Installing Ubuntu Touch with MultiROM

Nathan Osman's Gravatar

Nathan Osman
published Nov. 2, 2014, 4:43 p.m.

Back in June, I wrote an article describing how to install Ubuntu Touch on the Nexus 5. The process I described flashes the Ubuntu Touch images directly to your phone and erases any existing operating system installed. Unfortunately, this means that you can no longer run Android apps on the phone. This article is going to take a look at an alternative installation method that solves this problem.

Warning! As mentioned in the other Nexus 5 article, the steps that follow may void your phone's warranty. You also risk losing data if things go wrong. Proceed with caution.

Root Is Required

In order to get MultiROM up and running, you will be asked to do a number of things that require a rooted phone. Luckily, rooting a Nexus 5 is a very simple and straightforward task. There are plenty of tutorials out there describing this step, so I won't waste time duplicating information here.


Just like a computer, it is possible to install multiple operating systems on a mobile phone. Most Ubuntu users use the default bootloader that ships with Ubuntu, Grub 2, to select the operating system to boot when they power on their computer. MultiROM serves this role on the Nexus 5.

Begin by installing MultiROM from the Play Store. Open the app and you will be presented with the following screen:

MultiROM Screen

In order to do its magic, MultiROM needs a booloader installed, a modified version of TWRP recovery, and an Android kernel capable of executing the kexec_load syscall. Unfortunately, to make the syscall work correctly, the stock kernel needs a patch. Thankfully, MultiROM will take care of all of these items for you.

Select all three checkboxes in the "Install/Update" section and tap the "Install" button to begin the installation. This will take a few moments to complete (though it can take longer if you have a slower Internet connection). You may need to reboot your phone to complete the process.

Installing Ubuntu Touch

Once MultiROM is set up, it is very easy to install Ubuntu Touch. Open the MultiROM app once again and scroll to the "Install Ubuntu Touch" section:

MultiROM Ubuntu Touch

If you want to try the latest experimental features, then select the devel-proposed channel. (In the screenshot above, vivid-proposed is identical to the devel-proposed channel.) You can also select a stable channel if you'd like something that is less likely to suddenly break.

Once you click "Install", the images will begin downloading:

MultiROM Installation

When the download completes, installation will begin. You will be prompted to reboot to complete the installation. After this is done, Ubuntu Touch is now installed on your phone!

Booting Ubuntu Touch

Whenever you power on your phone, you will be prompted to select an operating system to load. If you do not make a selection after a predetermined amount of time, the bootloader will begin booting Android.

Other Operating Systems

You aren't limited to trying out Ubuntu Touch. MultiROM is capable of booting many other operating systems as well, including: