I'm just wondering whether I'll be able to use the CLI apps I know and love on a smartphone or tablet running Ubuntu Touch.

Can you help me understand what sorts of characteristics of any given package (whether through apt-get or another package manager such as NPM or Rubygems) indicate that it will WORK or NOT WORK on Ubuntu Touch on an Android device, rather than just pointing to a list of known working packages?

One obvious question would be what are the problems compiling things to an ARM instruction set instead of x86? But I'm sure there are dozens of other things to consider....

To use an analogy, in general is Ubuntu Touch more like Microsoft Surface Pro (Windows) or Microsoft Surface (Windows RT)?

  • +1 because of the last sentence. Different Ubuntu derivatives are sometimes visually similar to different versions of Microsoft Windows and that is a visual clue about what hardware the OS is designed to run on.
    – karel
    Feb 11, 2014 at 4:57

1 Answer 1


My understanding is that by default, the filesystem is read-only and thus you can't run apt-get, gem, npm, or any other tool that modifies the system portion of the filesystem.

However, there is a way (I don't remember exactly, it has something to do with writing to a special file) to make the filesystem writeable and then you should be able to use any command-line tool you would be able to use on the regular Ubuntu desktop.

There is a reason though that it is read-only by default - to enable the use of Ubuntu Touch's image-based updates, which is a super-efficient way to only download a known set of changes, and should be much faster than apt-get update and apt-get diet-upgrade. I don't know whether this would work if you make the file system writable and if it doesn't work how you would then update your device.

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