Create Your Own Android PC With Phoenix OS
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Want to make an Android PC? It’s easy. Phoenix OS, based on the Android-x86 project, can install Android on a desktop 3 Ways You Can Use Android as a Desktop Operating System 3 Ways You Can Use Android as a Desktop Operating System It's actually pretty easy to use Android as your desktop operating system once you know how. Read More (or laptop). On the downside, it won’t run the full version of Chrome browser (Chrome is really fast What Is The Fastest Android Browser? What Is The Fastest Android Browser? Browsers on Android can have different rendering engines, so some browsers can be faster than others. Read More ). This is, after all, a mobile operating system.

Here’s how to get started.

Warning: The instructions in this guide will OVERWRITE your hard drive. While Phoenix OS can install in a dual-boot configuration, I don’t recommend it because dual-booting can cause problems with both operating systems.

android pc with phoenix os

Android PC Using Phoenix OS

Phoenix OS looks and feels a lot like the now unsupported Remix OS A Real, Android-Based Alternative to Windows: Remix OS 2.0 A Real, Android-Based Alternative to Windows: Remix OS 2.0 Read More . It’s GPL-2.0 compliant and installs on many different kinds of x86-based hardware. (If you can install Linux on a specific computer, you can probably install Phoenix OS.)

Phoenix OS also includes improvements to Android, such as automatically preventing apps from running in the background. In addition to speed, the OS also receives regular updates. These features have contributed to its recent increase in popularity. A few China-only hardware companies will release tablets and miniPCs with Phoenix OS as its primary operating system — for example, the Pipo P10 2-in-1 tablet.

Not all hardware is (fully) compatible with Phoenix OS. In many ways, it suffers from the same weakness and shortcomings as Linux: namely that it won’t work with all hardware. And even when it does work, it will lack certain features, like audio through an HDMI connection.

As an aside, you can test Phoenix OS out from within a virtual machine, such as VMware or VirtualBox. The Phoenix OS images for both are found over at OSBoxes.org.

Requirements for Installing Phoenix OS

Phoenix OS Hardware Requirements

Phoenix OS only requires an Intel or AMD x86 processor (Intel Atom recommended) and internal storage with at least 2GB of space. I recommend using at least 16GB drives. In order to install Phoenix OS, you will need a USB drive with at least 8GB of storage.

Requirements:

  • 2GB storage drive
  • Intel or AMD processor made around 2012 or later, preferably an Intel Atom processor
  • An 8GB or larger USB flash drive (for Phoenix OS)
  • A 512MB or larger USB flash drive (for GParted)
  • A separate computer in order to prepare the USB flash drives

UEFI or BIOS Motherboards?

Older computers (2010 or older) mostly use Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) as a Power On Self Test (POST) environment. So, what does that mean?

A BIOS allows computers to start without an operating system. Newer computers replace BIOS with something called a Unified Extensible Firmware Interface What Is UEFI And How Does It Keep You More Secure? What Is UEFI And How Does It Keep You More Secure? Read More (UEFI), which is more robust compared to the older scheme. Unfortunately, Phoenix OS doesn’t play nice with UEFI systems. And that requires configuring your UEFI to work with a non-Windows operating system (see step three below.)

Phoenix OS Installation Instructions

Step 1: Download Phoenix OS

The Phoenix OS installation package includes both 32-bit and 64-bit compatibility. That means you can install the operating system on older or newer hardware. Note, though, that the instructions in this guide rely on downloading the ISO image, not the executable.

android pc with phoenix os

Download: Phoenix OS

Step 2: Image Phoenix OS to USB Flash Drive

Once you’ve downloaded the Phoenix OS package, you need to image it onto a bootable USB drive using Rufus. Alternatively, you can use UNetbootin How To Install Linux With Ease Using UNetbootin How To Install Linux With Ease Using UNetbootin We've already talked about Linux and why you should try it, but probably the hardest part of getting used to Linux is getting it in the first place. For Windows users, the simplest way is... Read More , but it can cause unpredictable behavior during the installation process.

Download: Rufus Portable

Next, run Rufus to image your downloaded copy of Phoenix OS to a USB drive. The USB drive must offer at least 8GB of storage.

Take note of the following: First, select your USB drive. Second, you can use GUID Partition Table (GPT), but I had zero success with it. Choose Master Boot Record (MBR) instead of GPT. Third, choose FAT32 for the file system. Fourth, make sure you’ve checked the boxes for Quick format and Create a bootable image using.

The rest of the defaults here should work.

android pc with phoenix os

  1. Select your USB flash drive.
  2. Under Partition scheme and target system type, choose MBR.
  3. Check the boxes for Quick format and Create a bootable disk using (and choose Phoenix OS from wherever you downloaded the .ISO file).
  4. The other defaults should work fine. Choose start.

