Yes, I know: You Can Now Run Android Apps On Ubuntu
Short Link: http://www.jsmtech.org/anbox
Read Time: 4 min
I know, right? It’s great, and contrary to my almost clickbait article title, Anbox has actually been available to Linux users for a while now. It basically emulates an Android machine on your computer and lets you run Android apps.
Why would you want to run Android apps on Ubuntu? That’s actually a very good question and one that I’m not going to fully answer because it relies heavily on your use cases. For me, Anbox allows for my 2-in-1 touchscreen Dell tablet (feel free to read about my reasons for switching to that tablet) to run Android tablet apps of my choice. One recent example of this being helpful was when I used my Dell tablet to run a touchscreen MIDI pad trigger software – I mean, sure, I could’ve used the Chrome OS that was installed on my system, but one of my main gripes against Chrome OS is that you can’t modify the UI. It kinda makes me feel like I’m in an MRI machine if I can’t modify how my OS looks like. Ubuntu, however, lets you change pretty much anything and everything, which makes it a perfect choice for me.
Before I layout the commands for installing Anbox on your copy of Ubuntu (or whatever Linux you’re using), I just wanted to mention a few things.
First, Anbox has by default some huge limitations that make it practically useless to me. The first major limitation is that it can only run x86 Android apps versus the regular ARM instruction set that most Android apps are only compiled in. The second major limitation is that you must use Google's ADB command line utility when installing android apps. And the last limitation is that Anbox does not install the Google Play Store (this is actually Google’s fault because you need to be a partner with Google to bundle the Google Play Service with your product or software)
Second, you have two options for installing Anbox on your system. You can use your system installer or Snap (the universal Linux package manager). Snap is the recommended installation method, so that is what will be in the commands below.
Ok, with all that out of the way, let’s finally get to installing Anbox :) Now, since I’m really lazy, I’m going to copy and paste all the commands I used with some comments here and there where explanations are needed.
# Use Snap to install the Anbox beta in dev mode sudo snap install --devmode --beta anbox # Install some minor utilities that we need sudo apt install curl lzip unzip squashfs-tools android-tools-adb -y # The following script enables ARM apps and installs the Google Play Store # NEVER EVER run a script on your system that you haven't read through or that you don't know who made. That's why you should open this link up in a new tab and read the script before running this next command curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/geeks-r-us/anbox-playstore-installer/master/install-playstore.sh | sudo bash
Before you run off to test out the Play Store, there’s one more thing to do. You must enable permissions for the Google Play Store and its Services. Open up Anbox, and navigate to Settings > Apps > Google Play Services > Permissions and enable all the permissions possible for both the Google Play Store and Google Play Services.
Congrats, you’ve got Anbox on your system now!
What Do Ya Think?
So what do you think of Anbox? There are only two types of people out there: those who use Anbox a lot, those who don’t use Anbox that much, and those who are somewhere in between. Yes, apparently I can’t count XD. But regardless of where you stand, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Anbox, the process, or even on whether Android apps on Linux is a good idea in the first place. Looking forward to your thoughts!