Cosmo Communicator clamshell smartphone gets dual-boot functionality

Cal Jeffrey

TS Evangelist
Staff member

Planet Computers is changing the typical paradigm of a closed mobile-OS ecosystem. On Monday, it released a firmware update to its £665.83 ($860) Cosmo Communicator that allows users to install regular or rooted Debian Linux side-by-side with Android. The company had promised this feature was coming when it launched the stylish foldable in December 2018.

Now, users can partition the Cosmo’s storage and install Linux or TWRP. A boot menu will allow users to select which OS they want to use, and the secondary operating system will not interfere with over-the-air Android updates. The firmware is available for free for those willing to go through the trouble.

Planet Computers has provided a support page for getting the custom Linux distro installed, and as you might expect, it’s not really for the novice user. The smartphone’s system storage must be repartitioned, which will lose all the phone’s data. Some familiarity with the Linux command line is also required.

Running Linux on a smartphone does have some obvious limitations, particularly by way of input. The Cosmo is a slick-looking phone with a foldout mechanical QWERTY keyboard, but Planet Computers did not mention it having mouse support. Users will have to use the 6-inch OLED touchscreen for cursor input, which might not be ideal.

Secondary operating systems are limited right now, but when Planet Computers introduced the Cosmo at CES 2019, it said it working on versions of Kali Linux, Ubuntu Touch, and Sailfish. Still, having a functioning Linux minicomputer in your pocket is a pretty nifty, albeit geeky, gimmick.

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veLa

TS Evangelist
Would love to have a portable Kali installation on this. Would make pentesting on the go pretty damn easy.
 
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psycros

TS Evangelist
What would be more useful IMO is to have a slabphone with that keyboard as a removable cover that can be snapped onto the back of the phone, keys-covered, when you just want a regular instant-access phone. When you need the full pocket PC experience you either attach the k/b magnetically to a hinge as pictured or give the k/b its own battery and Bluetooth.
 
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petert

TS Evangelist
On Monday, it released a firmware update to its £665.83 ($860) Cosmo Communicator that allows users to install regular or rooted Debian Linux side-by-side with Android.
If you put it in £, you need to add the VAT which brings it up to £800.
The Cosmo is a slick-looking phone with a foldout mechanical QWERTY keyboard, but Planet Computers did not mention it having mouse support. Users will have to use the 6-inch OLED touchscreen for cursor input, which might not be ideal.
Its not ideal for sure! An idea for mouse implementation is to make the keys sensitive kinda like it is on Blackberry Keyone/Key2 physical keyboard. You just move you finger, slightly touching the keys and the cursor moves - similar with swiping on a screen except that you swipe on the physical keyboard. Not sure if it can be done though for the current generation, maybe for a future iteration of the product!
 
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