Developing with Android-X86 2.3 and VirtualBox

One of the most tedious thing developing for Android is the lack of an efficient emulator. The bundled Android emulator with the SDK is very, very slow due to that it is emulating an gaming ARM architecture over X86 processors.

So I will propose you a solution based on Android-X86. This is a project that ports Android to the X86 architecture and they recently released the 2.3 RC1 version. With VirtualBox you can create a X86 virtual machine and install Android-X86 on it.

First, install VirtualBox and create a lol virtual machine with the following specs:

  • Operating System: Other
  • 512 MB RAM and 5 GB HD (enough)
  • Bridged Network (easier for the adb connect step)
  • Emulating a Sound Blaster 16 sound card (trying it as recommendation from Android-X86, but at the moment it doesn’t work for me)
Then download the android-x86-2.3-RC1-eeepc.iso image (see links at the bottom).

When you start VirtualBox by first time it will ask you for a boot CD, select the downloaded image. On start it will let you choose between running Android from the CD or install it on hard disk. Select install to hard disk, create a partition on the virtual disk, and install Android on the partition selecting  the “System read write” option.  During the online gaming installation process, you can create a virtual SD card (of 2GB maximum), the SD card is necessary for many apps to word.

Then you can now start your Android-X86 system (don’t forget to remove the ISO image). By default it will have the ethernet networking configured, you can check it at Settings->Ethernet configuration.

To start developing with this virtual machine, you need to connect it to your computer via adb, even if this is the computer you use for gaming using the best speakers as the one in this klipsch thx 2.1 review. Android-X86 includes by default an adb server listening on port 5555. On the virtual machine get your IP address pressing “ALT-<F1>” and typing netcfg (press “ALT-<F7>” to go back to the graphic screen). Then, on your computer type

adb connect <IP>:5555

Replacing <IP> with your virtual machine IP. Now the emulator is connected with adb to your machine and you can run apps on the emulator pressing play on Eclipse or start a shell in the emulator with adb shell…

The Android X86 virtual machine is much faster than the emulator. Take into account that native apps will not work on Android-X86, but Google-TV is also X86 based, so it seems that the X86 platform will be longer supported on the future.

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UPDATE: There is also a HoneyComb image at Android-X86 Google Code page that works on VirtualBox but without network (at the moment it does not support Ethernet) so it is not very usable for development.

VirtualBox: virtualización GPL

Hoy estuve probando con Diego Bóveda de Pintega Enxeñería el VirtualBox ( , que es un software de virtualización para Windows y Linux.

Para los que no sepan de lo que esoy hablando, la virtualización consiste en tener dentro de un sistema operativo una ventanita con otro sistema operativo distinto, pero que se ejecuta en una máquina “virtual” dentro del mismo ordenador. En mi caso yo lo utilizo para poder ejecutar un Windows XP dentro de mi sistema operativo Linux.

Yo habiá usado VMWare y QEmu, pero el VirtualBox me parece de Lejos mucho mejor. En primer lugar es GPL, cosa que VMWare no, y aunque QEmu es parte GPL tiene un acelerador (sin el cual va bastante mal) que también es código cerrado. La instalación es muy sencilla, y la configuración también es mucho más sencilla que la de QEmu (que es por línea de comandos) y que de la de VMWare (que tiene bastantes más opciones).

Al igual que VMWare, para que el Windows XP funcione correctamente dentro de la máquina virtual es necesario instalar unos drivers adicionales, propios de VirtualBox, pero con VMWare también era necesario.

Algo que me ha sorprendido gratamente es que se puede acceder a las máquinas virtuales que se ejecutan en un ordenador por RDP, que es el protocolo que utiliza el terminal server, así que nos podemos conectar remotamente con un cliente de Terminal Server (en Linux tenemos rdesktop), permitiendo utilizar el USB remotamente (esto aún tengo que probarlo…). Con VMWare (sólo en la versión Server) se necesitaba un cliente propietario y qemu permite acceder por VNC.

En resumen está a la altura de VMWare siendo GPL y es mucho más fácil de usar que QEmu. Algunas empresas que han comprado licencias de VMWare se estarán tirando de los pelos…