How to Cast Your Android Screen onto Your Linux Desktop

Mirror your phone screen to your Linux desktop.

Android Operating System

It may not be every day, but there will be times when you need to mirror your Android screen to your Linux desktop. You may want to give a presentation from your phone, check the app you are developing without touching your Android device, view photos and other media on a bigger screen, etc. No matter what the reason is, it is really easy to cast your Android screen to Linux.

Follow the method you are more comfortable with, as each one works with virtually all Linux distributions. All you need to have is a modern browser for wireless broadcasting.

If you want to cast your Android screen to your Linux desktop or laptop without using any wires or hassling with developer options and advanced settings, you have two viable options: AirDroid and Screen Cast.

1. AirDroid (Wireless)

AirDroid is great for when you want to operate your phone without having to use any special interfaces or third-party apps on your computer. It’s not just a simple screen casting app. Instead, it acts as a full software suite for operating the phone through your computer, which happens to also contain the ability to cast your phone’s screen to it.

  1. Open the application to be greeted with a screen showing you a couple of options.
Androidcast Options
  1. Tap on “AirDroid Web,” giving you the option to connect either via an address on your browser or by scanning a QR code (which will require an account).
Androidcast Airconnection
  1. In our example here, we are showing you the option that doesn’t require an account. Open a new tab on your browser and type the address as written into the bar. Don’t forget to type “http://” before the numerical address or your browser will default to HTTPS and result in an error.
  1. Once you’re in, you’ll get a notification on your phone explaining that a device is requesting access to AirDroid. As soon as you accept, the interface on your computer will transform.
Androidcast Interface
  1. To screen cast, click on “Mirroring” (depicted above). You are now looking at your phone’s screen from your Linux system without having to install added software on it.
Androidcast Display

2. Screen Cast (Wireless)

If you want an alternative that features slightly lower latency and doesn’t include much added fluff on top, you can use a free app called Screen Cast. It’s a minimal option that casts your Android screen wirelessly as long as both your system and the Android device are on the same network.

  1. Download and install the app to your device.
  2. Launch the app and tap on the “Start” button on the main screen.
cast-android-screen-to-linux-click-start
  1. In the confirmation window, tap on the “Start Now” button. If you don’t want to see this window again, select the checkbox “Don’t show again.”
cast-android-screen-to-linux-click-start-now
  1. Type the displayed URL in your favorite browser on your PC. As soon as you execute the URL, your screencasting will start, and anything you do on your Android device will be mirrored to your Linux machine.
cast-android-screen-to-linux-screen-cast-app-chrome
  1. There are no settings to tweak the image quality while casting, as Screen Cast is a minimal app. However, you can password protect the connection. To enable password protection, tap on the “Menu” icon (three horizontal lines) in the upper-left corner and select the “Settings” option.
cast-android-screen-to-linux-select-settings
  1. Select the “Required password for viewing screen cast” checkbox, and you are good to go.
cast-android-screen-to-linux-enable-password-protection
  1. From this point forward, whenever you try to access a screencast from your web browser, you will be prompted for the password. Simply type the password displayed in the app, and the screencasting will start.
cast-android-screen-to-linux-password-protection-enabled

If you are not on the same network or not able to cast your screen wirelessly, you can achieve the same result by connecting your Android device via USB.

3. Vysor (Wired, USB)

  1. Before you can do anything, you need to enable the “Developer options” by going to your phone’s “Settings -> About phone.” (On some models it’s “Settings -> System -> About phone.”)
Androidcast Aboutphone
  1. Find “Build number” in the options, and tap on it seven times until you get the “You’re now a developer” message.
Androidcast Buildnumber
  1. Once that happens, go back to “Settings -> System.” You should see “Developer options.”
Androidcast Developeroptions
  1. Scroll down and toggle the button next to “USB debugging” to enable this option.
Androidcast Usbdebugging

Linking the Android Device to Linux

  1. Install the Vysor application for Linux. If you’re running Arch Linux, you can install it via the vysor-bin package in the AUR.
  2. Once installed, connect your Android device via USB and launch the Vysor app from your application menu.
  3. If you are asked to choose between transferring pictures, files, or just charging, once the phone is connected via USB, choose the option for transferring pictures. This is an important step, as Vysor operates through PTP protocol, and any other option will not communicate correctly with the app.
  4. As soon as your Android device meets the criteria needed for Vysor to talk to it (PTP and USB debugging enabled), you will be asked whether you want to allow the connection on your Android device. Tap on the “OK” button to continue.
cast-android-screen-to-linux-allow-usb-permission
  1. Once you allow the connection, Vysor will automatically install the required Vysor Android app. After the installation procedure, you will see your Android screen cast to your Linux machine.
cast-android-screen-to-linux-vysor-screen-casted
  1. The good thing about Vysor is that you can control your device directly from your desktop. If you would like, you can also record and take screenshots by clicking on the “Video” and “Camera” icons respectively.
cast-android-screen-to-linux-vysor-settings-and-video-buttons
  1. Additionally, by clicking on the little “Settings” icon, you can customize different settings, like casting quality and resolution.
cast-android-screen-to-linux-vysor-settings

However, most of the interesting settings are locked behind a paywall. With the Pro version, you can also cast your Android screen wirelessly, but with the other two options discussed here, you really don’t need to pay for wireless mirroring.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use the wireless options safely on public Wi-Fi?

Not really. If you are on a public network, your safest bet is to use the wired option with Vysor. If you absolutely need the ability to go wireless, go with AirDroid and create an account to use the HTTPS option that allows you to scan a QR code on your screen. By no means should you ever use the simple HTTP option at any point on a public Wi-Fi connection or even a local Wi-Fi network you don’t personally control. It’s very poor digital hygiene and could have unpredictable and severe consequences. Always use an encrypted connection in wireless networks!

I am having connection issues. What can I do?

Here are a few steps to help you troubleshoot wireless connection issues:

  • Make absolutely sure you’re on the same network as your phone. It doesn’t matter if the computer is connected through Ethernet and the phone is on WLAN. As long as they’re operating on the same subnet (in most cases, this means the same router), you should be fine.
  • Wait a little bit. Sometimes it can take up to two minutes for devices to discover each other.
  • Doubled-check that the addresses you type in the address bar on your browser are correct. Remember, address-based connections via a browser to wireless devices in both the wireless methods we discussed require HTTP, so make sure you type “http://” instead of “https://” before the address.
  • Restart the router. It works sometimes.
  • We’ve noticed that AirDroid might lag severely in device discovery when connecting to the lower-frequency band on your router. If your router has both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, create a wireless network on the 5GHz and connect your phone to it.

For wired connections:

  • Check whether the USB cable is damaged. Switch it out for another one.
  • Make sure you have “USB Debugging” toggled and enabled. Some versions of Android de-toggle the option as soon as you plug it in or out.
  • Make sure that Android is in PTP mode when plugged in. Select “Transfer photos” (not “Transfer files”) in USB connection options as soon as you plug it in.

Which casting method is better between USB and wireless?

Hands down, USB is the most lag-free. The only real inconvenience is that it may prove difficult in situations where you don’t want to be tethered to your desktop, especially if your cable is particularly short. Wireless is obviously the most convenient but also slightly insecure in some situations. You’ll also notice a slight-to-severe reduction in frame rate, depending on your connection quality and the latency on multiple devices (phone -> router -> desktop -> router -> phone).

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons All screenshots by Miguel Leiva-Gomez.

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