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Debian-noroot works great on new Alldocube 7-inch tablet

August 18, 2021 — BarryK

I posted several days ago about installing "DebDroid-ng" on my Huawei tablet:

...that uses a VNC server in Debian and a VNC viewer in Android, and is launched from termux.

More recently, I tested termux's method of running a Debian desktop:

...and tried both "Xserver XSDL" and "Android Xserver", instead of VNC. Android Xserver is only a partial implementation of X11, and the desktop was badly broken. Xserver XSDL works, but as warned, is unstable -- a few minutes after starting, the mouse pointer froze.

Having a native Android X server is more efficient than going through a VNC connection, so I explored this some more...

Sergii, the guy who developed Xserver XSDL, has also created a complete Debian Buster XFCE desktop, bundled with Xserver XSDL, as an Android APK package. It is simply a matter of install, tap the "debian" icon, and the Debian desktop is up and running.

I thought that as Sergii has modified this Debian specifically to run on his Xserver XSDL, that it should be stable, and yes, it is. Used it for about an hour yesterday, no freeze, no crash. Again today, still stable.

Firstly, here is his Xserver-XSDL project page: looks like he attempted to go up to SDL 2.x, but has fallen back to using SDL 1.2 -- which I can understand!

There is an Xserver XSDL APK file for Android, that I installed for the termux tests, however the Debian noroot APK has the X server builtin, so it is standalone. So, I uninstalled Xserver XSDL (and Android Xserver), and installed this, from the Google Play Store:

For the record, here is the project page:

And Sergii has put APKs here:

I found the mouse scrollwheel doesn't work. Ah yes, mouse... absolutely essential. Very sluggish.

So definitely there are issues! But, a lot does work. I installed Gimp and Inkscape, they work. Slow, but they do work. A photo showing the Synaptic Package Manager, that I used to install Gimp and Inkscape:


I should mention, I am doing this on my new 7 inch Alldocube tablet, posted about recently:


It arrived a few days ago. Minimal specs, but a surprisingly pleasant experience to use. But, had a storage problem...

I formatted a 128GB SD card as internal storage, and used a USB cable to copy in several hundred MB of videos -- but later on, they just disappeared. The folder that I had created for them still existed, but contents were gone. Huh???

This must be something to do with the SD card being internal storage. So I reformatted it as portable storage, and copied the videos again. This time they have been retained.

However, back to only 16GB internal storage. Have installed a few apps, including a GPS offline mapping app, and of course Debian-noroot and Gimp/Inkscape, and Settings is now showing 10GB used. Need to be careful not to run out of internal storage!

Pare for the course, vendors cheating on device specs. I am treating it as normal now. At least for products from China. Alldocube are honest, which does make it hard for them, as many other vendors of smartphones and tablets on Aliexpress are outright scam artists. However, Alldocube are incorrect with one of the specs, claiming a weight of 224g:

...I weighed it at 239g. Which reminded me, I am posting weights on my blog, using a cheap Kmart digital scale. Need to confirm that it is accurate, so have ordered a set of steel calibration weights 5g to 200g.

OK, back onto Debian-noroot, here is some user feedback:

At first I didn't know how to bring up the virtual keyboard, so used a bluetooth keyboard. But I was reading this, rather old review, it explains how to bring up the keyboard:

...swipe from the right, to expose the three command buttons, and tap on the "back" button, and hey-presto the keyboard appears and can type in the terminal window. Tap again on the "back" button to make the keyboard go away.

Here are videos. The first one was created in 2014, but note that Debian-noroot had a significant upgrade in 2020...

"Use an Android phone like a desktop PC"

"debian linux on android"

"install debian linux on android"

It has been fun getting Debian-noroot running on the tablet. An extremely restricted environment of course, but I can see the usefulness of Gimp and Inkscape to provide superior image editing. Maybe more uses, we shall see.    

Tags: linux