Android app support coming to Ubuntu

May 27, 2009 // 9:57 a.m.

Tags: #android #arm #canonical #google #java #kernel #linux #michael-casadeval #open-source #ubuntu

The future of the open-source Android platform as a viable option for netbooks might be in doubt, but at least one company is certain that parts of Google's operating system could be of use: Canonical.

The creators of the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution are, according to Ars Technica, currently working on a compatibility layer which will allow Android applications to run natively on an Ubuntu-based netbook or other computing device.

The company is looking to build an Android execution environment which will allow applications compiled for Google's mobile-oriented operating system – which is based around a customised Java runtime unavailable on other systems, and which is typically compiled for the ARM instruction set – to operate within a standard Linux desktop environment alongside native applications.

A brief summary of the project was presented to attendees of the Ubuntu Developer Summit yesterday by Canonical's Michael Casadeval, who described the current status of the project as a “prototype” proof-of-concept build. Currently the team is working on creating patches which will bring support for Binder – Android's interprocess communication system – in to the Ubuntu kernel. At the moment, the team is simply bypassing the Binder requirement – which means only the most basic of Android applications is operational.

While the prototype is a Canonical internal project at present, the team have made it clear that once a semi-working version has been created the source code will be made available for the community at large to hack around with.

What is less obvious is why – other than for the sheer geekery of the thing – anyone would want an Android application running on their Ubuntu box: while the applications developed for Android are all pretty neat, they're mostly geared towards use on a small-screen device with mobile connectivity. How well various Android applications would fare on a full-size desktop environment remains to be seen.

Do you look forward to the day when you can run Android applications natively on your netbook or laptop, or is Canonical barking up the wrong tree with this project? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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