How to Install Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) In Virtualbox

If you do not own an Android phone, or that your phone has not been upgraded to Android 4.0 (Ice-cream sandwich) or you just plain curious how Android 4.0 running on a desktop will look like, here is your chance to find out now. The Android-x86 project, which brings the Android OS to x86 desktop, has released the ICS release candidate and you can now download and install it in Virtualbox, or even replace your existing OS as the primary OS.

To get Android running in Virtualbox, there are few things that you need:

1. Android 4.0 RC iso
2. A host machine with at least 1GB of RAM to spare.
3. Virtualbox application.

Install Android 4.0 in Virtualbox

1. Download Android 4.0 RC here (scroll down the list till you see the “Android-x86-4.0-RC1” section). There are several versions that you can download. The one that I am using for this tutorial is “android-x86-4.0-RC1-asus_laptop.iso“. The filesize is about 180mb, so it will take about 10 – 15 mins if you have a broadband connection.

2. Assuming that Virtualbox is already installed in your PC, open your Virtualbox and create a new virtual machine. Give your new VM a name (such as Androidx86) and set the Operating System to “Linux” and the version to “Linux 2.6”.


3. Set the base memory to 1000MB (though I think that 512MB will work as well).

4. Select “Create New Hard Disk”, followed by “VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image)” as the file type.


5. It is a good idea to set it to “Dynamically Allocated” and set the size to 8.0GB.

Once you have done creating the VM and is back to the main screen, highlight the new VM and click the Settings button.


On the left pane, select “System” and make sure that CD/DVD-ROM is checked and is the first in the boot order.


Next, go to Storage and select the Cd-rom entry. Under the Attribute section, click the CD icon and select the Android 4.0 iso that you have previously downloaded. You should see something like this:


Click OK to save the changes. Once you are back in the main screen, click “Start” to run the installation.

Running Android 4.0


This is what you will see on first boot up. You have the choice to run Android without any installation (live-CD mode) or install it in your VM. For this tutorial, I will go through the installation mode.

Choose the Sda1 Linux partition.


Select “ext3” as the filesystem to format to.


Install the bootloader.


When it prompts you whether you want to enable read-write for the /system directory, choose No if you just want to test and try out Android 4.0. If you are a developer or intend to use this full time, select Yes.


The installer will then proceed to do its job. When it is completed, select “Run Android-x86”.


Android 4.0 will now boot up. On the first run, it will prompt you to setup your account. If you move your mouse around, you will find that it is not working within the VM. To fix this, go to “Machine” in the menu and select “Disable mouse integration”. Next, click anywhere in the VM, your mouse will magically appear (You can restore the mouse in your host machine by pressing the right Ctrl button on your keyboard).


Proceed to setup your Android account. When you are done, you will see the homescreen and your Android 4.0 is now ready for use (testing). You can also go to Android market and install your favorite apps.


Since Android doesn’t come with a shut down button, the only way to shut the VM down is to close the VM window. When prompted, select “Power Off the machine”.

The last thing you have to do is to go to the Settings and remove the Android iso from the CD-ROM, else the next time you boot up, it will prompt you to reinstall again.

That’s it and enjoy!

Will you use Android 4.0 as your primary OS?


Damien Oh started writing tech articles since 2007 and has over 10 years of experience in the tech industry. He is proficient in Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS, and worked as a part time WordPress Developer. He is currently the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Make Tech Easier.

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