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DebDroid-ng works great

August 09, 2021 — BarryK

This post is to give a thumbs-up for DebDroid-ng, created by "marcusz", a method for running Debian in Android phones and tablets, without having to root the phone. I have played with various alternatives, but found DebDroid-ng to be the simplest.

I reported on one of the alternatives a couple of days ago, "Userland":

...cannot recall what the issue was, but did run into a problem with using UserLand.

I am waiting on arrival of a 7 inch Alldocube tablet, a contender for phone replacement and for hiking (GPS maps, watching videos, FM radio). Would like to experiment with also running Linux on it, even though it is a very low-end device.

While waiting, decided to play with the choices out there for installing Linux, on my Huawei tablet. This is an 8 inch tablet that I bought early 2020, also pretty low-end specs. Never used it much, partly because it doesn't have Google Play Services -- yes, I am hooked on Google Play Services.

Tried a few methods to install Linux on the Huawei tablet. One that looked really great, only supports aarch64 ...that was when I discovered the tablet only has 32-bit Android 10 installed, despite having a 64-bit CPU.

Then discovered DebDroid-ng. The "ng" part is important, because marcusz completely rewrote it early in 2021, and appended the "-ng". Project page:

...that page has the instructions, and I just followed them.

It does require the "termux" app, and doesn't say so, but I assume also wants a VNC client app -- I chose "VNC Viewer".

For those who have access to the Google Play Store, do not install termux from there, as it is no longer updated. Instead, install the "F-Droid" app, which is an alternative app store, free apps only, and install termux from there.

I found VNC Viewer in the Huawei AppGallery, but assume it is also in other app stores.

Then all that you do is tap on the "termux" icon, and type in commands as explained in the DebDroid-ng project page.

It defaults to installing Buster release of Debian. You do need fast Internet connection.

So far, have only tested it once. Got a desktop, XFCE, great. What is immediately obvious, is that it needs a mouse to be usable. Without a mouse, extremely painful to use. Haven't tried with mouse yet, but assume if pair a Bluetooth mouse in Android, it will work in Debian.

Just a preliminary post, to report the pleasant install experience.

One thing planning to do next is explore using "Xserver XSDL" app instead of VNC.   

Tags: linux