Try Google’s Android Mobile OS on Your Computer with Live CD

intro1   Try Googles Android Mobile OS on Your Computer with Live CDHere at MakeUseOf, we’ve recently needed to test for the Android platform but we don’t all have the necessary Google-friendly smartphones. If you don’t own a fancy new Android device, and would like to give Google’s latest mobile OS a go then you’ll be delighted to know you’re not completely out of luck.

We’ve previously covered the Android SDK, a handy tool that allows you to emulate the Android environment on your desktop. It is also possible to turn your PC into a huge virtual smartphone with the Android Live CD, which provides a bootable-version of the mobile OS for use on any computer.


For developers, emulating the Android environment will allow new software to be tested without parting with any hard-earned money for the latest and greatest cellular device. For the consumer, the ability to “try before you buy” is enticing to any cautious buyer. Provided you have a CD burner and the ability to boot from a CD then you can take Google’s latest offering for a test-drive.

Download & Burn The Android Live CD

Android’s home on Google Code features several methods of acquiring the latest build. On the downloads page there is a torrent link for downloading the .ISO image, or if you’d prefer to download via the web then you’ll need to grab two files: liveandroidv0.3.iso.001 and liveandroidv0.3.iso.002.

torrent   Try Googles Android Mobile OS on Your Computer with Live CD

Note that if you grab the weblinks, you’ll need to join the files once they’ve both completed downloading. Google recommends using a small freeware application called HJSplit, which you can download here. Simply download it, choose Join and select your two files. Those of you who download Android via the torrent will find a ready-to-burn .ISO file waiting for you.

hjsplit   Try Googles Android Mobile OS on Your Computer with Live CD

Using your favourite image-burning software, write the .ISO file to a CD. As I’m a Windows user I’d recommend ImgBurn, as it’s completely free and gets the job done without any hassle. Linux users will have to use Wine in order to get ImgBurn working, whereas Mac users will be able to burn the image using the OS X Disk Utility.

imgburn   Try Googles Android Mobile OS on Your Computer with Live CD

If you do find that burning a CD is causing you hassle, then you can always write the image to a USB drive using an application called Universal Netboot Installer. It’s available for both Windows and Linux and is designed to provide users with bootable versions of their favourite Linux distributions on USB.

Launch the program once it’s downloaded, select Disk Image and locate your Android Live CD .ISO before choosing the USB device and clicking OK. Your image will be written to USB, and you will be prompted to restart once completed.

unetbootin   Try Googles Android Mobile OS on Your Computer with Live CD

I managed to get version 0.3 of the Android Live CD to boot via USB, although Google do not explicitly state that this version is compatible with USB booting. If you do have issues with booting from USB, head back to the downloads page and grab yourself liveandroidv0.2usb.iso.001 and liveandroidv0.2usb.iso.002. This will provide you with version 0.2 of Android Live, and you’ll need to merge these with HJSplit before writing them to USB with the Universal Netboot Installer.

Once you’ve prepared your CD or USB stick ““ you’re ready to go!

Booting Into Android Live

With your newly burned CD or USB stick still in the drive, restart your computer. You’re going to need to set your primary boot device as the CD drive or Removable Device (depending on what you’re using), so that your computer looks for Android before it looks for your primary OS on the hard drive.

Enter setup as your PC boots, usually by pressing F2 or Del (but you’ll see it flash up, “Press x to Enter Setup”) and re-arrange your boot devices so that your chosen drive takes precedence. Save and exit (usually F10) so that your PC restarts again, and wait.

notebook   Try Googles Android Mobile OS on Your Computer with Live CD

If all goes to plan, your PC will detect the Android operating system and you will be prompted to choose either 800×600 or 1024×768 as your screen resolution. If you are unable to load the Android operating system then it is possible that your PC isn’t compatible, so don’t forget the Android SDK if you’re experiencing this problem!

You’ll now be able to play around, test software and decide whether Google’s “iPhone killer” really packs the punch you’re after before you drop the cash on a new contract.

android   Try Googles Android Mobile OS on Your Computer with Live CD

Have you tried the Android Live CD? Did you burn a CD or use a spare USB stick? Did it help you decide on your next smartphone? Let us know in the comments!

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16 Comments -

0 votes

Fraser Smith

You should check your facts a bit more thoroughly. Android SDK is available on Mac OS X (and I think Linux too) as well as Windows.

0 votes

Tim Brookes

Apologies, that’s been sorted out now.

0 votes

Helnes

That’s correct! The Android SDK is available for all major OS

0 votes

Helnes

I have btw no need of an Android LiveCD. I’m on my third Android phone now, and I love the freedom compared to the iPhone I used to have.

0 votes

MADinMelbourne

toooo cool – can anybody bring a disc to Software Freedom Day in Melbourne 18 Sept?

0 votes

Anonymous

I tried the Live CD on one Linux netbook, a Windows XP desktop and a Windows XP laptop. None got past the Android splash screen. No mouse/trackpad detected. Total waste of time.

- Jeff

0 votes

timmyjohnboy

Not a TOTAL waste of time. You figured out it didn’t work for you didn’t you?

0 votes

jschall

I tried the Live CD on one Linux netbook, a Windows XP desktop and a Windows XP laptop. None got past the Android splash screen. No mouse/trackpad detected. Total waste of time.

- Jeff

0 votes

Fran Cisco

sorry but i dont support closed source ,

google is just using the community and taking credit/$$

0 votes

Fran Cisco

sorry but i dont support closed source ,

google is just using the community and taking credit/$$

0 votes

schorty

No luck here… made it to the splash screen (yes!!!) and then nothing (no!!!). Why doesn’t it work with a brand new computer sporting Windows XP? Too bad.

0 votes

einztrigger

Just a quick question…what version of android included in the live cd? is it android 1.6 or android 2.1/2.2?

0 votes

Saleav

same thing as previous people tried this on multiple computers with the same result, Live Android splash screen and nothing else!

0 votes

Sam

Boots up and enters the enviroment but no mouse, press one key and it enters the contacts and you can not get out unless you shut off the PC. bummer !!!!

0 votes

RAv

You can install using virtualbox.

0 votes

RAv

You can install using virtualbox.