Samsung is Bringing Linux Desktop to DeX … What About Windows?

Posted on October 19, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile with 114 Comments

Samsung is Bringing Linux Desktop to DeX

Samsung announced today that it is bringing a Linux desktop environment to its Continuum-like DeX docking solution for the Galaxy S8, S8+ and Note 8.

“Although it’s in trial phase, Linux on Galaxy is our innovative solution to bring the Linux experience on PC to mobile, and then further onto a larger display with Samsung DeX,” an uncredited Samsung blog post reads. “Now developers can code using their mobile on-the-go and seamlessly continue the task on a larger display with Samsung DeX.”

So that rationale for bringing Linux to DeX doesn’t ring true to me: The market of potential customers who are both Linux developers and Samsung enthusiasts must be very small. And that leads me to speculate that this move is, in fact, about something much bigger. Something that starts with “W” and ends in “indows.” Think about it: Windows Mobile has failed. What if Windows 10 (on ARM) came to Galaxy DeX?

So that is interesting. But let’s focus for now on what Samsung is actually doing. Which is … bringing Linux to DeX. For some reason.

If I had to guess—and I do—the issue is that the native DeX environment is semi-useless because it just lets you stretch standard Android apps out to bigger sizes, and interact with them using a keyboard and mouse on a PC display. There’s just not a lot going on there.

So Linux is coming soon? And … Windows? I bet it happens.


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Comments (115)

115 responses to “Samsung is Bringing Linux Desktop to DeX … What About Windows?”

  1. jimchamplin

    Any news on what Linux desktop? Gnome 3? Cinnamon? KDE? Did they even say?

  2. nbates66

    So, how well will security patches for this Linux system be implemented? :)

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to nbates66:

      Since it seems from other comments that many different distributions could be installed, it'd be the distribution updating its own packages. For those using Debian packages, updating should be less painless than for Windows PCs. OTOH, if the Linux subsystem would share the Android kernel, it wouldn't update the kernel.

  3. Jorge Garcia

    Samsung will eventually make stand-alone DeX computers. IMO Samsung has to take DeX and run with it. It is too refined and USEFUL to be just a sideshow gimmick to help sell Galaxy Phones. If they can make it run Linux software (cleanly...hiding away all the SUDO and terminal crap), it could be almost perfect for many folks. DeX is the kind of desktop experience 95% of people (and 100% of people under 25) want in their home. Smartphones and tablets are nice, but sometimes sitting at a chair with a mouse and keyboard is nice too. You can get way more done in a comfortable posture. Samsung wants to make sure all the possible computing options are available to the consumer, so I'm sure DeX is going to become a thing. Google should follow suit, and MS should too...although, as usual, even though MS was first out of the gate with an idea, by the time they make a desktop OS that "normal" people actually want in 2017, it'll be too late.

    • skane2600

      In reply to JG1170:

      Orders of magnitude more "normal" people use Windows than do savvy tech people. If Samsung makes stand-alone DeX computers their relationship to the overall desktop market will be about the same as the Essential Phone's relationship to the smartphone market.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to JG1170:

      . . . even though MS was first out of the gate with an idea . . .

      If only. There were working versions of Ubuntu for Android before Windows 8 reached the market.

      • Jorge Garcia

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        OK, the first credible and almost mainstream solution out of the gate.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to JG1170:

          I'll give your mainstream, but you'd have to show me that there were 1 million Windows phones in use at the same time capable of running Continuum before I'd give you credible.

          • Jorge Garcia

            In reply to hrlngrv:

            Sorry, everyone thins I was talking about continuum but I was actually talking about RT in that statement I made. To me, the "continuum" aspect of DeX (its current nature of being tied to a smartphone) is irrelevant and a just a distraction from the big picture...DeX is destined to become one of several credible desktop alternatives to full Windows, so in that sense, to me, DeX will morph into Samsung's take on Windows RT (Microsoft's own simpler, safer alternative to full Windows). Microsoft was first to realize that a dumbed-down, safer, simpler Desktop interface/platform was needed, but they botched it in so many ways, that they are now back at square one. Windows 10 S is nowhere near the right answer either. By the time they realize what the right answer is (was), it'll be to late for them once again. Google, Apple and others (including Samsung) will own the market.

            • hrlngrv

              In reply to JG1170:

              . . . Microsoft was first to realize that a dumbed-down, safer, simpler Desktop interface/platform was needed . . .

              Pity MSFT also had to find out the hard way that there wasn't much of a market for it. Did you ever happen to read how much MSFT lost on its Surface and Surface 2 tablets? By fall 2013 the lack of Windows RT tablets from any OEMs aside from Nokia (whose 2520 was arguably better than Surface or Surface 2)?

              • offTheRecord

                In reply to hrlngrv:

                My sense is that Windows RT was as much a marketing failure as anything else. It could have been the heart of a true "clean break" from Windows "proper" and could have allowed them to build a replacement OS from the ground up, something more modern and "future-proof" (and maybe even eventually a viable alternative to / replacement for Windows).

                Instead, they called it "Windows" RT (and who knew or cared what RT stood for?), which created the expectation that users would be able to do everything with Win RT devices that they could do on their PCs -- and at lower cost. Then, they used misleading marketing and sales practices that failed to adequately highlight the differences between Windows and Windows RT, which created further confusion. Finally, they made "real" Windows "free" on tablets and small PCs. Once folks were burned and learned from bad experience the difference between the two, why would anyone settle for Win RT when full Windows was available on the same mobile devices at comparable prices?

