For a while now, if you wanted to try out the latest version of the KDE project’s mobile efforts, you’d need to install KDE Mobile on a Nexus 5/5x. This sucks for those who want to try it out to see if they like it, but don’t have a device handy. Thankfully, you can try out KDE Plasma Mobile on your desktop.The developers have a publicly available ISO file available that you can use to run KDE Plasma Mobile in VirtualBox.
SPOILER ALERT: Scroll down and watch the video tutorial at the end of this article.
Install Oracle VM VirtualBox
The KDE Plasma Mobile ISO file itself should run on most Linux virtualizing software tools, but for best results, it’s best to install Oracle VM VirtualBox. To install the virtualization software, do the following:
sudo apt install virtualbox
sudo apt-get install virtualbox
sudo pacman -S virtualbox
sudo dnf install virtualbox
sudo zypper install virtualbox
Oracle VirtualBox is usually distributed via Linux operating system software repositories. That said, if you’re using a Linux distribution that chooses not to distribute it, there’s still a way to install it.
The installation process starts out by heading over to Virtualbox.org and going to the download page. On this page, it’s important to ignore everything except for “All distributions (built on EL5 and therefore do not require recent system libraries)”.
Note: be sure to have DKMS installed and enabled on your system or VirtualBox will not work correctly.
Download either the i386 (32bit) or AMD64 (64bit) versions of the software, and then open up a terminal window. Using the CD command, move the terminal into the ~/Downloads folder on your Linux PC.
Next, you’ll need to update the permissions of the Virtualbox installer package.
sudo chmod +x VirtualBox-*-Linux_amd64.run
sudo chmod +x VirtualBox-*-Linux_x86.run
Then, start the installation process with:
sudo sh VirtualBox-*-Linux_amd64.run
sudo sh VirtualBox-*-Linux_x86.run
Making The Plasma Mobile VM
Even though Plasma Mobile is targeted at mobile phones, it’s not like Android. Instead, the Plasma Mobile operating system at its core is a Linux distribution. It’s built upon the same technology that is found on a lot of desktop Linux operating systems. It is because of this, it is very easy to emulate in a virtual machine for testing (and development) purposes.
To get started, you’ll first need to get the latest version of Plasma mobile disk image. Please understand that these disk images are very unstable, and may crash and break a lot. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK!
Once downloaded, open up Oracle VM VirtualBox, and click “New”. This will bring up the “Create Virtual Machine” window. Find “name”, and enter KDE Plasma Mobile”.
After filling in the name, find “Type” and click the drop-down menu. Look for “Linux”, select it and then move on to the “Version” drop-down menu.
Using the version drop-down menu is a very easy way to pre-configure any virtual machines Each option in the list can tell the virtualizer exactly how much RAM it should use, CPU power, video memory, and even network options.
Considering that Plasma Mobile isn’t a traditional Linux operating system, Oracle doesn’t have an option to choose from. To make up for this, go through the menu and look for “Other Linux (64-bit)”.
Note: there are two “other Linux options”, and if you select Other Linux (32-bit) your Plasma Mobile Virtual Machine will not load.
With all that filled out click the “Next” button on the bottom of the screen to move on to the Memory configuration page. By default, VirtualBox will try to assign 512 MB of RAM. This isn’t nearly enough for a modern mobile operating system. Instead, change it to “2048”, and click next.
On the last page, VirtualBox will ask to create a new hard disk. Click “create”, and follow the instructions the virtualizer gives you to finish making the VM.
Run Plasma Mobile VM
Now that the VM is done, it’s time to load up Plasma mobile. In the VirtualBox UI, select “KDE Plasma Mobile” with the mouse. Then, right-click on it, and find “start”. Under the start menu, select the “normal start” option. This will load up the virtualization environment so that an OS can be loaded onto it.
When the VM opens up, you’ll see “Select start-up disk”. Click the folder icon next to “empty” to bring up a file-browser window. Use this file browser to look for the Plasma Mobile ISO for VirtualBox to use.
After selecting the ISO image, VirtualBox will load up Plasma Mobile straight to the mobile home screen.
From here, the entire operating system is usable, albeit a little crashy.
To open an app in Plasma Mobile, click the square icon on the bottom left of the screen. Additionally, check notifications, and access settings by clicking and dragging down at the top status bar.
Exit any open window within Plasma mobile by clicking the center home icon, or close the app with the red X button on the right.