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Wew… I’m glad that’s done.

My main laptop died last week and I replaced it with a desktop to get more bang-for-the-buck.

The desktop is great… I love it. But it’s stuck at my desk. I’ve been used to having a laptop to code on in the living room. Now it’s gone and I’m lost.

The solution is a laptop running TeamViewer. I bought a used Dell Inspiron with Windows 10 on it. Unfortunately, it’s a rather low-end model that’s 6 years old. All I bought it for was TeamViewer. Windows 10 was overkill.

So, I tried a few Live CD’s of various flavors of GNU/Linux. Then I ran across Android-X86. Oh? What’s this?

Android-X86 is a port to standard PC hard of Android. It’s very, very compatible with the Android you know and love on your phone and/or tablet. It even has an ARM emulation layer for running apps built on native code.

Installing Android-x86 should be easy. The ISO has a Live CD as well as an installation profile. Running the Live CD is pointless, you cannot persist any of your settings. Installing to a HD is your only real choice. And this is where it falls on its face.

When you install it using the wizard, you try to configure the machine with all the standard (and recommended) configuration options:

  1. Blow away any existing partitions with the installer’s partition manager.
  2. Create a 100MiB partition for the boot stuff.
  3. Create a partition for everything else using the remaining space.
  4. Tell the installer to use the big partition you just made.
  5. Let the installer load GRUB onto the machine.
  6. Let the installer complete storing files.

Voila!  Right????

Wrong.

First, GRUB never gets set up correctly.  When you reboot the bios finds the GRUB system on the partition table and tries to load it.  Nothing. Ever. Happens.

So, I boot up using GPARTED live CD.  Tell it to find other operating systems.  Nothing.  Edit an existing entry and point it at Android-x86.  Nothing.

I did a LOT of digging in Google and Bing.  Nothing worked.  So I decided to scrap android and go with Kubuntu.  This made my heart hurt.

I installed Kubuntu and after noticing that GRUB installed fine, I decided to search the web and see if I could reuse the same GRUB to launch Android-x86.

Aha!  I found explicit instructions for downloading Android-X86 from an RPM onto Ubuntu.  I got excited!  I followed the instructions and soon Android was on the system.

I reboot, select Android-x86 from GRUB.  It boots!  I’m giddy.  Then, nothing.  I just sits there trying to find the OS.  Turns out Kubuntu mounts to a virtual file system on a big partition on the HD.  Android-X86, expecting a real partition, simply cannot read it.  Never fear!  Partition Management is Here!

I resize the virtual partition, which allowed me to resize the real partition.  I set up a new partition for Android.  I copy over the Android-x86 folder from the RPM install.  I reboot.

It worked!  Hallelujah!

Moral of the Story?  Most GNU/Linux distributions (even Android) simply suck at installation.  Always have.  Will they always?  Ubuntu is one of the few that get it right.  Fortunately Kubuntu saved the day for me and gave me the tools to install Android-x86.  But, you need perseverance, patience and a little luck.