You can run Android on a netbook, but why would you want to?

android on the Asus Eee PC 1000H

The folks at VentureBeat ported Google’s Android operating system to run on an Asus Eee PC 1000H netbook. Good for them. The OS was originally designed for cellphones and now they’ve shown that it’s possible to run it on a full (but portable) computer like the Eee PC 1000H. That’s pretty cool.

But VentureBeat then goes on to conclude that the fact that you can run Android on a netbook means that Google and laptop manufacturers will be bringing Android-powered laptops to market by 2010. And the evidence just doesn’t support that claim at the moment. I’m not saying it won’t happen. I’m just saying it’s a bit early to jump to that conclusion.

Android is an open source, Linux-based operating system designed to run on devices with ARM processors. There are plenty of Linux drivers out there for Intel processors, so it’s hardly shocking that the VentureBeat guys were able to find the drivers needed to port the operating system. In fact, if they really wanted to, they could have ported the versino of Linux used on the Sharp Zaurus line of PDAs to run on a netbook. I’m sure it would run great. After all, it was designed for devices with slower processors and less RAM.

But you know what? It doesn’t make any sense. Becuase operating systems designed for cellphones are stripped down to their bare bones in order to function well on devices with tiny displays, pokey processors, and miniscule amounts of storage. And while a netbook like the Asus Eee PC 1000H certainly isn’t as fast, powerful, or large as your Voodoo gaming laptop, it’s still a full laptop and there are plenty of full fledged operating systems capable of running on it, from Windows XP to dozens of versions of Linux, to OS X (unofficially, of course).

Sure, you can run Google Android on a netbook. But it comes with a media player and a web browser and not much else. Or you could run Ubuntu. It comes with a media player, web browser, FTP client, office suite, and dozens of other apps preloaded. Oh yeah, and thousands of programs that can be installed with an internet connection and the click of a button. Yes, it’s wholly possible that Google and third party developers will create applications that make Google Android more useful over the next year or so. But it still has a lot of catching up to do with even the most basic Linux environments, like Puppy Linux. So I can’t imagine why anyone would want to run it on a netbook.

  • turn.self.off

    and on the off chance that people will create said apps for android?

    the funny thing is that windows mobile could very well replace windows vista for a lot of the jobs the latter is used for. microsoft knows this, and avoids the concept like the plague.

    here, who knows. but i bet you it shows that google can in theory make android usable for anything from set to boxes to full blown computers, if they want to.

  • Mikez

    Can you write that in Java?
    Then you can run it (_supposedly_) under Android.

    According to the project web-site, Android is written in Java,
    executed by a Dalvik JVM (not Sun/IBM/GNU) running on Linux.

    Shades of Sun's “Java PC” – anyone remember that without
    the help of the Google search engine? ;)

  • Mikez

    Better Question:
    Why would you want to encumber your Linux based machine with another
    proprietary operating system?

    See Section 3.3 of the License agreement:
    http://code.google.com/android/download.html

    Translation: Do not expect Android in the Debian archives in this lifetime.

  • BoloMKXXVIII

    How about running Android on an ultra cheap MIPS / ARM netbook instead of Windows CE?

  • http://www.atmasphere.net/ Jonathan

    We are totally in sync here … I think we could see Android on MIDs but on the Netbook it just does not make much sense in it's current form

  • Mikez

    Wouldn't that just replace MS-tax with Google-tax?
    - – – -
    <rant>
    You have your thing about DRM – I have mine about OSS.

    I once made a living, writing closed-source software – -
    Got ripped off really bad and decided to just give anything
    I write away (MIT Licensed anyway) from the get-go. ;)
    </rant>

  • njansen

    Two words, 'Instant on'.

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  • tal

    Again your view is so different than those on umpcportal or jkontherun. and you are as always at least in my opinion right!
    those fan boys imagine netbooks and smartphones to have the same requirements. i dont see this happening besides for a very silly niche market. maybe.

  • http://www.netbookinsider.com Netbook Insider Forum

    Yeah at this point I don't see why you would load Android on a netbook other than to say you did it. There are way too many better options than an excessively light weight Android OS.

  • http://www.ericabaker.com EricaJoy

    <The following are my own personal views and not those of my employer.>

    Why would we geeks want to run Android on a netbook when we can run Linux? Because we already know it and love Linux. However, netbooks are quickly escaping the realm of geekdom and becoming mainstream. For your average consumer who wants:

    a) something that just works without them having to poke at it
    b) access to the internet, a document editor, and a way to view their media
    c) easy access to apps

    the Android platform makes sense.

    To be sure, I think the Eee support right now is really rough. Once the major kinks get worked out though, I would feel comfortable giving my mom a Netbook running Android. Not so with Linux as she already has a Ubuntu based PC that she doesn't use.

  • http://andgeeks.com/ Michael Martin

    This is just a Proof of Concept.

    So as to prove you CAN port it to netbooks, not that it would be particually useful now, but the possibility is there down the road for something more robust.

    ,Michael Martin
    http://www.googleandblog.com/

  • bluesnoise

    Why? Simple, Google Maps GPS. Can't get it anywhere else.
    Android + Netbook = great carputer

  • Cliff

    Its official now. Android is coming out on netbooks.

    http://tech.yahoo.com/news/ap/20090602/ap_on_hi

  • Cliff

    Its official now. Android is coming out on netbooks.

    http://tech.yahoo.com/news/ap/20090602/ap_on_hi

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  • core

    boy where you all wrong!

  • Molbal94

    I want to run Andorid on my netbook to play Angry Birds.

  • P Grillo

    I don’t really get it. I just found out that Android is not in fact another flavour of linux for mobiles, and it uses linux as a base to deploy a javamachine-like environment. I’m currently building it, and I just found out… How discouraging. The now well-known o.s. for mobiles happens to be a limited sandbox, which by the way I can’t see how this can help to improve performance better than a tiny linux setup. I just hope I’ll be able to use it to gather some drivers here and there, mess around, and use them to build a real linux image for my device, cause it’s taking LONG to compile. But even though I get it I’m thinking I’ll still have to use Android as a bait to attract people to my site rather than a not-limited less-known version of linux. This is just too sad.

    As for the question, sadly enough the answer is:
    -Hey, dude! Got android on my netbook, ain’t that kewl!
    -Oh boy! oh boy! oh boy! (BTW what the heck is android? must be something really cool, gotta get me one)

  • help_please_:D

    I need some help here…
    i’m still a teenager and i was looking around for a laptop for college.. and this one looks so cool and have so many amazing apps and functions, but my main interest is the Office suite

    Since i’m used to Microsoft’s office (more precisely, Windows 7) :word, ppt, excel, etc.
    can i still use those on this netbook, which runs on Android 3.0 Honeycomb. like can i just install it on the computer without windows 7.. this might sound stupid to some people, but i’m a newbie at this computer and high tech thing

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  • jutness

    ok so i have a really old asus eeepc its the 900 the ssd is extremly small only 4 gb so it only reinforces my act in installing the very small android os considering the linux os’s are actually larger than ppl assume and doesnt leave much room to incorperate many programs i personaly am a gamer myself yes i understand there are alot better systems for this but im not exactly a rich person even though i have 2 pc’s running windows or vista lol i only have one laptop or netbook if u will anyways my only problem with having the android os on my system is that there isnt much troubleshooting for many of the apps that may not run on my particular system but so far theres only been one app that isnt being cooperative witch would be the myboy emulator witch is the game boy advanced yes i have the pai for version so it should be a difficult thing to get running considering i can run the gbc version just fine any help in getting this emulator to work on my system would be really appreciated