How To – Install Ubuntu Touch Preview on your Nexus without a Ubuntu machine

May 16, 20130 Comments

Earlier today, Canonical released a Developer Preview edition of Ubuntu Touch for mobile devices. Interested users or developers , who have a compatible Nexus device can download the image for the OS and try it out on their devices. The original installation instructions published at Ubuntu Wiki seemed to indicate that one needed to have a Ubuntu computer to be able to download the OS image and install it to your Nexus, but it turns out that is not the case at all!

As it stands, anyone with a bootloader unlocked compatible device – Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, Nexus 7 or Nexus 10, and a custom recovery like Clockworkmod or TWRP installed on it can go ahead and flash the Ubuntu Touch Developer Preview. Before we get down to how you can flash it, there are a few things you should know about. For starters, as the name suggests, this is a Developer Preview edition, essentially meant for development activity, and not for usage as a daily driver. So unless you have a spare Nexus device lying around, you don’t really want to flash this on your primary phone or tablet which you use daily. You are likely to find bugs as well as broken functions, which may not allow you to use as you are accustomed to in a fully functional Android environment.

Here’s a quick look at what you can expect after flashing this edition, as quoted from the Ubuntu Touch Wiki Page:

  • Shell and core applications
  • Connection to the GSM network (on Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4)
  • Phone calls and SMS (on Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4)
  • Networking via Wifi
  • Functional camera (front and back)
  • Device accessible through the Android Developer Bridge tool (adb)

And even functional apps/features may vary in stability from one device to the other. So definitely not something you want to try out unless you are a developer yourself, or have a spare GNex lying around (Nexus 4 lying around unused is out of the question anyways).

Lets have a look at how you can flash Ubuntu Touch on your device, assuming you have decided to go ahead with this. As mentioned earlier, you need an unlocked bootloader with a custom recovery installed to be able to flash Ubuntu Touch. You can use this excellent Universal Nexus Toolkit to unlock your device bootloader and install a custom recovery. The toolkit works with all Nexus devices since the Nexus S.


 How to Flash Ubuntu Touch Developer Preview on your Nexus

  1. Perform a full backup of your Nexus device.
  2. Download your Device zip & Phablet armhf zip files. Transfer them both to the internal SD card on your Nexus
  3. Power off your device and reboot to CWM recovery (or whatever custom recovery you’ve installed)
  4. Perform a Wipe Data/Factory Reset
  5. Perform a Wipe Cache Partition
  6. Choose Install zip from SD card > Choose zip from SD card and select the Device zip file to flash it
  7. Repeat Step 6 and select the Phablet armhf zip file this time around
  8. Reboot your device and enjoy Ubuntu Touch Developer Preview

If you have a compatible device, and are going to try out Ubuntu Touch, don’t forget to let us know about your experience in comments below.

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