                I may be completely off-base, but I think that was primarily a marketing mistake. At a minimum, it should have been called something other than "Windows" RT. Now, it still may have failed no matter what they called it, but IMO Microsoft created a huge set of additional problems by naming it (and marketing it as) "Windows" -- problems that are still impacting them today.

                • hrlngrv

                  In reply to offTheRecord:

                  . . . a replacement OS from the ground up . . .

                  You mean a replacement OS starting off with no application software past what what bundled with the replacement OS? This was the signal failure: failing to recognize that damn few buy computing devices for the OS; people buy computing devices for the application software or new and different capabilities. Maybe MSFT could have managed to generate an entirely new software environment, and they sure wanted to, but with Metro/Modern/WinRT API? There was so little chance of that happening that even MSFT knew it was absurd, and that's why Windows RT shipped with bundled Office RT, desktop software implicitly proving that the desktop was where the valuable application software remained, and that MSFT wasn't going to let any other developers into the only initially valuable area Windows RT had.

                  Windows RT represents a much broader collection of mistakes. It was a multidepartment, multifunctional cluster f*** on MSFT scale.

                • Jorge Garcia

                  In reply to hrlngrv:

                  RT was the right move, but it was too early, and unfortunately looked, felt, and worked too much like real Windows. calling it "Windows" was what truly made it DOA. They should have called it "Surface OS" and made it something that looked and felt at home on a touch tablet and even a phablet. That would have been a clean break fro Win32. But without windows mobile around to compliment it and draw developers, it probably would have withered on the vine as well.

                • hrlngrv

                  In reply to JG1170:

                  RT was the right move . . .

                  We disagree on that. Perhaps for leisure tablets it might have been, but MSFT fubarred it by bundling Office RT and selling the keyboard covers. Once the marketing included could be used like a PC, RT was doomed because it couldn't run any & all desktop PC software, and it's desktop PC software most people want to use then using a PC.

                  So RT perhaps could have been a future, but NOT for anything which could have been used like a PC. It would have had to be used to do other things which PCs did poorly. And it most definitely should not have had Windows in its name. We agree on that. However, I figure tablets and phones running Surface OS would have failed every bit as entirely as tablets and phones running Windows RT/Phone/Mobile.

            • skane2600

              In reply to JG1170:

              "Microsoft was first to realize that a dumbed-down, safer, simpler Desktop interface/platform was needed"

              I don't know if that was MS's motivation with RT, but so far the market hasn't shown any great interest in a "dumbed-down, safer, simpler Desktop interface/platform ". Chromebooks are the closest to the characteristics you describe but still have only a tiny share of the market. The Chromebook market is primarily primary and secondary education where the need for a "locked-down" device is more attractive than it has been for the market in general.

  4. skane2600

    I think all of these schemes regardless of what OS is targeted are pointless. Not a suitable experience on a phone and (at best) just a more expensive way to run on a monitor through a docking station.

  5. VancouverNinja

    This feels like Samsung is worried about desktop capabilities off of the phone. Question is why? I think it might be due to the whole industry being very aware that MS is working on the "next big thing" for a mobile device that could very well have cellular capabilities. I am not saying MS will have the "next big thing" but if you were trying to vision out how MS might get the upper hand on you - this might be a big area Samsung is worried about. In my books Linux just won't do it for most of the world that already uses PCs and thus without it being Windows it is a bad play on their part.

  6. curtisspendlove

    I think a missed point is just developers in general. Most developers can use a Linux environment. Most System Admins or DevOps individuals can as well. That said, as much as I’d love a single device that can be everything for me, I’m unsure that the majority of people would use a device in this manor. But if it is an add-on for those that want it, it is a win for everyone.

  7. alanweiss

    I just can't imagine that there's enough of a market for a Linux initiative like this to be successful. They must know something I don't.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to alanweiss:

      Possible Samsung just wants to work out the technology first without the additional expense of Windows licenses. I figure a goodly portion of the people who'd be willing to buy a DeX themselves already use Linux from time to time on at least one of the many PCs they have.

  8. toshdellapenna

    If the 8 series galaxies ever gets a native win10 rom then this would be even better. Heard something about it back when the s8/8+ came out. Without native windows I can't even consider it. Although I'm sure Samsung will make continuum more useful. Like ya know, having actual windows on the desktop lol.

  9. Bogdan Verbenets

    So you suppose that Windows 10 over DeX will understand which Android apps are installed on the phone and somehow will launch their Windows equivalents? Obviously, not.

    Or maybe Android apps in emulation? Why didn't MS do it on Windows Phone then?

    So why would anyone want a Windows instance which is not connected to your phone experience? The Windows-on-a-stick devices which do exactly that already exist.

  10. longhorn

    Powerful CPU + workload + battery in close proximity = Note 7 explosiveness!

  11. lilmoe

    I really like Windows. It's my development environment, my work, my life. I was such a fanboy of UWP and blindly defended it. I woke up.

    Let's bet honest, and more open minded here. Which non-dependent-pro wants or even needs Windows when they can do the same task using the same, or even more familiar, software? Office? It's already available on DeX. Browser? Samsung already has the best browser one Android, that also runs even better one DeX. Cortana? I don't know.

    This Linux move, I believe, is about:

    1) A developer community that is largely ignored by the consumer space.

    2) Rich UI that Microsoft miserably failed at with UWP.

    3) Getting the heck away from Google, who's business model is all about centralised data collection and enhanced services using that data, and has absolutely nothing to do with vertical, hardware integration and hardware acceleration that only Apple and Samsung can pull off, and is absolutely essential to make something like DeX tick using hardware not nearly as powerful as x86, yet most probably better using a fraction of the power.

    Points 2 and 3, IMHO, are what Windows on ARM is all about, except Samsung and Apple have proven time, and time again, that they know more about the consumer space than Microsoft ever did. Samsung has a much, MUCH, better chance in convincing consumers that DeX in its current, or future, iteration is a viable alternative.

    Microsoft, Google, and Apple should be very wary of this. DeX is a HUGE threat. Especially, if Samsung can pull off an entirely separate, and unified desktop platform out of it. It can single handedly provide and support tree necessary affordable hardware that would make it run just as smoothly, and effortlessly as iOS, except in a richer, more feature full manner.

    We've seen how Microsoft has failed at this, and I believe their main issue was that Google's services were absent outside the browser in all their ARM attempts, in addition to disoriented marketing. Full, partially virtualized, full Windows is still questionable in terms of performance or market appeal at all. Apple still refuses to make iOS a more usable/productive platform, and aren't interested in selling cheaper hardware. Google has lots of limitations in ChromeOS and supporting Android apps was the only way to get Office, and other productivity and familiar apps on the OS, but still lack the rich UI appeal of PCs.

    Here's the kick, Samsung doesn't have any of these issues. If they manage to make their Linux implementation a viable consumer oriented platform, which I believe they will (with the help of their hardware expertise and a massive Linux community), then we'll have a serious contender here. They are the most qualified to pull this off. This is desktop Linux's golden chance to break into the consumer market.

    • obarthelemy

      In reply to lilmoe:

      But, what need does Linux on DeX meet ? Are there Linux apps with a significant userbase/demand and no equivalent on Android (vi or EMACS ;-p ) ? OS features (apt-get, everyone loves it amirite ;-p) ? Why pay $100 for a dumb proprietary dock for a $800 phone when that same $100 gets you a full, desktop-optimized, app-rich full win10/x86 PC ?

      • lilmoe

        In reply to obarthelemy:

        I'm looking at the bigger picture. A $100 docking station is relatively cheap for someone already owning the latest galaxy. This is a good starter to get DeX out in the wild.

        This is my own assumption, of course, but I believe the docking station is a precursor to something bigger; a separate laptop/ 2in1 device running exclusively on "DeX OS" which has a shared kernel that runs native Linux and Android apps when it's "ready".

        At first, Samsung wouldn't need the developer community to build and finalize the platform. They also need to build the necessary development environment and tools. Developers would start getting interested when a platform like that starts gaining traction.

        The threat is easily observable because there has NEVER been any equivalent effort from a consumer oriented corporation (with relatively great user perception), with the same hardware and marketing power to push desktop Linux to the masses.

        The software platform, I believe, has been in the works for a while with the native Samsung apps on Touchwiz, which are arguably better than their Google counterparts. Bixby is also pretty darn powerful in a functional sense and only lacks bigger data which will improve naturally with time.

        This is BIG. Much, MUCH bigger than Microsoft's support for Linux on Windows 10, or even Windows on ARM. Samsung is well known to pull things off despite the odds. They don't even need to worry about Google sabotaging their attempts, as is the case with Android.

        Sure, this has to be reevaluated with time. But if they succeed, developers will have a great familiar alternative to a much larger consumer market, away from the shackles of Google and Microsoft, or even Apple. This also depends on Samsung's attitude towards this, and not repeating the mistakes of the aforementioned 3.

    • skane2600

      In reply to lilmoe:

      "Office? It's already available on DeX."

      The full version of MS Office doesn't run on Android.

      "A developer community that is largely ignored by the consumer space"

      Why should a developer community care about using tools in the consumer space, particularly in the case of Linux which really isn't a consumer space product?

      "Rich UI"

      Another undefined generality like "modern" and "sleek".

      "DeX is a HUGE threat."

      Dex's current market share makes Windows Phone look like a sales winner. It's an accessory to a couple of high-end smartphones by one smartphone maker. Let's evaluate again when its usage gets above the noise level.

      "If they manage to make their Linux implementation a viable consumer oriented platform, which I believe they will (with the help of their hardware expertise and a massive Linux community), then we'll have a serious contender here. They are the most qualified to pull this off. This is desktop Linux's golden chance to break into the consumer market."

      Here's the problem: The "massive Linux community" isn't interested in creating a specific vendor's implementation as the "winner". If they did, they would have done it long ago. Samsung is a decent company but they might as well be Jon Snow when it comes to creating a desktop OS.

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  13. Cihilt

    I cringe everything I need to use Windows.

    Windows is a piece of junk , everyone that uses Linux knows this.

    The solution posted here by Samsung can already be done by buying a 10 cable from eBay. What is so special about this Dex?

    • illuminated

      In reply to Cihilt:

      I cringe every time I have to use knife.

      Knife is a piece of junk. Everyone that uses scissors knows this.

      Different tools? No?

    • longhorn

      In reply to Cihilt:

      While I often criticize Microsoft these days and wouldn't feel comfortable using Windows 10, the bitter truth is that your beloved Linux has also become a piece of junk. Linux used to have excellent uptimes, now it crashes or misbehaves and forces you to reboot just as often as Windows 10. I know there are still a few functional Linux distros, but if you go mainstream Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora you will suffer and Google will quickly become your best friend if it isn't already (refering to the search engine here).

      • offTheRecord

        In reply to longhorn:

        We've had just the opposite experience. We switched most of our devices to Linux from Windows soon after Windows 10 was released. We have multiple devices (both high-end and low-end) running Lubuntu and Xubuntu and have found them to be highly reliable in terms of uptime, much more so than Windows ever was for us.

        • longhorn

          In reply to offTheRecord:

          Do you use Ethernet or WiFi?. I tried Kubuntu 17.10 yesterday and lost Ethernet connection almost immediately. I don't want to troubleshoot Ethernet because it should just work. I have other distros on this machine where Ethernet is flawless.

          I'm happy you had good luck with Lubuntu and Xubuntu. I can't say I trust the tech they have been built with. I don't want to be too negative. Canonical has delivered Ubuntu free of charge for 13 years now. Sadly I think the quality was better five years ago. Just like Windows 10 - in Linux-land "change" is the only constant.

          • offTheRecord

            In reply to longhorn:

            Both Ethernet and WiFi, but most are wired. We run VPN software and occasionally that craps out (just like on Windows), but we haven't noticed any consistent issues with networking.

            I realize nothing's perfect and any update has the potential to bring things to a halt, but we've been pleased with the reliability relative to Windows 10 so far.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to longhorn:

        Which distribution is giving you these problems?

        Linux Mint 18.2 MATE has a few warts, and bad sectors in an external drive caused Linux Mint 18.1 to crash so bad a few times I had to use the power button to power off and restart, but it wasn't frequent, and it was traceable to flaky hardware. I haven't had a crash since I replaced that drive.

        What are your personal poor experiences?

        • longhorn

          In reply to hrlngrv:

          Off the top of my head:

          Debian/Ubuntu-based distros (Linux Mint slightly better but has problems of its own):

          Systemd causes race conditions during boot – programs/services fail to load

          Systemd hangs for 90 sec during shut-down “if needed”

          Ethernet connection is flaky – sometimes it’s lost

          Ubuntu GUI updater is bad quality – also doesn’t register with Synaptic history log

          Pulseaudio is causing major latency – Skype is sometimes unusable

          (Wayland, Gnome 3)


          Wayland and all of its problems – lack of functionality

          Gnome 3 – stupid UI – stupid scaling

          • hrlngrv

            In reply to longhorn:

            Linux Mint for the last several versions has used systemd. I haven't had these problems, but my experience is anecdotal. I web searched for the race condition, and the top hits appear related to LVM. I don't use LVM, so that may be why I haven't had this issue.

            I use ethernet with my home office PC (a mini PC with no wireless capabilities), and I haven't had any issues. Again anecdotal.

            As for scaling, Qt works better than Gtk, and while I don't like it/don't use it, KDE uses Qt for nearly everything, so handles scaling better than all the other desktop environments.

    • skane2600

      In reply to Cihilt:

      "Windows is a piece of junk , everyone that uses Linux knows this."

      While it's easy to believe that most people that chose desktop Linux prefer it over the OS's they didn't choose, saying "everyone" is bit bold. In any case, "everyone" in this context is still a very small percentage of computer users.

  14. jrswarr

    Frankly - I think that this will get as much traction as Continuum did on Windows. A handheld device is never going to be as powerful as a laptop or desktop PC - period. With Apple and Microsoft both trying to integrate "Pick up where you left off" into their devices - a simple swipe will move whatever you are working on from one device to another. With cloud compute devices you may not even know for sure where your program is running.

    No - making a device that does everything is not a good idea - jack-of-all-trades but master of none. The future is in how seamlessly our devices can connect to each other. IoT isn't going to just be for little home automation baubles - it will eventually tie all our stuff together. (and hopefully very securely)

  15. navarac

    A lot of Android apps don't expand to screen size using Dex at the moment.

  16. Marius Muntean

    Ain't gonna happen for windows on this one...Samsung does not need a windows on arm. Even they must have seen the pathetic way MS treats their projects and their customers so why should Samsung trust MS?

  17. nbplopes

    For some reason I see people very interested in this vision. But can one person talk me through the disadvantages, advantages and something between both in practice. All I read is, “look this is really cool, you dock your phone here and suddently it becomes a PC. No need to carry your PC around”. But this is only one use case, only one. What is the negative and positive impact of this on the other use cases right now , providing the experience was robust enough?

    Look around at the multiple work surfaces in your kitchen.

    Just asking questions.

    PS: For instance I have a SP3 a year and a half ago the best hybrid in town. I mostly used as a PC not a tablet even in times were the tablet experienc made much more sense. This means if the developers followed statistics probably they would not invest in innovation in touch mode so on and so forth. In the beginning of this year I came back to use a traditional laptop and a tablet. Funny enough i use the tablet now in the spaces where it makes more sense.

    There is an intrinsic benefit in having multiples working spaces available in parallel, side by side, no switching.

    As we think about this the seamless integration of multiple work surfaces working in parallel look like it is a far more organic approach. We can see that for instance in devices such as Chromecast. How far can we take this idea to other contexts as we digitalize everything ... that looks far more exciting to me.

  18. Tony Barrett

    Maybe Samsung are making a statement that you don't actually need Windows. It's not a requirement anymore, especially with Microsoft's draconian control and patching requirements. Windows is too heavy-weight and too locked into Microsoft's new 'way' of doing things (inc data collection etc)

    Brave move by Samsung, but maybe, just maybe, Linux's time is coming.

  19. obarthelemy

    Also, the DeX dock is about as expensive as an Atom Win10 USB-PC... Huawei's solution (a simple cable) is a lot cheaper and more elegant, hoepfully that one will catch on.

