As a kid I used to go gagga over charms lollipops. Sour Apple and Cherry were the best.
And now, many decades, later I still find myself pining over the cloying yet strangely satisfying taste of lollipops. The fact that I live in New York City and know exactly where the Dylan’s Candy Bar is doesn’t help my addiction.
So here’s the deal: Android Lollipop is even more scrumptious than its predecessor Kit Kat. And the good news is that installing Lollipop isn’t much different from installing Android KitKat in Virtualbox.
Let me show the basics. Go grab a bib because this could get messy.
The first thing you need to do is get Virtualbox.
I won’t walk you through the installation though because it’s about as exciting as waiting in a doctors office with nothing to read.
Unless you’re a weirdo who likes watching paint dry or watching documentary movies for the credits screen, I’m going to skip the boring stuff.
Just go to https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads download the latest x86/amd64 platform for your Windows machine and keep all the default settings in the installer.
Google Drive is your candy store and android_x86-5.0.2.iso is your lollipop. Grab it from the source. It’s about 400 megs.
Create a new Virtual Machine
Once you download the ISO, fire up VirtualBox and create a new virtual machine by clicking the blue spikey ball thingy in the upper left corner of the window.
Click the Hide Description button in the bottom of the Create Virtual Machine window.
It’s time to name your virtual baby.
As soon as you start typing “Android Lollipop”, VirtualBox should automatically change the Type to Linux. Just make sure the Version is set to Oracle (32 bit) because the ISO is 32 bits,.(that’s what the x86 means in the ISO filename)
Set the Memory Size to 2048 if you can. This is 2GB but if you can’t quite afford the 2GB cost, it’ll still work on 1024 MB (1GB).
I realize a 2GB allocation to a virtual machine is expensive and not everyone can afford it. But go for it if you can and you won’t regret it.
Now click create the Create button in the bottom right portion of the window to create your virtual hard drive.
This humble action will whisk you away like Alice in Wonderland to the wonderful world of File Sizes, File Locations and Hard Drive types.
Leave the default file size at 12GB. You’re going to need room for all the apps you’re going to install.
Also leave the Hard Drive File Type to VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image). This is exactly what we want.
The only thing I suggest changing is the Storage on physical hard drive setting. Make sure it’s set to Fixed Size.
Yes, it’ll take longer to create the fixed VDI than a Dynamically Allocated hard drive but the performance improvements make it worth it.
The way I see it is like this: Both Dynamically Allocated and Fixed Sized are going to make you wait. The former gives you a zippy setup process for a possibly slower run time experience. Conversely, with the latter, you trade a longer setup process for a zippier run time experience.
Take your pick and choose wisely Neo.
It took me a whopping 01:07 seconds to create my fixed size VM on my i5-3330S CPU, 8GB of RAM, 512 SSD Dell.
“Mount up fool!”
This is what I would tell me college buddies right before we got into a multiplayer death match of Halo 2. It was like a tradition to yell “Mount up!” and then starting blowing each other to bits with M90 tactical shotguns and S2 AM Sniper Rifles.
But when we’re talking about Virtualbox “mount up” is my allusion to mounting the ISO. Mounting is just a geekola term for attaching a file to the virtual machine.
Select the Virtual Machine in the main VirtualBox Manager window and then press Ctrl + s to open the Settings (or click the orange cog icon next to that bristly blue “New” icon in the options bar.)
Click Storage in the left pane and click the tiny Add a CD/DVD Device icon in the middle pane under the Storage Tree.
It looks like a little CD with a green plus icon next to it.
Click Choose Disk
Browse to your ISO and open it.
You’ll see it pop into the party fashionably late under your Storage Tree. Now we can boot to it just as if we slipped a real CD into a real PC.
Ahhh I love virtualization…
It says not attached but don’t worry – that’s about to change. Click OK and start the VM by double clicking it in the VirtualBox Manager window.
Select the last option:
Installation - Install Android-x86 to harddisk
Hey that rhymed… well barely but it still rhymed.
A bunch of gray text will whiz by at the speed of light. After being sucked through the wormhole you end up on the other side of your virtual galaxy at the Choose Partition screen. It looks like the DOS window from the early 80’s that you still reminisce about.
Creating our Lollipop Partition
Press enter to Create/Modify partitions.
Now the next screen may look daunting at first but it’s not that bad after you knocking yourself out with a 750 milliliters of Vodka.
Okay, wait… I’m kidding stay away from the alcohol.
This is the cfdisk utility. It shows you your disk drive, the size in bytes and and bunch of other abstruse details that make computer scientist giddy.
We only care about one thing: New.
Press the right arrow key once to select New and hit enter. We need to create a new partition for Lollipop.
In case you were wondering, a partition is just fancy lingo for dividing a physical hard drive into logical sections. Partitions make it possible to have multiple operating systems on a single physical hard drive. For example, you can have a Windows partition and a Linux partition on one drive and then dual-boot to both versions.
In our case, even though we’re only installing one operating system on a single virtual hard drive you still need to set a partition.
I might write an article about how to do that but let’s not get too distracted just yet.
