How to connect your Android device to your Linux desktop

If you've been wishing you could connect your Android device to your Linux desktop, your wish is about to come true. Jack Wallen shows you how to get Android and the GNOME DE talking.

If you're an Android and Linux user, you know well the frustration of not being able to connect those two together, especially given that Android makes use of so much of the Linux kernel. Out of the box, these two should easily communicate. They don't. Fortunately, a lot of work has gone into making this happen, by way of a GNOME Shell extension and an Android app, developed by the KDE Community.

I want to show you how to install the necessary components, and then get your Android device communicating with your Linux desktop.

What you'll need

Obviously you'll need an Android device and a Linux desktop. The Linux machine will need to be running the GNOME desktop environment. You'll also need to install the KDE Connect app on your Android device (found on the Google Play Store).

Let's install.

Installing the GNOME Shell extension

Before you actually install the extension, you'll need to make sure that shell extension support is working. To do this, open up a terminal window and install the necessary component with the command:

sudo apt install chrome-gnome-shell

Next point your browser to the GSConnect GNOME Shell extension page. You should see an ON/OFF slider. Click the slider so that it is in the ON position. That will install the extension in GNOME Shell.

Installing KDE Connect

Now we'll install the mobile component. For this, do the following:

  1. Open up the Google Play Store on your Android device
  2. Search for KDE Connect
  3. Locate and tap the entry by the KDE Community
  4. Tap Install
  5. Allow the installation to complete

You are now ready to connect your devices.

Connecting the two

After installing GSConnect, you should see a new icon in the system tray. If you click on the system tray, you should see an entry for Mobile Devices. Plug your Android device into your Linux desktop, and click on the System Tray | Mobile Devices | Mobile Settings. A new window will appear (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A

The Mobile Settings window of GSConnect.

In this new window, you should see your phone listed. Click on that entry and you can then configure what plugins are to be added to GSConnect for the device (Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B

Configuration options for my Essential PH-1.

Now go to your Android device and open KDE Connect. You will see GSConnect listed. Tap on that entry and then tap the button for REQUEST PARING. You will receive a pairing request on the desktop. Accept that request and then accept the request in KDE Connect.

Your two devices should now be paired. If you've enabled Nautilus integration, you'll have to restart Nautilus with the command nautilus -q. If that doesn't work, log out of GNOME and log back in. You will also have to open up the GSConnect app, go to your newly connected device, click on the gear icon for the File Management option and enable Auto Mount (Figure C).

Figure C

Figure C

Enabling Auto Mount for Nautilus integration.

For filesystem integration to work, you also have to go back to the KDE Connect app on your Android device, tap on GSConnect, tap on Filesystem expose (Figure D), and when prompted tap OK and then ALLOW.

Figure D

Figure D

Enabling filesystem integration in KDE connect.

Finally, for filesystem integration to fully function and automount to work, sshfs must be installed on the Linux machine. To do this, open up a terminal window and issue the command:

sudo apt install sshfs

Once you've done this, the file icon should appear in the GSConnect system tray popup (Figure E).

Figure E

Figure E

File system integration is now complete.


And that's all there is to getting your Android device communicating with your Linux desktop. You are now able to share files, see notifications, send SMS messages, and more. Enjoy what should have been an out of the box experience.

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About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website

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