Last week I blogged about how to experiment with Android 4.x on a virtual machine using an android x86 port. A few days ago, android-x86.org released the AMD Brazos port of Android x86 4.0.1 – but this port won't run stable on my machines (UI always stalls). Last night, developers from android-x86.org project released a few more developers builds of Android x86 Ice Cream Sandwich. Whilst I failed last night to install in a VM or on my netbooks, I managed it today. Just booted Ice Cream Sandwich on my MSI Wind U 100 – incredible.
Where to obtain the x86 ics developers builds ?
The builds of Android x86 Ice Cream Sandwhich are published at this website of android-x86.org project. Currently there are several build out.
I have used the asus_laptop build for my project, because AMD won't rund on my MSI Wind U 100. Also EeePc build failed during my first tests on a Eee PC 701G and on my MSI Wind netbook – and I failed booting these builds in VMware workstation as well.
How to create a bootable USB stick with android x86?
Because moste netbooks (or slates) doesn't come with an optical drive, we need to create a bootable USB stick hosting Android x86 ics.
- Just go to http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/ and download UnetBootin for your operating system platform. Then unpack the download archive.
- Connect a FAT 32 formatted USB thumb drive to your computer, launch UnetBootin, check Image option (or Abbild her in my German version).
- Select the path to the android x86 iso-image just downloaded und select the USB thumb drive's drive letter.
After selecting all options, click OK and wait, till the wizard created the image to the thumb drive. After reporting a successful operation, abort the UnetBootin wizard (Reboot isn't required).
Unmount the usb thumb drive and disconnect it from your desktop computer. Then you are ready to give it a test drive on a netbook or slate.
Booting live version of ice cream sandwich
For a brief test, it is sufficient to boot the live system from USB stick on a netbook. Just connect the USB stick to a USB socket on your netbook and press the On button. On most netbooks you need to press a key like ESC, F2, F8 or F11 to invoke the BIOS boot device menu shown below.
After selecting the USB flash disk, press enter to invoke boot process. If everything went well, you should be greeted with a Android boot menu, similar to the image shown below (I have used an old screenshot here for demo purposes).
Just select the option for live boot without installing and press enter. Then android should boot and you will see a few console status messages. If it went well, you will be greeted soon with the 1st Android setup screen.
Just follow the steps shown on the screen to set up Android 4.0.1 for first use. You can skip the steps to set up a Google account.
Note: If the UI stalls permanently, you have selected a wrong x86 build that isn't suitable for your machine (I have had this with a eeepc- and AMD Brazos builds).
If everything goes well, your machine should come up with the Ice Cream Sandwich desktop, like it is shown below. A mouse cursor should be visble und you might be able to use touchpad for mouse positioning.
If you see the Android desktop, you have won. Use the 3 buttons shown in the lower left corner to navigate between home screen and app windows and go backward step by step.
The screenshot shown above was taken on my ICS x86 machine using adb. As you can see, the developer build isn't that perfect. In current screenshot the Google logo in the upper left is drawn with a shadow. On my first access to desktop I have had a red border around the desktop, but it faded during the next steps. Also UI fails, if the machine tries to go in sleep mode – then you will land on android console level.
Using the icon in the upper right corner brings you to the app page. Android x86 4.0.1 is shipped with a couple of apps.
First you can use the Settings app to change language an time zone settings. If that app isn't visible, right click the clock or WiFi icon in the lower right corner of android desktop with right mouse click. A context menu should allow you to acess the settings page. After you managed to enter the settings screen, you may use also the network category in Settings to enter the passcode to access your WLAN. After establishing a WiFi connection, you shall be able to use the browser app and visit some web sites.
Also Android market is present and will be working after setting up a network connection. During first time, you are asked to set up your Google market account (or just to login to an existing account).
Afterward your are able to download Android apps from Google market. But not all apps are valid for x86 platform. During my first test drive, I successfully downloaded and installed Astro file manager, Kindle reader and a couple of other apps. I also was able to connect my Windows PC via WiFi with my Android ICS netbook. Then I used android debug bridge (adb) and Dalvik Debug Monitor to access Android, take screenshots and inspect the machines file system.
Note: Be aware that all settings are get lost if you boot up in a live system. I will try in a next step how to install Android x86 ice cream sandwich on a SD card. Then it should be possible to boot the installed version from this SD card. And settings made during a session should remain a reboot.
For my German readers, some other articles within my blog are discussing issues around Android-x86. Experimenting with adb is also discussed in English here. Overall it seems that the first build of ics x86 could lead us to a valid test and developer environment.
1: Android: Kein Mauszeiger in Virtualbox
2: Android x86 in Virtualbox als Device Emulator I
3: Android x86 in Virtualbox als Device Emulator II
4: Dateiaustausch zwischen Android und Windows I
5: Dateiaustausch zwischen Android und Windows II
6: Dateiaustausch zwischen Android und Windows III
7: Dateiaustausch zwischen Android und Windows IV
8: Android x86 3.2 Honeycomb im Test
9: Android x86 3.2 auf dem Medion Akoya 1210
10: Ice Cream Sandwich-Testdrive in Virtualbox
10a: Test: Ice Cream Sandwich in Virtualbox Teil II
some in English
11: Running Ice Cream Sandwich in Virtualbox
12: Running Ice Cream Sandwich in Virtualbox Part II
13: Android-x86 Ice Cream Sandwich von VMLite
14: Testing Android-x86 Ice Cream Sandwich-Image from VMLite
15: New Virtualbox Ice Cream Sandwich-Build
a: Diskussion ICS x86 auf dem WeTab Tablet