  20. Bats

    What about Windows? Doubt it.

    I would imagine that it would be absolutely doubtful that Samsung would work to put Windows on DeX, unless they have a deal with Microsoft to do it. We are talking about licenses and'll just get messy. LOL...not worth it.

    Linux is easier, because it's free, open source, and Samsung havs a lot of software engineers and developers to customize the OS to fit Samsung's needs.

    It's also worth nothing that Paul Thurrott does not know Samsung and their mobile business. Samsung is not about working with companies, they are about beating them. If Samsung had their way, they would break free from Android and use nothing but their Tizen OS. They never market their Galaxy phones as Android, but rather a product by itself to go up against Apple. 

    Furthermore, like I have been saying for years....Windows is only an operating system. What benefit can one get for putting it on a phone and thus the desktop? No one cares about the operating system. 

    Microsoft should be very very scared of Samsung here. We are talking about another invastion to the desktop space in addition to ChromeOS. Not just that, but with Samsung highly promoting Bixby, I can see where Samsung is going here. 

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Bats:

      . . . No one cares about the operating system. . . .

      Not quite in 2 ways. People who make their living covering MSFT and Windows, especially from a consumer perspective, care a lot about that OS. Second, until all application software runs under all OSes, the OS determines the software choice.

      The second may be problematic for MSFT. There are a lot of good development environments under Linux, and the rise of WSL implies there are a lot of developers who use Windows but don't use Visual Studio. If Linux for DeX is really meant for developers, maybe Samsung does actually know what it's doing.

      However, I figure there's a simpler answer for Linux for DeX: Linux is small enough and cheap enough while Windows is huge and costly.

      • A_lurker

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        Depending on your needs the OS may be totally irrelevant. You are correct that the OS is a short hand to describe the ecosystem and available software. However, whether you need application X that runs only in Windows or can you use application Y that runs under Linux, Mac, and Windows for say video editing depends on your requirements versus what X & Y can do.

      • offTheRecord

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        "There are a lot of good development environments under Linux"

        "Linux is small enough and cheap enough"

        I think these are two key reasons this could work, where Continuum and WinRT clearly didn't.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to offTheRecord:

          In a nutshell, if Continuum could only run UWP apps and bundled desktop software (Notepad etc), then there may be lots more Linux software than Continuum-capable MSFT Store software. Add Android apps, and I don't see how anything other than full desktop Windows with its 10GB storage requirement (just for bundled software) could compete.

          • BoItmanLives

            In reply to hrlngrv:

            Dude, give the Continuum fantasy a rest, this isn't 2015 anymore. Its over.

          • offTheRecord

            In reply to hrlngrv:

            Yes, that's sort of my point. Linux is a full-on OS that already runs on pretty much everything without being "dumbed down" like WinRT or Continuum. Heck, for grins we even set up full Python development environments and Jupyter servers on Raspberry Pis (with a pinch of MongoDB thrown in for extra kicks). Granted, we're not talking supercomputers, here (although, we do also have some RPi clusters running Docker Swarm and Hadoop), but you can basically do the same "real" work on these tiny devices that we do on our "normal" Lintel PCs (just not as fast).

            Now, I don't personally see myself giving up the laptop form factor for normal mobile use, but I can definitely see Linux on Galaxy being successful where Continuum and WinRT were not.

            • skane2600

              In reply to offTheRecord:

              These days "runs on pretty much everything" mostly consists of x86/X64 or ARM. But from a user's perspective the portability of a kernel isn't the only consideration, it's the portability of the entire OS and the applications you want to use.

              • offTheRecord

                In reply to skane2600:

                I definitely agree about the applications. I personally could go 100% Linux (or possibly even Chrome OS) both at work and at home except for one set of software I use for goofing off with electronic music. Most of the applications I use for music are Windows/Mac-only, and I haven't found any acceptably comparable Linux software.

      • skane2600

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        The mere existence of WSL doesn't imply that "there are a lot of developers who use Windows but don't use Visual Studio". There are many different questions that would need to be asked about how WSL is used or not used to understand what's happening, but all of the answers require hard numbers as input which we don't have.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to skane2600:

          You really believe WSL isn't MSFT responding to a perceived need? I figure MSFT was noticing there were a significant (could be less than 1% of all PCs in use and still be significant) number of Windows PC running Linux VMs, cygwin, GNUWIN32, or some other POSIX subsystem to do things Windows, not even with Powershell, couldn't do. I also figure this reflects MSFT wanting to show people deciding between Azure and AWS just how serious MSFT is about interoperability.

          • William Kempf

            In reply to hrlngrv:

            They've stated why WSL. It was for developers, specifically Web developers, to have access to tools "everyone" was using, since Web developers had mostly moved off of Windows and onto Mac/Linux (in that order). That said, however, you seem to imply with this post that somehow Windows is inferior and unable to do things ("even with PowerShell") that you can do on Linux, which is simply wrong. Every single one of those tools could have been ported, or equivalents created, and run on Windows proper. However, since those tools already existed and were the specific tools used by those developers, WSL made more sense.

            • hrlngrv

              In reply to William_Kempf:

              Note that I included GNUWIN32 in my previous comment, and GNUWIN32 is POSIX tools compiled directly for Windows, even using drive letters with colons. I've also used U/Win and the MKS tools over the past few decades. I know the alternatives.

              Without X Windows, all the tools available through WSL were already available either through GNUWIN32 supplemented with Windows versions of Python, Perl, Ruby, etc, or via cygwin, or through VMs. All of these were used already pre-WSL.

