How to install a Linux desktop on your Android device

Have you ever wished your Android phone or tablet could replace your entire computer? That’s now possible — you can install a Linux or Ubuntu desktop environment on virtually any modern Android device thanks to some clever workarounds. You don’t need to root your phone and you can even use a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse (and maybe an external display) for a powerful desktop-like experience. And even though the experience doesn’t match a real Linux computer, it’s more than usable in a pinch and worth trying out.


To install a Linux environment on your Android device, you can use the Debian NoRoot or UserLAnd apps. If you choose the latter, you’ll also get to choose between various distributions like Kali Linux, Arch, and Ubuntu. While neither app installs a full operating system, they do offer a complete desktop environment and the ability to run many popular Linux programs.


Debian NoRoot: One-click Linux desktop

debian noroot android

Calvin Wankhede / Android Authority

Debian NoRoot offers one of the easiest and least complicated ways to access a Linux desktop on Android. It’s a free app that you need to install via the Play Store. If you haven’t heard of Debian, it’s the flavor of Linux that the popular Ubuntu distribution is based upon. This guarantees compatibility with a wide range of Linux apps and the apt package manager.

Debian NoRoot is pretty lightweight and should run on most Android smartphones and tablets. It’s not the complete Debian operating system — instead, its developer describes it as a “compatibility layer, which allows you to run Debian applications.” How is this possible? Well, Android runs a modified Linux kernel, making it somewhat related to our end-goal. Debian NoRoot also includes all of the basics, including a desktop environment and a terminal application. All in all, it’s a perfect starting point for experienced and novice users alike.

Debian NoRoot lets you access a full-fledged Linux desktop with a simple download from the Play Store.

Once you’ve installed the Debian NoRoot app on your Android device and open it for the first time, it will present you with a list of display resolutions and font scales. Select the default options here, and it will eventually bring you to the desktop.

From this point on, you can immediately get to installing additional Linux programs and apps. We’ll explain how you can do this via the terminal in a later section. For now, consider plugging in a keyboard and mouse since the on-screen touch keyboard can take up a big chunk of your screen’s real estate.

Related: What is a kernel and why does it matter on Android and Linux?

Scientists Built a Functional Computer With Human Brain Tissue

There is no computer even remotely as powerful and complex as the human brain. The lumps of tissue ensconced in our skulls can process information at quantities and speeds that computing technology can barely touch.

Key to the brain’s success is the neuron’s efficiency in serving as both a processor and memory device, in contrast to the physically separated units in most modern computing devices.

There have been many attempts to make computing more brain-like, but a new effort takes it all a step further – by integrating real, actual, human brain tissue with electronics.

It’s called Brainoware, and it works. A team led by engineer Feng Guo of Indiana University Bloomington fed it tasks like speech recognition and nonlinear equation prediction.

It was slightly less accurate than a pure hardware computer running on artificial intelligence, but the research demonstrates an important first step in a new kind of computer architecture.

However, while Guo and his colleagues followed the ethics guidelines in the development of Brainoware, several researchers from Johns Hopkins University note in a related Nature Electronics commentary the importance of keeping ethical considerations in mind while expanding this technology further.

Lena Smirnova, Brian Caffo, and Erik C. Johnson, who weren’t involved with the study, caution, “As the sophistication of these organoid systems increases, it is critical for the community to examine the myriad of neuroethical issues that surround biocomputing systems incorporating human neural tissue.”

The human brain is kind of jaw-droppingly amazing. It contains an estimated 86 billion neurons, on average, and up to a quadrillion synapses. Each neuron is connected to up to 10,000 other neurons, constantly firing and communicating with each other.

To date, our best effort to simulate the activity of the brain in an artificial system barely scratched the surface.

Flexoskeleton printing: Fabricating flexible exoskeletons for insect-inspired robots

Insects typically have a variety of complex exoskeleton structures, which support them in their movements and everyday activities. Fabricating artificial exoskeletons for insect-inspired robots that match the complexity of these naturally-occurring structures is a key challenge in the field of robotics.
Flexoskeleton printing: fabricating flexible exoskeletons for insect-inspired robots

Although researchers have proposed several  and techniques to produce exoskeletons for insect-inspired robots, many of these methods are extremely complex or rely on expensive equipment and materials. This makes them unfeasible and difficult to apply on a wider scale.

With this in mind, researchers at the University of California in San Diego have recently developed a new process to design and fabricate components for insect-inspired robots with  structures. They introduced this process, called flexoskeleton printing, in a paper prepublished on arXiv.

“Inspired by the insect exoskeleton, we present a new  process called ‘flexoskeleton’ printing that enables rapid and accessible fabrication of hybrid rigid/soft robots,” the researchers wrote in their paper.

So far, hybrid robots with both rigid and soft components have been typically built using expensive materials and 3-D printers, as well as multi-step casting and machine processes. In their study, the research team at UC San Diego set out to create a new fabrication method that is cheaper and easier to use.

Flexoskeleton printing: fabricating flexible exoskeletons for insect-inspired robots

a) A figure explaining how the printing process introduced by the researchers works. b) A four-legged robot created using the researchers’ method, immediately after printing on clear PC layer. c) The four legged robot after release from the PC layer. Credit: Jiang, Zhou & Gravish.

Flexoskeleton printing, the method they developed, relies on an adaptation of a consumer grade fused deposition material (FDM) 3-D printer, which provides an extremely strong bond strength between the deposited material and the printer’s flexible base layer. This process can be used to create exoskeletons for insect-inspired robots with different shapes and morphologies.

Remarkably, the fabrication approach proposed by the researchers can be used by both novice and expert users, as it is fairly straightforward and easy to understand. It is also far more affordable than alternative fabrication methods, as the materials and equipment it relies on are considerably cheap and readily available.

In their study, the team demonstrated the feasibility of their approach by using it to design and test a wide variety of canonical flexoskeleton elements. They then combined all the elements they produced into a walking four-legged  with a flexible exoskeleton structure.

“The approach we have developed relies heavily on the interrelationships between three dimensional geometry of surface features and their contributions to the local mechanical properties of that component,” the researchers wrote in their paper. “We envision that this method will enable a new class of bio-inspired robots with focus on the interrelationships between  and locomotion.”

In the future, the new design and fabrication process devised by this team of researchers could enable the development of numerous insect-inspired robots. As the technique is far more straightforward and affordable than most existing methods, it could also make existing or new robots easier to scale up, increasing their chances of being produced in larger quantities and appearing on the market.


More information: Flexoskeleton printing for versatile insect-inspired robots. arXiv:1911.06897 [cs.RO].

Gorlov helical wind turbine from my 3D printer

The Quietrevolution-Gorlov helical turbine (GHT) is a water turbine evolved from the Darrieus turbine design by altering it to have helical blades/foils. The physical principles of the GHT work are the same as for its main prototype, the Darrieus turbine, and for the family of similar vertical axis wind turbines which includes also Turby wind turbine, aerotecture turbine, Quietrevolution wind turbine, etc. GHT, Turby and Quietrevolution solved pulsatory torque issues by using the helical twist of the blades.

The resulting work, all mechanically printed completely on a 3D printer. A DC motor with a permanent magnet serves as a generator. The motor voltage at the output is 1.8V / 1 RPS.