If you have ever used a smartphone then you probably know about the android OS, and that it is an operating system made mainly for smartphones and other small devices by Google.

Typically, Google releases the source code of all new android versions on its website. But those images are mainly meant to work on the ARM architecture (beside some other archs). Downloading them and trying to install them on your personal computer won’t simply work.

Android x86 is an open source project which aims to port the android system produced by Google into the x86 architecture. The project has been online for around 8 years porting various versions of android beside fixing bugs which arise from time to time. The code is released under Apache Public license 2.0 with some components being under GPL.

We’ve had a tutorial before on how to run android x86 on your Linux distribution inside QEMU to easily run android’s apps and games. Now, we try to highlight the current status of the project and how it is going on.

A Tour Inside Android x86

Android 6.0 Marshmallow on Linux
Android x86

Download Stats

On its download page, the android x86 project provides various android images for both the 32 and 64 bit platforms. Additionally, you can also notice that some images exist for Cyangenmod. The android x86 project also works on porting these images to the x86 architectures.

The latest android release ported to x86 is 7.1 Nougat, which was released around 2 months ago. Cyangenmod 14.1 is also available as a release candidate.

Talking about numbers, there are thousands of downloads for these images per day. The download mirrors are hosted on OSDN. The average number of downloads per month is around 125 thousands:

Overview on Android x86 Project & Call to Help 9
Android x86 # Downloads

Overall, there are around 2.8 million downloads for the project files from OSDN in just the last one and half years. (This doesn’t cover the previous download locations of the projects). It’s a really popular and important project, and thousands of people are benefiting from this work.

The Infrastructure

One can easily notice that they are also using OSDN to host the Git repository of the project containing tens of various branches which are being worked on. However, we thought that using a more popular service like GitHub/GitLab could have been a better option for the Git repository, and we wondered about why they chose this platform.

We’ve contacted the project lead, Chih-Wei Huang, to ask him about project as a whole and this point in particular, this was his answer:

GitLab/Github doesn’t support “hierarchical path” (I.e a repo path like git://…/dir1/dir2/dir3/…) that is used by AOSP. Of course some AOSP based projects don’t care that much, they just host in Github/Gitlab by jumbling the path, but that’s a headache to me.

OSDN didn’t support “hierarchical path” before. I asked them to add the feature for me. They agreed and implemented the feature I want. I very appreciate that. On the other hand, Github/Gitlab are probably too popular to care for my project.

Besides, OSDN maintains the Git repository very well. Since we moved to OSDN, I didn’t encounter or hear issues about syncing git repository any more. I am grateful for OSDN to provide such a nice hosting.

Current Porting Status

Regarding the current status of the porting process, the developers are working hard to finish the first release candidate of Android 8.1 Oreo:

It’s near the 8.1-rc1. There are still some minor issues to be fixed especially in the new kernel 4.14. We will move to latest LTS kernel 4.14 but there are some regressions found on some devices. I hope I can finish and release 8.1-rc1 before the end of April but I can’t guarantee.

Perhaps this slow but stable process takes so much time because of limited number of developers they have:

We only have 2-3 active developers now including me and we only do it in our free time.

We asked them about if there’s page to follow the current status?

Sorry. One can only follow (sync) our git repo to understand the latest status. Actually we have no website maintainer.

The Financial & Hardware Issues

The android x86 project doesn’t charge any cost for the images it produces. Anyone can access the full source code or download the images for free. The project is currently depending on donations to sustain itself, but sadly, like many open source projects, the amounts of donations are so small.

Additionally, many different hardware devices are needed to test the images and enhance the compatibility with them. The developers hope for hardware vendors to support them regarding this:

Small donations don’t help much. If someone donates a lot to hire experienced kernel or graphic stack developers for us, the story could have been changed. Donating devices may be more helpful. I especially hope some big hardware vendors can donate their popular products to us so we can improve the support on them.

When we asked about why they don’t setup a Patreon/Liberapay page in order to receive better donations and keep track of everything, which is very common in the open source projects world, they said:

Even we want to do so, [but] I have no idea how to set up such a page. We need a website maintainer. Actually we have no website maintainer.

