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Hybrid hijinks: How to install Android on your PC

Brad Chacos | Sept. 9, 2013
How does Google's mobile-focused operating system stack up on a full-size, not-so-mobile computer? You'll know firsthand after giving Android a test drive in a virtual machine.

In the option screens that follow, you have to configure your VM's hardware allocation. Give it at least 512MB of RAM if you can, though Android-x86 can run on 256MB of RAM if you're using a resource-strapped PC. The more memory you can spare, the smoother the results will be, though you don't want to allocate so much to Android that your native experience suffers while the VM is active.

Create a virtual hard drive using the default options, adding more storage if you wish. (Remember: Android was made for phones, so it doesn't take much space, even with multiple apps installed.)

Boom! The VM appears in the VirtualBox manager.

Next, you need to point the VM at your Android-x86 ISO. Click the Storage button in the VM manager and, in the window that appears, select the Empty option underneath 'Controller: IDE' to bring up various 'Attributes' options to the right. There, click the disc icon to the right of 'CD/DVD Drive' and select Choose a virtual CD/DVD disk file from the drop-down menu that appears. Simply browse your hard drive and select the Android-x86 ISO to load it in the virtual machine, and then click OK when you're done.

You're not quite finished yet, though. Click the Audio option, and in the window that appears, click the drop-down 'Audio controller' box and select ICH AC97. If you leave it on the default Soundblaster 16 setting, your Android VM's audio won't work properly.

Got it? Great! Now you're ready to install Android on your PC. The process is a bit trickier than your standard Windows installation.

Install Android on your PC
Click the name of your Android-x86 VM in VirtualBox's left pane, and then click the big green Start arrow. After clicking OK on any dialog boxes that pop up—be sure to read them!—you'll quickly notice that you can't use your mouse during installation. Use the arrow keys to scroll down to Installation, and then press Enter. Press Enter to select Create/Modify partitions on the next screen as well.

If you usually stick to graphical interfaces, the next menu may throw you for a loop, but it's nothing to be scared of. Just navigate to New and press Enter again. Select Primary as the partition type, and then press Enter once more to set the partition to the default size. You'll see the following screen.

Press Enter on the Bootable option, which should add 'Boot' under the 'Flags' listing, next to the computer name. With that done, select the Write option. A warning appears, threatening that writing to disk will wipe any data already on the disk. Who cares? This is a virtual machine, you silly installation software. Type yes, and then press Enter yet again.


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