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The Reasonable Effectiveness of Using Old Phones as Servers

I installed linux on a OnePlus6T. Setup took less than an hour, technical issues included.


  • $90 for 8GB RAM, 128GB storage, 2.8GHz 8-core CPU
  • Linux on the OnePlus 6T is well documented
  • Low power consumption
  • Tiny footprint
  • No additional cables
  • Built-in battery backup
  • WiFi, bluetooth, speaker, screen, etc
  • Negligible environmental impact sans shipping
  • I wanted to play with Linux on ARM

I don’t need a dedicated cable to power or connect it. Running on wifi, it only needs to be plugged into my phone’s charger. Whenever I need to charge my phone, I unplug the server and plug in my phone. It takes up so little space that I literally leave it on my night stand.

Unexpected Issues

  • I couldn’t get the Phosh image to boot, so I used the Plasma Mobile image instead.
  • The phone would suspend after a few minutes of inactivity. This caused a lot of issues over SSH and took a while to figure out, since servers usually don’t suspend.


After resolving the suspend issues, docker appears to work fine. Surprisingly, many images support ARM!


I installed tailscale to access the server remotely without exposing it to the internet. Tailscale is phenomenal, my grandma could set it up in less than five minutes if she needed to.

Viability as a regular phone

The OnePlus 6T is so much faster than a PinePhone, the Linux phone I used previously. But Linux still isn’t ready for daily-driving:

  • I need to manually connect to wifi for each reboot
  • The app ecosystem is still a work in progress, missing polished apps for navigation, cameras, streaming, etc.
  • Traditional Linux apps like Firefox don’t scale properly

Hopefully these issues are resolved in the future, but for now, the 6T is an excellent server.

Other Remarks

I’ve been toying with a few containers, but still haven’t decided on specific services to run yet. I’m considering:

I’ll post updates as things progress.

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