Anbox allows you to run Android apps on any GNU/Linux OS
Thanks to the widespread proliferation of Google’s Android, developers have flocked to the platform, creating millions of applications for it. Although Android is based on the Linux kernel much like desktop GNU/Linux operating systems, the desktop OSes have not attracted similar amounts of development efforts. That’s not to say that GNU/Linux operating systems are failures (I run Ubuntu 16.04 on my own machine), but sometimes there are apps available for one platform that you wish you could quickly access on another. By quickly I mean without setting up a virtual machine, dual boot setup via the Android-x86 project, or using one of those remote desktop solutions. Thankfully, Anbox is here to solve that.
Anbox, which stands for “Android in a Box”, is an open source project that allows you to run Android apps on your Linux desktop without the hassle of virtual machines, dual booting, or remote desktops. It accomplishes this by placing the Android OS into a Linux container (LXC) which allows it to share the kernel (that means no emulation), but uses Linux namespaces to isolate the host environment from the Android OS. Anbox thus doesn’t allow any direct hardware access, but instead bridges Open GL ES to the host, for example, for the graphics subsystem.
Currently in an alpha state, Anbox is not without its fair share of bugs and crashes, but from the video above, you can clearly see that it allows for quick and easy access to Android apps based on an Android 7.1.1 Nougat platform. The software does not ship with Google Play Store, as you would expect, but applications can be installed from the host environment by running an
adb install /path/to/.apk command.
Installing Anbox is quite simple, as it will work on any GNU/Linux distribution that supports the ability to install snaps. Snaps allows Anbox to package all dependencies into a single zip file so you don’t have to worry about installing everything yourself manually. You will need superuser privileges on your machine, however, as the installer script requires the installation of certain kernel modules such as DKMS.
If your machine supports installing snaps, then all you need to do is run the following command:
sudo snap install --classic anbox-installer && anbox-installer
As this is an open source project, any developer can contribute to the project by following the project’s Github page. The Anbox developers can be found on the #anbox IRC channel on the FreeNode network or on their Telegram chat group. Bugs can be reported on their Github issues page.