Installing Android on a netbook or computer


If you have an old netbook lying around and want to revive it with an alternative operating system, or if you want to see what the new version of Android is like, you can install Android on your computer or netbook. Especially for this purpose, a group of enthusiasts created the Android-x86 project and regularly and for free creates Android distributions for computers. In this article, I will talk about how to try Android without installation or install Android on your computer alongside or instead of the main operating system.

First of all, you need to try how Android will work on your computer without installation. And, if you like everything, you can start the installation. For everything described below, a computer running Windows 7 was used.

Android version selection

First you need to select and download the appropriate version of Android. To do this, go to the Android-x86 project site to the download page: At the time of writing, the following versions of Android are available: 4.3, 4.2, 4.0, 3.2, 2.3, and 2.2. For versions 4.2 and 4.3, it is not specified which PCs to use, but for earlier versions, the type of computer matters. Let’s choose version 4.3 (download the file android-x86-4.3-20130725.iso).

Create an Android installation flash drive

The file downloaded in the previous step is the image of the installation disk. Using the image, you can create an installation disk or an Android installation flash drive. The installation disc can be used on computers that have a DVD drive. Burning an ISO image to a disc is easy with the help of special programs, for example, for Windows — this is the free CDBurnerXP program. But if you have a laptop, then you do not have a DVD drive and you need to burn the image of the installation disk to a USB flash drive.

The developers recommend using the free Linux Live USB Creator (LiLi for short) (download page or UNetbootin (you can watch a demo video) to burn a disk image to a USB flash drive. The first program officially supports the Android-x86 project, but I like the second program more, because. it does not require installation on a computer. Next, I will describe how to work with the UNetbootin program.

Insert a USB flash drive of a suitable size into your computer. I will be using a 2 GB flash drive. This is quite enough. Format your flash drive. To do this, explorer, right-click on your USB flash drive (in my case, it is drive F) and click on the «Format …» menu item. I chose the FAT32 file system for formatting, see fig. To start formatting, click on the «Start» button. After formatting is complete, close the window.

Download the UNetbootin program and run it. You will see the program window shown below.

1. Click on the item «Disk Image»;

2. Click on the ellipsis button and select the disk image file (in our example, this is the android-x86-4.3-20130725.iso file);

3. Select your flash drive from the «Media:» drop-down list. Carefully check that you choose exactly the USB flash drive on which you will burn the Android installation disk.

4. Click on the «OK» button and wait for the file to be written to the USB flash drive. After the program is finished, click the «Exit» button. The Android installation flash drive is ready!

Android trial run on PC

First of all, I want to note that not all flash drives have learned how to boot from me. For example, I could not boot from an 8GB Kingstone flash drive, but I managed to boot from a 2GB Chinese flash drive from an unknown manufacturer. What this is connected with is not clear.

In order for the computer to boot from the installation disk or flash drive when turned on, you need to enable the BIOS to boot the computer, respectively, from a DVD drive or flash drive. If you enable booting from a flash drive, it must be connected to the computer. After enabling the computer to boot from the installation disk or flash drive, restart the computer and you will be taken to the Android installation menu. Select the first menu item «Live CD — Run Android-x86 without installation» using the arrow keys and press the Enter button.

After that, the Android startup process will begin.

The first thing that will appear on the screen is the process of setting up your device. Do not forget that all the changes that you make will not be saved anywhere and will be deleted immediately after you turn off the computer, because we launched Android in trial mode.

On the first screen, select a language.

In the following steps, connect to your Wi-Fi network (you can skip this step and set up Wi-Fi later), set up a Google account (you can also skip this step). At the Google Location step, you can leave everything as it is or remove unnecessary checkmarks. On the next screen, set the date and time. At the penultimate step, enter the name and surname of the owner of the device (you can leave nothing here and just click on the button with the arrow pointing to the right). And finally, in the last step, agree that you allow Google to update the software on your device. To do this, click on the button with the arrow pointing to the right. Everything! The initial setup is completed, about which we will see a message. Click the «Close» button.

