The Misadventures of Quinxy truths, lies, and everything in between!


Running Google Android 2.2 on Your PC with VMware in Less than 5 Minutes

If you're serious about playing around with Android I urge you to check out my article on how you can convert a $249 Barnes & Noble Nook Color e-reader into a full Android tablet!  I just did it and it's turning out to be one of the coolest gadgets I've had!

Tonight I wanted to play around with the Google Android OS for mobile devices, but having neither an Android tablet or phone I was forced to investigate how I could run it on my computer.  I found the answer I was looking for and succeeded in running it on my PC.  And here is my super quick guide on how you can do it, too.

Step 0.

You will need the virtual machine software VMware Player or VMware Workstation.  If you don't have either, you can download and install VMware Player for free.

Step 1.

Grab the Android Live ISO, the one to use is the Asus Eee PC version. (I tried the generic version and it wouldn't even boot under VMware.) You can navigate to the latest version here or just use this direct link for the 2.2 version.

Step 2.

Configure the VMware Player or VMware Workstation options for this VM. You want to choose:

  • CD/DVD pointed at the ISO file you just downloaded for Android
  • 512 MB memory
  • Any network setting should work (BUT, you will need to follow the instructions in step 3)
  • Sound card should be changed to "SB X-Fi Audio"
  • 2 GB IDE hard disk (optional)

Step 3.

With the VM powered off, modify the .vmx file that VMware created using a text editor.  You MUST change the existing line to now read:

ethernet0.virtualDev = "vlance"

If you don't make this change you will have no network access in Android!

Step 4.

Power on the Android VM and from the bootloader screen choose the first option and everything should work!


Making it Permanent

The above works great for getting a feel for Android, but because this is a "live" version of Android using a ram disk for temporary storage, all your changes will be lost when you shutdown or reboot.  To make your environment permanent it's actually very easy:

  • Reboot the virtual machine (Power > Reset in VMware)
  • Choose the "Install to hard disk" option from the bootloader
  • Create a single primary partition in the partition editor, using all available space.  Make the partition bootable.  Quit the partition editor.
  • Allow it to install the OS to the selected partition, using ext3.
  • Allow the installer to use Grub as your boot loader.
  • Do not attempt to create a virtual SD card (I didn't investigate how this works, so when I tried it it appeared to overwrite the OS I just wrote to disk.  So don't do this unless you know what you're doing.)
  • Choose to Run Android x86 when asked.

And now you've got a permanent Android x86 virtual machine!


Certain features are not supported by Android x86, primarily those applications which require devices missing from the virtual machine (e.g., the camera).  Other applications such as the YouTube application appear to work except that it does not seem to play videos; I suspect this may have to do with specific  hardware acceleration missing from the virtualization.  Also, see the many debugging and virtualization related options in the app list; you can do things like spoof geolocation.  While limited in some respects, this is an excellent tool for testing and debugging your web and mobile apps on Android.

Have fun playing around with it!

^ Quinxy

Comments (45) Trackbacks (2)
  1. this is awesome dude works well
    say.. how do i rotate the view? and where is the back and home buttons?
    are they gonna make a live version for Honeycomb? cuz that will be AWESOME!!
    thanks again

  2. Unfortunately I’m not sure how to rotate the screen. As for back and home buttons you can install apps like softkeys to give you virtual ones or you can even edit the keyboard config file to let you do that with some other key. I haven’t done it, nor did I make my own install persistant across reboots, which would be critical. I’m sure a Honeycomb version will come out, but likely not for a while. The live Android image is fun to play with and great for developers, but with the Nook Color at only $250 being modable into a full fledged Android tablet my own necessity for the VMware version went away.