It sounds like this amazing project which serves hundreds of thousands of users around the world is struggling to maintain itself. The whole show is managed only by 3 developers and there’s no web administrator to run over such issues, which is very sad to hear. Because when asked about final words to the audience, Huang said:

I have to say “thank you” to people who use and love my project. That’s the main reason I keep doing the project for the 8+ years. I hope more people can join the community.

A Call To Join & Spread the Word

As you should have already known by now, the android x86 project is in need for help. If you are a webmaster who has some free time to spare, we recommend that you contact the team directly and try to get in.

Additionally, the android x86 project depends on donations to cover its expenses. If you have extra few dollars to spare, consider supporting them via PayPal, Bitcoin or banking transaction.

If you are working in a common hardware vendor, you may also try to contact your managers and see if they can offer anything for this project.

Or you may just spread the word to your friends and colleagues, and tell them the story of this amazing project.

 

9 Comments

  1. Some Random Guy

    April 28, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    I really hope this project does not die like many other open source projects. I will try to support with what I can.

    Reply

  2. haxor

    April 29, 2018 at 1:16 am

    Great!
    Does it support any app store/repository?

    Reply

    • M.Hanny Sabbagh

      April 29, 2018 at 5:24 am

      It has Play Store, you can install whatever other store you want.

      Reply

  3. SirRon

    February 1, 2019 at 4:58 am

    No it does not let you install anything from the play store. I have a 32-bit HP 110-1025DX 1.6ghz160gb HD, 2g Ram with a native resolution of 1024×576. The Android x86 OS prompts the Pixel Setup for HP 110-1000 (I don’t know why) perhaps because it thinks the HP 110-1000 is a Tablet (checked About Tablet Setting) which probably explains why there are problems like:

    1. Can’t Install any apps: Any attempts to access install page stops Google Play Store. The only play store apps built in is Chrome Browser and GMail.
    2. Click My Games and Apps: Google Play Store Has Stopped in Google Play Store Menu
    3. maximize/minimizing to the upper left corner is slow before task switcher appears. Close all button buried behind open apps.
    4. Current builtin wallpapper image appears corrupt. Reinforcing it to saveby clicking the thumbnail image causes the entire system to crash. To have a choice to select one I have to copy images to the laptop
    5. At reboot Wifi is on (Switch LED ON) yet plugged in Wired Lan. Doesn’t know the difference causes communication error. Disconnect Lan, can’t get on internet. Turn On Wifi continues to scan with no results. Force to use Lan. Maybe reason Google Play is confused.
    6. Can only reach My Games and Apps to reach Updates, Installed and Library tabs by right click and hold on the Play Store Icon, click on My Apps menu. You should be able to reach this option from application menu not just from the Icon.
    7. Samples screen shots of Android x86 on the internet show a successfully working OS with dozens of Apps on the desktop each have a name. On my desktop all icons have no name. When you swipe from bottom to top to access the apps folder, each app has it’s name.
    6. App switching is latent
    7. On Android-x86.org documentation, see App Howto which seems to describe another method for installing apps from unknown sources. These instructions can’t even be set in the OS. They don’t match and there are not present. Ultimately this method was to assist downloading APK’s and installing them manually. Your desire for this OS to use all your favorite Google apps and games suddenly crashed. The most was a curiosity tour of navigating the project OS but not to use it in real time.
    8. Not sure if the OS desktop layout is a result of a hardware device detection or from a list file. The desktop layout on my laptop seems to be for a tablet held in portrait while the OS should have auto configured my laptop desktop for landscape view. The quick bar apps appears vertically on the right instead the bottom.
    9. Pass the mouse over the area of your home screen where the long Google Bar sits and see an large translucent box dominate the screen. Not pleasant.

    Once I installed from the USB stick, navigating Google Play Store worked once. Notification bar needed to update Chrome, Gmail, Google Webview, and two other things. You could she that Chrome and Play Store Icons had a notification circle with nothing in it but disappeared when the update occurred. So what and when Google Play Store broke I don’t know.

    Touring the Android x86 OS is impressive, not a complete feel of a desktop environment. Simulating a finger swipe with the mouse is tricky. You must use a mouse with a scroll ball to simulate touch strokes. There is no way around it. The touch pads will be troublesome. Keyboard is alright. USB stick usable, USB CD/DVD drives don’t work as far as I tried. So forget watching movies or music on CD/DVD.

