Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Thursday, September 2, 2021 at 13:32

Do you know Android-x86? It is a version of Android OS that runs on your PC and laptop rather than phone. It is a Free, Open Source Software of its kind that is actively developed. You might find it very similar to Ubuntu thanks to its LiveCD feature although it is not a GNU/Linux. This article introduces you to it by downloading, running, and trying it out on a real computer as well as a virtual machine. We will take benefit of it to run completely Free Software apps by adding F-Droid, an alternative play store. To give you the bigger picture, we will try running web browser, video player, YouTube downloader and other apps on it with software freedom. Finally, I hope someday we could enjoy a Replicant-x86 perhaps by someone reading this article. Now let's try!
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Android-x86 is an operating system from Android family developed ("ported") to run on x86 32-bit and 64-bit computers rather than its original ARM architecture smartphones. It is a source code available, open source project, published under Free Software Apache License, however, it contains several non-open source non-free software components namely Google Chrome and Play Store. Its website is

F-Droid is an alternative to Google Play Store that offers Free Libre Open Source Software apps safe from malwares and without ads or user trackings. Many GNU/Linux users use F-Droid to get high quality useful apps like KDE Connect, Telegram FOSS and VLC and amusing games like Apple Flinger. It is available to download and install at


Download Android-x86 from their download central


  • Easy to use as Android.
  • Fast to boot, admittedly faster than Ubuntu. 
  • Fast installation, far more faster than Ubuntu.
  • Runs on PCs and laptops and can empower the older ones (32-bit).
  • Gratis to download, free to share.
  • Source code available, open source project, and licensed under a Free Software license (there is possibility to make a derivative that is fully free like Replicant).
  • Touchscreen support.
  • Can be used offline.
  • Can be used without Google Accounts, Play Store, and Services.
  • No Proprietary Software Agreement at the startup, unlike Phoenix nor RemixOS.

Before continuing, you have the right to know it has features you might not like for example Google Privacy Policy agreement at startup, inclusion of proprietary software, and Google Search by default.

Related Projects

Other than Android-x86, there are several similar OS projects in the Android family:
- Replicant, the fully free software Android for phone and is actively developed. No desktop version.
- LineageOS, formerly Cyanogenmod, the mostly free software Android for phone and is actively developed. No desktop version.
- PhoenixOS, proprietary software Android for desktop. Similar to Android-x86 but nonfree and seems discontinued.
- RemixOS, proprietary software Android for desktop. It is not free libre open source software and discontinued.
- BlissOS, the mostly free software Android for desktop and is actively developed. Derived from Android-x86 and seems to be more free.
- MicroG, not an OS but a libre software replacement to the proprietary software components inside of Android family OS.
- /e/, the mostly free software Android for phone created by the founder of Mandriva, mass produced by Fairphone and uses MicroG.


Android-x86 initially started in 2009 and released versions below:
  • Release 9
  • Release 8.1
  • Release 7.1
  • Release 6
  • Release 5.1
  • Release 4.4
  • Release 4
  • Release 2.2
  • Release 1.6r2
  • Release 1.6


Android-x86 version 9 contains several components listed below. Several are nonfree software and tied to Google Online Services.
  • Google Chrome
  • Play Store
  • Google Play Service (software)
  • Google Services Framework (software)
  • Bluetooth
  • Calculator
  • Calibration
  • Camera
  • Clock
  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • Email
  • Files
  • Gallery
  • Music (LineageOS Eleven)
  • Notepad
  • Taskbar
  • Default Print Service
  • Terminal Emulator (termoneplus)

Alternative Components

F-Droid offers apps licensed under Free Software licenses below:
  • F-Droid, replacing Play Store
  • File Manager by Axet, replacing the stock one
  • Camera Roll, replacing Gallery / Image Viewer
  • DuckDuckGo Browser, replacing Chrome
  • K-9, replacing email client (software)
  • NewPipe, replacing YouTube (software)
  • Document Viewer, to read pdf and ebook
  • Apple Flinger, game similar to Angry Bird
  • Telegram FOSS, the fast messenger used by millions
  • Jitsi Meet, replacing Zoom 
  • Gasflow, download speed indicator like on Redmi
These are just a tip of an iceberg -- as there are many many more available!

How To Download

Go to download page above and simply download the ISO image file version 8. If you have more internet access, you can download as many ISOs as you wish.

How To Make Bootable

You can make a USB bootable of Android-x86 the same way you make it for Ubuntu and other GNU/Linuxes. Follow this tutorial using Disk Utility or this tutorial using Rufus/Unetbootin program to do so. 


How To Run the OS

You can run Android-x86 the same way you run Ubuntu from the USB. Insert the flash drive to your computer, boot it up to USB, and you should see Android-x86 bootloader. Once again, this bootloader is just the same as Ubuntu's bootloader, that is, GNU GRUB.

(The bootloader of Android-x86)

How To Start

First startup will ask you in several steps:
Step 1. Choose language.
Step 2. Choose SKIP under wifi connection. 
Step 3. Create your username.
Step 4. Disable all choices and accept Terms of Services.
Step 5. Enter the desktop. 
(Initial screen we will always see right after entering LIVE or finished the installation)

Enter Android Desktop

Welcome to Android Desktop! This is how it would look like. It is from a LiveCD session and no different after it installed to the computer. 

Open Start Menu

This is the full screen start menu of Android-x86. 


How To Enable Internet

In Android-x86:
Step 1. Click top panel, as usually you did on phone. 
Step 2. A drop down menu appears, as usual too. 
Step 3. Click Wifi (Network) button.
Step 4. Network Settings will open. 
Step 5. Click the wifi or network available to enable it.
Step 6. Internet access enabled. 
(Network Settings on Android-x86 showing the ON/OFF toggle button at top and VirtWifi enabled as the internet access)

How To Install F-Droid

In Android-x86:
1. Open web browser.
3. Download the APK.
4. Install the APK (as usual from the top panel).
5. Accept every permission request.
6. F-Droid installed. 
7. Run F-Droid.
IMPORTANT: at the first time, unfortunately it cannot be helped to use Chrome (it is proprietary software) as it is the only web browser. But once F-Droid installed, you can later install free software browser as replacement.
(F-Droid running on Android-x86 showing several apps like AuthPass, Linwood, and LibreHealth)

How To Install Applications

Firstly, we will install a web browser and here we choose DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser:
1. Open F-Droid.
2. Search for "web browser" keyword.
3. Results will show and one of them is DuckDuckGo Browser. 
4. Click Install and accept everything else after. 
5. Application installed.
6. Run the application.
7. Make it default browser. 

Second, we can install any other application and here we choose NewPipe, the best YouTube replacement today:
1. On F-Droid, search for "newpipe".
2. Click Install on Lightweight YouTube Frontend
3. App installed. 
4. Run NewPipe and try to play some videos.
5. You can also download every video. Enjoy!
Third, to complete this example we will install File Manager (by Axet):
1. On F-Droid, search for "file manager". 
2. Click Install on the one by Axet.
3. App installed. 
4. Run File Manager. 

How To Virtualize

You can run Android-x86 on AQEMU, VirtualBox, or similar virtual machine software. Why? Of course, because it is x86, the same architecture to Windows and Ubuntu systems you have. 
1. Create a new "Linux" virtual machine. 
2. Create for it a 2 cpu, a 2GB memory, and a 20GB disk.
3. Add the Android-x86 image file.
4. Power on the virtual machine. 
5. Android-x86 runs in the VM.

(Android-x86 operating system running inside AQEMU virtual machine under my Ubuntu host computer)


See Also


Further Readings

Do you want to know more? You can start by reading these:

This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.