debian, GRUB, UIs, etc).

Software developers can write software for the many parts of this system and put links on this page to those components.

Writers can produce articles about Debian on smartphones in emails to the relevant Debian mailing lists, blogs, web pages and for the general media.

Artists can create the graphics and multimedia for Debian on smartphones.

Packagers can put it all together so people can download and install it on their smartphones.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for thinking. Thanks for all contributions you make. Let's all work together to enable Debian to fulfil its promise as "The Universal Operating System".

Use of the Debian bug tracking system

Bugs related to Debian on mobile devices may have usertags with the user debian-mobile@lists.debian.org. These usertags are currently defined:

  • user-interface: mobile user interface related bugs, e.g. intents to package UI software or necessary changes of existing UI to improve user experience on small screens or styles input etc.


If you want to chat about Debian mobile user interfaces, please join the #debian-mobile IRC channel on irc.debian.org or subscribe to the debian-mobile mailing list. If you are interested in kernel, bootloader or middleware related issues you might want to join the #debian-arm IRC channel instead. Other discussions will be appropriate to have on these lists instead: debian-embedded debian-arm debian-kernel debian-cd debian-devel android-tools-devel



Here are some people interested in running Debian on mobile devices.


IRC nick

Hardware owned

Willing to


Paul Wise


probably-dead Openmoko FreeRunner

Offer advice

Linux mainline support for the Neo900

Didier Raboud


Openmoko FreeRunner

Get paid to work towards Debian on Mobile devices :-p

Sicelo Mhlongo


Nokia N900, Motorola Droid 4

Help with testing and documentation

Working Debian on N900 and Droid 4 with UMTS/GPRS access and voice calls

Alishams Hassam


Openmoko FreeRunner, Google Nexus One

Help maintain wiki, file bugs, test new things

Mainline FR support, QtMoko in Debian, Debian on the Nexus One, SHR on a Debian base

Timo Jyrinki


GTA04, Nokia N9, Nokia N950, LG Nexus 4, Jolla

Maintain some of the FR stuff, maybe do something to put Debian on N9, etc.

More productized stuff via FSO, oFono etc. packaging to support more phones



Openmoko FreeRunner * 2, Nokia N900, GeeksPhone One, Samsung Galaxy S3

Improve ways to bootstrap, test

more stuff packaged in mainline Debian - with sensible defaults

Jonathan Michalon


Samsung Galaxy Note 1

test, learn stuff, help

Have Debian in dualboot with Android and be able to do all basic tasks from it.

Philipp Hug


Nokia N900, N9, various Android devices

Maintain mobile-related packages, test

Debian on Android



N900, GTA04


Debian being Pocket Computer (aka Smart Phone) friendly

Lukas Maerdian


GTA04, GTA02, Palm Pre

Develop FSO, bootstrap Debian for new devices

Nice UI based on FSO and Debian for GTA04.

Tomas Caram


Moto A1200r, Samsung Galaxy S (I9000b)

test, learn stuff, help, compile, make scripts


Eva Ramon


Nokia N9, Nokia N900, Galaxy Note 10.1

Package mobile software, test, help with the installer

chroot Debian on Android, dual boot

David Derby

dderby (freenode)

N900, N950, Droid 4, Nexus 5, ?PinePhone prototype shipping soon

Continue to improve DebiaN900 scripts Contribute to Maemo Leste

Mainline Linux running well on a variety of phones

W. Martin Borgert

no IRC, but xmpp:debacle@debian.org

GPD Pocket, Librem 5 dev board, hopefully soon: Pyra

work on Debian for that devices

run unchanged Debian on that devices


Kamping_Kaiser (rarely on irc.debian, usually free node)

N900, 2x Openmoko FreeRunner, various android devices

Test things

An N900 experience on newer devices and newer Debian

Ida Boustead (?HezuKame)

No IRC, but hezukame@gmail.com

Samsung Galaxy S8+ (SM-G955F) Exynos8895

Port Debian to my phone and maintain it.

To be able to fully replace Android with Debian as my main OS on my phone.