    NOTE: Phoenix OS is based on Android x86 and they both have the same exact problems. More so with Google Play Services. And with both projects, no place on Android x86 for users to contact the developers to report bugs/issues and in Phoniex OS forums no one responds.

    Please be kind and pass this replay to Chih-Wei Huang since their is no way for a user to pass this info without the world knowing who you are.

    Reply

    • M.Hanny Sabbagh

      February 1, 2019 at 8:16 am

      To be honest I have never faced any of those issues. Play Store worked easily with me and I could install any game or app I want. No glitches such as the ones you described happened to me, probably it’s just your hardware that has those problems. Maybe you are right about the documentation point, though.

      You can contact the developers from here: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/android-x86 as you can see they do respond.

      Reply

  4. SirRon

    February 1, 2019 at 6:22 pm

    These alternate OS’s like; Linux Distros and Android OS for the PC, all created with the idea that you can leave Windows, you can revive old computers with increased performance and with support for latest versions of modern programs. Eg. These alternate OS’s can run the lastest version of Firefox, unlike Microsoft Windows continued support for later versions of popular applications that end only continue with the only option to buy and install next version of Windows. You don’t have that problem with Linux and Android, so the alternatives make sense and it’s free.

    I have the 32bit HP mini 110-1025DX. The family of 32bit/64bit HP Mini 110 Laptops hardware should not be to blame. The Supported List on Android x86.org, has lot’s of entries for the HP Mini. The one that is populated the most on that list is HP Mini 110-1000 which claims 100% compatibility. The HP Mini 110-1000 is what shows up in the installation process when the Pixel Setup appears (Don’t know what this is really since I am not configuring a Pixel Smartphone). This setup is not in the foreground. It’s buried in the background and you are unaware until you open the Notification Bar for some reason and find Pixel Setup there and a notification from Google Play that Chrome, GMail, Google Webview and two other items need to be updated. Which succeeds to update the five items then Google Play Store breaks when trying to run as explained in my list of problems.

    So your saying the current version of Android x86 has no problems. That you have not customized or altered the Android x86 image, it’s installer or the OS on your PC in any way to make it work for you? On your first install and run of the OS, you had the total out of box experience from beginning to end and a fully functional Android x86 OS. Simply ready to use like that of a real ready to use consumer brand Android Smartphone or tablet? No problems and never posting a issue with the OS on any forum. Your saying you have none of the problems on my list? Please explain how is that possible with all the technical issues being posted and growing. Please tell me why it works for you and how I can make it work on the laptop.

    The problems I listed are real problems in the latest version of Android x86 and in the Phoenix OS which is based on the Android x86 project has the same problems. More so with the Google Play Store and Services; you can’t update it, you can’t run or install Google apps without it. If you go to their Website: Android-x86.org, read the documentation for App HowTO. The first line says, “Because Android-x86 is unable to use Android Market (only vendors licensed by Google can), installing new applications is not as easy as an Android phone. However, we have tried to make it as easy as possible. This article describes how to install third party Android applications to Android-x86 system step by step.” The Android Market is Google Play Store is it not? Not even the suggested repository “AndAppStore” client developed by Funky Android Ltd. the links don’t work because the sites does not exist. The document continues to show how to setup the settings for installation from Unknown Sources but the settings paths shown in the document and screen shots don’t exist for the current OS. If the intent is to manually install APK’s like from APKMIRROR.COM, the installation will fail because of Google Play Store Services errors. This specific problem is widely posted on the Phoenix OS Forum. Some suggested redoing, customizing and repacking the ISO image with Android Tools to update the Google Play Store Services and the Play Store to work and to preinstall your favorite application APK’s into the ISO image. Does this sound like a friendly and pleasant out of the box experience of these Android OS alternatives? The newbie must immediately become an Tech or Developer to make a project work? I gave up on Phoenix OS after a month of no responses to my threads from their forum and tinkering and reinstalling and test. I swore that Android x86 would work. I logged in with my Google account and the first run, the Google Play Store and services worked because I installed previous installed apps. Then it did not work. The programs would not launch. Reinstalling the OS did not change anything.

