Saturday, 21 July 2012

Android on a netbook

Posted by Gary Newell  |  at  19:02 5 comments

Introduction

I have an Acer Aspire One netbook which came pre-installed with Windows 7 starter and an Android partition.

Within a few days of having the netbook I decided to get rid of both and via a bit of distro hopping which included Ubuntu and Fedora I ended up with the brilliant Bodhi Linux which for me is the perfect distribution for running on netbooks due to it being lightweight and flexible.

There are occasions when it would be handy to have Android running on the netbook however and so I found myself scouring forums working out how to get a version of Android back on the netbook.

There are two or three reasons why having Android available is useful.
  1. There are Android apps that are either useful or quite fun that are not available elsewhere. 
  2. Android is incredibly lightweight and loads very quickly making it possible to get online very quickly.
  3. Battery life lasts forever.
There are also reasons why Android is painful on a netbook such as the lack of scroll bars. This is because Android has been built for tablets and mobile phones with touch screens.

There is also an issue that some apps cause the screen to rotate and if you didn't realise this before turning off the auto rotate option then it is awkward finding the way to rotate the screen back to normal and to also turn off that option. The mouse ends up working the opposite way to how you would like it.

Another problem is that the web pages tend to want to load the mobile versions as opposed to the full versions of sites. Again this is because Android is developed for mobile computing.

All in all I have come to the conclusion that my original decision was the right one and that removing Android from the hard drive was worthwhile.

There are apps that I want to run however that are specific to Android so I have installed it to a pen drive which I can boot as and when I need it.


Initially I tried writing this article using Android but it was very problematic. The scrolling was a nightmare and then the browser kept typing all my commands into the search bar rather than the editor.

So Android for a netbook. Good idea? Not really, unless you have a touch screen one and a really good reason to do so.

There are numerous sites that show you how to install Android on a netbook or to a bootable pen drive. Just Google either of those terms. (http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/install-android-netbook/ or http://www.itechcode.com/2012/03/09/how-to-install-android-or-run-as-live-cd-on-pc-or-netbook/)

The following link will help turn off screen rotation however this can be done by clicking the clock and clicking the off switch next to auto rotate (Android 4.0)

http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/26715/how-to-make-your-android-phone-stop-rotating-the-screen-when-you%E2%80%99re-reading-sideways/


About the Author

Gary Newell started the Everyday Linux User blog in 2010 and has written reviews on dozens of different Linux based operating systems. He has also written a number of tutorials.

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5 comments:

  1. The only problem I ever had with Bodhi Linux when I ran it on my desktop was that it didn't support HP printers very well. Since printing presumably isn't an issue on netbooks, it makes sense that Bodhi would be awesome on them.

    ReplyDelete
  2. To be honest I don't own a printer. I haven't owned one in years mainly because they are expensive, cumbersome and I never really have the requirement to print all that much.

    I tend to print at work or go to the library if it is important to print stuff out.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Printing is important on netbooks, too.

    For instance, one may need a printed receipt of a payment or to prove an appointment made.

    I don't know about Android, but with CUPS I imagine there's no problem in printing from a netbook with Linux. Can't Android use a CUPS-based network printer?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Android printing is not hard. Almost any WiFi enable printer can be used. Through Google Cloud Print you can set up any networked printer, and to a normal USB printer through a desktop with Chrome running.

    What is hitting the market now are netbooks with a touch screen, ARM CPU and a keyboard without a touchpad - running ICS or JB. A variation of a tablet with a keyboard. Cheap with long battery life. You do not need a touchpad when you can just touch the screen. You can plug in a USB mouse if you want.

    Will they catch on? Who knows.

    ReplyDelete
  5. A buddy of mine was gifted an older net book (eeepc 512 meg ram 4 gig ssd) by someone who had given up on it and he asked me to put an os on it. I scouted around for something that would be a good fit for him that could be shoehorned onto the net book. I stumbled apon the x86 android project which fortunately targets the eeepc. It is awesome. It provides a current browser, native Gmail client and a native Pandora client and he is very happy with it. He uses a USB mouse and the scroll wheel works great, so we haven't had any difficulties with scroll bars. The occational screen rotation is awkward but that is a problem I had messing around with it not one he has using the browser and Gmail. The best thing is I have not had any tech support calls from him since I androided his eeepc.

    In 2014 ms ends all support for windows xp. I hope by then that android will be easy to install on all those PC's to give them a little more useful life.

    It is really cool that my friend's old net book runs the exact version of android (ice cream sandwich) as my spiffy new tablet.

    Unfortunately I have since tried to get android running on my two net books and my two laptops without success. The problem is the wifi in allcases. But work continues and android will be an option for most current hardware soon I predict.

    ReplyDelete

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