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X11 GUI installed on G1

X11 GUI installed on G1

Ghostwalker's photograph provides evidence of the graphical user interface running under Debian on the T-Mobile G1.

Being able to install a basic Debian shell on your Android smartphone is something only geeks could possibly be interested in – but what about a full GUI?

Ghostwalker of Android Fanatic – via Hack a Day – has posted instructions on how to get a fully-fledged version of the X11 graphical environment running on a T-Mobile G1 smartphone.

The hack uses a rather clever technique for obviating the need to write a custom display driver to run the graphics hardware in the device – instead of displaying the GUI directly, Ghostwalker chose to have the desktop environment running in the background hooked up to a VNC server. To view the GUI, you simply launch a local connection via any of the available VNC viewers for the Android OS.

The how-to guide provided on the site explains how to get the LXDE desktop environment installed and running. While using a more desktop-oriented system such as KDE or GNOME is possible, the limited power of the hardware on the G1 means it would probably run like treacle on a cold day.

The move opens the Android platform up still further, allowing for any Linux software to be executed on the device – including, ultimately, games and other packages that rely on a known GUI being installed. Whether you'd want to spend more time in an environment designed for a high-resolution screen and a mouse than in the custom-built smartphone platform originally provided with your handset is questionable – but at least the hack allows for both to be running at the same time, giving you the best of both worlds.

So far the only image of the GUI in action is a rather blurry shot provided by Ghostwalker himself – but the site's forums request other users to perform the hack and provide action shots of their own to encourage others.

Tempted by the thought of a fully-fledged Linux GUI on a smartphone, or is the device too small for anything other than a custom-built user interface? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

12 Comments

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War-Rasta 24th February 2009, 14:43 Quote
Hmm... Sounds interesting...
I need to get my hands on one of these things...
eeevan 24th February 2009, 15:49 Quote
You can't be serious?
Unless I'm not quite understanding the process here, how can you call interacting with an OS over VNC an "installation".

I could do this, with any OS, on any VNC client- on any device. But surely you're already aware of that?
Singularity 24th February 2009, 15:50 Quote
While I do admire the fact that it works, I must say I'm getting bored of these XYZ-OS running on the ZXY phone/computer/potato.
Apart from a demonstration of it bein possible, what's the use? I see no real reason for having this on a phone, or Android on the Eee. A phone is a phone and an OS made for a phone will always be more usefull than a desktop OS/GUI (same goes for mobile phone OS on a computer).
All that said, I'm disappointed nobody made an Android build for my HTC TyTN - get on in you tinkerers!
eeevan 24th February 2009, 15:50 Quote
ack, don't flame me.

I pulled a stupid :(
ghostwalker 24th February 2009, 15:59 Quote
eevan - Many comments on sites that have blogged my tutorial seem to be getting the wrong end of the stick. This is not connecting to a remote desktop on another machine! This is x11 and LXDE Desktop running LOCALLY on the G1 device, the reason I had to connect back to LOCALHOST on the device (rather cleverly, if I do say so myself) is because there are no drivers. This circumnavigates the need for drivers.

Hope that clears it up?
ghostwalker 24th February 2009, 16:00 Quote
eevan - Many comments on sites that have blogged my tutorial seem to be getting the wrong end of the stick. This is not connecting to a remote desktop on another machine! This is x11 and LXDE Desktop running LOCALLY on the G1 device, the reason I had to connect back to LOCALHOST on the device with VNC (rather cleverly, if I do say so myself) is because there are no drivers. This circumnavigates the need for drivers.

Hope that clears it up?
eeevan 24th February 2009, 18:24 Quote
hey ghostwalker,

I quickly realized that after giving the full article a read- my bad.

But wow, that's a really intelligent solution to the inherent problem is lacking video drivers. Kudos to you for the out of the box thinkin!


Well done,
e
LordPyrinc 25th February 2009, 04:30 Quote
In the article the word treacle :| was used. I actually had to look that one up. If anyone else was confused, see definition below from www.webster.com.

"2 chiefly British a: molasses b: a blend of molasses, invert sugar, and corn syrup used as syrup —called also golden syrup"
Neophyte4Life 25th February 2009, 05:11 Quote
Fantastic. Now i can experience the joy of intermittent "localhost:10.0 broken" on my PC and phone. GUI's are for nOObs.
Bauul 25th February 2009, 11:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordPyrinc
In the article the word treacle :| was used. I actually had to look that one up. If anyone else was confused, see definition below from www.webster.com.

"2 chiefly British a: molasses b: a blend of molasses, invert sugar, and corn syrup used as syrup —called also golden syrup"

Not quite, Golden Syrup is the yummy golden coloured stuff you put in desserts, Treacle is it's bitter, stickier, not-even-edible-raw half-brother. It's black, extremely sticky and gloopy, and is often used to relate to something that whilst does move, does so extremely slowly and with difficulty. A common phrase would be "running through treacle", implying moving with great difficulty. I had no idea it was chiefly British. What does everyone else call it?
4Rm0D 26th February 2009, 06:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bauul
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordPyrinc
In the article the word treacle :| was used. I actually had to look that one up. If anyone else was confused, see definition below from www.webster.com.

"2 chiefly British a: molasses b: a blend of molasses, invert sugar, and corn syrup used as syrup —called also golden syrup"

Not quite, Golden Syrup is the yummy golden coloured stuff you put in desserts, Treacle is it's bitter, stickier, not-even-edible-raw half-brother. It's black, extremely sticky and gloopy, and is often used to relate to something that whilst does move, does so extremely slowly and with difficulty. A common phrase would be "running through treacle", implying moving with great difficulty. I had no idea it was chiefly British. What does everyone else call it?


molasses
bilbothebaggins 23rd March 2009, 20:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordPyrinc
In the article the word treacle :| was used. I actually had to look that one up. If anyone else was confused, see definition below from www.webster.com.

"2 chiefly British a: molasses b: a blend of molasses, invert sugar, and corn syrup used as syrup —called also golden syrup"

Ha! Everyone reading Pratchett should know treacle (see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treacle_mining) and, really, everyone should be reading Pratchett :-P
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