    I really want to have these alternate Android OS’s working and functional so I can revive old computers like the HP mini, so I can give it back to it’s owner and have them use it productively. Please tell me how to make the Google Play Store and Services functional to install and run apps?

    Question: What computer you have that makes this Android x86 OS alternative run error free the first run?

    Reply

    • M.Hanny Sabbagh

      February 1, 2019 at 6:38 pm

      No, not all alternative operating systems do come with that idea. Each operating system and each release of that operating system is unique; Some of them are designed on old hardware, while some of them are not. As far as I know android x86 project doesn’t provide any such “promise” to work on old hardware, it’s just a project that ports the code from the ARM architecture to the x86 arch.

      I have no idea about the specific hardware that you have, but a Google search shows me that it’s at least 10 years old. So you are trying to run a 2019 software/operating system on a 2009 laptop. If I were you, I wouldn’t be surprised at all why it doesn’t work. I have a Lenovo ThinkPad x260 Laptop which comes with i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and Intel HD 520 graphics card, and yes it worked from the first run with no problems or issues at all. I have many friends with similar hardware who also didn’t meet any problem, that’s why I am suspecting it’s your old hardware problem, because it works here.

      Regarding the documentation page of the Play store, you are referring to a very old article also from 2009. Google no longer requires a license to use the Play Store, so Google Play does work in Android x86 just like in a phone. The issues you are facing are irrelevant to this information. This article (https://fosspost.org/tutorials/install-android-6-0-marshmallow-linux-run-apps-games) includes a screenshot for downloading a game via the Play Store (See the Slither.io screenshot in the post), I thought that would be convincing enough for any reader to believe that Google Play actually works. I don’t know what more evidence I can provide.

      I think that you should post those questions on the forum I sent you, this is Android x86 project, not Pheonix OS, so they could be different than where you say “No one responded after a month”.. And I can see the developers are answering questions on Android x86 forums. So please try to get those issues posted there.

      Reply

  5. SirRon

    February 5, 2019 at 5:29 am

    Sorry for the long post but you are the only person that I can talk to about Android x86.

    I have HP 110-1025DX Laptop with an ATOM CPU (N270) 32bit, Intel 945 express chipset and upgraded 1 GB to 2 GB.

    NOTE: I know my post is not about Phoenix OS. My posts are about Android x86 and can’t post to their site for some reason. Phoenix OS Project says it’s based on Android x86 that is way I also included it in the post. I tried Phoenix OS it did not work well so I tried Android x86 OS and both have similar issues from the OS to the Help on their sites.
    I’ve also tried the Phoenix OS version 1.5.0 based on Android 5.1 that is posted on their download page. It is supposed to be the last current 32-bit version yet buried deep in their forum is a post linking a 32-bit Phoenix OS version 2.2.1 based on Android 7.1. Which I also tried from:

    Phoenix OS Forum › Phoenix OS › Phoenix OS for x86 › Official Updates [RELEASE] Phoenix OS x86 v2.2.1(30 Sep.) http://bbs.phoenixstudio.org/en/forumdisplay.php?fid=18

    =======================================================================

    The screen shot above in your article, what release of Android x86 was used? I used 2019-01-15: The Android-x86 8.1-r1 released (the first stable release of oreo-x86) 32-bit ISO.

    I did not receive that welcome screen at all. What I noticed about your screen shoot is the layout is different from mine. You have the start menu in the center between your pinned apps and the apps over the Home button and inside the Widget area the apps have their app names (I don’t see names of any app on my desktop). How did you get to put the start menu in the middle above the Home Button? How come the app names?

    ——————

    1. Can you explain what the Pixel Setup for HP 110-1000 is for? It’s some type of wizard? I found in the notification bar after installation. How important is it and did you run into this yourself?

    2. In the installation it asked which program to use, Laucher3 or Taskbar. Can you explain what they are and which one you used?

    3. You mentioned that you and your friends did not experience any problems. I did not find installation instructions that described any of the choices about Launcher3, Taskbar and Pixel Setup. Not even a user guide to follow how to use the OS and how navigating it is different. You have to navigate sometime combining the keyboard and your mouse single and double clicking.

