Complete Guide to Running Android in VirtualBox

There are plenty of reasons why you might want to take the latest version of Android for a spin on your desktop computer rather than your smartphone or tablet.

For starters, maybe that version of Android hasn’t arrived yet on your device, and you want to try it to see if you really want it. Or perhaps you want to test how certain apps and features work in the latest version of Android’s candy-coated operating systems.

We’ll show you here how to emulate Android using VirtualBox, giving you complete PC-based access to the mobile OS from the comfort and control of your desktop.

First, you’ll need to install VirtualBox and the latest Android-x86 ISO file from this handy database.

Once you’ve installed it, open VirtualBox and click “New’ to start creating a new virtual machine. Name it whatever you like, then it’s crucial for you to select “Linux” and “Other Linux (32-bit)” for the Type and Version of the OS.

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Allocate an appropriate amount of RAM to your Android OS. Depending on how much RAM you have on your PC, you should allocate at least 1GB, with 4GB pretty much guaranteeing that the OS will run super-fast.

On the next page opt to create a virtual hard disk, then on the following page leave it in the default VDI format. After that decide whether you want the virtual hard disk to have a fixed size, or whether you want to let it adjust its size dynamically to the size of your virtual machine.

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On the “Create Virtual Hard Disk” page use the slider to decide the maximum amount of space you’re happy for your virtual disk to take up, then click “Create.”

With your virtual machine created, it’s time to install Android on it. From the VirtualBox man screen, click “Settings -> Storage,” then the little CD icon with the “+” icon on it, and click “Choose disk.” In the new window select the ISO for the Android image you just downloaded, Open, then select it from the “Storage Tree” list and click OK.

Click Start in the VirtualBox main menu, and you should get options to run Android-x86 without installation, or to install it, alongside a couple of other options. Choose the ‘Install’ option, then say ‘No’ when it asks if you want a GPT partition.

On the CMD-like screen that appears next, select the virtual disk that you just created (You should be able to recognize it based on its size,), then on the screen after that click through “New -> Primary -> Bootable -> Write.”

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Type “yes” when prompted, and VirtualBox will create a partition for you. You can now select “Quit,” at which point you’ll be taken to a screen asking you to choose which partition to install Android to.

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Select the partition you just created, then select “ext4” for the filesystem.

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Select “Yes” until formatting starts, then select “Yes” when asked if you want to install boot loader GRUB, and “Yes” to installing the /system directory as read-write. Android will now be installed to the partition that you created.

Once it’s installed, you’ll get the option to run Android through your virtual machine straight away. The next time you want to open Android in your new virtual machine, just open VirtualBox, select it, and click “Start.”

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VirtualBox has for a long time proven itself to be one of the most reliable ways to run different operating systems in a convenient little window in Windows (and other OSes, for that matter). While it’s not exactly optimized for gaming or other heavy-duty activities (BlueStacks is a better option for that.), it’s certainly a great way to test operating systems and even use them with most of their networking capabilities intact.

Image credit: modern laptop

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