Android-x86 4.4 screen rotation

Android-x86 4.4 RC1 review is a review of the latest development release of Android-x86, a port of Android designed to run on computers powered by Intel and AMD x86 processors, including netbooks and laptops and all-in-ones.

Given that major PC vendors now have (non-tablet) Android computers on the market, I think it is a good idea to have a version of Android that we can download and install on any PC just like we do our favorite Linux distributions.

It is in that spirit that I decided to take a look at this development release of Android-x86. This development release is based on Android 4.4.2 (KitKat-MR1 release), and according to the Release Notes, the ISO installation image comes in hybrid mode, which means that it can be loaded to a USB stick, as well as burned to a CD. (The ISO image is just 294 MB in size.)

The Release Notes also said that it comes with multi-touch support, besides also supporting Wi-Fi, audio, Bluetooth, G-sensor and camera. I have an all-in-one PC that has a single-touch-capable display, but before committing to loading it to a USB stick and running and installing it on that machine, I decided, like I do with all distributions that I review, to run it in a virtual machine. This screen shot shows the boot menu.
Android-x86 boot menu

That installation to hard disk option looked like a good idea, so after booting and playing with the Live desktop for a few minutes, I rebooted the system and made a first attempt to install it to the virtual machine’s virtual disk. Note that the Release Notes does not say anything about being able to install it to a hard disk, but I’m guessing that option was put there for a reason. If it works, great, else, at least I tried.

The following screenshots show the steps involved in the attempt to install Android-x86 4.4 RC1 to a hard disk drive (HDD).

On a brand new system with no partitions on the HDD, you’ve got to first create the partition(s).
Android-86 4.4 Kitkat

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And the partition must be created with cfdisk.
Android-86 4.4 cfdisk partition

Partition’s created, time to format it.
Android-86 4.4 install hard disk

The project’s wiki page says that ext3 formatting is not supported, but I decided to give it a shot anyway. And as expected, after formatting and installing the system using ext3, the system will not boot. Ditto with ext2.
Android-86 4.4 format ntfs ext4 ext2 fat

You do get this prompt regardless of the filesystem you choose to format the disk with.
Android-86 4.4 cfdisk partition

And this one, too. But I found that whether GRUB is installed or not makes no difference. After installation, the system won’t boot.
Android-86 4.4 cfdisk partition

This prompt is common to all filesystems.
Android-86 4.4 cfdisk partition

But this one is shown to you only if ntfs and fat32 are chosen as filesystems.
Android-x86 create ntfs disk image

A Yes from the previous screen will cause this one to be presented to you.
Android-x86 create ntfs disk image

After installation has completed, this screen is shown. Rebooting is a waste of time, as the system will either display a GRUB Error 17, if that bootloader is installed, or a blinking cursor, if it is not.
Android-86 4.4 cfdisk partition

And if Run Android-x86 is chosen from the previous screen, the system will hang at the step shown in this screenshot, but only if the HDD is formatted with ext3 and ext2.
Android-86 4.4 cfdisk partition

If the HDD is formatted with ntfs or fat32, the system will boot into Android. So after playing with it in a virtual environment, I loaded the installation ISO image to a USB stick using UNetbootin and installed it on my all-in-one computer that has a single-touch display.
It worked well on the machine except that audio did not work and Wi-Fi could not be configured. Configuration of the wired connection via DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) was automatic and it worked. This screenshot shows the first setup screen.
Android-x86 4.4 Welcome

After setup has been completed, bingo! The Android home page.
Android-x86 4.4 home page

For a guy who has never used a real Android device (I’m still very happy with my HP Touchpad), seeing an app for a terminal emulator on Android is a good thing.
Android-x86 4.4 apps

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Good thing because it facilitates ssh-ing from the Android environment to any computer in my network and vice versa.
Android-x86 4.4 shell terminal ssh

It can be somewhat disconcerting to be playing with the system and then have the screen suddenly turn sideways. That’s no big deal on a smartphone or a tablet, but in a virtual environment or a 21-inch all-in-one computer, it prompts you to look for a quick solution.
Android-x86 4.4 screen rotation

Luckily, the solution is universal – just disable screen rotation.
Android-x86 4.4 Android notification

As I became familiar with the settings, there’s this feeling that all my information are belong to Google. I wish that there’s a truly Free Software/Open Source mobile operating system that I can use just like I use my Linux desktop. You know, one that does not funnel my whole digital life to some corporate behemoth.
Android-x86 4.4 Android settings

I like the fact that this project is trying to port Android to standard computers, but Android computers from major PC vendors (and controlled by Google) are already in the market. What I’ll love to see is a port of Android that’s not controlled by Google (even if the project is not sponsored by Google, if you have to sign in with Google to use the device in a meaningful way, then it’s still controlled by Google.)

Replicant is an ongoing project, but it’s not moving in the same direction as Android-x86, and it lacks manpower. All that aside, I think Android-x86 is a good project. At least for people like me that don’t own an Android device and have no intention of buying one anytime soon, it enables us to play with the mobile OS. If you would like to do the same, you may download an installation image of Android-x86 4.4 RC1 from the home page.
Android-x86 4.4 browser


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23 Responses

  1. Finid:

    Nice tutorial you have here ! I’ll pass it on to others.

