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How To Wirelessly Connect Your Android Phone To Ubuntu

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My esteemed colleague has already written a guide on how you can connect your phone to Windows. Being an Ubuntu user it is now left to me to write a guide on how write on how you can wirelessly connect your phone to an Ubuntu computer without messing with USB cables.

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FYI Android is Linux, well sort of.

Those who know, know that Android is in essence a very special version of Linux. The Android kernel is actually a tweaked Linux kernel. While normal distros like Ubuntu, Debian, Redhat, Fedora and Centos all heavily depend on the GNU utilities which make them a lot similar, Android comes with its own unique tools. There is no glibc, Wayland or Xorg instead we have Android Runtime.

Given that Ubuntu is Linux and the two have the same kernel, you would expect that they can easily be  wirelessly linked to each other without third party software. You would be wrong.

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There are two ways to do this

There are two ways to do this. You can either use KDEConnect or GSconnect. KDEConnect is especially useful if you are using the KDE desktop and GSconnect if you are using GNOME. It is important to note however that KDEConnect can be installed no matter which Desktop Environment you are using. In fact GSConnect uses KDEConnect as a back end. GSConnect is a GNOME extension and thus requires the GNOME desktop environment to work.

Using KDEConnect

Installing KDEConnect is simple just run the following command in your terminal:

apt install kdeconnect

If you are not running a KDE Desktop the package manager will download the required QT libraries for you which will mean a slightly bigger download size compared to that of a person running KDE. If you are using a GNOME environment install the MConnect extension. To complete the set up process install the KDEConnect app onto your device from the Play Store. To connect your phone just initiate pairing from the desktop and not from your phone.

Pairing your phone allows you to:

  1. Receive and send SMS from your desktop
  2. Receive Android notifications onto your desktop
  3. Transfer files to and from the device using your file manager without the need to mess around with cables
  4. Find your phone. If you are like me you will need this as I am constantly misplacing my phone
  5. Use your phone as a mouse/keyboard which is useful if you connect your Laptop to your TV via HDMI and use it to stream stuff. Using your phone as a full time production keyboard works too but your will find it tiresome.

Using GSConnect

This is a GNOME extension so you will need the GNOME desktop for this to work. To use GSConnect you need GNOME 3.28 or later ( 18.04 LTS). Follow the instructions above and install the GSConnect extension instead of MConnect. The extension allows you to:

  • Reply to WhatsApp messages without the need to visit the WhatsApp web website
  • Do all of the above KDEConnect stuff
  • Sync your phone and computer’s clipboard so you can copy paste to and from both devices
  • Control VLC and other multimedia apps

Let me know how the pairing goes

As always feel free to leave a comment and let us know how the pairing goes.

[Update]

The developer of MConnect have gotten in touch to say that they have abandoned the project and would recommend people to use GSConnect instead.


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6 thoughts on “How To Wirelessly Connect Your Android Phone To Ubuntu

  1. Hi and thanks for the nice article!

    Two things to clear up are that while the MConnect maybe still work, I haven’t maintained it in over year and some features may be broken with the latest KDE Connect desktop server. I really wouldn’t recommend using it.

    GSConnect on the other hand is actively maintained, but it will *not* work with KDE Connect installed on your desktop. GSConnect is a complete implementation of the KDE Connect protocol and so you will have problems if you try to run both at the same time.

    Thanks for the publicity!

  2. “To connect your phone just initiate pairing from the desktop and not from your phone.”
    As far as I could see, that means doing a
    kdeconnect-cli -l
    which gives a list of devices. Copy the ID of the phone from that and then do
    kdeconnect-cli –pair -d

    Or is there an easier way? (There ought to be…)

    1. That was the advice I got when I first tried it. Today I was able to initiate pairing from my phone instead of from the laptop and it worked

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