Hitting the New option will transport you to a new screen for creating the partition. Press enter again to keep the default partition type as Primary.
Now you’ll be asked to set the size in megs. Just keep the defaults again. We want every square inch of the virtual hard drive to be consumed by Lollipoop.
I mean Lollipop. Dam typos. Hold up… I typoed “Damn” too.
Alright now we’re almost done. We have the partition now but we need to make it bootable so that we can… well boot to it!
Press enter again to take the default Bootable option.
It should say “Boot” under the flags column now.
Now that we have everything in place. Select the Write option to write the partition table to our empty virtual hard disk. Just hit the left arrow once to highlight [ Write ] and hit enter.
You’ll be asked to confirm the partition table write.
Since we don’t have any data to loose on our virtual hard disk we don’t risk overwriting anything.
Give the warning your most intimidating stare and then, with full audacity, type:
and smash that enter key
After about 10 seconds you’re done. Hit the arrow key a few times to select Quit from the menu list in the footer of the screen and then leave the cfdisk wizard.
We’re out of wonderland but not quite in the land of delicious lollipops yet. Stop salivating hungry jack. We’ll get there.
Installing Lollipop on our Partition
We have our partition but it’s empty!
We need to get Lollipop on there. After selecting Quit from the cfdisk wizard you should see a new screen to choose your partition.
Snap your fingers like you’re Michael Jackson in Thriller and then select the first one:
sda Linux VBOX HARDDISK
The next screen asks us about our file system.
Change it to ext3.
This is the third extended filesystem. It’s the default file extension for Linux and since Android Lollipop is just another delectable flavor of Linux you should go with it. ext3 also uses a thing called Journaling to prevent data corruption and expedite system recovery in emergencies. It’s a win win for everyone.
And who doesn’t like to win?
And in the words of Charlie Sheen…
The installer cordially warns you about data loss again.
And once again you can stand up straight, lift your chin a bit and boldly choose
Yes to format the partition.
We’ve got nothing to loose… literally.
The format will start and then quickly get interrupted by a GRUB bootloader screen.
When I hear the word “Grub” I think about eating. This is what me and my boys used to call gluttony back in my college days. But as it applies to Linux, Grub has absolutely nothing to do with food.
It’s a recursive acronym for “GNU GRand Unified Reader”. It basically a little tool that let’s you select multiple operating systems from a list. Since we only have a single partition with a single OS – GRUB is unnecessary.
Just hit enter to skip the boot loader installation and get on with Lollipoop.
I mean Lollipop. Not poop, POP. Ahh I keep doing that. If my son were here he would be laughing hysterically right now…
One last question!
And now you’ve got Android….
wait wait wait… there’s one more screen to wrestle with:
Do you want to install /system directory as read-write?
So let me ask you the same question? Do you?
I’ve done enough talking – now I want to hear from you.
Take a moment to think about it before reading the answer.
The answer is Yes.
Because if you choose No and then try to update any Lollipop system configuration, you’ll get pin-holed with a fusillade of errors. Setting /system as read-write means you can both read and write to this directory. Go for the gold and press enter to keep the default Yes option.
And we’re off to the races!
After something like 10 seconds the installation will finish and great you with this awe-inspiring screen:
Android-x86 is installed successfully. Run Android-x86
Now if you just hit enter you might see a disappointing screen that looks like your VM just crashed.
But alas! Don’t be crestfallen. We’re about to fix this.
Go to your VirtualBox menubar. In the upper left corner you’l see Machine. Click that and then choose Reset.
This should do the trick and get you back to the android-x86 Live & Installation CD screen.
Press enter to Run Android-x86 without installation. Of if you’re too lazy to hit that popular enter key again, just hang loose for 60 seconds. It’ll automatically boot to Lollipop.
If it get’s stuck on the Android splash screen, click the Machine button and choose Reset.
You should also make sure Enable Audio and Enable USB controllers are disabled in your Settings. Finally, if it’s still stuck on the Android screen try setting it up on a different computer or redownloading the ISO. Several people have the the stuck on Android splash screen problem but it seems that the solution is different for different people.
When you get to the welcome screen, click Machine in the menu bar and pick Disable Mouse Integration. This lets you snap your mouse in and out of the window by pressing the right Ctrl key.
Now you can login with your Google account and let the party begin.
Have fun clicking Google Maps, Gmail and Navigation. You can also install most Apps; however, if they are using the ARM-native library you can’t run it unless you have a binary translator like libhoudini. (but that’s beyond the scope of this article, let’s keep it sweet alright?)
The Bottom Line
Running Android Lollipop on your PC is as easy as clicking through a million installation screens!
Hehe. No but seriously, it’s not that bad right?
If you thought this article was tasty, join my team by entering your name and email address in the form in the right rail.
Don’t worry I won’t spam you ever. I hate spam. Instead, expect a few emails from my every now and then giving you more valuable tips like this one. Oh, and I’ll also give you my Google Chrome eBook. It’s 40 pages of tasty tricks for getting the most out of Google Chrome.
Thanks for reading!
Now go outside and get some fresh air and walk into your nearest convenience store to buy a few lollipops – you deserve the break.