Want to run Android apps on a PC? Developers have been offering emulators like BlueStacks and Genymotion for years. But for the most part those applications set up a virtual machine that isolates your entire Android experience from the rest of your operating system.

Anbox is a new open source system that lets you run Android apps on a PC natively, as if they were desktop applications. There’s no emulation required.

That’s because Anbox is designed to run on GNU/Linux distributions such as Ubuntu or Fedora, using the same Linux kernel for both the host operating system and for Android.

The software is still in alpha and the installer the installer currently requires an operating system that supports snaps, so not all Linux users will be able to easily install Anbox right now. But Ubuntu, arch, Debian, Fedora, OpenSUSE, and several other popular Linux-based operating systems already support snaps.

But since the whole project is open source, there’s nothing stopping developers from modifying Anbox for their own needs.

When you first install Anbox, you’ll have a few basic Android apps such as the Calculator, Contacts, email, Gallery, and Files apps. But you can set up adb to install Android apps from a Linux terminal command line. And theoretically you could also install the Google Play Store or a different app store, although Anbox does not come with the Play Store preinstalled.

While Anbox lets you run Android app on a desktop or notebook computer, it could also be used for smartphones or tablets. Canonical may have just pulled the plug on Ubuntu for phones, but third-party developers hope to continue developing the platform, and a utility like Anbox would make it possible to have an Ubuntu-based phone that can also run apps developed for Android.

via Simon Fels and Hacker News

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16 replies on “Anbox lets you run Android apps natively in Ubuntu, other GNU/Linux distros”

  1. I’ll be waiting the time it got an overlay gamepad support, virtual mouse for first person shooter games, and (optionally) a Windows port and then might as well move from Nox App Player to Anbox.

  2. Trying to understand where is the native part, seriously u can’t even tab to the apps like the normal apps, this is far from native and works exactly the same way as BlueStacks or any other emulator. The only diference here is that less stuff is being emulated, but it is still an emulator.

  3. Dear author
    Why do you repeatedly mention Fedora in this rubbish article when installing Anbox on Fedora is not possible. ? .

    (F***ing idiot)

  4. This is great! Android emulators are so damn slow, now I can test app builds at full speed without my phone. And if they streamline app installation then it’ll greatly increase the number of “native” applications for Linux.

    1. Arm native apps are not currently supported, but it may be possible to integrate something like libhoudini (which does arm emulation). On a reasonably fast x86 processor you can still run arm native games, etc. on e.g. android-x86, using emulation. So eventually it will probably be implemented for Anbox too.

  5. A ‘snap’ is a lightweight virtualization solution / container thing. It sandboxes an app in a chroot instead of a full VM but with the latest Linux container stuff it is pretty close to the same thing. Might integrate with a desktop a little better. Will be investigating it though, looks fun.

  6. Seems promising. It’d be nice to have Ubuntu netbooks that also run Android, although I can’t really think of any Android apps that’d be useful for a desktop OS, besides maybe Snapchat. Although, since you can run ubuntu on Windows, couldn’t you technically run android on Ubuntu on Windows?

    1. “Although, since you can run ubuntu on Windows, couldn’t you technically run android on Ubuntu on Windows?”

      Ubuntu on Windows has trouble with anything with a GUI. You can generally get things that depend on the old X display server to run, but things depending on the more recent Wayland generally won’t. It’s very likely that Anbox depends on Wayland, so it probably won’t work with Ubuntu for Windows

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