Reboot Android-x86

The Android-x86 project provides ISO installation images of Android that can be installed on personal computers, which is cool, because that makes it possible to use the most popular operating system on the planet without buying an Android tablet or smartphone.

The latest stable release is Android-x86 4.4-r2. This tutorial shows how to install it on a USB stick, so you can have an Android device that you can boot and use from any modern computer.

What You’ll Need:
If you want to follow along, you’ll need two USB sticks, one to use as the installation media, the other as the installation target. The ISO installation image is less than 400 MB in size, so a 1 GB USB stick will do as the installation media. You may download the latest ISO installation image from android-x86.org/download.

The target USB stick should also be at least 1 GB, because a fresh installation of Android-x86 takes up about 1 GB of disk space. For this tutorial, I used an 8 GB USB stick.

How To Do What To Do:
1. Transfer the installation image to a USB stick: Assuming that you downloaded the ISO image to a Linux computer, you may transfer it to a USB stick using the dd command like this:

# Using the dd command 
# /dev/sdc is the USB stick

dd if=android-x86-4.4-r2.iso of=/dev/sdc bs=1M

2. Format the target USB stick: To make the installation easier, be sure to format the target USB stick, or just wipe it, if it contains data. Then Insert both USB sticks to free USB ports on the computer and reboot. If you did not set the computer to boot from external media, press the F key that will bring up the computer’s boot menu and select the right one to boot into.

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Figure 1 shows the entries in the boot menu of the computer used for this tutorial. The USB: PNY USB 2.0 FD 1100 entry is the USB stick that holds the installation image, while the USB: SanDisk Cruzer Glide 1.26 entry is the target USB stick. The computer has an internal 250 GB hard disk with Linux Mint 17.1, Ubuntu 14.10 and Windows 8 installed in triple-boot fashion.

Linux computer boot menu
Figure 1: Boot menu of computer showing detected storage media

This is the Android-x86 boot menu. You have the option to boot into a live desktop or straight to the installer. The latter option seems to be the most appropriate thing to do here.

Android-x86 4.4-r2 boot menu
Figure 2: Entries on the boot menu of Android-x86 4.4-r2 installation image

You’ll then be shown a window that shows the disks and disk partitions detected by the installer. In this case, sdb1 belongs to the target USB stick. The sdc entries belong to the installation media.

Android-x86 disks
Figure 3: Disks detected by the Android-x86 installer

After selecting the target disk, you’ll be given the option to format it. You definitely want to format it. I chose to format mine using the Ext3 file system.

Android-x86 ext3 file system
Figure 4: File systems supported by the Android-x86 installer

Yes, we are sure.

Android-x86 format USB stick
Figure 5: Options to format the target USB stick.

Yes, install the GRUB boot loader to the USB stick. A plus for the installer is that it does not mess with the contents of the internal hard disk, which is good to know, because in a future tutorial, I’ll show how to dual-boot Android-x86 4.4r2 and another popular Linux distribution.

Android-x86 install GRUB
Figure 6: Install GRUB boot loader to the USB stick

Yes, I think it’s better to install the /system directory read-write.

Android-x86 /system directory
Figure 7: Make the /system directory read-write

This image just shows the writing process. Less than 750 MB of data is written to the USB stick.

Android-x86 /system
Figure 8: Writing to the /system directory.

Installation should take less than two minutes. I did not encounter any problem, so next thing I had to do was reboot.

Reboot Android-x86
Figure 9: Reboot newly installed Android-x86 from a USB stick

On rebooting, you’ll be presented with the GRUB menu. Selecting the default option, I was able to boot into the Android-x86 desktop. My test computer does not have a wireless card, but the system was able to auto-configure the Ethernet card.

Android-x86 4.4-r2 GRUB boot
Figure 10: GRUB boot menu of Android-x86 4.4-r2

So I now have Android 4.4 installed on a USB stick, which I can use from any personal computer. And that’s awesome, because I don’t have any Android device.

