How to Install Ubuntu Touch on Nexus 7

If you are an avid Ubuntu user, you will know that Canonical has released the Ubuntu Touch developer preview for you to install and test it out on your phone. For those with a Nexus device (Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 7, Nexus 4, Nexus 10), you can now flash your device and install Ubuntu Touch on it. Here is how you can do so:

For this tutorial, we will show you how to do so on a Nexus 7.


  • A computer running Ubuntu Precise (12.04), Quantal (12.10), or Raring (13.04).
  • Nexus 7

Preparing your computer

On your computer, open a terminal and add the following repository:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:phablet-team/tools

Update your system and install the required flashing tools:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install phablet-tools android-tools-adb android-tools-fastboot

Unlock your Device

This step assumes that your device is locked and unrooted. If you have previously rooted your Nexus 7, skip this step.

Note: This step will unlock your phone and wipe all your data. Make sure you have backed up all your data before you proceed with this step.

1. First, power off your Nexus 7. Next, press and hold the “Power + Volume Down” buttons together until the bootloader screen appear.


2. Connect your Nexus 7 to the computer (via USB cable).

3. On your computer, type in the terminal:

sudo fastboot oem unlock

4. On your Nexus 7, accept the terms of unlocking and press the Power button. This will unlock the bootloader and wipe all your data.

5. Once it is completed, it will reboot your device and prompt you to set up your device again. Follow the guide to setup your device again.

Enable USB Debugging

The next step is to enable USB debugging mode in your Nexus 7.

First, activate the developer options

Next, go to “Settings -> System -> Developer options” and enable USB debugging.

If you are running Android 4.2.2, you will need to go to the terminal in your computer and type

adb kill-server
adb start-server

Lastly, connect your Nexus 7 to the computer via the USB cable. You should see a popup in your tablet’s home screen. Tap “OK”.


Flashing Ubuntu Touch

Once you have done the above steps, you are ready to flash Ubuntu Touch.

Note: The following step will wipe your Android and install Ubuntu Touch. Double check again that you have backed up all your files and data.

In your computer’s terminal, run the command:

phablet-flash -b

You should see the following warning:


Type “yes” to continue.

When clicked, the necessary files will be added to the Nexus 7 storage. Once all the files are on the Nexus 7, Ubuntu Touch will install itself.


This whole process will take some time. When you see this screen, do not unplug your Nexus 7 from the computer or the process will not complete.


There will be another set of actions. You will see the process as the files are extracted and deployed. When the full installation process is completed, your Nexus 7 will reboot.


Ubuntu Touch Installed and Running

After the reboot, you will see a whole new screen.


To get out of the lock screen, slide finger in from the left side of the screen’s edge to show the Unity Launcher. This will unlock the screen and take you to the different home screens.


Congratulation. You have successfully installed Ubuntu Touch on your Nexus 7.

Back to Android

After you have tried out Ubuntu Touch and find that it isn’t for you, you can always go back to the stock Android ROM.

1. Download the original ROM to your computer.

2. Extract the ROM. Open a terminal and change the directory (using cd) to the extracted directory.

3. Connect your Nexus 7 to the computer via USB (make sure your device is powered on). Run the command:

adb reboot-bootloader

Note: If ./ doesn’t work, add a sudo to the beginning of the command:

sudo ./

Once the computer finishes its job, your Nexus 7 will run the same version of Android OS you started with previously.

Let us know what you think of the Ubuntu Touch Preview in the comments below.

Trevor Dobrygoski
Trevor Dobrygoski

Trevor is a freelance writer covering topics ranging from the Android OS to free web and desktop applications. When he is not writing about mobile productivity, He is coaching and playing the world's greatest game... Soccer.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox