Have you ever wanted to run Android on your laptop? Sure, there are emulators out there, but what about running the Android OS natively on your system? Did you know that it is, indeed, possible? All you have to do is install a special build of Android that has been designed to run on x86 systems instead of most of the traditional mobile processors that you find in most of your tablets and smartphones. The overall process isn’t too difficult, but it will take a few minutes of your time.
Today, however, I wanted to specifically look at one particular distribution of Android x86, Remix OS. This Android operating system looks a little different from most Android installs and comes with its own special sets of features.
More About Remix OS
You already know that Remix OS is basically Android for the PC, but let’s look at a little more about it. Remix OS has been built with laptops and desktops in mind. Because of this, it includes many different optimizations that are designed with a keyboard and mouse in mind instead of a touchscreen. That doesn’t mean you can’t use a touchscreen. In fact, its support for touchscreen devices is very good. However, the default installation is designed so you never have to use your fingers to navigate it.
The operating system itself is designed by a Chinese company called Jide. This company specializes in creating Android for desktop and has even begun licensing its product to other companies for use in new laptops. Acer, in fact, is one of the most recent companies to pick up the operating system and design a computer to be used specifically for it.
Why Use It?
You may be thinking, why would I want to use this in the first place? It’s a legitimate question. In my opinion, if you can answer yes to at least one or maybe more of these questions, then Remix OS could be for you.
- Do you love the Android platform and would like to use it almost exclusively?
- Are you looking for an alternative to Windows 10?
- Do you enjoy tinkering with your computer or trying out new and different operating systems?
- Would you like to play Android and other mobile games that aren’t available on Windows 10 but you don’t have an Android smartphone or tablet?
If you can answer yes to one or more of these questions, then Remix OS could be for you. While it’s not for everybody, I do think that anyone that loves Android will really enjoy using this system.
What Systems Work Best
So, you like the sound of Remix OS but you aren’t sure it is a fit for your computer? There are a few systems that, in my opinion, work much better with this build of Android.
- Intel Based Systems – In my experience Intel processors work best with this build. It will also help if you have third party sound card and video cards as well. At the same time, you need to make sure your Intel processor is powerful enough for the system. Remix OS isn’t a lightweight build of Android, so make sure your computer is powerful enough before you try to use it.
- Touchscreen Laptops – These are by far the very best option out there if you ask me. These systems are lightweight and many of them can easily convert into a tablet. Remember, despite many desktop optimizations, this is still Android. In my opinion, you enjoy it more if you can use both a mouse and your fingers for navigation. I know I do.
- Desktops with Touchscreens – These are relatively new in the world of computers. Today, you can find several different systems that come with touchscreens or you can buy a monitor for your desktop that will provide that functionality.
Remember, you don’t really need a touchscreen to use this operating system, and it contains many tweaks that make it feel much like Chrome OS. Out of the box you won’t really need a touchscreen. However, remember that many mobile games and other Android apps are designed with your fingers in mind. That means that when you start using it for other purposes that you may not enjoy it as much without it. Still, don’t let that discourage you to give it a try.
It’s Not Without Problems
Before we get into how to install it on your computer, remember that this is a relatively new operating system and it does have its flaws. It’s hardware support isn’t as complete as many operating systems out there. Still, chances are you will find it supports much of the most popular hardware out there.
Some have found (including me) that there are problems with the sound on their machines when using it. It just doesn’t work. While I haven’t tracked down the problem with mine as of yet, I hope to very soon. However, others haven’t had issues with sound but Wi-Fi or other network issues, and others haven’t had one single problem with it.
If you are going to install and use this software, just remember that your experience will vary depending on the type of hardware you are using on your machine. You may find that it works perfectly right after installation. But you may be like me and have to hunt down and annoying problem. Still, in the end, I think its worth it, because I am a huge fan of Android.
A Word on the Interface
If you have looked at the screenshots I have already included here, you probably can already tell that it doesn’t look much like a regular Android experience. That’s because it isn’t. Don’t worry, your Android apps will all run fine on the system.
Still, Remix OS looks and feels more like Chrome OS than it does Android. That’s not a bad thing, as Chrome OS is one solid operating system. You can create shortcuts to your apps on your desktop and you can manage your files and even navigate your apps in a way that will feel very much like Windows, but at the same time it just feels different.
Overall, the experience is quite nice. They have even included ways to resize apps and run them in windows on your desktop. Not every app will cooperate exactly as you want it, but most do just fine in either full screen or in a window.
All in all, the interface is top notch and makes Android run great in a desktop environment. If you have wanted to bring Android to your desktop, the interface makes it easy for you to do.
Install Remix OS on your Laptop
Now that we have talked a little more about Remix OS, it’s time for the fun part. Are you ready to get started?
Now, you should know there are two ways you can install Remix OS:
- Hard Drive Installation
- USB Stick Installation
For the purposes of this guide, we will be installing Remix OS onto a USB stick. There are several reasons why I have chosen to run Remix OS on a USB stick.
- I didn’t want to take up space on my hard drive. My SSD drive is only so big, so I decided to pick up a 32GB USB 3.0 drive to give me enough room to test it and even use it if I liked it.
