Installing Android x86 on a SD card

[German]Android x86 may be bootet either as a life system or be installed on a hard disk (SSD). Whilst a life system runs from a usb stick, changes a lost during reboot. Setting up Android on a hard disk isn’t always an option, especially, if it destroys an already installed OS. Installing Android-x86 on a SD card may be a good compromise.


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It is rather easy to bring Android x86 (a port for x86 system) to a USB stick or SD card using a tool like unetbootin (see [1, b]). Such a thumb drive may be used to boot Android x86 as a life system. The advantage: You may experiment with a machine without modifying the already installed operating system. I’ve used this solution a couple of timee to test Android on distinct netbooks (Eee PC 701G, MSI Wind U100) and slates.

A disadvantage is, that all settings made during a session will be dropped on reboot. But an install on a netbooks hard disk isn’t always an option. In this cases installing Android x86 on a SD flash card will be an appropriate solution. I discussed the install steps in [2] (but in German – English articles may be found at c, d – and b discusses how to handle Android x86]).

In principle, it should be sufficient, to select the flash card as an install target and proceed the install steps. But for my own, I failed, because the SD cards created in this way won’t boot. After searching the internet, I found an article [a], that mentioned the trick. The SD card (listed in most cases as device sdc1) may not be formatted as ext3, instead format it as fat32. This is important, because then boot helpers will be installed and all Linux partitions are written as .img files on the flash media.

The install wizard also offers an option to set up a fake SD card. This command creates another .img file on the flash drive, that will be mounted in Grub boot loader. A flash media prepared in this way shall be bootable on note- or netbooks (press ESC, F2, F8 or F11 to invoke the BIOS boot menu an select the removable boot media as boot device). I used this approach to install Android x86 3.2 Honeycomb on a SD card, whilst Android x86 2.2 was already installed on my netbooks SSD.

Further articles:
1: Android-Netbook im Eigenbau (Teil 1) German
2: Android Live-System booten und installieren (Teil 2) German

Links: a: Android-x86 Installed on SD-Card in 10 Steps (English)
b: Run Android on Your Netbook or Desktop
c: How to Run Android in VirtualBox, VMWare
d: Guide: Install Android-x86* on Intel® Processor Based Systems
e: Run Android on Your PC


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