Got an ASUS Eee PC netbook lying around gathering dust? Thanks to the Android x86 project, you can turn it into a neat little device running the latest version 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich of the Android OS. Installing Android x86 on a regular netbook is not just a geeky way to kill time. If you want to check out the latest version of Android, and you don't feel like forking out for the latest smartphone or tablet, you can repurpose your old netbook as an Android testing platform. If you already have an Android device, but you don't want to go through the rigmarole of rooting it, running Android x86 on a netbook (or as a virtual machine using either Oracle VirtualBox or QEMU virtualization software) provides a perfect solution to the problem.
Installing Android x86 on an ASUS Eee PC netbook or other supported platforms is not particularly complicated. Grab the appropriate ISO image from the project's website, and use the Unetbootin to create a bootable USB stick or SD card. Boot then your machine from the freshly-backed media. When prompted, choose whether you want to run Android in live mode or install the system onto your machine. If you choose the latter option, you can install Android x86 either on the internal hard disk or external USB stick or SD card. I booted Android x86 on my trusty ASUS Eee PC 900 from an SD card and installed the system on a USB stick. While the 900 model is no speed demon by any stretch of imagination, it runs Android x86 with aplomb. Hardware support is solid, too: all hardware components, including the wireless card, worked right out of the box. The only fly in the ointment is problems with sleep mode: every now and then, the netbook refuses to wake up properly, and the only way to fix it is to restart it.
Android x86 comes with all essential apps like browser, Gmail, Google+, and throws a handful of third-party apps into the mix. More importantly, the Market app is present and accounted for, so you can install any app you might fancy.
All in all, Android x86 is an excellent solution for giving your humble netbook a new lease of life as well as getting a taste of the latest Android release with a minimum of fuss and zero expense.
Dmitri Popov has been writing exclusively about Linux and open source software for many years, and his articles have appeared in Danish, British, US, German, and Russian magazines and websites. Dmitri is an amateur photographer, and he writes about open source photography tools on his Scribbles and Snaps blog at scribblesandsnaps.wordpress.com