How to Install Android Operating System in Virtual Box

Android OS is meant for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, but did you know that it can also be installed on desktop computers just like Windows or Linux. After all Android is essentially Linux and is based on Linux kernel. But before you try to install Android on your computer, you can have test it in Virtual Box. This way you would be running Android inside the Virtual Box inside Linux or Windows.

Here is how you can install the latest version of Android inside Virtual Box:

  1. Download and install Virtual Box from https://www.virtualbox.org. Download the Android ISO file for the latest version (right now it is Kitkat 4.4) from http://www.android-x86.org/download.
  2. In Virtual Box click on New in the toolbar. Give name “Android 4.4”, type “Linux” and Version “Other Linux”. Choose 512 MB RAM (do not choose more than 1/4th of your system RAM), create a 5 GB virtual dynamic hard disk for it and create the machine.Install Android inside Virtual Box
  3. Android 4.4 machine will be added to the virtual machines list. Select it and click Start from the toolbar. When it starts, it will fail to load anything because the hard disk has no operating system. From the toolbar, select Devices → CD/DVD Devices → Choose virtual CD/DVD disk file and select the Android x86 ISO file you download in the first step. Then close and restart the machine. This time it will show Android installation screen – choose the Installation option.Install Android inside Virtual Box
  4. You will have to partition the raw hard disk. Use left-right arrow keys to select new, then choose to make it primary partition, then select bootable to make it bootable. Finally choose write to write changes to the virtual disk and then quit to go back to installation screen.Install Android inside Virtual Box
  5. This time you would see a new partition labeled VBOX HARDDISK – select it to continue the installation. Choose to format the hard disk with ext3 partition type. When asked choose to give /system folder read-write permissions.Install Android inside Virtual Box
  6. Installation will proceed for a few minutes and copy the files to the virtual hard disk. After this it will automatically boot. When it reboots, it will start the ISO file again. Now you have select from the toolbar, Devices → CD/DVD Devices → Remove disk from virtual drive and restart the virtual machine once again. This time you will boot into Android installed on the virtual hard disk and you will see the usual Android setup screen.Install Android inside Virtual Box
  7. After going through the setup steps, you will be able to use Android just like in your smartphone. It comes with Google Play Store and all the usual apps. But as is obvious, you cannot make any phone calls, use camera, bluetooth, WiFi etc.Install Android inside Virtual Box

Conclusion: Its very easy to install and run Android in Virtual Box running on Windows, Linux or Mac. This way you can test new apps without having to install them on your smartphone first.