The best way to Run Android Apps and Video games on Linux

Do you want to run Android apps on Linux? How about Android games? There are several options available, but the best that works is Anbox. This is a tool that will allow you to run your favorite Android apps on Linux without emulation.

android-apps-linux

Here's how to use Anbox to run Android apps on your Linux PC today.

Meet Anbox, your "Android in a Box"

Access to your favorite Android apps and games brings Linux an exciting new level of productivity. Mobile apps are inherently much simpler than those on desktop operating systems.

This could be exactly what you are looking for to improve desktop productivity!

Meanwhile, mobile games are becoming more and more sophisticated. It makes sense that you may want to continue playing on a different device. This is especially true given the limited battery life of a phone or tablet.

Various MacOS and Windows tools are available for running Android apps (e.g. Bluestacks), but not for Linux.

Instead, Linux users should try Anbox, a free, open source tool for running Android apps on Linux. It is based on the latest version of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) and offers a window-based Android environment.

Anbox uses containers to separate Android from the host operating system so you can run Android games on Linux

That's not all; Anbox knows no limits, so theoretically you can run any Android app on Linux. There is also no hardware virtualization, so Anbox also works on a laptop or desktop regardless of the system specifications.

Which Linux distros support Snap?

Although free to use, Anbox comes as a snap package. This means that the binary and all of its dependencies are in a single package, which simplifies installation. Unfortunately, this means that your Linux operating system can only use Anbox if it can unzip and install Snaps.

The snapd Installation of Snaps requires a service compatible with Linux distributions, such as:

  • Arch Linux

  • Debian

  • Fedora

  • Gentoo

  • Linux Mint

  • Manjaro

  • openSUSE

  • Solus

  • Ubuntu

In Ubuntu snapd is preinstalled from April 14th. Refer to the Snapcraft website for detailed information about your distribution.

To install snapdUse the following terminal command:

sudo apt install snapd

Wait for the installation to complete before continuing. Note that Anbox is officially running while snapd is running or pre-installed with the above distributions.

  • Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerxes)

  • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver)

Subsequent versions of Ubuntu should also run Anbox. This support means you'll likely get better results with Android apps on Ubuntu than with other distros.

Install Anbox on Linux

With the snapd When you have installed the service on your Linux PC, you can install Anbox. Use the following command which will install everything you need:

snap install – classic anbox-installer && anbox-installer

Enter a password when prompted and the Snap package will download.

Shortly afterwards you will see a selection:

  1. Install Anbox

  2. Uninstall Anbox

Set up Anbox to run Android apps on Linux

If you need to remove the software later, just run the above installation command again and select option 2. However, you can proceed to option 1 when installing Anbox.

You will then see a summary of the installation. Take a moment to read this through.

You will see that files added by a PPA are listed. There should also be an indication that the Anbox runtime starts automatically when you log into Linux. (This is a software library that can be used to run other software and apps.)

Set up Anbox on Linux

When you're happy with all of that, enter I AGREE and wait for Anbox to be installed. Then follow the instructions to restart your system before proceeding.

Downloading APK files to your Linux PC

After restarting your PC, Anbox should be available in the menu on your desktop. Click on it to start. The anbox window will shortly appear.

Anbox runs Android apps on Linux

If nothing happens or you are stuck with that on a splash screen Starting Message, cancel or wait for this to end. Then open a new terminal and step inside

anbox session manager

Then click the icon in the menu again. A few moments later, Anbox should be running. This is a known bug in Ubuntu 16.04-based distributions and shouldn't affect later distributions.

When Anbox is running, you'll see a list of the basic Android apps you can run on Linux, such as: B. Calendar and Email. Just left click on these icons to open them. They will appear in new windows that you can resize as needed. If you need a browser, the WebView shell is included.

To add your own apps and games, all you have to do is download (or copy from another device) the appropriate APK files. These are installation files such as DEB files (or Snaps) on Linux or EXE files on Windows.

Paper-bag-on-a-green-background

On Android phones and tables, APK files are available through Google Play on Android. However, this does not apply to anbox.

Install Android apps on Linux with Anbox

Since Android's Anbox implementation is not registered, you cannot access (or install) Google Play. How can you run Android apps on Ubuntu and other Linux distributions with Anbox?

So the answer is to download APKs and load them from the page. You can find these through Google Play alternatives, but you can also extract APKs from Google Play.

While Google restricts access to the Play Store to registered Android devices, bypassing it is not piracy. If you already own the APK files or if they are freely available, you can run them on unregistered Android devices.

Once you have received all of the APK files that you want to install, you will need to enable installation from unknown sources. To do this, open the the settings Menu from the Apps screen, then search Security. Activate the switch next to Unknown sources and click on OK accept.

Next, find your APK files and double click the first one you want to install. A few moments later, the app or game should be ready and running in its own window. