Android apps running on your Linux box

Story: NSA Scandal Reveals Google is not really like Linux and never was.Total Replies: 15
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Jun 12, 2013
1:55 AM EDT
Quoting:Have you seen any Android apps running on your Linux box natively? Didn't think so.


This being the reason not to call Android "Linux"? Because its google-ified?

Android apps don't run natively on "Linux" because 1: Android apps rely heavily on Android's Java-like frontend/Java-like virtual machine backend bullshit, and 2: because Android doesn't use GNU. It is possible, with relative ease, to run Android apps on a GNU/Linux box, you just got to have the right libraries and environment setup. And Google's Apps are often (or at least on occasion) released under the Apache License, so porting them to "Linux" is also entirely possible.

I also hate how the author equates Open Source with Linux. As if Linux, the kernel, doesn't itself contain and rely heavily on proprietary software, or as if "open source" software for other (proprietary) operating systems doesn't exist.


Jun 12, 2013
9:58 AM EDT
ya know, I'm no code guy, so don't know if the kernel contains proprietary code or not, but it seems to me SCO already played that card and lost. And how would you know it contains said code were it not open source? Certainly the linux landscape is not without a few potholes. Most distros have been cowed into not including any decss features for fear of incurring the wrath of the copyright cartels, but for the most part, I feel a whole lot more in control on my linux box than I ever did on my M$ box. Apple? I won't even recognize that buncha fascist goons.

I also don't use plus+ or android or chrome or skype or the cloud or a jillion other questionable offerings cuz I know the goal of their endgame is less than honorable and I'm jes not that stupid. WTF would I put android on my desktop!? So I can pay $$ for and app to tell me my shoelaces are untied?

Is our govt tracking us? No one could be that stupid. Oh wait..... they not only can be, they are!! I can't stop our out-of-control govt, but I can damn sure make it harder for 'em. I like this author. His voice is as strident and paranoid as mine. Am I paranoid? Not nearly enough.

Jun 12, 2013
11:20 AM EDT
"Good News! You're not paranoid." - John Oliver

Jun 12, 2013
11:38 AM EDT
The kernel itself does not contain proprietary code. That's even true of Android kernels. However, binary firmware needed to get devices working is included with most distros (loaded onto the hardware when the OS is loaded, and run on the piece of hardware it was intended for). On Android, there are services run on top of the kernel that DO use proprietary code (like the frame buffer graphics layer). Why there haven't been more attempts to port Android aops/services to standard distros largely escapes me,... But there's nothing (that I know of) to prevent it from either a technical or legal basis. Granted, it would take some engineering to make everything work (might be easier in Wayland than on an X server, and might require Xen and some emulation for Arm specific code), but there are no truly REAL bars to doing it.

Jun 12, 2013
12:22 PM EDT
The Linux kernel certainly doesn't "contain" proprietary software. Whether it relies on any proprietary software depends on what hardware you're running. If you are going to call proprietary firmware "proprietary software," then most hardware setups require proprietary software, even if it's only contained in a ROM chip on your hardware. There are certainly many setups that can avoid putting it on your hard disk, though.

In any case, the proprietary firmware files usually included in most Linux distributions are not part of the kernel even to the extent that they get loaded as modules. They are often referred to as "drivers" by people posting on the Internet, but they are not drivers. They are loaded from the hard drive into a memory chip located on the corresponding device. They are never loaded into the kernel.

There are a few devices that do rely on proprietary driver modules loaded into the Linux kernel. Most of these devices are video cards. Devices like this are much more common on Android devices than on an x86 based computer running a GNU/Linux distribution.

Incidentally, it is possible to run an Android device with purely open source software (besides driver modules and firmware) if you really want to. There are still a lot of applications gaps, but the device is far from useless. You can replace the original firmware with an open source firmware like Cyanogenmod, forgo the Google Play store addition, install the F-Droid store and work from there.

Jun 12, 2013
12:37 PM EDT
I started my previous comment much earlier this morning, then I had to leave for work related purposes and didn't get back to post it until after JaseP posted his comment, so some of the same material is covered.

Another interesting thing to note is that a virtualbox Android build exists that you can use to run Android applications, but some applications don't work. Edit: Here's a link for that:

Also there is a Dalvik virtual machine to run on various Unix operating systems referenced here: but the page doesn't seem to work correctly in various browsers I have tried from Linux.