Danny Colin


Pinephone CE

Bug hunting

Use the pinephone w/ Debian as my daily driver

Guido Günther


Librem5 / N900 / ?WeTab

Work towards using Debian daily on my mobile devices



Learn software development. Port low-level stuff to a device. Package some middleware. Package a user experience. Package applications that can deal with small screens and touch input. Build images for users to flash onto the device. Get hardware to developers.



At various stages you will need to learn some of the following. This can be done at the same time as working on Debian for smartphones.

  • Languages:
    • ARM assembly: Linux, bootloaders
    • C: Linux, bootloaders, UIs
    • make: build systems
    • Python: middleware, applications
    • Vala: middleware, applications
  • Tools:
    • Version control:
      • git: Linux, middleware, applications
      • svn: UI, applications
      • bzr: applications
    • Compilers: GCC, LLVM, GCC cross-compilers
    • Build systems:
      • make: almost everything
      • autotools: middleware, UI, applications
      • cmake: some things
      • other: Linux and bootloaders might have custom build systems based on make


Pick a specific device. Get support for it into a bootloader (u-boot/etc), mainline Linux. Ask relevant teams to build linux/bootloader packages that work on your device. Port the debian installer to the device.

This is most of the work. It is important to get your changes into Linux/u-boot mainline otherwise Debian will not be able to support your device since the Linux kernel team for Debian will not add non-mainline drivers/patches to Debian kernels and therefore you won't be able to support Debian on the phone you care about. It will be made easier since the Android drivers probably already exist and can be ported to mainline Linux. Some hardware vendors will be violating the GPL and not releasing drivers/patches. You might be able to get the code by contacting them or getting the Software Freedom Conservancy or gpl-violations.org involved.


Pick some middleware, join the packaging group for it or package it for Debian and look for some sponsors.


Pick a UI or create a new one, create a team, start packaging it for Debian and look for sponsors.

There are numerous existing FLOSS user experiences for mobile devices. As the universal OS, Debian should aim to support several of these.


Package some touch-friendly applications.


Talk to the Debian installer, live and CDs teams about building daily, weekly and release images that people can flash onto their phones. This could significantly change the way Debian images are built so it will require a fair bit of discussion first.

Other tips

If you can get hardware into the hands of kernel developers that would help a lot. You might find some hardware manufacturers who are willing to give out some free samples to developers.

Install howtos


Jailbreaking, Rooting, Unlocking, Exploits


  • Lil Debi: Debian chroot manager for Android

  • Debian Kit by Sven-Ola, an easy chroot kit (uses Android kernel to run a Debian from a loop sdcard disc image).

  • More on the ChrootOnAndroid page.

Flashers and USB booting

  • 0xFFFF: flasher for Nokia Internet Tablets based on the NOLO bootloader

  • dfu-util: flasher for devices supporting the DFU 1.0 protocol. In practice this means the ?OpenMoko gta01 and gta02 and maybe other devices like the iPhone.

  • Fastboot: flasher and memory booter for devices based on Android

  • Heimdall: flasher for some Samsung phones

  • rkflashtool: flasher for Rockchip based devices

  • imx_usb_loader: flash devices using Freescale i.MX5/i.MX6 and Vybrid ?SoCs via the Serial Download Protocol (SDP)


  • OsmocomBB: free software for GSM baseband devices, currently only for the baseband on the Openmoko FreeRunner and related devices

  • firmwares_nonfree: script to download and install proprietary firmware for Android devices


  • Qi: supports gta01, gta02

  • u-boot: supports various devices, forks for: gta01/gta02

  • lk2nd: bootloader supporting some Qualcomm ?SoCs



  • GPU drivers:
  • Other:
    • glshim: video acceleration for OpenGL 1.x software on mobile devices that use OpenGL ES. /!\ note that this isn't needed for GPUs with Free Software drivers because mesa supports both OpenGL 1.x and OpenGL ES on the same hardware.

