[Techtalk] Phones and tablets conversion to Linux

Akkana Peck akkana at shallowsky.com
Tue Nov 9 17:22:23 UTC 2021

Alvin Goats writes:
> SO....how to root the phone (and for that matter any tablet) and install
> Linux on them.

I love all the links I'm seeing to linux-on-phone projects.
I've wanted to do that too.

What's always stopped me in the past is the difficulty of rooting or
unlocking the bootloader (typically you need to do both to install a
new OS).. There's no single set of instructions; the instructions
are different for every phone model and sub-model -- e.g. the
instructions for a Samsung Galaxy S5 Verizon will be different from
a Samsung Galaxy S5 T-mobile, and one may be easy while the other is
difficult or impossible. They usually involve downloading some dodgy
app from an even dodgier download site located in Russia or
China or somewhere, which uses some exploit in the phone's OS.
What could go wrong with that? And of course, if something does
go wrong there's a risk of bricking the phone.

> Samsung (various)

The last time I looked into this was for a Galaxy S5 Verizon,
and the instructions both for rooting and for unlocking the
bootloader looked so daunting that I didn't try. Apparently
Samsungs are notoriously difficult to root or unlock, and Verizon
models of anything are harder than models for other carriers.
I think the Verizon part is mostly because a lot of unlocking
activity happens outside the US, where Verizon is a nonissue.
(Here in the rural Southwestern US, Verizon is often the only option.)

> Motorola (various)

I have an impression that Motorolas are a lot easier to root
or bootloader-unlock than Samsungs. Don't know about LG.

> Nook

I have an old Nook Simpletouch that I rooted. It was so long ago
that I've forgotten the details; I think I followed a howto on
xda-developers.com which involved a program called "touchnooter".

I used FBReader on the Nook for a year or two, and liked it better
than the built-in Nook reader, though it wasn't perfect: nearly all
Android apps are built with the expectation of a fast color screen
and capacitative multitouch, so some things don't work all that well
on a slow e-paper display with resistive touch. Eventually I
replaced it with a Kobo. (The Kobo runs Linux, not Android, which
sounds good, but actually isn't all that helpful as it's very
difficult to change things or write new programs for it, so it's
difficult to customize it much.)


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