How to install and run Android Apps on Ubuntu using Anbox

Anbox is a Linux system emulation tool that allows you to run and execute android applications on your Linux system.

Have you ever thought about running an Android app or a game on your Linux system? Android and Linux are close relatives, and there is no hard reason why it’s not worth imagining. A new promising project “Anbox” is on course to be a wonderful application for Linux users.

Anbox is a Linux system emulation tool. It can act as a layer between Android apps and your Linux system that are purely coded. It allows you to run and execute android applications on your Linux system.

Note that Anbox is not the first Android emulator for Linux. Projects like Shashlik or Genimobile too use an emulator to run Android. These emulators create a whole emulated system with its own kernel. On the other hand, Anbox runs the Android system under the same kernel as the host operating system. No emulation layer like QEMU is needed. All runs directly on hardware. It also allows for much better integration with the host operating system.

Anbox places the Android OS in a container that summarizes hardware access and integrates core service systems into a Linux system. Like any other native application, each Android application is integrated with your operating system.

Installing Anbox on Ubuntu

In this tutorial, we will walk you through the Anbox installation and configure your Linux to run any Android application. Though it is not an easy task, we will try to make it simpler for you.

Step 1 – System Update

Before starting our tutorial, you need first to ensure that your system is up-to-date. Launch the Terminal and enter the following commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

Step 2 – Add Anbox Repo to your system

In this section, we will add the PPA to your Linux system and install the essential and appropriate anbox-modules-dkms package, which contains the kernel modules.

Add Anbox repository to your system.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:morphis/anbox-support

Enable Anbox Kernel Modules
Enable Anbox Kernel Modules

Update your system.

sudo apt update

Update Repository
Update Repository

Step 3 – Install Kernel Modules

Install appropriate kernel modules using the following commands:

sudo apt install anbox-modules-dkms

Start kernel modules manually:

sudo modprobe ashmem_linux
sudo modprobe binder_linux

Setting up Kernel Modules
Setting up Kernel Modules

Step 4 – Verify Kernel Modules

Now, let’s verify that new kernel modules have been installed successfully.

ls -l /dev/{ashmem,binder}

The output of the previous command should look like the below screenshot.

Verify Installed Kernel Modules
Verify Installed Kernel Modules

Step 5 – Anbox Installation using Snap

Now we will install the Anbox using the snap command.

First, ensure that you have snap installed. Ubuntu 18.04 and above should come with snap installed by default. If not, you can install snap using our guide.

snap --version

Snap Version
Snap Version

Install Anbox. Note that since it is still in the development phase, we will download the beta version.

sudo snap install --devmode --beta anbox

Install Anbox
Install Anbox

After the installation completes the output successfully should look like below.

Anbox Installed Successfully
Anbox Installed Successfully

Step 6 – Android Studio Installation

Since Anbox is an emulation tool for Android, you also need to install Android development tools to install apps on it.

Begin with the installation of Java for Linux.

sudo apt install openjdk-11-jdk

Install Java For Linux
Install Java For Linux

Download Android Studio: Unfortunately, the Android studio application has no downloadable binary package. Download your development suite for Linux:

Click here for the download page.

After the download completes, you can go back to your terminal and extract the Android Studio.

cd ~/Downloads
unzip android-studio-ide-*-linux.zip

Now move to the Android Studio bin directory to start the installation process.

cd android-studio/bin

Run the Android Studio installation script.

./studio.sh

When the Android Studio Wizard starts, a welcome screen will appear like the below. Press next to continue.

Android Studio Welcome Screen
Android Studio Welcome Screen

Choose the Standard option then press next to continue.

Select Standard Option
Select Standard Option

Select your user interface theme as below.

Select UI Theme
Select UI Theme

Verify your installation settings and press next to start the installation process.

Verify Android Studio Settings
Verify Android Studio Settings

When the installation completes successfully you will get a summary screen as below.

Android Studio Installation Completes Successfully
Android Studio Installation Completes Successfully

Now you can start a new Android Studio Project.

Start New Android Project
Start the New Android Project

Step 7 – Install Android Command Line Tools

sudo apt install android-tools-adb

Install ADB
Install ADB

Step 8 – Start ADB Server

For now the Anbox is ready to go but first, you need to start up the ADB server.

adb start-server

Start up the ADB server.
Start up the ADB server.

Step 9 – Download your Android app or a Game

For example, let’s search for a game to download. APK Mirror is a great resource to find downloadable Android games in APK format.

Go to APK mirror to download your intended game. For now, note that not all the Android games will work correctly on Anbox. Also for better configurations, you need to install the x86 version from your game.

Step 10 – Install and Configure APK

After downloading your game APK. Go to the downloads directory.

cd ~/Downloads

Install the game APK using the below command.

adb install game.apk

APK Installed Successfully
APK Installed Successfully

Open the Anbox Application Manager from your applications.

Anbox Application Manager
Anbox Application Manager

Step 11 – Launch your Android App or Game!

Start Your Game
Start Your Game

Voila, you now have Android app on your Linux system! That’s all about configuring Anbox on your Linux system to run Android Apps. You can now enjoy playing your Android games on your Linux.

Finally, I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. Your feedback and questions are welcome.

SourceANBOX
Hend Adel
Hi! I'm Hend Adel, a freelancer technical geek with successful experience in Database, Linux and many other IT fields. I help to build solutions to suit business needs and creating streamlined processes. I love Linux and I'm here to share my skills via FOSS Linux! Thanks for reading my article.

16 COMMENTS

  1. Is there something missing in these instructions? You say “Now you can start a new Android Studio Project” but you do not say what to do in Android Studio after clicking on “Start a New Android Studio Project”.

    I ignored that and proceeded but adb install did not work:

    adb install ‘com.codebrewgames.pocketcity_1.1.134-10234_minAPI18(arm64-v8a,armeabi,armeabi-v7a,x86,x86_64)(nodpi)_apkmirror.com.apk’
    error: no devices/emulators found
    adb: error: failed to get feature set: no devices/emulators found
    – waiting for device –

    • adb start-server
      Launch Anbox Application Manager
      adb install game.apk

      You should now see the Game/App listed in your Anbox Application Manager

  2. So everything went well until

    $ abd install com.vectorunit.cobalt.googleplay_1.4.2-160_minAPI19(arm64-v8a,armeabi-v7a)(nodpi)_apkmirror.com.apk
    bash: syntax error near unexpected token `(‘

    what does that mean?

  3. Hi, how are you. I’m getting this error:
    adb: failed to install mobdro.apk: Failure [INSTALL_FAILED_NO_MATCHING_ABIS: Failed to extract native libraries, res=-113]

    Is it something I did wrong ?

  4. Hi!
    It doesn’t work for me, I do everything you ask but when I start the app it always closes before it starts. I don’t undertand…

    • Hello Sara,
      Please open your terminal and run the next command to open the anbox session manager:
      anbox session-manager
      Next click on the Anbox icon from launcher. If this opens the app then all you need is to add the anbox service to the Startup Applications. Otherwise open the anbox logs and post the error here.

  5. I don’t really understand how to launch Anbox itself. I tried using the “anbox” command in terminal and get:

    “Command ‘anbox’ is available in ‘snap/bin/anbox’
    The command could not be located because ‘snap/bin’ is not included in the PATH environment variable.
    anbox: command not found”

    Not sure what to do at this point. I also don’t know how to re-open Android Studio once I’ve closed it. I’m basically at a point where I’ve followed these instructions to install a bunch of things I have no clue how to run. The last I got to was step 10 of trying to install the apk but was told there were no devices/emulators found.

    • Hi,

      You can start the Anbox from:
      1. From your Ubuntu desktop.
      2. Open show applications from the left Unity dock.
      3. In the search bar, search for anbox and open it.

      For the “no devices emulators error”:
      Try installing different apk and kindly note that “as mentioned in the article” not all the Android games will work correctly on Anbox. Also for better configurations, you need to install the x86 version from your game.

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