Running Android x86

On May 24 2012, Intel released some images for the Android OS specifically built for the x86 architecture (ATOM) this can be found here: http://software.intel.com/en-us/articles/android-ice-cream-sandwich-x86-emulator-image/

From all the Android development that I’ve seen and done on this platform before, the Emulation of Android devices have always been horrible. I know that there are some not-so-technical folks that read my blog that may be wondering “Why is this important?” … well here’s why …

You can think of an emulator as a sort of software version of your Android phone or tablet. This is an important tool for a developer. If a developer wants to build an app for Android, then instead of requiring an actual device (or many different types of devices – since there are so many variants out there), the developer can instead “emulate” the behaviour, look and to some extent the experience of these devices using software versions, directly on his/her computer. These “emulators” / “simulator” are used to tweak developer applications so that they can get most of the bugs out before the developer has to go out to deploy the application to an actual device.

Running an emulator is fairly significant work for your computer (depending on what you’re emulating) and traditionally, for what (admittedly little) I’ve seen and read, Android emulators are sluggish and generally a pain in the rear to deal with. I never really investigated the reasons exactly why this is so, but it seems to be fairly a widely accepted fact. That said …

Welcome to Android on x86.

Due to my lack of experience of any real significant work on the Android platform, I couldn’t see the real performance different when running the images from Intel using the Android SDK. For now, I’ll blame myself for this one … I may be doing something wrong, but either way, the performance of the emulator still sucked pretty bad, but wait … there’s more!

Having been sorely disappointed with this first attempt, I then did some quick research and realized that there has been a project around running Android on x86 hardware for some time now. I’ve since been able to install Android in both Virtual Box and VM Ware with tremendous increase in performance and user experience compared to their ARM emulated SDK cousins. You can download these images and install them to a server to see for your self.

http://www.android-x86.org/

Once you have the images download, you can use the following instructional video as a guide to running Android x86.

 

There is a catch though, I’ve not yet been able to get the network emulation for function from within the x86 versions which limits my ability to make these images useful for debugging and testing applications. That’s the final problem to solve, well, that and live debugging.

Hope this was useful. Have fun hacking up some apps and stuff on Android.

— Cheers

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Posted in Android, Hacking, Personal Projects, Random Thoughts, Research
One comment on “Running Android x86
  1. Greetings! I’ve been following your site for a long time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Houston Texas! Just wanted to say keep up the excellent work!

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