    4. A standard resolution of 1024 by 768 is a fixed resolution for a monitor that is set for it on a PC or Laptop with Windows but what if the native resolution1024 by 576 on the HP Mini 110-1025 is not a standard size but a mobile resolution (indicated in the Graphics Properties) then could the Android x86 OS have an issue with this? Wouldn’t this Android OS for PC’s be configured for a NODPI? You said you and your friends did not have any issue with Android x86.

    5. You said, “You can contact the developers from here: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/android-x86 as you can see they do respond.” Yes it is obvious that there are post and if you click on them there are replies. But for a regular user that just wants post a message with technical problems to receive so help there isn’t any controls to compose a message then nor when you click a button to add yourself to a group. I even tried sending this message to jliptoid@yahoo.com from GMAIL to reply to this:

    I have been trying to find out how a regular user like me can simply post any problems that I have with Android x86 but their Contact Us page has no way to enter a message.

    Google Group Mailing List: There is no controls to compose a message when you enter. I went as far as clicking a button to add my name to the group and still no controls to compose a message appeared. Yes there are posts that are there but how did they add a message. They even get replied to.

    Issues Tracker: Send bug reports or features to the Issue Tracker? HOW! There is no controls to enter messages here either. It also seems it’s been closed.

    IRC Channel: for Real Time communication? This does not work either!

    Email: I had no choice but to send a message at: contact@android-x86.org. But it says not to send any personal problems or request to that address. You will not get any response. For problems of using Android-x86, use the mailing list described above. What a lovely circle!

    —————
    Mr. Sabbagh. I just want to let you know when you said it could be the laptop hardware, the only thing that came to mind besides that the HP 110-1025DX is a 32-bit architecture with aan Intel ATOM CPU (does Android x86 support it?), the native resolution 1024 by 576 is that I upgraded the memory from 1GB to 2GB with Crucial Memory. Crucial sold me faster memory that they said is test and safe for my Laptop.

    I did a memory test with many passes for hours on the 256mb of VRam and separately on the 2GB Ram with no problems because it with share the system ram with the graphics card if it request it as long as the CPU does not need it. Tested Android x86 no change on problems I told you in my posts to you. Then I swapped the 2GB to 1GB and ran tests on that and tested Android x86 with no change. There was no improvement with Google Play store and other problems mentioned before. The only success was the built-in wallpaper; a purple image. It was garbled wallpaper after installation with the 2GB Ram. Changing to 1GB made it viewable, that’s why I ran the memory test.

    I truly want this OS to work, need help but can’t post any messages and the email address is not for posting a message. Besides what on current posts it seems everyone is a programmer somehow. They don’t write the long names of computer terms, always writing in short names. Need help. Do you have any suggestions?

    Reply

  6. C. Daniels

    February 13, 2019 at 4:46 am

    Hi. I noticed your post and I’m afraid you’re provided too much information! Also you’re asking someone “what works for you?” and this is unintuitive. List ONE problem at a time, then let the answerer ask the questions to narrow it down to relevant solutions. And I’m afraid not only is your computer old, but it is an underpowered “netbook”. I have a 2012 laptop that is upgradeable to 16GB, for example. Even Chromebooks need 4GB to run well. 2GB is going to present problems even with stock Windows. “Does this sound like a friendly and pleasant out of the box experience of these Android OS alternatives? The newbie must immediately become an Tech or Developer to make a project work?” Well, in a word, yes. Linux distros like Ubuntu and Fedora have very large and wealthy corporate sponsorships. They have motivation and resources to attract newbies, and collectively 20 years experience. Androidx86 does not. I assume you read their request for donations above? If you ever got Phoenix to work, you’d find that they have “nag screens” asking for the user to pay to get rid of these. RemixOS was a similar project with sponsorship from Jide and they folded after a year- not enough money. In the 90s, linux was in a similar situation, and yes, you needed near-developer knowledge to install and run the OS. It definitely was not newbie friendly. You cannot expect Open Source projects to cater to newbies without massive funding. The developers are donating their time and expertise for free, so keep this in mind. “Cloudready”, for example is a ChromeOS clone with which you might have better luck because it does have sponsorship (from Neverware and Google)

    Reply

Leave a Reply