After the settings, you will see a greeting with a call to feel at home. Click on the «OK» button and check how the system works. Take it seriously, because. if something does not work, then it is better not to install Android on a computer.

See what applications are installed, if they work. Check how Wi-Fi works. Try installing some app from the Play Store.

Android physical keyboard setup

Separately, I want to write about how to set up the input of Russian / Latin letters from the keyboard and switching between them. Go to the settings, to do this, pull down on the icons located at the top right (underlined in red in the picture) to slide out the quick buttons panel.

On the panel you will see the “Settings” button (underlined in red in the picture). Click on it to open the settings screen.

In the settings in the list on the left, find the item «Language and input». To set up the Android virtual keyboard, click on the button next to «Android AOSP Keyboard» (underlined in red in the picture).

On the next screen, click on the inscription «Input languages», and in the list of languages, uncheck the box «System language» and, after that, check the boxes next to the languages ​​you need.

After that, go back to the «Language and input» screen twice. Find here the first item after in the «Physical keyboard» group, mine is «AT Translated Set 2 keyboard» (you will have a different keyboard, so its name will be here) and click on it. In the dialog that appears, click on the inscription «Customize keyboard layouts».

In the list that appears, select Russian and English and go back. Now you can see that your Android supports two languages. It also says here that to switch between layouts, you need to press CTRL+Space.

Let’s check how the physical keyboard works. To do this, use the built-in notepad. Go back to the main screen, open the menu with all programs, and launch the Notes program. Everything worked for me — both Russian and English layouts, you can see it in the picture.

Among other things, hot key combinations such as CTRL+C, CTRL+X and CTRL+V also work.

Installing Android on a Netbook

After you have checked everything and you have decided to install Android next to your main operating system or instead of it, you can proceed with the installation. First you need to boot the computer from a bootable USB flash drive as described above. Only now in the installation menu you will need to select the item «Installation — Install Android-x86 to harddisk».

On the first screen, you will be prompted to select one of the available drives to install Android. When installing, pay attention to this step, if you make a mistake with the disk, then you can lose all the data on it. Determine the required disk size.

If you put Android next to the main operating system, then a small separate logical drive is best. Describing how to do this is beyond the scope of this article.

In addition, you can create or change the drive where Android will be installed. I did not have a partitioned disk, so I chose the first option.

On the next screen, you will be prompted to select a drive for Android. I have created an unpartitioned disk for this. Select «New» and press the Enter key.

Now choose what this disk will be. I chose «Primary» — primary.

Next, select the disk size and press Enter. I left the one that was suggested.

The disk is almost created.

Now let’s make it bootable. To do this, select «Bootable» and press Enter.

Now select «Write» to partition the drive.

The markup erases all data, so you will see a confirmation prompt. Confirm your intent. To do this, type the text «yes» and press Enter.

The Android installation disk is ready. Scroll down to Quit and press Enter to exit the Disk Menu. Now the new disk has appeared in my menu. Select the desired disk and press Enter.

You will now be prompted to format the selected drive. Select the ext3 file system. This file system is best suited for Android. It is better not to choose the fat32 file system, because, in this case, Android will not be able to save data. Press the Enter key.

After that, you will be warned that you will lose all data after formatting. We agree — press Enter.

Formatting gone…

In the next step, the installer will prompt you to install the GRUB bootloader. We agree and press the Enter key.

In the next step, the installer will ask if the /system directory should be made read-only. If you are not a developer and will not be experimenting with Android, you can leave «Yes», otherwise select «No» and press Enter.

The installation of the system on the disk has begun …

If the installation was successful, you will see the message shown in the picture below and a suggestion to start Android or restart the computer. Select «Run Android-x86» and press Enter.

After the first boot since installing Android, you will see the already familiar language settings screen. From now on, customize Android for yourself and do not forget that now all settings are saved.

If you installed Android alongside the main operating system, then when you turn on the computer, a menu will appear to select which OS to boot.


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