Jun 12, 2013
1:03 PM EDT
I'll view googdroid as a viable Linux distro when I have access to a real shell and can become root. Until that time, goober and goobdroid can go piss up a rope. Jes thought I'd clarify that point. ;)

Jun 12, 2013
1:19 PM EDT
Your link has an additional comma at the end that might have been included accidentally. Try this and you are right, other than the first page, the link doesn't work using FireFox or Chrome on Linux.


Jun 12, 2013
2:36 PM EDT
@notbob, I have a rooted phone with shell, a rooted tablet with shell, and an un-rooted phone with non-root shell, all running Android. Your point?

Jun 12, 2013
4:54 PM EDT
I'm sorry for not testing the link (the comma was meant to be part of the text rather than part of the link). I meant, however, that the page didn't work correctly even with the correct link, as you can see.

I have three Android devices with root and access to a shell. Two of them had root out of the box; the other has Cyanogenmod 7 on it. I do have Google Play available on all of them, though.

Jun 12, 2013
5:04 PM EDT

Quoting:other than the first page, the link doesn't work using FireFox or Chrome on Linux.

The links on that page all redirect back to the originating page. Looking at the page's source, there are a lot of href="javascript:nothing()" stanzas. Comparing the appearance of that page to others on SourceForge, it just doesn't look like it belongs. So, I sent a query to SourceForge support.


Jun 12, 2013
9:10 PM EDT
Quoting:Comparing the appearance of that page to others on SourceForge, it just doesn't look like it belongs

I did see the same and I was wondering if the page was a spam or contained some kind of intrusive code. Good thing you sent your query because a while back there was such code that was discovered on SourceForge.


Jun 13, 2013
9:02 AM EDT
gus3 wrote:notbob, I have a rooted phone with shell ... all running Android.

I guess my point is, I'm dumber'n a bag o' hammers. ;)

Honestly, I know zip about anything away from my linux desktop box, not having owned a hand-held since my short-lived Handspring PDA. Oh, I have a Tracfone, but barely know how, or desire, to use it. I was under the impression, mistakenly perhaps, that Androids did not have a shell or are rootable unless they are illegally hacked by ppl smarter than myself. Are your examples hacked or can I buy a stock smart phone or tablet with these shell/root features enabled by default? I haven't heard of such a device since the Nokia N900.

Jun 13, 2013
1:30 PM EDT
Well, a terminal in Android is just an app that gives you a terminal interface, basically like a GUI based terminal application in a Linux distribution.

As far as rooting goes, yes, you can root a device that doesn't come rooted (I picked a Nook Color for my first Android device because I knew there was nothing stopping you from booting to SD and changing the firmware), and it's usually not considered illegal. However, there are some devices that have an approved procedure to obtain root access (I think at least some of the Asus Transformer series have this), and there are some generic or imported devices that just give you root access by default. My Chinese made Ainol Novo 7 Flame tablet had root access out of the box.

Of course having root and a terminal doesn't transform your device from the Android OS to the more familiar GNU/Linux operating system of the desktop, but it does give you more power over what's happening on your device. Some applications refuse to run on a rooted device (like the Time Warner Cable app), but that just makes me want to not use those services. Netflix works fine on rooted devices, and it doesn't make it so I can record the transmissions on a whim (or make me want to try to record them).

Aug 15, 2013
8:15 AM EDT
There's no such thing as "GNU/Linux." Desktop Linux is Linux, Android is Linux, it's all Linux.

Aug 15, 2013
10:04 AM EDT
You really resurrected a two-month old thread to say that? Really?

Linux is only a kernel. It's not an operating system on its own. The operating system generally referred to as "Linux" is not the same operating system as is referred to as "Android." The only thing they share in common is the kernel, and Android doesn't even run its programs directly on the kernel, but on a virtual machine instead. Only the virtual machine runs directly on the kernel (this is a simplification, but it's the general idea of how it works).

The term "GNU/Linux" is just a term to be more specific and distinguish the conventional Linux operating system from the kernel or other Linux based operating systems like Android or WebOS. These things are most certainly not all the same operating system.

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