    • TinyGLES: a software OpenGL ES driver, intended for use with glshim

    • SwiftShader: a high-performance CPU-based implementation of the OpenGL ES and Direct3D 9 graphics APIs12. Its goal is to provide hardware independence for advanced 3D graphics. (RFP)


User interface



  • F-Droid: repository of FOSS Android-based applications

  • OpenMoko: applications from the OpenMoko development community

  • Ubuntu: core applications from Ubuntu Touch

  • Empathy supports voice calls and short messages via telepathy-ring


  • Debian

  • Emdebian: discontinued cut down version of Debian for small and embedded devices

  • Ubuntu: Ubuntu for touchscreen based mobile devices

  • UBports: community continuation of Ubuntu for mobile devices

  • QtMoko: distribution based on Debian

  • PyNeo: distribution based on Debian

  • QuantumSTEP

  • Maemo: mobile distribution based on Debian

  • Tizen: mobile distribution based on EFL, Debian/Ubuntu, backed by Samsung and others

  • webOS: mobile distribution based on HTML/JS, OpenEmbedded, backed by HP

  • LuneOS: open source successor for webOS

  • webOS OSE: open source successor for webOS from LG

  • FirefoxOS: Mozilla project to create an web-based OS

  • GerdaOS: aims to liberate !KaiOS, the proprietary !FirefoxOS derivative

  • Gentoo on Android: Gentoo project to run Gentoo in a prefix on Android

  • Mer: distribution aimed at re-use by device manufacturers

  • Nemo: mobile distribution based on Mer (RPM), MeeGo Handset, Qt

  • Cordia: discontinued mobile distribution based on Mer (RPM), Maemo Hildon stack ported to newer GTK+/etc

  • Seadot: mobile distribution based on Mer, successor for the WeTab OS

  • SailfishOS: commercial distro based on Mer

  • postmarketOS: Alpine Linux derivative aimed at 10 year life-cycle for smartphones

  • Maemo Leste: aims to provide a free Maemo experience on mobile phones and tablets, built on top of Devuan Ascii (Debian Stretch)

  • PureOS: is a derivative of Debian that will work on Librem5 the new device of Purism will be released at 2019

  • Devuan: a fork of Debian, optimised for use without systemd. Provides images for a variety of mobile and embedded devices built with the arm-sdk.

  • Mobian: working on getting Debian on ?PinePhone and similar devices, with tweaks and configuration in an external repo

  • NixOS: OS built on the Nix declarative package manager, has a mobile effort.

  • JingOS: Ubuntu-based Linux OS that mimics iPadOS and is designed for (x86?) tablets

  • FydeOS: Chinese-centric cloud based OS mimicking ChromeOS


  • Android

  • Replicant: aiming to remove all the blobs and non-free stuff from Android

  • OmniROM: a community Android derivative

  • ?CyanogenMod: a commercial Android derivative

  • LineageOS: renamed version of ?CyanogenMod community

  • AsteroidOS: open-source operating system for smartwatches

  • MaruOS: containers on Android

  • Halium: group maintenance of Android parts that cannot be added to normal GNU/Linux distributions, as well as compatibility shims. This includes proprietary blobs as well as Android forks of the Linux kernel.

  • GrapheneOS: successor of CopperheadOS, a hardened fork of AOSP

  • CalyxOS: AOSP fork focussed on privacy


General hardware support pages for various groups/distros: FSO oFono SHR Replicant (targets) OmniROM (unofficial ports) LineageOS Mer webOS Ubuntu Touch Firefox OS Gentoo postmarketOS (wishlist) AsteroidOS NixOS CalyxOS

Porting guides for various groups/distros: oFono SHR (Android devices) Replicant (1, 2, 3) OmniROM LineageOS Mer webOS Tizen SailfishOS Ubuntu Touch FirefoxOS (2). postmarketOS AsteroidOS NixOS Halium





Operating systems






Android, Debian

blobs in GSM,WiFi,BT, GPS; only BT not working; Android specific repo

Cosmo Communicator




Android, Debian, UBPorts

blobs in GSM,WiFi,BT, GPS; only BT not working; UBPorts lacks physical keyboard drivers; CoDI (front display) not supported under Linux; Android specific repo

Openmoko Neo 1973


Debian more

Openmoko Neo FreeRunner


qi or forked u-boot

Needs upstreaming

Debian QtMoko SHR Android-on-FreeRunner more

blobs in WiFi, GPS, GSM. GSM isolated, semi-supported by OsmocomBB. Emulated by forked qemu.

