The Ubuntu Phone operating system (also known as the Ubuntu Touch and the two terms are interchangeable) has been available for a couple of years now. It’s designed as a mobile (or portable) operating system for smartphones and tablets, although with a caveat that I’ll write about a little later. For our readers unfamiliar with Ubuntu, this is a full blown operating system running over a LINUX kernel. It will run over an Android kernel, which makes it an interesting diversion from Google’s operating system. Now, the caveat that I wrote about is that the Ubuntu Phone operating system uses the same core technologies as Ubuntu Desktop. This means that if an Ubuntu Touch device has the necessary desktop components installed, plugging it into an external monitor gives the user a full desktop experience. Ubuntu Touch has low minimum hardware specifications of an ARM Cortex-A9 processor with 512 MB of memory, at least 4 GB of internal storage plus a MicroSD card and a multitouch screen. This means that many Android devices can potentially run Ubuntu Touch, including the bq Aquaris E4.5 Android smartphone, similar to the first bq Ubuntu Phone. The E4.5 is based around a quad core MediaTek Cortex-A7 processor with 1 GB of RAM complete with 8 GB of internal storage and a MicroSD so it’s comfortable ahead of the minimum specifications required.
However, when we announced that the Ubuntu Touch firmware was available for the E4.5, we explained that there were no instructions provided. I’m pleased to write that this has now been rectified and below, I’ve included these instructions. Before I start, please bear in mind that there are risks involved if you flash the new software onto your device. Android Headlines is not in a position of providing technical support or advice and you could stop your ‘phone from working properly. The instructions also assume a certain level of computer literacy.
Before you start the installation process, you need to make sure your E4.5 battery is fully charged and you have access to a Windows computer with administration rights and the ability to work with both ZIP and RAR files. You will need to download and extract the bq Drivers & Tools file to your computer. In here, navigate to the “Drivers Hard Reset” folder and then to the “install.bat” file, which you need to run. This will install the necessary USB drivers and if it triggers a Windows Security Warning, go ahead and install it anyway. Next, go ahead and install the Ubuntu Phone Firmware file, which you can find here.
Once you have the USB drivers installed and the installed firmware, visit the “bq Drivers & Tools” folder, then run flash_tool.exe within the “Herramienta MTK Flash Tool” folder. Once the application has launched, select the scatter-loading file by clicking on the button at the top right of the screen. You are then asked for a .txt file; head on over to the Ubuntu Firmware folder and select the “MT6582_Android_scatter.txt” file. Once this has loaded, the Flash Tool screen shows the firmware and you need to change the operation combination from “Download Only” (this is what it’s likely set as because it’s the default) to “Firmware Upgrade.” Don’t use the “Format ALL” option unless you have a full backup of your handset as if you do this you may need to return your handset to bq for an IMEI repair!
Finally, connect your smartphone to your computer using the USB cable supplied with the device. It’ll take your computer a short while to recognize the device (as you’ve just installed the drivers) but once it reports that “Your device is ready to use” go ahead and press the download button… and wait, because the next stage takes some minutes.
If everything has worked as it should, you’ll see a big green circle appearing! Then, unplug your ‘phone from the computer and hold down the power key to turn on the device. The first boot will take longer than usual but once it’s finished, your new Ubuntu Phone device will be up and running and you can run through the Ubuntu Setup Wizard.