Run your Android apps on Linux

Tutorial – Waydroid

Article from Issue 278/2024

Waydroid brings Android apps to the Linux desktop in a simple and effective way.

Emulators can be used to run applications from different operating systems in various constellations on Linux. The best-known candidates include Wine (Windows), DOSBox (DOS), and SNES (Nintendo games). But a counterpart for Android has been a long time coming, despite the clear proximity between the two systems. The current Android kernel is derived from a Linux kernel with long-term support (LTS). Despite many patches, there are basically more similarities between Android and Linux than differences. Having said this, running Android applications natively on Linux is complex and involves some tricky detailed work [1].

The makers of the free Waydroid [2] set themselves the task of integrating Android apps into the Linux universe as easily and flexibly as possible. When doing so, they relied on a proven approach and avoided reinventing the wheel. Anbox took a very similar path as early as in 2017, but the developers failed to follow up with a useful product. Anbox development was eventually discontinued in 2023.

Waydroid, like Anbox, is based on a container solution inside of which a session manager mounts and then launches an Android image. There are currently two images available, one with the central Google apps (GAPPS) and one without them (VANILLA). Both are descendants of LineageOS and are equivalent to an Android 11. They can be updated on the fly by an integrated update mechanism.


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