Golden Delicious Letux 2804


u-boot branch

being upstreamed

Debian SHR Replicant

blob sent to WiFi



u-boot branch

Being upstreamed 1 2

Debian SHR Replicant Maemo

Samsung Galaxy S


proprietary, locked


Debian Replicant

blobs sent to WiFi, BT. modem not isolated. XDA info

Samsung Nexus S


proprietary, locked


Replicant Ubuntu

blobs sent to WiFi, BT. modem not isolated.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1



Debian Ubuntu

Samsung Galaxy S3 / Note II

midas ( SHV-E210K/L/S / GT-I9300 / GT-I9305 / GT-N7100 / GT-N7105 )

u-boot branch

Being mainlined

Samsung Galaxy S5

aboot (Samsung eMMC unlock

Samsung Galaxy S8+

SM-G955F (Exynos8895)




Work in progress

Nokia 770


Mainline board file

Debian Inferno

Nokia N800/N810


Being upstreamed

Debian Mer

Nokia N900


u-boot upstream

Being upstreamed

Debian Maemo 5 (Fremantle) Maemo Leste SHR NITDroid Mer DeforaOS (NetBSD) Devuan postmarketOS

Nokia N9


Ubiboot N9 Easy Boot

N9 Kernel update project Being upstreamed

Debian MeeGo 1.2 Harmattan Mer Sailfish OS Devuan Maemo Leste postmarketOS

Nokia N950


Ubiboot N9 Easy Boot

Being upstreamed

Debian MeeGo 1.2 Harmattan Mer Sailfish OS Devuan Maemo Leste

HTC Nexus One


Motorola Droid


Motorola Droid 4 XT894


Safestrap utagboot kexecboot

Being upstreamed

Android, Linux, Debian Devuan Maemo Leste postmarketOS

Motorola Moto X (2nd generation)

aboot (unlock

Android kernel + GNU userland


ASUS Nexus 7

Ubuntu Mer Replicant

LG Nexus 4


Sailfish OS LineageOS Ubuntu

Geeksphone Peak





Android kernel + GNU userland

Sailfish OS


being upstreamed


Dragonbox Pyra

will run a custom Debian by default

Zero Phone

runs Raspbian by default


Debian and derivatives like PureOS

Will be released at 2019

Necunos NC_1

Being upstreamed

Maemo Leste, LuneOS, Replicant, Plasma Mobile, postmarketOS, Nemo Mobile

Scheduled for release in 2019.


Being upstreamed

Arch Linux, AOSC, UBPorts, Maemo Leste, postmarketOS, Plasma Mobile, Mobian

Golden Delicious Pyra Phone


Being upstreamed



===== References: http://wiki.debian.org/DebianOnHandhelds http://wiki.debian.org/Handheld http://wiki.debian.org/Hardware http://wiki.debian.org/

- How can open source survive in a post-PC World? http://www.h-online.com/open/features/How-can-open-source-survive-in-a-post-PC-world-1210071.html How can open source survive in a post-PC World? (h-online.com) http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2348907

List_of_open_source_Android_applications http://maniacdev.com/2010/06/35-open-source-iphone-app-store-apps-updated-with-10-new-apps/

Open Source iPhone Apps List – Real App Store Code Examples! http://maniacdev.com/2010/06/35-open-source-iphone-app-store-apps-updated-with-10-new-apps/

- http://www.cyanogenmod.com/ CyanogenMod


- Permanent root for the Samsung Intercept http://forum.sdx-developers.com/intercept-development-2-2/sprint-intercept-wfroyo-permanent-root-using-epic-expoit/

[HOWTO] Rooting your Samsung Intercept the Easy Way http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=890460 Samsung Intercept > Intercept Android Development http://forum.xda-developers.com/forumdisplay.php?s=b6120fd362a554792ba666425dc5e102&f=901

  • }}}