Anbox Uses Desktop Linux To Run Android Apps Natively

Android apps being run natively on a laptop or desktop has historically been strictly in the purview of Chrome OS, but a project called Anbox is looking to change all that by piggybacking off of the same Linux kernel that runs popular desktop Linux distributions like Ubuntu and Arch Linux. For those not in the know, that same Linux kernel, in a more stripped down form, is at the core of Android. Rather than using emulation, app instructions are run through Anbox as a compiler, with the Linux kernel already running in the background of the device doing all the heavy lifting. While the project is still currently in alpha, it is open-source and available on GitHub, meaning that anybody with talent and time can take a whack at expanding its capabilities and compatibility.

While the apps do run natively in a strictly speaking sense, using your machine's resources and system calls, the name is still fairly apt; Android is run in a box with Anbox. While one could somewhat replicate a fully native experience by creating custom shortcuts to apps installed through Anbox, deep system integration like what's seen on Android phones and tablets will never be the case with a solution like this, which uses a special program as a go-between, a sort of compatibility layer. Users familiar with Linux could think of it as an Android-targeting version of Wine.

Anbox comes with a few basic apps to start with, including the Play Store. Right now, there are no pre-compiled instances of Anbox for different Linux distributions, meaning that users who want to give it a try will have to either compile it from the source repos by hand, or create a tar.gz file from the bits and bobs present on GitHub and try installing it that way. On top of the normal steps to install an uncompiled app, users will have to jump a few extra hurdles to put some required dependencies on their system in order to give Anbox a whirl. Anbox currently only supports Linux distributions that can use Snaps. That covers a wide variety of the more popular Debian-based distros, but those on more obscure systems like Puppy Linux or Slackware-based distros will want to double check for compatibility before trying to compile and install Anbox.

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