If you liked the idea of ASUS Transformer, but don’t want to spend for it, how about installing Android on a netbook that is lying around? The idea is great and it is actually possible.
The things that you require to get going are a USB Flash Drive with at least 256MB of free space on it and a compatible netbook. Below are few steps that are easy to follow:
Step 1: First of all, you are required to download the file for Android. Go to http://www.android-x86.org/download and you will see a list of files over there. The files are categorized based on the Android version. There’s Android version 2.2, 2.3, 3.2 and the latest 4.0 available for download. If your netbook name is associated with file’s name, hit the download button with your eyes closed, however, if you netbook model name isn’t found in any of the file names, try your luck with any one of them.
For example, if your netbook is ASUS Eee PC, you should download android-x86-2.2-r2-eeepc.iso.
Step 2: While the operating system is being downloaded, you can go ahead and download UNetbootin by visiting http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/. It will help you create a bootable live USB drive from the file you downloaded in step 1.
Step 3: Once you finish downloading the file from step 1, go ahead and launch UNetbootin that you downloaded in step 2. Click the ‘…’ button next to ‘DiskImage’ radio button, and navigate to where the Android-x86 file that you had downloaded. Select the USB drive letter which corresponds to your USB drive and press ‘OK’. UNetbootin will take few minutes to process the image and the result should be a bootable live USB drive.
Step 4: Keep the pen drive plugged to the USB drive and restart your netbook. At BIOS prompt, go to the ‘boot from device’ menu. Most of the netbooks take you to this menu by pressing ESC key, however, it may be different for your device. Choose to boot from the USB flash drive.
If you’re not able to get there, you can also change the boot priority by entering the BIOS settings. Re arrange the boot priority so that USB flash drive is given the highest priority while booting.
That’s about it. Once you have chosen USB drive as the boot device, Android should boot in a minute or two. There is no installation of any sort as it is a live image. Also, make sure that your pen drive does not contain any important files as it may be lost in the process.
The Android version 2.2 is very stable. The x86 website only offers up to 4.0, but some features may not work in it. The distributions do have access the Play Store, and you may be able to access the store if you have manage to have the wi-fi working on your device.
Since your netbook isn’t a touchscreen device, you have to navigate around with a mouse and keyboard. The x86 version of Android gets you a cursor to navigate. Yes! A cursor on Android, and you may find it a bit odd to start with, however you will get used to it. You can type with your netbook’s keyboard and it works just fine.
Connecting to Wi-Fi is a bit tricky. Some have managed to get it working right away on their devices. Also it depends on the release, and you can also try restarting the device if it isn’t working. The internet browser included supports Flash. Since these releases also support Ethernet port, you can try plugging in your LAN cable if Wi-Fi isn’t working.
A camera application is also included with Android-x86 and it works fine in both Camera and Video mode.
The operating system is able to boot from a USB stick within 20 seconds, which is very quick, and you may be able to shrink that time to may be 10 seconds by installing it on your HDD, which makes having Android on your netbook an attractive option. Most of the netbooks have 1.6 Ghz hyperthreaded processor, which makes it more powerful than most of the android devices out there in the market.
Installation of Android X86 is possible by choosing the “Installation – Install Android-x86 to harddisk” option in the Unetbootin screen before booting into the live version. If you have a touchscreen netbook that Android-X86 supports, it will work great. Intel and Google were in news previously that they are planning to team up to bring Android to x86 as Intel hardware isn’t being used in ever growing smartphone and tablet market.