Seems as if every day there’s a new way to run Android apps on the Linux desktop. Most of the new methods for running these apps involve either installing a virtual machine with Android on it or using various Google Chrome extensions to load APKs. These methods are nice, but they don’t blend with the Linux ecosystem very well.
Enter Shashlik, a new project aimed at making Android apps run in tandem with the Linux desktop – no VirtualBox instances or browsers. Sounds promising, right? Here’s how to get it up and running on your Linux desktop.
Shashlik has a package available for installation. The current version of the available package 0.9.3.
The easiest way is to download the .deb file from the website and double-click on it to install it. Alternatively, you can run the following command in the Terminal:
Once you have the .deb package file, it’s time to install it to your system.
sudo dpkg -i shashlik_0.9.3.deb
After installing the package, you may encounter an error. This doesn’t always happen, but sometimes it can. This is because all of the dependencies were not met correctly. Not to worry, as this can easily be fixed with a single command.
sudo apt-get install -f
Now that the dependencies have been corrected, just re-install the package (by entering the
dpkg command listed above again).
On Arch Linux
Shashlik isn’t just available on Ubuntu. Arch users can install it as well. Just point your favorite AUR helper to this package. Go through the installation process, and it’ll go out, de-compile the .deb file and install it onto your system.
Things you should know
First: Shashlik is under development and hasn’t even hit a 1.0 version yet, so things might be incredibly unstable.
Second: though you are able to run Android applications, you should shy away from Google-related apps. Google Play Services are not supported, and any app that makes heavy use of this will flat out not work.
Third: Shashlik does not come with an app store. In order for this program to work, you’ll need to download the APK of the app you want. This is most easily done by visiting APK Mirror.
Note: Shashlik can only run Android APK files that have an x86 variant. Be sure to download that version on APK mirror. ARM Android packages simply do not work at this time.
How does it work?
Shashlik works by making use of the Android emulator that Google includes in the Android Software Development Kit. This allows it to run Android applications on your Linux desktop. Here’s how to get an app up and running. First, open a terminal, then enter the following command:
Once you’re in the directory that the APK is in, it’s time to run the file.
shashlik-run nameofpackage.apk name_of_app
Once you’ve run this command, you should see a smartphone-like window open up along with the app you’re trying to run.
What makes Shashlik special?
The great thing about Shashlik is the fact that it doesn’t try to re-invent anything. It just takes advantage of a perfectly good set of tools already there: Google’s Android SDK. With their modified Android run-time, Shashlik can boot directly into any Android application that you specify it to.
When you specify the APK file to the runtime, it goes out and finds the icon and extracts it. That way when you have the app open, you’ll see a familiar icon in your taskbar. That comes in handy, but a real killer feature would be the ability to create launch shortcuts on the desktop or in a menu.
This tool certainly isn’t a new concept. In 2014, Google themselves wrote a run-time and started working with developers to port over their own Android apps to run on Chrome. The reason that Shashlik seems more promising than Google’s effort is the fact that you’re able to run first-class Android programs outside of Chrome.
The impressive thing isn’t just that it’s not running in Chrome, though; it’s the fact that the developers have some serious plans coming. Their long-term goal is to integrate Android into the Linux base as closely as possible. This might mean giving the apps full access to a desktop environment’s notification system, adding better handling of an Android app’s ability to access file systems, window re-sizing and more.
Shashlik is an impressive take on running Android applications directly on the Linux desktop. The best part is that you’re not required to have Chrome on your system, which is great considering it doesn’t have the best performance track record on low and mid-range PCs. If you need an Android app to get work done, and you’re not interested in tinkering about, this program is hit and miss. It’s very buggy, and there’s really no guarantee that any one program will work. Still, if you’re willing to sit through the bugs to get something working, Shashlik shows very good potential.
What Android apps would you run on your Linux PC? Tell us below!
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