Step 3: Configure Your BIOS/UEFI

Configuring the BIOS/UEFI (BIOS explained The BIOS Explained: Boot Order, Video Memory, Saving, Resets & Optimum Defaults The BIOS Explained: Boot Order, Video Memory, Saving, Resets & Optimum Defaults Your computer’s BIOS (basic input/output system) is the low-level software that starts when you boot your computer. It performs a POST (power-on self test), initializes your computer’s hardware, and passes control over to the boot... Read More ) is the hardest step. You’ll also nee to know how to enter your computer’s BIOS How To Enter The BIOS On Your Computer How To Enter The BIOS On Your Computer Inside the BIOS you can change basic computer settings, like the boot order. The exact key you need to strike depends on your hardware. We have compiled a list of strategies & keys to enter... Read More . Motherboard manufacturers do not use a common language for their BIOS settings. For example, you will need to turn something called Legacy Mode on.

Unfortunately, different board manufacturers may use different language to describe this feature. Additionally, you may need to disable Windows-specific features. In your POST environment, some manufacturers refer to it as Windows 7 mode. Others called it Windows 7 or Other Operating System Mode. And there are other variations, as well.

android pc with phoenix os

You will also want to turn off any Fast Boot and Secure Boot options. Fast Boot and Secure Boot are designed for Windows computers — Phoenix OS is Linux-based so there’s no reason to leave them on.

  1. Turn Legacy Mode on, if possible.
  2. Choose Windows 7 mode or Linux mode, if possible.
  3. Turn off Fast Boot and Secure Boot, if possible.

Step 4: Prepare Your Target Drive for Installation (Optional)

Why is this step optional? The only reason you need this step is to change the boot drive’s partition table from GPT to MBR. Many older drives come with MBR as its partition table as default. If you already know whether or not the drive is MBR, skip this step. I should also note that GPT sometimes works with Phoenix OS. In my experience, though, it does not.

Download GParted GParted - The Ultimate In Partitioning Software GParted - The Ultimate In Partitioning Software Read More for this step. GParted is a partitioning utility. Among its many features, it can prepare a storage drive for receiving an installation of an operating system. The specific function that you need is to format the storage drive’s partition as MBR.

Download: GParted Live USB

To format a disk as MBR, simply image GParted onto a USB drive and boot your computer with the USB Flash drive inserted. The steps after GParted boots are simple: choose the default options (just hit enter when prompted).

I won’t get into lavish detail here, but you will need to remove the current partitions on your disk and create a Microsoft DOS partition table on the disk. To do so, choose Device and then Create Partition Table from the context menu.

android pc with phoenix os

Finally, at Select new partition table type prompt, choose msdos. Then hit Apply.

android pc with phoenix os

That should write the new partition table to the disk. You can now exit this program.

Step 5: Prepare Your Computer for Phoenix OS

The installation process is straightforward. First, insert the installation USB drive into your computer and boot from the drive. Remember: the installation process outlined here is destructive.

You should see a menu that looks like this:

android pc with phoenix os

Choose Installation. From the next menu, select Create/Modify partitions. Optionally, if you just want to see if Phoenix OS works on your system, choose Live CD. If it boots, congratulations, your system is compatible!

android pc with phoenix os

You may receive the prompt Do you want to use GPT? Choose No. As discussed earlier, using GPT is a disaster on Phoenix OS.

The following window looks like this:

android pc with phoenix os

In this menu, you must use the left and right directional keys for navigation.

First, hit the right key to select New and then hit enter, which creates an entry called sda1. Second, choose Primary and use the default drive size (which should be the entirety of your drive). Then, third, choose Bootable as the last option. Be careful that you don’t accidentally remove the Boot flag by pressing enter more than once.

android pc with phoenix os

Select Write to commit the changes to your drive. However, just before writing the changes, you’ll receive a prompt asking: Are you sure you want to write the partition table to disk?

You must manually type in the word yes and hit enter. Then the format tool writes the tables to disk. After it writes, choose Quit. This returns you to the Phoenix OS partition selection menu.

Step 6: Install Phoenix OS to the Target Drive

Choose sda1 and hit Enter.

android pc with phoenix os

From the Choose filesystem menu, select ext4 as the filesystem.

android pc with phoenix os

The installer will ask for confirmation (this step will create an ext4 partition, which wipes out the previous data on your drive). Choose Yes.

android pc with phoenix os

It may ask if you want to install an EFI GRUB2. Considering that your disk should be formatted as GPT, you will select Skip.

android pc with phoenix os

It will then ask: Do you want to install boot loader GRUB? Choose Yes. You’re pretty much done at this point. After it finishes installing, you’ll see the following menu:

android pc with phoenix os

You can select either Run Phoenix OS or Reboot. If you choose to Reboot, remember to remove your installation USB drive from the computer.

