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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14 Responses

  1. *It has long held a reputation of being a testbed for features that will eventually make it into Redhat Enterprise Linux, and, therefore, less stable than other desktop-oriented distributions*
    I don’t agree with that statement. I have used Linux since around 8 years my first distro was Mandrake 9.0. Tried Mandrake/Mandriva/Suse, Mepis, Ubuntu, Mint and even Vector and counterpart Slackware.
    Stayed with Fedora the longest! Starting with f11 now F13. It’s the most stable I’ve had out of all of the mentioned. Hasn’t had not one single X crash.
    This is enough to make me convinced Fedora is ready for the desktop.

  2. I hope i don’t have to recreate my 3g Internet connection every time start up like ubuntu 9.10. It connect successfully but no Internet activity ie ping if i login for the 2nd time. i need 2 recreate a new 3g connection if i want 2 go online successfully. weird?

    1. Auto-login is cool until an untrusted party gains physical access to your PC. Auto-login also makes it very easy to forget your password. That is another way of saying that forcing password-logins ensures that you’ll never forget your password, that you will never find it necessary to write it down, which you are not really supposed to do.

      1. I use my home computer for browsing, and never have it remember passwords. There is no “physical security” concern with this computer. I just want to log in to check my email, do some light word processing, read blogs, etc. I have nothing whatsoever I care about on it.

        I guess someone could break into my house, on an island off Korea, and install a keylogger. Huh.

        Auto-login is, definitely, a feature that developers ought to install, although not be default.

  3. SELinux is hard for most people to wrap their head around. For a simple desktop user who is their own sysadmin, SELinux seems to be more of a pain that a tool. To a professional sysadmin with hundreds or thousands of web facing machines or mission critical servers, SELinux stops security problems by partitioning applications from network ports, users from applications, and root from breaking things. Even if a user managed to exploit a privilege escalation exploit, SELinux won’t allow the transition. A user must KNOW the root password to run newrole and become the secadm to change SELinux settings.

    The advise of “turn it off” has been given far to flippantly in the past and it continued here in a review. That puts the reviewer in the “amateur” column of users.

    Fedora is the leading edge of what the next generation of RedHat will be. That is certainly the truth. But it is only by pushing that envelope that the entire Linux field progresses.

    So quit your whining an learn how to use SELinux. You will benefit and the entire Linux community will move forward. RedHat made the first move to use elf formatted binaries. All the other distros soon followed after they groused for 6 months. Using SELinux will require more than a drive reformat so the adoption cycle is longer. But it puts the system security well above the offerings of Windows and Mac systems. I like knowing that “bad people” can’t do “bad things” to my servers.

    1. This review, and all the distro reviews on this site, is obviously not for “a professional sysadmin,” and ,therefore, the advice to disable SELinux does not address that crowd. Guru-level users, like yourself (right?), do not need a review of a distro they already use.

      So I’m not “whining,” and I already know how to use SELinux. However, for my target audience, I think it’s prudent to steer them away from a tool like SELinux, especially when they do not need it.

  4. I like fedora, but for a computer that I use for reading the likes of this, what do you knead a password protected login and then turn off selinux.
    This is MY computer, NOT yours, so let me do what I want with it, I want to autologin and turn the firewall off and selinux off, If I wanted all that security I would use windows. HA

  5. Webcam support is kernel and not distro specific, whatever cams that work in Fedora also work in Ubuntu Lucid.

      1. In that case any distro with even newer kernel would have the advantage, sidux was released few days back and has latest 2.6.34 kernel so I am sure it would have even better support.

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