Android on Netbooks

Jan 05, 2009

The Android OS from Google is optimized for ARM processors and smaller displays, but, with some adjustment, can also run on netbooks.

A developer team on venturebeat.com has reported that they can get Google's Android to run on netbooks. Now many users wonder if Google networks will become a reality in this or the next year. The quick and dirty porting success from the team nevertheless still points to some definite challenges ahead.

The team, which installed Android on an Asus EeePC 1000H, didn't consist of mere hackers, but professional programmers actively engaged in Android development. After they read in the android-porting Google group that Dima Zavin had installed Android on an EeePC 701, they wanted to take a crack at it themselves. According to their subsequent report on venturebeat.com, they got the OS installed on the EeePC 1000H within four hours.

The largest challenge was to adapt the ARM processor optimized code to the x86 architecture of the Intel Atom processors. Fortunately the Google team could take some guidance from previous work they had put into it. And they didn't need drivers in that the 2.6 kernel code already contained the necessary modules.

As to the many queries about when Google netbooks might become available, Matthäus Krzykowski clarified on the venturebeat.com webpage that a complete Android netbook still has somewhat of a journey ahead of it. The challenge is partly due to Android not using X Server, but working with the framebuffer driver instead, requiring special graphics card drivers for 2D and 3D acceleration. Since most graphics programs use X Server, this is where most of the work needs to go.

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