  3. Its amazing that someone takes the time to simplify what most think are difficult. Thank you very much for this tutorial. My parents were the most awe struck people, quinxy, amazing. You can refer to me as sloppyloppy, it is WIDELY used on blogs, forums etc. Thank you again! TTL8tr

  4. Firstly I want to say thank you so much for your posting this up but I do have a question. I would like to know about Android’s compatibility with PC sound cards. Specifically to connect with an M-Audio card that pushes 192K sample rate (it’s for a little pet project I’m working on, long story). And if there wasn’t anyway to get it to work right away… then what would I need to do to get them to communicate with each other? (I’m not a programmer but I know people who are). If you could help get me in the right direction I would more than grateful. Thanks for your time and best wishes to you.

  5. Hi thanks for the tutorial. I get a BSOD on my machine right after it tries to start up. The crash dump shows it’s related to one of the VMWare workstation drivers, vmx86.sys. Any ideas on why, or how to get around this?
    Thanks again,

  6. Dave, I’m afraid I don’t know, I haven’t had that myself. Have you tried more recent VM ports of Andtroid? I’d think someone must have made available a 2.3 version by now. You might look for that and give it a try. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful.

  7. Dave,
    Thanks, it worked as you said in about 5 minutes. I will play with it. The only thing I could not find was the .vmx file to change to ethernet0.virtualDev = “vlance”. Do you have any pointers on where to find that?
    Thanks again.

  8. Hey there!
    thanks for the instructions! I have two problems

    I was able to install the android version/file you mentioned, but the start-up screen only had a speaker and a lock icons and wouldn’t let me do anything – I then installed the basic file and it gave me the screen you posted in this page. This leads me to the second problem (which might be linked since I didn’t use your version file of the OS):

    i can’t get android to find the internet connection of the host machine.

    I edited the wmx file and added your line “ethernet0.virtualDev = “vlance” to it, but i can’t get it to work.

    I am using
    1) redhat as host machine
    2) VMWare Workstation 6.5.2 build-156735
    3) Android file: android-x86-1.6-r2.iso

    Connection settings:

    ethernet0.present= “true”
    ethernet0.startConnected = “true”
    ethernet0.virtualDev = “vmxnet”
    ethernet0.connectionType = “hostonly”

    This settings enable an VMXnet network-card.
    You can only use this nic if you install the VMware-tools inside the guest.

    ethernet0.present= “true”
    ethernet0.startConnected = “true”
    ethernet0.virtualDev = “e1000”
    ethernet0.connectionType = “hostonly”

    This settings enable an Intel E1000 network-card.
    Modern OS should have drivers for this nic.
    NOTE: VMware usually assigns this nic to 64bit-guests – but it also works with 32-bit guests

    Connected to the virtal adapter of the host named “nat”

    You can use the VMware-builtin DHCP-service to auto-configure guests that use this type of connection.
    Guests configured this way can also use the hosts internet connection via the VMware NAT service.

    WARNING: this is unreliable on hosts that don’t use defaults for the vmnet-mapping.
    Note: this is the same as ethernet0.connectionType = “vmnet8”

    ethernet0.present= “true”
    ethernet0.startConnected = “true”
    ethernet0.virtualDev = “vlance”
    ethernet0.connectionType = “nat”

    Any help?

  9. Howsit… im having a problem installing this… i tried all the steps downloaded everything etc etc etc… but it keeps telling me operating system is not supported? hmmmm any ideas?

  10. and how do i get it to run full screen.

  11. How should I configure (create new, perhaps) virtual machine in VMware so that I don’t have to keep the android.iso and go through installation process all over again? How do I run the newly ‘Installed’ version of Android? I found several files that were created in ‘My Documents\Virtual Machines\liveAndroid’ with file extensions such as .vmdk .vmx .vmsd .vmxf.

    Ops, sorry. Just got it – from ‘home’ in VMware I chose ‘Open Virtual Machine’. Default location was already set to ‘My Documents\Virtual Machines\liveAndroid\liveandroid.vmx’

    Great tutorial. I when I get bored of this project I will try your Nook guide!