              So why WSL? My cynical tendencies force me to suspect that MSFT had seen a slow trickle of developers from GNUWIN32/cygwin/etc to Linux VMs to abandoning Windows and moving to Linux as host OS. IOW, WSL exists to maintain the Windows license revenue stream even from people who really don't need to run Windows.

              Tangent: MS-DOS then Windows had 3 decades to produce alternatives to the POSIX toolset. Never happened. Either MS-DOS and Windows developers aren't as gifted in this respect as Unix/BSD/Linux developers, or are lazier, or just don't see the point. Equivalents created already had ample opportunity, yet nothing appeared, and only the blindly faithful would believe there's any chance it'd happen in the forseeable future.

              • William Kempf

                In reply to hrlngrv:

                Cygwin, et. al., are hacks that only mostly work. Getting the necessary developer tools setup and running under them is non-trivial, and in the end only "mostly works". With WSL it's not "mostly works"... it *IS* Linux on Windows.

                The cynical thoughts you have are understandable on the surface, but don't really fit reality. This isn't "embrace and extend", because it's (your choice of) an actual Linux distro running on Windows. Yes, WSL is there to keep some developers on Windows, but it's not a "lock in" play.

                On your tangent... it depends on what you mean by POSIX. If you're just talking about (one of the many) shells, in the early days the idea behind Windows was that you wouldn't need/want a command shell. Windows was a GUI based OS. In later years they did address the command stuff with PowerShell, every bit as powerful and unique in the use of object streams instead of text streams. Now, if you're not talking about the command shell, but truly talking about what POSIX is, the actual OS underpinnings like file handles, streams, etc., Windows has been as rich and powerful as any POSIX system since the introduction of NT. In the end, POSIX has maybe won, at least for developers and sysadmins, and I'd argue that's largely BECAUSE Windows neglected the command shell for so long, but this was a philosophical decision that can still be (somewhat) debated.

                • hrlngrv

                  In reply to William_Kempf:

                  . . . the idea behind Windows was that you wouldn't need/want a command shell. . .

                  Then it sure took MSFT a long time to realize they made a mistake in that respect.

                  MSFT did make Powershell, which would imply that at some point even MSFT under Ballmer tacitly admitted that some things were just more efficiently done using a command line. Shame it took MSFT the better part of a decade to think about bringing Powershell to Linux, though perhaps it should be taken as significant that no Linux developers tried porting Powershell to Linux. I figure the reason there is that Powershell is JUST SO WORDY. Terseness doesn't seem to be part of MSFT's aesthetic.

                  Did MSFT include underlying support for POSIX since Windows NT 3.5 at least? Absolutely. It's just that MSFT itself didn't provide any tools to use that capability. Maybe because it's MSFT truly believed such tools weren't necessary, but I still figure it's more likely MSFT didn't want to give any support to other OSes no matter how oblique and peripheral.

              • skane2600

                In reply to hrlngrv:

                "WSL exists to maintain the Windows license revenue stream even from people who really don't need to run Windows."

                That would be somewhat irrational behavior on people's part to buy an OS they don't need particularly people who want to use Linux tools when they are almost all tech-savvy. I think the idea that people were abandoning Windows just because it didn't support Linux tools is just pure speculation.

                • hrlngrv

                  In reply to skane2600:

                  Perhaps you could list any capabilities WSL provides which Linux as host OS wouldn't. Running Windows EXEs from WSL would be about it, though FWIW cygwin, GNUWIN32 and the other POSIX toolsets for Windows over the years have been able to do that too.

                  However, you're absolutely right that I'm just speculating. As I have no access to any internal MSFT info, that's all I could do. What do you believe was MSFT's reason for coming up with WSL? Garage project gone wild?

                • skane2600

                  In reply to hrlngrv:

                  I would hardly expect WSL's capabilities to be a superset of Linux as host OS.

                  I would speculate that the younger devs at MS were indoctrinated (err educated) with the open source philosophy and the praise of Linux in college. In other words, they may have just wanted to use the same tools as the "cool kids". They work at MS, but do they really embrace Windows? Who knows?

                • hrlngrv

                  In reply to skane2600:

                  So Garage project gone wild.

                • skane2600

                  In reply to hrlngrv:

                  Your characterization, not mine. I'd call the Wix installer a Garage project gone wild.

                • hrlngrv

                  In reply to skane2600:

                  It's one thing for younger MSFT developers coming up with WSL for internal use. It's another thing entirely to make it an optional subsystem for all Windows 10 users. The latter required some senior management sign-off. Care to explain that?

          • skane2600

            In reply to hrlngrv:

            "You really believe WSL isn't MSFT responding to a perceived need?"

            It's hard to determine MS's motivations. I'm not sure how MS would know what percentage of Windows PCs were using these tools. One could speculate that MS's emphasis on HTML for creating Metro apps was a response to a perceived need but look at how that turned out. I would imagine that people who were deciding between Azure and AWS were savvy enough to realize that the availability of a Linux subsystem on Windows clients wasn't relevant to Azure capabilities.

    • obarthelemy

      In reply to Bats:

      But what about apps ? What apps does Linux apps have that a) Android doesn't and b) a significant number of users want ?

  21. John Noonan

    I really don't understand what Paul is suggesting here. So Windows would exist on another partition and be launched from the already Linux based Android? Or would Windows run in a Virtual Machine running on top of Linux? It just doesn't make sense why Samsung would do this.

