X11 On Android


[ghostwalker] has put together instructions for running X11 on your Android device. This means you can run a full-blown Linux desktop environment on your phone. It requires you to already have a Debian shell on the phone, which we covered earlier. Instead of having to come up with a custom display driver, it’s hooked to a VNC server. You can connect to it using an Android VNC viewer on the phone or via any other VNC client. The how-to suggests either IceWM or the even lighter-weight LXDE for a window manager. You could potentially install Gnome or KDE, but we’d be surprised if it was any faster than dog slow. Let us know if you have any success with this and what you think the best use is.

18 thoughts on “X11 On Android

  1. I have been back and forth all week on pick up a G1 or wait for any number of the no release date android phones to come. This makes it a lot harder to fight off the instant gratification.

  2. Technically, this isn’t running on Android, as this is just native code on a G1, right?

    However, it’s very close to an interesting solution. The guy who made ScummVM for Android/G1 created a hybrid solution, wrapping native code with Android.. I’d like to see something similar here, so that I could download LXDE/Debian from the Market and run it on my rooted phone as if it were an Android app.

  3. cool hack, but I dont see how any x11 wm (without serious design changes) could be useful on a tiny screen. there needs to be a new mobile wm that is meant for this, with features like automatically “full-sizing” each window you bring to focus, easy context switching, multitouch (where possible), etc.

  4. this looks like simple vnc running on the android phone. if that is the case, choosing the title ‘X11 running on android’ is a bit confusing. while this is interesting, its not as technically impressive as running x11 natively on the device. good luck doing that and keep trying.

  5. sweet, I was waiting for something like this to pop up. debian/android together is a cool combination, and will only become more sweet when a driver is scrapped together to give it native x11 support. Thanks for all the work.

  6. Hmmm.
    Whilst this is a great little experiment, X11 is not at all suited for mobile devices. M$ are still learning that lesson with Windows Mobile – when they started with WinCE, they decided to use the same look & feel as the desktop OS, incl teency weency buttons / sliders / boxes, on screen keyboards etc. coupled with thin on the ground device drivers in favour of the CPU generating all the gfx (bad idea).
    X11 would turn out the same – ‘maybe’ a decent Window Manager might help but its still stuck with the underlying X11 code base that was designed for full screen desktop apps from Day 1 – not optimised in the slightest.
    Interesting none the less though.

  7. @stu:

    I’m not sure that I understand what a full screen desktop app is. Could you elaborate?

    Also, I think that you misunderstand what X11 is. X11 is not a widget toolkit. X11 is not a window manager. X11 is not a desktop environment. X11 is what provides the underlying mechanisms that make all of those things work.

  8. hey guys i have recently done this and its fairly simple i am just 13 and managed to pull it off i have installed icewm on it and it is fast but the only con is you cannot see the theme or backround but i also figured out that any app or anything mostly you download or install in the debian shell gets imported into the desktop its really easy and neat kool trick to show your friends i might release a video so check my youtube channel youtube.com/eleshakys1

  9. possibly using something like DMX you could join the X server on a PC and the one on your phone so you could drag a window between the two screens, can really think of a specific use for that really other than as a (LAN) party trick though.

  10. One use for this could be to ssh to your home machine, and run programmes on there, piping the graphics back to your phone. You could maybe have a dashboard app – mail checker, media control, etc, either as an extension to your PC desktop, or for a headless PC, such as a remote for a myth box.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.