  12. I had success getting this to run in VMware ESXi 4.1.

    Added a VM as as in Step 2 and selected “Other” for the Guest OS selecting “Other (32-bit)” and I got network support.
    I skipped Step 3 entirely.
    Didn’t add a HDD and didn’t mess w/Step 4 as I only needed to test a live version.

    Thanks for the tutorial.

  13. I would like to know: Can I run android application .apk from c:\ for example from VM?
    Excellent. Thanks for the tutorial.

  14. Hi all! For those wondering: Back button is Esc, and Home is Home. Can’t get sound to work

  15. WarleyAlex –

    I think with some work you could do as you mention, but you’d need to use VMware’s ability to create virtual shared drives. You would essentially tell VMware in the confirguration for that VM that c:\apks was to be made available as a share, which then you could access inside the VM by way of SMB/Samba mounting. And if you meant, can I double click on an .apk file in Windows and have the APK run, then I think it could be done, sort of, in theory, with some work. VMware is scriptable, though I’ve not explored it in much depth. You could write a little batch file that would start a VMware session with the right VM and then I presume there is some mechanism in VM scripting to have it execute a script inside the VM, which would use the aforementioned approach to getting it to access APK files on your PC, maybe doing some path translation (i.e., your script knows that c:\foo\bar.apk will be available inside the VM as \\whatever\foo\bar.apk.

  16. Really thank you very much for sharing! Might seem sound easy, but I was unable to locate a Live CD version of an Android OS to use in VMWare and founding your post, and so easy instructions was really great! Still downloading the ISO, so still excited to try it!

  17. Thank you very much for this tutorial, it’s the best & you are the best. you solve my network access problem.

  18. Hey, Quinxy, thanks for the tips. I was trying the HP version, so thank you for pointing me at the Eee version.

    I did the Ethernet fix, and that did not help me get online. I will have to tinker around with it some. (I can get online in other VMs.)

    I would like to share some tips I discovered, though.

    As you (and commenters) probably discovered, left mouse is like touching. And press and hold left mouse, that’s a long press. Now here’s the fun. Middle mouse is your Menu button. On the home screen it calls up the add, wallpaper, settings, etc. Right mouse is the hardware Back button. I’m thinking on an actual Eee, the Android x86 folks figured Android users on that platform would just use keyboard buttons.

    I started mashing F-keys, and found that while F1 and F2 do nothing, F3 brings up my call log. Right mouse will exit, but so will Esc. F4 is your power button, you can shut off the OS that way (as opposed to the VMWare shutdown, which is the equivalent of a battery pull). F6 duplicates the functionality of F4, no idea why. The rest of the F-keys seem to do nothing. Tab is search. If you have a mouse wheel, that’s your trackball (not all Android devices have this). The Windows key is your Home button, and that wraps up the usual keys (except camera and volume).

    End is also power like F4 and F6, and space is also search.

    Whoa! The game “Snakes on a Phone” doesn’t have a proper logo, but it will rotate your virtual droid. VMware doesn’t support this, so it’s just sideways. And your cursor moves like it is rotated (very disorienting). Arrows don’t work, it’s meant to be played with the trackpad. Without a horizontal mouse wheel, I could not play (this is the old Nokia-type Snake game). Again, right mouse backed out.

    Got the Net. I had to go into Ethernet settings in, well, you know… Settings. Haha.

    Thanks again for the help. I hope my post helps some people. Feel free to edit this information into the original article if you like. I don’t require or request credit for it.

  19. Nathan, thanks for the great tips!

  20. ok am a noob…where in here should i add the ethernet0.virtualDev = “vlance”..i dont know where..should i replace this or something..i’m lost…PLZz Help

    52 0e 01 ab f0 0c 5b 90-af be 13 45 5a ac 64 2c


  21. i klnow i should modify the vmxf file but i have placed (ethernet0.virtualDev = “vlance”) everywhere possible in it and it still didnt get on to the please tell me step by step what to a noob at this

  22. Sadly it’s now been quite a while since I did it and don’t have that VMware image on my computer any more. I’m afraid my memory is not photographic and I have not the remembrence to help you.

