Try Google’s Android Mobile OS on Your Computer with Live CD

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We recently wanted to test for the Android platform here at MakeUseOf, but we don’t all have Google-friendly cellphones. If you don’t have a beautiful new Android smartphone and want to try out Google’s newest mobile OS, you’ll be glad to hear you’re not entirely out of luck.

We’ve previously discussed the Android SDK, a useful tool for simulating the Android experience on your PC. The Android Live CD, which offers a bootable version of the mobile OS for use on any computer, can also convert your PC into a massive virtual smartphone.

Emulating the Android environment will enable developers to test new apps without spending money on the newest and best cellular smartphone. The chance to “test before you buy” for the customer is appealing to any careful shopper. If you have a CD burner and the ability to boot from a CD, you can try out Google’s newest offering.

Download & Burn The Android Live CD

Android’s Google Code home page has numerous options for getting the most recent build. There is a torrent link on the downloads page for downloading the. If you want to download over the web, you’ll need two files: liveandroidv0.3.iso.001 and liveandroidv0.3.iso.002.

Please keep in mind that if you take the weblinks, you’ll need to join the files once they’ve both finished downloading. Google advises using HJSplit, a simple freeware tool that you may get here. Simply download it, click Join, and then pick your two files. Those who get Android through torrent will find a ready-to-burn.ISO file waiting for them.

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Write the using your preferred image-burning program. Burn the ISO file to a CD. As a Windows user, I’d prefer ImgBurn since it’s absolutely free and does the job quickly. Linux users will need to use Wine to get ImgBurn to operate, whilst Mac users may burn the image using the OS X Disk Utility.

If burning a CD causes you problems, you may always write the image to a USB drive using a program called Universal Netboot Installer. It is meant to give users with bootable versions of their favorite Linux distributions on USB and is available for both Windows and Linux.

Once the application has been downloaded, run it, choose Disk Image, and then find your Android Live CD.ISO before selecting the USB device and pressing OK. When your image has been written to USB, you will be required to restart.

Although Google does not expressly declare that this version is USB bootable, I was able to get version 0.3 of the Android Live CD to boot through USB. If you’re having trouble booting via USB, return to the downloads page and retrieve liveandroidv0.2usb.iso.001 and liveandroidv0.2usb.iso.002. This will give you Android Live version 0.2, which you will need to combine with HJSplit before publishing to USB using the Universal Netboot Installer.

You’re ready to go after you’ve prepared your CD or USB stick!

Booting Into Android Live

Restart your computer while your freshly burnt CD or USB stick is still in the drive. Set your main boot device to the CD drive or Removable Device (depending on what you’re using) so that your machine searches for Android before it looks for your primary operating system on the hard disk.

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Enter setup when your PC starts, normally by hitting F2 or Del (although you’ll see “Press x to Enter Setup” flash up) and re-arrange your boot devices such that your selected disk takes priority. Wait for your PC to restart once you save and leave (typically F10).

If everything goes as planned, your PC will recognize the Android operating system and offer you to choose between 800×600 or 1024×768 as your screen resolution. If you are unable to run the Android operating system, it is conceivable that your PC is incompatible; if this is the case, don’t forget to install the Android SDK!

You’ll be able to experiment, test software, and determine if Google’s “iPhone killer” actually delivers the punch you’re looking for before committing to a new contract.

Have you used the Android Live CD before? Did you use a CD or an extra USB stick? Was it useful in deciding on your future smartphone? Tell us in the comments!

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