    • JackWang

      In reply to John_Noonan:

      Windows on Arm, native boot with performance of a fanless Core M. Except it only runs on Snapdragon 835, not Samsung's slightly more powerful Exynos. The Galaxy S8 uses either SOC depending on market. The main issue with choosing Windows is how open it can be to the point of Samsung losing control of the device to serve Microsoft's purpose (the reset Windows option to remove all vendor tweaks and mods), and how locked down it has become (removal of ReFS from some SKUs and preinstalled UWP apps that cannot be uninstalled or be told not to install itself). So I guess Samsung WILL make a Windows SKU of the S8, but only to compete and serve as the goal-post for their own Android-Linux SKU to beat, just like its relationship with the Snapdragon. Although Samsung's announcement says you can use any distro, I do hope they create a viable, polished default ecosystem based on something light like xfce.

      Given the numerous customer relations suicides Microsoft is committing recently, I'm glad Samsung is there to make Linux more accessible and relevant to more people, even if it's just a side benefit to selling more S8's.

      • Marius Muntean

        In reply to JackWang:

        Yep, Samsung knows very well that when concerning consumer stuff, Microsoft is not to be trusted ever knowing also their proven history of monumental failures and pathetic attitude.

      • JackWang

        In reply to JackWang:

        Since Samsung has a track record of "stealing from Apple" but also make meaningful innovations no other can pull off or the imagination, scale, and daringness to trying, I'll also predict that the DeX dock will one day become a co-processing unit with Exynos inside that can render videos, compile code, mine coins, and such, which can continue to run on its own and be accessed via remote desktop when you are away. Microsoft would probably do the world a favor if they paid Samsung to do this for Windows, since their execution is so poor.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to John_Noonan:

      Maybe he believes something like Parallels on Macs would be possible for Windows under Android.

  22. Alexander Rothacker

    Motorola had this on their Atrix and Atrix 2 phones long ago. Besides the novelty factor it was IMHO useless, because of Linux.

  23. Elindalyne

    That would be a tricky bit of engineering imo...

    Under the covers Android based on Linux, so it's much easier for them to install more packages and expose them to the user.

    Based upon what I know about WSL and WoA(or WoW) they'd really have to tackle the issue from the other direction from what is currently publicly known. WSL has a layer that translates linux kernel calls to NT kernel calls. They'd basically have to do that in reverse.

    That being said, Microsoft certainly has the expertise to get this done. They've already ported .Net to Linux with .Net Native and I know for a fact that many Redmond devs are writing more linux code than windows code these days.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Elindalyne:

      I don't use Macs and don't pay much attention to them, but wouldn't something like Parallels provide what'd be needed for Windows to run under Android? That said, if the Linux desktop were sharing the Android kernel, like crouton for Chrome OS, that'd use a lot fewer system resources than needing to run both Android and Windows kernels as well as an intermediation layer. It also raises the question whether Windows would need an NTFS partition or would have to come with drivers to handle non-MSFT file systems.

  24. adamcorbally

    I've been playing with phoenix os an android desktop replacement for the most part it's terrible,Android apps scale terribly, still there is something there

  25. jholso

    I have the DEX dock at work as a secondary computer on a separate network, working in banking we have our internal network very locked down. It works great for what I use it for, Internet browsing, responding to some personal emails, watching youtube videos. Also since we run a citrix environment, I have found it useful to launch some of my windows environment applications through citrix to run on there when I don't want to keep it on my main 4 screens just to monitor an automated job process.

    If Windows were to come to DEX though, I would setup another one of these docks at my house and only pull out my laptop when absolutely needed.

  26. Mark from CO


    Seems to me that Samsung is creating its own OS platform (Android-based though it be) that would compete with Apple and Google. Its strategy may be a take-off on Continuum. But if Samsung is trying to create its own platform for its hardware and devices, why in the world would it include Windows? This DeX step, following its own forking of Android, would be a logical follow-on if it where trying to create its own platform. Bixby also makes more sense from this perspective as well.

    You say its customer base 'must be very small.' It would be nice if you put some numbers to that assertion. One could argue that as one of the top phone manufacturers, Samsung's customer base is not small, but quite sizeable. tells me that Samsung is selling around 80M phones a quarter. This number is about the same as PC sales. This, indeed, is a lot of customers! And with their fork of Android, Samsung is trying to make these Samsung customers, not Android customers. This customer base is a lot, lot more than what Microsoft will have if they every try to re-enter the mobile space with a non-phone phone device.

    Mark from CO

    • shameermulji

      In reply to Mark from CO:

      Great point, and agree. In the Android world, Samsung and Huawei are the only two device makers with any semblence of brand cachet. There's Google Pixel as well but those devices don't sell anywhere near on the scale of the other two major brands.

      " And that leads me to speculate that this move is, in fact, about something much bigger. Something that starts with “W” and ends in “indows.” Think about it: Windows Mobile has failed. What if Windows 10 (on ARM) came to Galaxy DeX?"

      This is what MS' Surface team should be working on => a mobile / phone device showcasing the power of Windows on ARM. Why leave it to someone else?

  27. obarthelemy

    Android already is running on Linux, so running an Linux shell on DeX must be rather easy. Motorola was doing it 7 years ago with the Atrix.

    Supporting Windows would require supporting a whole new OS, I'm not even sure Win10 supports Samsung's Exynos SoCs (those power about half of Samsung S and Note lines, depending on country), let alone the rest of the hardware (sensors, pen...). Since Win10/Arm has rather fewer and worse apps the Android, I don't see the point; and x86 emulation to get Win10/x86 apps is slated to by Qualcomm-only, I don't think Samsung will renounce Exynos nor fragment their userbase that way.