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18 Responses

  1. Hi
    Now i installed android on my laptop and i have some problems a lot of application not working how can i install arm library and second how to access other partition on android
    thanks

  2. Hi
    Sir I strugle work and i success to install android on my laptop now i have some problems first can i access other drives second can i add arm library to play all android game and some application
    please help me
    my poor english

  3. Great post, thank you

    Getting courage from this post 😮 I successfully got android-x86-4.4-r1 installed to an old WD 40 gig sata testing hard drive,
    totally blank/wiped/unformatted/no partition/ to avoid possible issues,
    on a Dell 755 SFF PC with 2 gigs of ram,
    wired optical USB mouse and wired USB keyboard,
    with standard ethernet/network cable to internet router switch.

    AFAICT everything worked straight up on reboot,
    and was watching Youtubes and surfing on internet, GoogleMaps etc etc in no time

    ..till my geek play time ran out and did not go further into it

    Will try it next on an old tablet laptop and see how it fares using the tablet pen etc

  4. I have installe it successfully and also it worked fine at startup but after reebooting almost all app crashed .plzz help mw with this issue.

    1. Note that this is not a stable release, so app crashes are expected. Try the second release candidate, which was released a few days ago.

  5. I booted from usb stick, but couldn’t manage to access laptop hdd. Could you manage it? If yes how.

    Small know issue, no external monitor is taken in charge.

  6. I have an Asus VivoBook S200E i3 (11.6″) which has a 10 point touchscreen. It cost me £388, so not much more than a netbook. It has 512mb graphics thanks to the HD4000 which is part of the i3. It runs Windows 8.1 beautifully, so does it with ubuntu and it is amazing with a Android. 4.4 really is a huge step forward. 20 second boot up times, and everything working out of the box except for the fact you cannot put it in sleep like with windows.

  7. Hey , but when I try to sign in to Play store(over wifi and Ethernet) , it says either its a temporary problem or your device might not be configured for accessing internet . Please try later.

    Has anyone else experienced the same issue??

    And furthermore this is not the first time it is happening . It had happened with 4.3-devel version as well . But all versions before 4.2-devel had working internet (over wifi)

  8. I was able to install it on a hard drive.
    1) Clear all ald partitions.
    2) Insert live cd
    3) Install as defaut msdos
    4) Create a linux ext3 partition
    5) Complete install
    6) Reboot
    7) Works great on an Acer 5735 laptop

        1. Yes I just tried it , the installation seems to goes well but after a reboot it hang to a blank cursor… Look like the hardware isn’t compatible.

          Thank you

        2. Hello, i found a way to have it working.
          Install in EXT3 with GRUB and it’s working now but I have a hardware issue, the screen resolution is off and it’s like 640×480 🙁
          Will wait for another version….

  9. Hmmm, youtube app is up-to-date but is crashing on me. Works OK on my 4.0 installed version. 4.4 Live mode plays youtube vids with good picture and sound in Chrome.

  10. I found the 4.4 RC1 pleasingly zippy when booted in Live USB mode on an old Acer One AO150 netbook (single core Atom N270 with 1 GB RAM). I have been running an installed Android x86 4.0 on the same machine and find it useful for learning.

    One goal of the last few Android x86 releases was to eliminate machine-specific versions. I used to use the EEE PC build, but can now run the generic build.

    Android performance on that hardware is about equivalent to running Crunchbang Linux (Debian 7 with Openbox) via multiboot. Windows XP Pro is slower, but usable, on the same hardware.

    One minor point about x86 Android is that “disk” encryption appears not to be supported. Otherwise, it seems to be full Kit Kat.

    OTOH, I now have an Android laptop with all hardware working (webcam, wireless, trackpad, etc.) including wired Ethernet. Works fine with Google Play store and the Amazon app store. Nice way to reuse old hardware.

    Kudos to the Android x86 team.

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