- I am testing the waters and how well it runs. To be honest, I didn’t know how well it would go and I didn’t want to mess up my laptop because of a failed installation. Now that I have the USB, I may go back and put it on the hard drive one day. However, with USB 3.0, it runs fast so I really don’t see any reason to it, aside from not having to worry about that stick protruding out of the side of my laptop.
- I can take it to other machines. With the stick, I can actually launch it on multiple systems with very few issues. That means that I have a very portable version of Android that will fit in my pocket and run on almost anything.
Okay, let’s get started, shall we?
Remix OS Installation
The actual installation process of Remix OS is pretty easy. It’s simple enough that even a computer novice should be able to do it. However, below you will find everything you need to get the job done along with a few explanations of each step of the process. Hopefully, this will make the installation process much easier for you.
Gather What You Need
First, you need to gather the materials you need to perform this installation. All you will need for the installation is the following:
- USB 3.0 Stick – 32GB
- The Remix OS for PC ISO and Installation Tool
Prepare Your Computer
Newer computers often use what is known as Secure Boot. This is a setting that is turned on in your computer’s BIOS. This setting will prevent you from being able to boot Remix OS. Before you can begin, you must reboot your computer, enter your BIOS and disable Secure Boot. How you enter your BIOS and where the setting is located will depend greatly on your computer.
In most cases, you press F2, ESC, F9 or F10 to enter the BIOS. But this could still be different for your laptop. Once you are in the BIOS, the setting could be in different locations. In many cases, you will find it in the boot options under your BIOS, but again that could vary.
Enter the BIOS, turn off Secure Boot, and reboot your computer. When it boots back up, go ahead and log back into Windows.
Prepare the USB
This installation will wipe out all the data on your USB drive. Before you begin, it wouldn’t hurt to back anything up that you may want to save and then reformat it using FAT32 as the partition of choice. To do that, insert your USB, right-click on your USB drive and choose format. Click Start and all the data will be erased on your USB stick.
Download Remix OS for PC
With your USB ready, it’s time to go and download the files you will need in order to install Remix OS. First, remember when you visit the Remix site that you must click on the Remix OS PC link in order to be taken to the correct files. The files aren’t directly available on the website, but you will find them available via torrent files or on several different mirror sites. Download the files you need and unzip them into a folder on your hard drive.
Install Remix OS on Your USB
Your USB is ready to go and you have all the files you will need to create your USB of Remix OS. Are you ready?
Run the Remix OS installation tool found in the folder with the ISO. Once that loads, select USB as the type of installation and make sure that the drive letter in the tool matches the drive letter of your USB drive. Then browse your drive to find the Remix OS ISO that you will need for the installation. Click Ok after you make these selections and the installer will load all the necessary files and configure the boot loader on your USB. Overall, the process is pretty quick and it won’t ask you anything complicated that you may not know the answer to during the installation process.
When finished, it will ask you if you want to reboot your computer. If you are ready go ahead. If not, then you can continue with other things before you restart to give it a try.
Boot Remix OS
Now that the installation has been completed, it is time to boot to your USB so you can begin using Android on your laptop.
Reboot your PC and press the key to select your Boot menu. This will vary much like the BIOS but will be one of the function keys or the ESC key. Choose your USB stick from the list and the compute will boot to your USB.
Once the boot process begins, you will get a message to select Guest or Resident mode. Guest mode will allow you to test the system but won’t remember any settings you change. The Resident mode is your permanent Android home using Remix OS. Here you can change settings, add apps and customize it as much as you want and it will remember the settings even after you reboot your machine.
Activate Google Play
Remix OS doesn’t come with Google Play activated by default. However, it does support the store and makes it easy for you to install. All you must do is click the icon to activate Google services and follow the prompts from Google. This will enable the Google Play Store so you can install apps and run native Android apps. Once the activation process is complete, make sure you reboot your machine before you try to use the Google Play Store or any Google Apps.
Congratulations! You have successfully installed and configured Remix OS on a USB stick that you can use to boot your laptop. Now that you have it, I encourage you to give it a try and see what you think. Experiment with it. Try downloading and using your favorite apps and see if you like it. If you are anything like me, you will love it. Even if you experience a bug or two with your system. To check out how the system looks, just see the screenshots below.
As you can see, it is pretty easy to get Remix OS up and running on your laptop. I have to admit, however, your experience may vary, depending on your hardware. Overall, I do believe that if you are a fan of Android, then you will love this build of Android for your PC. With just a few tweaks to your system, you can easily run a desktop build of Android that works great with both a touchscreen and a keyboard and mouse.
So what are you waiting for? Why not try to install it yourself and see how it goes? Once you do, please revisit this post and tell me what you think about it in the comments below. I would love to hear what you think about it.
About the author
Matt is an IT professional with over fifteen years experience supporting network infrastructure and computers. An avid gamer, Matt enjoys his time playing and writing about his experiences both in the IT world and in the gaming communities. You can find more of his writing for LaptopNinja where he enjoys talking about everything tech.