    Hey, I’m enjoying Mint9 on both my ancient desktop (’02) and my new compaq cq61 laptop – both using the Windows installer option.

    I’m updating the desktop machine, and as part of the installing the software updates it asks if I want to “configure Grub-PC”, which I’m not sure of the answer to. (Isn’t it already installed ? – or not necessary due to the Windows installer usage ?)

    It does have a checkbox for ‘continue without installing Grub-PC’ – what do you advise ?

    Many thanks,

    David Alan
    Windows Refugee, now enjoying Linux (& preaching it far & wide…)

    1. I’ve not had to deal with your particular situation. My guess is chose “No,” leaving GRUB as is. Usually when you get options like the one you are presented, it’s best to “Continue without ..” especially if you are not sure what the correct answer might be.

    1. If Mint 9 does not auto-configure your laptops NIC, then it must be a driver issue. Can you see an output for eth0 when you type ifconfig -a in a terminal?

  2. finally. i have it now. i dont know the faults but i kept on trying. i realized that my previous installer is isadora is KDE. i tried to download the gnome 32 bit and it worked. haha. i dont know why but anyway i am learning. maybe soon i will get used to linux mint.. thanks for some pages that helps. and also osgui helps me a lot. i think you all guys are working on linux. truly i can count on you anytime.. now im going to explore linux. maybe if i have question ill post it here again. hehe thanks a lot.

  3. i’ve already downloaded linux mint 9 kde 32 bit and burned it in dvd but i cant install it. can you help me?

    ( i’ve also downloaded linux mint 8 )

    will it work in my macbook?
    thanks for help

      1. Never mind, that happens to me too. Just fixed it . In the future, a space between the digit and the closing parenthesis takes care of that.

    1. Sure can. If the DVD burn was successful, that is, no errors, all you need to do is place it in your computer’s optical drive, and reboot or restart. If it does not reboot into Linux Mint, then you will have to go into the BIOS setup and change the boot device from HDD to CD/DVD. Once that’s done, then you should be able to reboot into Linux Mint.

      I’m not exactly sure if it will work on your Macbook.

      1. yep, thats what i usually do in installing new OS on my PC but when i had my macbook, i’m having trouble with that. haha. now i’m viewing some website about installing linux in macbook. haha, the procedure is kinda different. i’ll post here what will happen, hehehe. it might help some macbook owner who wants to try or use linux..

        thanks for help. God bless

      2. Finally, I’ve already installed Linux mint 9 kde 32 bit on my macbook. but i cant use my wireless LAN. can you help me with this.. thanks and God bless

      3. i did’nt noticed. my drivers were not installed. i am expecting it just like when you install win7 that all drivers were automatically installed using only the OS installation disc. hehehe. where can i download drivers for macbook compatible with linux? thanks

        1. Ordinarily, it should work out of the box, if the drivers for it are in the kernel. Since I have no experience with Macs (this former mac addict jumped ship after Mac OS 8.1), the only thing I can tell you is try installing the ndiswrapper package. Search for it in the Software Center, or using Synaptic. ndiswrapper is used to make Windows-only drivers work in Linux. It could help with your Mac, too.

          Keep me posted on your progress. I’ll like to know the outcome.

          Btw, if you have a wireless USB card lying around somewhere, see if it works. From my experience, any of the wireless USB cards are automatically detected and configured.

      4. atlast it worked on my macbook.. but i had a lot of struggles. hahaha. i wanted to use linux mint 9 but the drivers wont work. i tried helena and it worked. i dont know why, is there a wide difference between them? i like wine doors because i can install windows application with it but not really as good as in windows OS. as of now i’m reformat and do it all over again because some problem occurs in my mac. i think its in the disk because i installed linux repeatedly 3 times that causes a lot of partition. hahaha.. i’ll post more in my progress.. God bless

      5. just an update. im using linux mint 9 isadora 64-bit gnome now and it is working perfectly. though i’m still exploring it and studying some application. it is great. im using it with my white macbook. i used rEFIt so that i can choose mac os x or linux mint. (im free from windows now. haha)

        i also tried it on sony vios laptop but the effects doesnt work. also in hp mini. i wonder why? i tried it it my desktop and its been great.. soon im going to try it on a pentium 3 desktop. i hope it works. hahaha..

        maybe some advices and recomendations are great. nice to see this page. thanks and God bless…

        (it might encourage somebody to read this thats why i post this.)

  4. just a little thing – iirc the ubuntu/mint installer allows one of the things you missed even though it is only the smallest one: grub password protection. I think it’s hidden behind some “options” or “advanced” button somewhere wchich lets you choose where to install grub and st a pw if you like…..

    1. Actually, the “Advanced” button, which is on step 7 of the installation process, brings up a window that allows you to chose where to install GRUB. It has no facility for setting a GRUB password.

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