Using Phoenix OS as an Android PC

Phoenix OS Is Nougat + Windows

Phoenix OS looks like Android Nougat 7 Reasons You'll Want to Upgrade to Android Nougat 7 Reasons You'll Want to Upgrade to Android Nougat If you're thinking about making the jump to Android 7.0 Nougat, maybe these features could convince you. Read More but with a desktop interface. Most apps open in windows, meaning they don’t occupy the entirety of the screen.

Like a desktop, Phoenix OS also includes such features as “snap”, where you can shift a window to the left Here's How Windows 10 Makes Multitasking a Snap Here's How Windows 10 Makes Multitasking a Snap Snap Assist got an update in Windows 10. Now it's so good that it'll boost your productivity if you learn to make use of it. Read More or right half of the screen. This may not last, though, as Remix OS (how to install Remix OS How to Install Android on Your PC With Remix OS 3.0 How to Install Android on Your PC With Remix OS 3.0 Remix OS 3.0 lets users install Android on almost any hardware. Like Linux, Remix runs great on slow or older hardware, so if you have an old PC, bring it back to life with Remix... Read More ) offered the same feature and removed it later on. I’m not sure why, but copyright may be the culprit.

android pc with phoenix os

The snap feature allows for Android to function in dual-window mode. To illustrate, opening an app and holding the Windows key (or command key) and hitting either the left or right directional key will cause the app to resize and change position. Below is a screenshot of Phoenix OS’s dual-window mode in action. It’s handy for writing papers and more.

android pc with phoenix os

Phoenix OS Limitations

A lot of games won’t play correctly using a mouse and keyboard interface. And on top of that, there are a few features that need polish. For example, if you want to highlight large swathes of text, you have to click, hold, and then manually select the text you want. It’s three times as time-consuming compared to a Windows or Mac computer.

Even though Phoenix OS’s developers designed the operating system to work on Atom-based systems (best Linux distributions for Atom processors 5 Lightweight Linux Distros Ideal for an Intel Atom Processor PC 5 Lightweight Linux Distros Ideal for an Intel Atom Processor PC Don't let your Atom-powered netbook or low-specced laptop gather dust in a closet -- install a lightweight Linux distro and start enjoying mobile computing once again! Read More ), it will still install on most newer computers. I should note, though, that most computers will boot, but they won’t work properly with Phoenix OS installed. For example, HDMI audio rarely works.

Should You Install Phoenix OS?

If you have a computer with an Atom-based processor, like a netbook, it’s worth trying out. Phoenix OS has two big advantages: first, it’s fast. Second, it gives you access to the Android app library.

The issue with Phoenix OS is that it doesn’t work on every computer the way Windows does. So a lot of people will install it thinking it can make older hardware faster. It can, but rarely does it work without problems.

Do you love using Android on a computer? Let us know in the comments.

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  1. sam cook
    February 14, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    I've an old Lenovo laptop. Wiped HDD. The Phoenix .iso for a 32 bit Os install is 642mb. Which fits on a cd. But the 32bit OS is based on android 5.1.
    How secure is 5.1?
    Running apps and games caught my interest.

    • Kannon Y
      February 14, 2018 at 3:24 pm

      I believe it's based on AOSP and the Android-x86 Project. Those 5.1 images were last updated in 2015, which means the last time it received a patch was in 2015. I don't believe that those images are very secure.

      If you're at home and only installing trusted apps from the Play Store, it shouldn't pose all that great a risk. But if you're especially concerned about security, you may want to install a ChromeOS image that supports Android apps. I've had a lot more success installing Android compared to ChromeOS, but ChromeOS (technically Chromium OS) receives a lot more in the way of updates for 32-bit builds.

      • sam cook
        February 17, 2018 at 1:17 pm

        Thank you, Kannon Y. Might give Chrome a try. It's a strange laptop in that the Fn keys on the keyboard won't unlock in a Windows OS. But no keyboard problem when it ran Linux Mint.

        • Kannon Y
          February 17, 2018 at 11:29 pm

          No prob. By the way, it's Chromium OS, Flint OS, and Neverware CloudReady that are offering installable Chrome OS images. However, they are in the process of adding Android apps. They aren't ready just yet (but they should be in a few months).

  2. Maurice
    February 10, 2018 at 1:24 pm

    How long does it take to install Phoenix OS on a Dell computer with a 500 GB hard drive? I've been waiting for 30 minutes and am still only seeing System Initializing, Please Wait. Is there any more indicator than this to let me know if it will actually doing anything?

    • Kannon Y
      February 10, 2018 at 1:50 pm

      I've seen it take up to an hour to finish initializing. Other times, it has stayed there for hours and required manually rebooting. Most of the time when it just freezes, it means it's not compatible with your system. Do you know if the target hard drive is GPT or MBR? Are your BIOS/UEFI settings configured correctly?

      • Maurice
        February 10, 2018 at 4:53 pm

        I did follow the steps and set it to MBR and to Legacy. It's actually working now. Just took an hour with no sort of indications of what was happening. Working ok now. I just have to figure out how to now format them 3 other drives that are NTFS now.