New Post: Convergent App Development

Build apps how you want and run them everywhere.


Many people have never heard about Samsung Dex. I have Samsung Dex on my Note 9. From a user perspective, it does have some surprising convergence-like features. When my phone is in its cradle, I do get a full desktop that rivals Windows or many Linux distros in initial appearance. From there, I can even bring up a full (complete) Linux Ubuntu operating system with root access, as a virtual machine that does integrate and run well from the phone and that displays well on a big monitor from my phone.

But that kind of convergence is greatly lacking after you finish marveling over what you appear to have there and try to go to work there. First of all, the Dex desktop is limited in what you have access to. It’s not Windows nor Linux. It’s still the same Android system that is on your phone. The tools are limited to what you can install from the Play store. You can’t do any meaningful development work there yourself and you probably wouldn’t want to if you could, unless you want to write Android apps subject to Google’s Playstore terms and conditions. When you execute the Ubuntu Linux VM from Dex, you can do anything that Ubuntu Linux is capable of doing within that environment, with a few exceptions. If you want to use the Linux OS without the full Desktop environment (cradle, mouse, keyboard, big monitor, external power source to the cradle all connected to the phone), you can only get a terminal window when you execute the Ubuntu VM. The Dex and the VM are both engineered to require the extra hardware and also they require an additional power input to the cradle itself, before you can get a Linux desktop environment on the phone. But you can get a terminal window in to the real Ubuntu OS on the phone without using Dex mode if all you want is a terminal window. From Linux Dex, you could develop your own Linux apps. But what good are Phosh and Libhandy in that environment if they only run in full desktop mode which requires all of the additional extraneous hardware? So you’re still stuck with Android (and not real convergence) for all except your actual desktop setup and all required extraneous hardware that has to go with it. That isn’t the kind of convergence that is very useful to anyone. It did qualify as a cool experiment until Samsung withdrew the Dex app and accompanying VM from the Play store and Ubuntu website (respectively).

It looks to me like Purism is the first company anywhere to release a truly convergent phone/desktop operating system environment to the world. Being an open source company, someone else like Pine might have taken Purism’s work and vision and rushed Purism’s work to the market before Purism believed it was ready to release. But whichever was first, Purism’s Linux Phone/Desktop convergence is the first truly convergent Phone/Desktop environment if its type. You don’t have to run Android nor are you required to use your external office hardware to run your exact same applications from the exact same OS, whether connected to your office hardware or if you are on the road.


Very few I know about Convergence since the age of Canonical’s Ubuntu Edge. Now I see a surprising thing, I see Glade GUI Designer in this video about software Convergence. Nice, David. Thanks a lot.