postmarketOS: how to use Linux on your mobile without removing Android

postmarket OS

Android is Google's operating system for mobile devices. It is based on the Linux kernel, however, in many respects it has little to do with a GNU/Linux distribution. Among other things, due to its limitations if it is not rooted. Now thanks to postmarketOS netboot, you'll be able to try a more versatile Linux distro without having to uninstall Andy's operating system.

Live the complete Linux experience on your mobile in an extremely simple way and keeping your ROM with the original operating system intact. Everything from the network, to be able to start postmarketOS through the online boot (network boot). And when you want to return to your Android, you just have to disconnect the USB cable and restart the mobile or tablet.

Our advantages of this netboot of postmarketOS are:

  • Quick and easy start of postmarketOS.
  • Possibility to return to Android whenever you want.
  • Safe by not having to modify the ROM and being able to leave the mobile in-operative.
  • Neither technical knowledge nor time is required for the installation, since it is like using a Live, but from the network.

But also has its disadvantages:

  • It is not a locally installed operating system, so you will need a network connection.
  • Any changes you make will be lost.
  • Performance may not be the best and it highly depends on your connection.
  • Everything will be operating in RAM, so it will have certain limitations.

Now, to try the experience, postmarketOS netboot is fantastic. The project started by Mark (nergzd723) and now picked up and finished by Luca Weiss (Fairphone z3ntu), has already been integrated into postmarketOS itself and is likely to hit all Fastboot compatible devices very soon.

As to operation of this postmarketOS netboot, is similar to a Live mode, allowing you to use network via USB from the start. The idea is to allow loading the system that is in another host, in this case in the PC that connects to the mobile. The PC will boot the device as a full network drive:

  • Added in initfs an nbd hook in pmbootstrap, a shell script that is added to the boot image initialization stage. That script will take care of connecting to a server that will load the system image.
  • When executing the boot command from the host (PC) with the mobile connected by USB, you will receive a fastboot boot and the bootloader will download and boot a small live kernel image (Live) in RAM (3-4GB ) without modifying the partitions.
  • This in turn will spawn a boot process to mount a temporary root filesystem, continue the boot process, receive more parts of the image if needed, etc. As if the mobile were a USB storage unit. Therefore, if the USB cable is disconnected, it will stop working…

As a warning, add that Fastboot usually has some difficulties to boot this system on older mobile devices or some specific models. Therefore, do not take risks and use a Backup of your Android system in case any complication occurs during the process.

Get netboot from postmarketOS – View GitLab site

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