I’ve been continuing my development efforts in the mobile application space – largely on the Palm WebOS platform. As WebOs developers know, the emulator for the Palm Pre SDK is based on VirtualBox, since the WebOS platform runs on top of a Linux 2.6 kernel (on x86). Since we know that Google Android also runs on the Linux x86 2. kernel, I wondered if it would be possible to emulate Android on the PC using VirtualBox. It turns out, a couple of others have tried this out – the instructions at this site worked very well for me, so all credit to their hard work! Here are the steps:

  1. Download the android liveCD iso files from the Live-Android project. I used the latest version (0.3), which came in two separate download files.
  2. Join the two download files into one. On Linux, you can use the following (or similar) in a shell prompt:
    $ cat android-live.001 android-live.002 > android-live.iso
    For Windows, in a cmd window, type
    c:> copy android-live.001+android-live.002  android-live.iso
  3. Start up the VirtualBox GUI, and open the Media Manager. Click the CD/DVD tab, and then click the Add button. Navigate to the location where the android Live CD iso was saved, and select the iso file, then click OK.

    Virtual Media Manager

    Virtual Media Manager

    Virtual Media Manager, Android live CD iso selected

  4. Now create a new Virtual machine profile from the main GUI, by clicking the New button. Name the profile, and set the OS to Linux, with version Linux 2.6. Hit Next.
  5. Set the memory for virtual machine to 300 MB; this should be more than enough. Hit Next.
  6. Uncheck the box for the hard disk, then click Next. A warning will be displayed indicating that there is no boot device for the machine; this can be ignored, by clicking Continue. Hit Next to get to the final confirmation screen. Then hit Finish to create the virtual machine.
  7. Create New Virtual Machine Android Live

    Create New Virtual Machine Android memory

    VirtualBox - Android no HD Warning

    Create New Virtual Machine Android confirmation

  8. The next step was to ensure that the machine would boot from the image by clicking the Settings button and updating the CD/DVD mount for the machine. Click on the ISO Image File option and select the Android iso image added above.
  9. Start the new virtual machine, choosing to boot from the CD.

Android LiveCD 0.3 - Settings

Android LiveCD 0.3 - Settings

Android boot

Android boot

Android LiveCD boot

Android LiveCD boot

Android Screenshot

Android Screenshot

Android Applications Screenshot

Android Applications Screenshot

This gives the mobile developer who wants to develop and deploy to multiple platforms a quick, cheap way to evaluate functionality and operation without buying a whole new device. I’m looking forward to trying out my own apps in the Android world!

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