The dream of a smartphone also acting as your PC has mostly been hampered by the unavailability of the desktop software we’ve come to expect from our computers. There have been a couple of attempts to address this limitation, most of them revolving around Linux. Before Samsung came with its Samsung DeX, there was the open source Maru OS project and, after a long period of silence, it has returned to lay down the foundations for future expansion on more Android phones.
Samsung may have taken a page from Maru when it developed DeX. Unlike other Linux on Android implementations, Maru OS required users to connect an external display to the phone before it would launch a Debian GNU/Linux environment. That, however, severely limited what devices were supported, practically only the Nexus 5 and the Nexus 7 (2013) tablet.
Maru version 0.6 “Okinawa” might as well be version 1.0 given how it radically changes the whole setup to be more future-proof. For one, Maru is now based on LineageOS rather than just AOSP, which opens the door to more devices as long as they are supported by the popular Android ROM.
Equally important is the fact that Maru now supports wireless desktop streaming via Chromecast and even Miracast as some users report. This means that the OS no longer requires an external HDMI connection which, again removes the hard limits of what devices Maru can run on.
As proof of these changes, Maru OS welcomes the Nexus 5X as the first new device to be supported after the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 (2013). It might take some time, and some effort from the community, to bring it to other phones. In addition to those changes, Maru OS 0.6 also updates the Debian distribution to the latest version 9 Stretch release, Android to the semi-recent Android 8.1 Oreo, and a whole bunch of performance fixes that should make this custom Android ROM usable and interesting again.
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