  28. maethorechannen

    Linux on Android is trivial, as it's already running Linux (it's been possible to run a Debian userland for quite a while now). Windows would require a VM (unless Microsoft create their own WINE like environment).

  29. wunderbar

    I have a 3rd party dock that supports Dex with My Galaxy S8+, and I actually like it quite a bit, but with one serious caveat: it's basically useless because it it a desktop dock, and not a laptop shell type device. In the current state it's just like the continuum desktop dock in that you have to have a keyboard, mouse, and monitor to make it work, and that just isn't a super common use case. If I'm sitting down at a desk with a keyboard, mouse, and monitor, I want a computer. But I'd absolutely love to plug the thing into a laptop shell and use it that way when I'm mobile.

    If Samsung were to put out a laptop shell where it's a screen, keyboard, trackpad, and battery, similar to what HP did with the laptop shell for the Elite X3, I'd buy it tomorrow.

  30. dontbe evil

    How put windows in an android phone??? They should make a windows phone first

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to dontbe_evil:

      They? Samsung isn't going to waste money making Windows phones, and neither is MSFT. Who else?

      But I agree that the possibility of Windows running on phones even when docked died when MSFT closed down its own phone manufacturing. If MSFT can't figure out how to do it, how could/why would anyone else?

      • dontbe evil

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        I was talking just from a technical point of view


        windows phone doesn't mean windows phone/mobile os ... could be also a windows on ARM phone, in theory

        • skane2600

          In reply to dontbe_evil:

          The problem with a Windows on ARM phone is that it would still be a small screen device that isn't suitable for running desktop programs. The problem with such a phone with a Continuum-like capability is that it's a tethered approach that requires more peripheral equipment than a desktop PC.

      • Chris

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        They (MSFT) did figure out how to do it. It's called Continuum. It's the whole reason why the HP Elite X3 even exists. It's definitely not perfect, and the platform it was built on has died, but it did work (in a way. There weren't a lot of apps that really worked on it, iirc). If Samsung can get Windows 10 on DeX, "Continuum" may continue existing as Windows on DeX... and it may help stir MS into getting Windows on ARM right, especially if they can get win32 apps working.

        • skane2600

          In reply to c.hucklebridge:

          Continuum was just a solution in search of a problem. Even if it could have run all Windows apps when docked, it still would not have been a cost competitive way to achieve that functionality.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to c.hucklebridge:

          Continuum was a way to run UWP apps on larger screens with keyboard and mouse with some change in layout and input facilities. It wasn't a way to run any & all desktop Windows software. It failed because people with large monitors, keyboards and mice wanted to run desktop software rather than Continuum.

          • Chris

            In reply to hrlngrv:

            I never mentioned anything about desktop apps, until the very end when I mentioned Windows on ARM. The only "desktop" apps I was thinking of when I started discussing Continuum was Office, which really needed to be proper UWP apps from the start of Windows 10.

            If Windows on ARM can work correctly with win32 apps, then something Continuum-like, like DeX, could give people a portable desktop option that doesn't involve a laptop or 2-in-1 device. I'm not saying that it is entirely possible, or that MS will get things right with Windows on ARM from the start (historically they have form for doing the wrong thing first, then figuring it out right before the idea dies).

          • skane2600

            In reply to hrlngrv:

            Yes, but also because people "with large monitors, keyboards and mice" already had a more cost-effective way to run Windows desktop software.

  31. Winner

    Microsoft had its own "let's make a phone a PC" (Continuum) but where has that gone?

    They are their own worst enemy. Everything (well most) of what they do is incomplete, half-assed.

    If they could learn to refine things and get them right they'd do a lot better.


    Zune "Welcome to the social" (what social was that anyway)?



    Windows 8

    Windows 10 control panel/settings

    • TheFerrango

      In reply to Winner:

      The Zune Social was the web part of Zune. You could add friends, share playlists and songs (for a while) and earn badges for artists and albums.

      • Winner

        In reply to TheFerrango:

        Thanks for that reply.

        I had the impression that it was never really fully complete from an operational POV. Is that accurate?

        • TheFerrango

          In reply to Winner:

          I only knew one other person who had a Zune over here, so I'm not really sure. I never got to use it other than a few trial messages I sent just because I could.

          The badges part was fun but the rest was... well, quite pointless.

          I guess it could've used data gathered from your listens to generate the 'picked just for you' playlists and it could've used data from your friends to further refine, but a lack of service and devices availability here in Italy kinda axed any usefulness I could've got out of it.

          I remember leaving my HD playing all night just so I could earn more badges :D

  32. hrlngrv

    The first question to answer is how much storage does Linux require vs how much the most minimal Windows would require.

    There are unlikely to be hard specs for Linux on DeX, but if it's anything like Chrome OS and crouton, it just may be that a complete Linux desktop takes less than 1GB additional storage. If Android and Linux can share the same kernel with modules loaded/unloaded as phones are docked/undocked, 800MB for a desktop environment, development environment, browser, LibreOffice and VLC wouldn't be out of the question.

    Is Windows 10 other than for embedded systems even possible in less than 4GB storage? If Linux on DeX shares the Android kernel, would Window 10 under Android need to run in a VM, run a specialized version of wine, or require a MSFT secret project maybe called LSW (Linux Services for Windows)?

    I figure at the moment a Linux desktop can run under Android using 15-25% of resources Windows 10 would require to do the same thing.

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