July 25, 2010

Android on my PC

The Android-x86 project is an interesting idea - to essentially port Android to run on the x86 platform (another name for most PCs out there). They publish the latest stable version as an ISO designed to boot and run PC hardware. Of course most of us may not have spare machine lying around. Thanks to the good folks over at UNetbootin, it is possible to take this ISO and create a bootable USB and try Android on your PC without having to install it.

A detailed step-by-step how-to is also available. It turned out to be as easy as it looked on paper - download the two files, run one, find the other and plug in a USB drive. A a couple of minutes later, I was running Android on my laptop.

While it did run, a couple of quick caveats. First of all, the stable release from the Android x86 is the Donut (v 1.6) build. This is two behind the current Android version and does seem a bit old. Secondly, support for the hardware in your PC is a hit or miss. The project, rightly so, focuses on netbooks and not all PCs. If you have the EeePC, you may be able to try the latest build from Eclair (v2.0).

In my case, while the PC booted perfectly, my 'Dell Wireless 1395 WLAN card' was not detected and I could not turn WiFi on. This severely limited my use for it, but it was nevertheless cool to run the same OS as my wife's phone on my PC. The ethernet card seemed to have been recognized, but who carries a network cable around these days?

If you have a spare USB lying around, this is definitely a fun way to see your quad-core crank through a mobile OS.

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