Maru OS lets your phone be a full fledged desktop computer, goes open source

Not to be confused with Maru the adorable YouTube cat, Maru OS, the bite-sized Android add-on that turns your phone into a desktop, just went open source.

Maru OS doesn’t change much about the way your phone operates on its own, but once you connect a desktop monitor via a slimport cable, Maru really comes to life. When connected to a display, Maru OS allows you to run a desktop Linux environment straight from your phone.

Your phone is still a phone, it’ll take calls, send texts and do everything else it normally does, even while it’s connected to a desktop monitor running Linux on the side. It’s an interesting concept, but it’s still very much a work in progress. Today’s announcement could help move things along for Maru.

“Maru makes personal computing more context-aware by giving you the best interface for your environment. That means when you’re on the go, Maru is your phone; when you’re at your desk, Maru is your desktop,” reads the description on the GitHub repository.


Android Open Source Project-based Maru provides you Android Lollipop for your smartphone and includes a Debian Linux within an LXC Linux Container for the desktop environment. To give a full-fledged computing experience, the platform supports Bluetooth peripherals such as mouse or keyboard.

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You can utilise Maru’s concept to enable multi-app productivity on your HDMI screen. Also, there are options to share storage from your smartphone as well as access Wi-Fi and data connectivity.

Right now most of the plans focus on Google Nexus phones and tablets and some older phones from LG and Motorola, but now that Maru OS is open source, the list could grow.

Maru OS is essentially a custom version of Google Android which also includes Debian Linux running in an LXC Linux Container. When you connect a display with a USB/MHL cable, you can run Linux desktop apps without rebooting your mobile device, allowing you to take phone calls and receive notifications even while you’re using Firefox, LibreOffice, GIMP, or other desktop software.


It’s an exciting concept, especially as phones become more and more powerful – and more capable of running desktop apps. In the future, Maru OS could allow you to replace a desktop computer entirely if your phone’s got the horsepower. Right now, it’s capable of running some Linux desktop apps, but the setup process is anything but easy. Installing Maru OS requires flashing the ROM on your phone, and navigating some serious technical obstacles.

It’s a long way from prime time, and it’s not likely you’ll be able to run desktop games from your phone anytime soon, but Maru OS has potential.

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