Ubuntu Touch on Google Nexus 4

From Cactus Howto

Please note that development is currently (January 2014) still in alpha state. Do not expect this to be a fully working operating system.


State overview

Working features

  • WiFi
  • Phone
  • SMS
  • Browser
  • Camera (only still photography)
  • Contacts
  • Music app
  • Update Manager (allows to update apps)

Showstoppers for using Ubuntu Touch on Nexus 4 as primary OS

  • Bluetooth does not work
  • Enter key does not work in Terminal App
  • openssh-server is installed but does not start. See resolution: http://howto.cactus.de/index.php/Ubuntu_Touch_on_Google_Nexus_4#getting_sshd_to_work
  • Various apps (e.g. CuteSpotify) stop working when screen blanks
  • Missing working mail client (imap/smtp), could not install thunderbird
  • missing flight mode
  • Calendar app has only very basic funtionality (and awkward layout)

Not tested yet

  • How to import contacts, events (calendar)
  • How to sync contacts, events (calendar)
  • Backup/restore data

Installing Ubuntu Touch

Preparing installation

  • Install tools on Ubuntu Desktop:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:phablet-team/tools
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install phablet-tools android-tools-adb android-tools-fastboot

Starting installation on Ubuntu Desktop

tim@itsecorg:~$ adb kill-server
tim@itsecorg:~$ sudo adb start-server
* daemon not running. starting it now on port 5037 *
* daemon started successfully *
tim@itsecorg:~$ adb devices
List of devices attached 
00000000xxxxx	device
tim@itsecorg:~$ wget http://humpolec.ubuntu.com/latest/dualboot.sh
tim@itsecorg:~$ chmod 755 dualboot.sh 
tim@itsecorg:~$ ./dualboot.sh FULL
Connect device to install Ubuntu installer to.
Detected connected Nexus 4
FULL install
Downloading SU package
  % Total    % Received % Xferd  Average Speed   Time    Time     Time  Current
                                 Dload  Upload   Total   Spent    Left  Speed
100  5861  100  5861    0     0  10104      0 --:--:-- --:--:-- --:--:-- 10105
Rebooting to bootloader


finished. total time: 0.822s
Waiting for sideload to boot
sending: 'sideload'  100%    
Wait for installation of package to complete

Continue installation process on phone

  • On the device, press the apps button in Android to bring up the list of apps
  • Browse the apps to find the Ubuntu Installer icon and press it to start the app
  • When the app launches, press on Choose channel to install and choose a channel to download from (the recommended channel is Trusty)
  • Error message: ubuntu-boot.img is not a correct image
  • Once download is completed you need to Grant SU permissions to the application for the install to be successful. Press the Grant button, when prompted.
  • Error can not access /cache/system - no such file or directory (2); Missing update command
  • Press the Reboot to Ubuntu button to boot to Ubuntu. A standard phone reboot with the hard key will always boot to Android.

This first worked on 2014-01-17 with Ubuntu Touch 14.04.

root@ubuntu-phablet:/# uname -a
Linux ubuntu-phablet 3.4.0-3-mako #21-Ubuntu SMP PREEMPT Tue Oct 8 13:11:48 UTC 2013 armv7l armv7l armv7l GNU/Linux
root@ubuntu-phablet:/# cat /etc/ubuntu-build 

Using Ubuntu touch

Connecting to the device at shell level

  • connect device to ubuntu desktop via usb
  • check connection status
tim@itsecorg:~$ adb devices
List of devices attached 
0x0x0x0x0x0x0x	device
  • start shell
adb shell

Checking installed version

root@ubuntu-phablet:~# system-image-cli --info
current build number: 132
device name: mako
channel: devel
alias: trusty
last update: 2014-01-17 16:53:27
version version: 132
version ubuntu: 20140116.1
version device: 20140115.1

Copying files to device

Basic version (works out of the box)

adb push localfile path-on-device

As soon as you get ssh working on the device:

scp localfile touch:path-on-device

Changing password

Remount root fs rw (for update to /etc/shadow):

mount -o remount,rw /

Run passwd command

passwd phablet

Problem with this: dualboot app in touch does not work any more since the password seems to be hard-coded.

Getting sshd to work

mkdir /var/run/sshd
chmod 755 /var/run/sshd
service ssh start
cd /home/phablet
mkdir .ssh
chmod 700 .ssh

Add your pub key to authorized keys:

vi .ssh/authorized_keys

Change acl:

chmod 400 .ssh/authorized_keys 
chown -R phablet:phablet .ssh

ssh as phablet now works:

macantha:.ssh tim$ ssh phablet@touch
Welcome to Ubuntu Trusty Tahr (development branch) (GNU/Linux 3.4.0-3-mako armv7l)
* Documentation:  https://help.ubuntu.com/
Last login: Sun Jan 19 11:29:41 2014 from macantha.fritz.box

Problem - this does not seem to be boot-resistant. The directory /var/run/sshd vanishes. So the following commands need to be added to the boot process:

Remount root fs rw:

mount -o remount,rw /

Add the following lines to /etc/rc.local (before exit cmd)

mkdir /var/run/sshd
chmod 755 /var/run/sshd
service ssh start

How to become root / use sudo?

  • as phablet user simply use "sudo su -"
  • Whenever you're asked for a password, it's phablet.

Various useful commands on Ubuntu touch

dpkg -l     - lists all installed packages
click list  - lists installed click packages
pkcon install xxx   - installs click package
pkcon search name xxx - searches for package containing xxx

Installing Apps not listed in Touch menue

root@ubuntu-phablet:~# pkcon install thunderbird
Installing                    [=========================]         
Waiting in queue              [=========================]         
Starting                      [=========================]         
Loading cache                 [=========================]         
Querying                      [=========================]         
Running                       [=========================]         
Loading cache                 [=========================]         
Installing packages           [                         ] (0%)  
The following packages have to be installed:
 libstartup-notification0-0.12-3ubuntu1.armhf	library for program launch feedback (shared library)
 thunderbird-1:24.2.0+build1-0ubuntu1.armhf	Email, RSS and newsgroup client with integrated spam filter
Proceed with changes? [N/y] y

Installing                    [=========================]         
Waiting in queue              [            ==           ]         The daemon crashed mid-transaction!

Updating Ubuntu Touch

Because Dual Boot is a special set-up the standard update method for Ubuntu currently does not work (see Feature Roadmap).

To update Ubuntu to a newer version, On the android Ubuntu dual boot application, select "Uninstall Ubuntu" from the menu options. Next you will be asked if you want to keep the user data from Ubuntu. If you do not select "Delete user data", the next installation of Ubuntu will preserve your contacts, installed applications, pictures, background settings, ...

Once Ubuntu has been uninstalled, follow the same installation step to download a newer version of Ubuntu.