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Now here's what I want: Ubuntu on the SD card that lives in my phone.

I like using Ubuntu portably and my phone as a flash drive, but I haven't been able to make these work together yet.

I've tried booting off my Huawei U8800 (Android 2.2) and Nokia E66 with a micro-SD card (with 11.10, boots OK in a card-reader) on an eeepc 901 without luck. The Huawei doesn't show up in the BIOS boot menu. BIOS sees the Nokia but halts at "Boot error".

I guess this is related to the phone's flash drive emulation and how it handles bootsectors, but I don't know enough about how that works to go any further. Has anyone succeeded in this?

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possible duplicate of How to install and update Ubuntu to a Pen drive –  Uri Herrera Apr 1 '12 at 21:20

2 Answers 2

Some phones present themselves as a USB Mass Storage device, but with multiple "partitions". One of these will be the SD card and the other will be a static partition used to store things like the Windows driver software for the phone.

What is the output of lsusb -v when you plug your phone and memory card into a Linux computer?

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I just tried to do that on my Nexus One. I had to rsync from an existing installation, and installed the boot loader manually to get Ubuntu on the micro SD card. The card switched into read only state a few times so I had to remount the card (card not in phone, mounted via integrated card reader) and restart rsync.

It may just be this card, but I have serious doubts that using such memory devices for desktop operating systems is a good idea. Notice that process management and logging cause a lot of writes to the memory and that in turn causes wear.

I tried booting from the card mounted in the Nexus One and hooked up via USB. I was able to choose the phone as boot device on my laptop, but it wasn't able to find the bootloader. It may be specific to Android or the computer that the USB mass storage is not properly detected at boot, since Android disables UMS when it loses the USB connection.

You can try to reinstall the boot loader via Live CD to your SD card while mounted in your Nokia, as it sounds like there is some issue there.

grub-install --root-directory /media/path_to_your_sdcard /dev/device_name_of_your_sdcard

UUID in grub.conf and fstab should already be correct.

However I can not stress this enough: it is not a good idea. Future Android phones will probably drop UMS mode and micro SD card slots in favor of the MTD mode introduced with ICS.

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