Why would anyone want to run WhatsApp in Windows or Linux? After all, WhatsApp is a mobile messaging application.
Well, there are several reasons. For example, a lost or misplaced phone may force you to find a temporary way to keep up-to-date with your contacts on WhatsApp or you may simply be the adventurous type that wants a simple way to do everything from your desktop or laptop. There is also the convenience of typing from a regular keyboard especially when having an extended back and forth conversation — though this may differ from individual to individual. Those with visual problems may also prefer the larger computer monitor over a smartphone screen.
On Windows, it is possible to run Whatsapp using an Android emulator like Bluestacks. Bluestacks isn’t available on Linux yet, however there are other ways to run WhatsApp and other Android apps in Linux.
Genymotion Android Emulator
The simplest method involves using Genymotion, an Android emulator. If you are new to these terms, an emulator is an application that allows you to run a different operating system within your native system. In this case, we want to run Android in Linux.
Genymotion is one of several Android emulators that you can install in Linux. When compared to other emulators, Genymotion offers several advantages, namely:
- It’s easy to setup and use which is handy for beginners and intermediate Linux users
- Downloadable pre-configured Android containers for a wide range of devices and Android versions
- You can decide on the amount of resources such as RAM and hard drive to be allocated to each virtual device
- It’s possible to use your Internet connection directly in the emulated device
- It comes with ADB support and OpenGL hardware acceleration allowing you to use the container in a full screen and thus enhance your experience.
- It supports drag and drop file transfer to the emulated SD card
- Support for several sensors such as light, gyroscope and accelerometer
Before, you install Genymotion, you have to first install Oracle’s VirtualBox. VirtualBox is virtualization software that creates the virtual environment necessary to emulate Android in Linux. To install VirtualBox, download it from Oracle.
Next, create an account at the Genymotion website and install the application. The application comes as a .debi file so simply double click it to begin installation.
Once Genymotion is installed, launch the application and log in using the username and password you created earlier. Create a virtual container for the smartphone you want to emulate from the list of options available.
Click “Next” and follow the prompts. Additional files will be fetched from the server to complete the setup. Upon successful completion, your virtual device should be available and ready to play in Genymotion as shown in the example below.
Click “Play” to start the “phone” and begin by configuring the correct time and date settings. Next, download and install WhatsApp.
There are two ways to do this; the first option involves downloading the APK file directly from WhatsApp.com. “APK” files are Android Application Packages, as in the file format used to distribute applications in Google’s Android operating system. Navigate to the downloads page and download the apk file.
Once the file downloads, click on it. This will bring up a screen notifying you that the application is from an unknown source and is blocked for security reasons. Click “Settings” and follow the prompts to enable installation from “Unknown Sources”. Click “OK” and the application should install successfully. The only drawback with this process is that you have to create all your contacts within WhatsApp.
The second option is more arduous and involves installing the Google Play Store in Genymotion. This allows you to set-up a Google account and sync your contacts in WhatsApp. To do so, download the Google Apps (Gapps) package for the Android version your virtual device is running. This information is displayed just after the name of your device. For example, “Motorola Moto X – 4.4.2” where “4.4.2” is the Android version. Save the zip file on your Ubuntu desktop.
Next, drag and drop the file into your virtual device without unzipping it. If you get a notification similar the one shown in the bottom right image, simply click “OK”. You will need to restart the virtual device before proceeding to the next step.
Next, open the Google Play App and set up a Google account in the usual way. Ignore any prompts about Google Play Services having stopped. Simply click “OK” if you get a warning.
Next, configure WhatsApp. To do so, you will need your WhatsApp phone number handy. SMS verification is not possible because the text message won’t be detectable in your virtual device. Wait for the voice verification option and click “call me”. You will receive a phone call on your mobile phone. Listen to the four digit verification Pin and type it into the space provided. That’s it, WhatsApp is configured in Linux. If you don’t have your phone with you (if, for example, it’s lost or misplaced), you will have to borrow a handset and insert your SIM (replacement/new SIM) for this verification process.
Android Apps On Linux
There are other ways to use Android on a Linux computer though they are more time consuming and resource intensive. The Official Android SDK emulator is the tool of choice for developers but unless you have a tech background I wouldn’t recommend it. It has a much steeper learning curve. But, if you do decide to use it, it is the best emulator because it supports all functions including SD card support. To install the kit, get it from Google’s Official page which also contains detailed instructions. After installation, build your own phone and install WhatsApp.
Wine & Bluestacks
Another way to use WhatsApp is to install Wine, a Windows emulator and then install Bluestacks in Wine. To do so, use this command in the terminal:
sudo apt-get install wine. Next, download Bluestacks for Windows and run the installer using Wine.
Then, follow these instructions on how to run Whatsapp in Windows. However, a caveat, the Bluestacks-in-Wine installation is buggy and may require the installation of several dependencies before you can get it to work correctly; not the most optimal solution for a beginner or intermediate Linux user. It also hogs system resources and will be unbearably slow on machines running less than 2.5 GB of RAM.
How Do You Use WhatsApp in Linux?
As you can see, there are a few ways to go about using WhatsApp in Ubuntu. Do you know of any other way to run WhatsApp and other mobile messaging apps in Ubuntu? Please share your experience and insights in the comments section below.