  23. How Do I install apps from de Appmarket?..

  24. Well after many test. Android is working with my network. I did the following things:

    1. Chose operating system other
    2. After finish the installation i put the following line in vmx file
    ethernet0.virtualDev = “vlance”
    3. In vmware i set my configuration as bridged (in nat mode have problems with the same config)

  25. Is it possible to transfer apps between system and virtual android…?

  26. Nitin,

    Quite a few of the file explorer type apps include the ability to transfer files (via a little embedded web server), so I’d just download one of those to android and then if you’ve got your VMware set up appropriately you can just transfer the APKs via a web browser in the host OS. Then just run the APKs, assuming you have enabled thirdparty APKs in options.

  27. Hi

    How can I turn on wifi and search for wi-fi network on this? I tried that but I got error while enabling wi-fi

  28. Even though I set “ethernet0.virtualDev = “vlance” in my vmx file, I still cannot get internet connection on the android vm. Any ideas??

  29. I want to add that if you are having problems in vmware choosing the option to write to disk (I didn’t the first time, but with a subsequent android install I did have an error finding any disk…not sure why), you can just power the android machine off, under hard disk make sure independent disk is not checked, and then choose the first option to run it live. Then, take a snapshot as your initial setup. Then, if you make changes, save them with a snapshot. I get that this is not the ideal way to do it, because you’ll power it off and power it on and it will be at the initial state of the image, then you’ll have to choose which snapshot to go to. It’s an extra step, but again it’s helpful if you have the problems with the machine not recognizing any disk.

  30. If you having trouble getting the internet to work try this.
    1. modify the vmx file and save with the VM off.
    2. Load the VM, go into setting and enable eithernet
    3. set the following ethernet0.connectionType = “bridged”

  31. Set vmware connection to bridged. Then on Terminal in Android VM, run ‘dhcpcd’ command to get ip from a dhcp server in your local network

  32. I cant get the network to work –
    I edited the vmx
    Changed to bridged
    tried running dhcpcd, but get “Permission denied”

    Any ideas?

  33. For those having trouble getting the ethernet to work – which version of android are you trying to run? If you look in the release notes, for any version of android later than 2.3 they all state that ethernet is disabled in the android OS (so unlikely that VMware player will be able to get round this). Suggest people try earlier OS releases.

  34. Thanks for the advice Jason… I tried a lot to get network connection on Androi 4.0. I couldnt do it. Any success with getting network connection with android later than 2.3?

  35. I followed your guide and it works almost perfectly — with the exception of the audio. “SB X-Fi Audio” is not an option in my VMWare. I really need audio (speakers & microphone) for my puposes so any guidance would be greatly appreciated!

  36. aff xD i format mi old vm whit android :s , im not sure but i have the same problems in the beggining
    whith the network, im not sure if fix it using a free aplication named dnschanger,
    and here add ip from ruter and dns :s

  37. format when test (this version posted) i find mi tablet to try get the apk to see if work .
    and back to mi old iso from android , to see if work again 🙁

  38. mmm wen work lan i use
    but cant see usb devices now, i not sure if the vm version if the reason.
    first time i use a mp3 to copy to vm apks..
    but now cant detect. i update vm tools now to see if these are the problem :/

  39. uff in mi vmware workstation work fine :s
    look tthis link is android 4.0 whit ethernet

    instal it 🙂 work fine

  40. works well even with emulation sd card

  41. Works great! Thanks!

  42. @Zephirus,
    I got your generic VM to work fine without much work has a VMWARE Workstation host! I had to select ‘NAT: Used to Share Host’s IP Address’–not sure why–but it works fine. Thank you!!

  43. However, there is no audio in the Android VM and there is no option to select SB X-Fi Audio in the VMWare Workstation 8.x that I could see?

  44. Dear Sir,

    when i shut down the computer then not work the on internet in VMware workstation (Android OS).

  45. i’m not getting .vmx file anywhere.., pls help me..

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