A well known fact is that Android and Linux share the same root as operating system. However, running applications of that mobile operating system on a PC is not easy, unless you have Anbox, a compatibility layer that integrates to your Linux desktop the ability to install and run applications on APK.

Many projects similar to this one that can be easily found on the web, use an emulator to run the Android environment. The tool in question creates a complete emulated system, which has its own kernel. Anbox, on the other hand, runs the Android system under the same kernel as the host operating system. For this reason, an emulation layer such as QEMU is not necessary, since everything runs directly on the hardware. This approach allows for much better integration.

The application is installed by means of the snap system, which has very good arrival in distributions like Ubuntu and similar. Installation instructions can be found in the Anbox documentation.

Once Anbox is installed, a modest launcher will appear among your applications, which contains the shortcuts to the Android applications you have installed on your system. As shown in the attached video, the applications can be opened as native to the system, operating as one more window within the graphical environment.

To install new applications, the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) is used. The process requires the use of the terminal, which is illustrated among the FAQs answered from Anbox.

Both to generate confidence by making its composition transparent, as well as to receive contributions of improvements, all source code is available under open source and is licensed under the terms of the Apache license and GPLv3.

The compatibility of your apps is assured. As Anbox runs a complete Android system, conceptually any application can be run. However, there are exceptions. If a particular application depends on some specific hardware functionality, such as controlling WiFi, making use of Bluetooth connectivity or the phone, it could present communication difficulties with the host operating system. Also, if an application does not support the free-form mode introduced with Android 7, it may look bad as a window.

In terms of security, Anbox puts Android applications in a hermetically sealed box, with no direct access to the hardware or its data. This is different, for example, from the Android support layer that Google developed for Chrome OS. Despite the similarity in concept, Chrome OS does not isolate these apps from your system, as Anbox does.

Its outstanding integration with the host operating system and the absence of the need to virtualize an additional operating system as a result, ensures better performance and enhances hardware acceleration features.

Anbox is a convergent solution. It works equally well on a laptop and a mobile phone, as long as they are running some variant of Linux, clearly. Without going too far, the origins of this initiative lie in Ubuntu Touch, Canonical’s initiative to bring its operating system to mobile phones, which was presented in 2013, and later in 2017, to be completely in the hands of its community. Given the lack of apps, this initiative emerged in search of a response. However, thinking about the users who seek to run their favorite apps on their computers, this is emerging as one of the best alternatives, similar to what Wine offers to run some Windows applications.


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