Run desktop applications

Libertine allows you to use standard desktop applications in Ubuntu Touch.

To install applications you can use the Settings interface on your Ubuntu Touch device, or the command-line as described further below.

Manage containers

Create a container

The first step is to create a container where applications can be installed:

Open Settings and scroll down to Libertine under the System sub-heading.

Tap Libertine to get to the Manage Libertine Containers sub-menu. Already installed containers will be visible here. Tap the + sign at the upper right to add a container.

The Container Options dialog box will open asking you to enter a container name and optionally a password. Confirm your entries by tapping „OK”, and the container will be created.

To do this via the command-line:

libertine-container-manager create -i CONTAINER-IDENTIFIER

You can add extra options such as:

  • -n name name is a more user-friendly name of the container

  • -t type type can be either chroot or lxc. The default is chroot , which is compatible with every device.

If the kernel of your device supports it, lxc is suggested.

Creation can take a while due to the size of the container (some hundred megabytes).

Notă

The create command shown above cannot be run directly in the terminal app, due to AppArmor restrictions. You can run it from another device using either an ADB or SSH connection. Alternatively, you can run it from the terminal app using a loopback SSH connection by running this command: ssh localhost.

List containers

Use the Settings Manage Libertine Containers sub-menu to list all the containers you have created on the device.

You can also use the command-line. Run:

libertine-container-manager list

Destroy a container

libertine-container-manager destroy -i CONTAINER-IDENTIFIER

Manage applications

Once a container is set up, the installed applications are available in the app drawer. You can also tap the name of the container in the Manage Libertine Containers menu.

You can also list them via the command-line:

libertine-container-manager list-apps

Install a package

From the apps list in the Manage Libertine Containers menu you can tap the + sign to get a dialog box that lets you add a package.

Enter the package name if you know it. Otherwise you can search the archives for a package. You can make this process easier by making the Lubuntu Software Center your first package install. Being a desktop app, you will need to use the Libertine Tweak Tool in the Open Store to make the text large enough to read on a mobile device.

Packages may also be installed via the command-line:

libertine-container-manager install-package -p PACKAGE-NAME

Remove a package

Remove a package by swiping it to the right from its entry in the package list (in System Settings > Libertine > Manage Libertine Containers > CONTAINER NAME). An option to remove it will be revealed.

Or you can remove the package via the command-line:

libertine-container-manager remove-package -p PACKAGE-NAME

Notă

If you have more than one container, you can use the option -i CONTAINER-IDENTIFIER to specify which container you want to perform an operation on.

Run desktop application

Run it from the app menu like any other app. To start a graphical app from the command-line, for example gedit, run this in a terminal:

# ubuntu-app-launch <CONTAINER_ID>_<desktop_file_name>_0.0
ubuntu-app-launch xenial_gedit_0.0

Files

Libertine applications have access to these folders:

  • Documents

  • Music

  • Pictures

  • Downloads

  • Videos

Tips

Locations

For every container you create, two directories will be created:

  • A root directory ~/.cache/libertine-container/CONTAINER-IDENTIFIER/rootfs/ and

  • a user directory ~/.local/share/libertine-container/user-data/CONTAINER-IDENTIFIER/

Shell access

There are two options for executing commands inside the container.

The first option is based on libertine-container-manager exec. It lets you run your commands as root. The drawback is that the container is not completely set up. So far we know that the folders mentioned above (Documents, Music, …) are not mounted i.e., the /home/phablet/ directory is empty. Likewise the directory referenced in TMPDIR is not available, which may lead to problems with software trying to create temporary files or directories. You may use this option to installing packages.

To execute a command you can use the following pattern:

libertine-container-manager exec -i CONTAINER-IDENTIFIER -c "COMMAND-LINE"

For example, run:

libertine-container-manager exec -i CONTAINER-IDENTIFIER -c "apt-get --help"

To get a shell into your container as root, run:

libertine-container-manager exec -i CONTAINER-IDENTIFIER -c "/bin/bash"

The second option is based on libertine-launch. It will execute your commands as user phablet in a completely set up container. You may use this option to modify your files using installed packages.

To execute a command you can use the following pattern:

libertine-launch -i CONTAINER-IDENTIFIER COMMAND-LINE

For example, run:

libertine-launch -i CONTAINER-IDENTIFIER ls -a

To get a shell as the user phablet, run:

DISPLAY= libertine-launch -i CONTAINER-IDENTIFIER /bin/bash

Notă

When you launch Bash in this way you will not get any specific feedback to confirm being inside the container. You can check ls / to confirm for yourself you are actually inside the container. The listing of ls / will be different inside and outside the container.

Accessing SD card

To access your SD-card or any other part of the regular filesystem from inside your Libertine container you must create a bind mount.

To add a bind mount, use:

libertine-container-manager configure -i CONTAINER-IDENTIFIER -b add -p /media/phablet/ID-OF-SD

You can also make deep links if you only want parts of your SD-card available in the container. In this case just add the entire path to the directory you want to bind mount:

libertine-container-manager configure -i CONTAINER-IDENTIFIER -b add -p /media/phablet/ID-OF-SD/directory/you/want

This will not give the container access to any of the directories earlier in the path for anything other than accessing your mounted directory.

In order to use the SD card as extra space for your container, make sure to first format it using ext4 or similar. There is a mis-feature in UDisks2 that mounts SD-cards (showexec), ensuring only files ending in .bat, .exe or .com can be executed from the drive if it is (V)FAT formatted. This has been changed in other distributions, allowing any file to have execute priviliges, but not in Ubuntu. The recommended workaround is to add a udev rule to control how to mount a card with a given ID, but since the udev rules are on the read-only port on Ubuntu Touch, this is not possible.

Shortcuts

If you want, you can add aliases for command-line tools. Add lines like the following ones to your ~/.bash_aliases:

alias git='libertine-launch -i CONTAINER-IDENTIFIER git'
alias screenfetch='libertine-launch -i CONTAINER-IDENTIFIER screenfetch'

Background

A display server coordinates input and output of an operating system. Ubuntu Touch does not use X, but a new display server called Mir. This means standard X applications are not directly compatible with Ubuntu Touch. A compatibility layer called XMir resolves this. Libertine relies on XMir to display desktop applications.

Another challenge is that Ubuntu Touch system updates are released as OTA images. As a consequence of this the root filesystem is read-only. Libertine provides a container with a read-write filesystem to allow installation of regular Linux desktop applications.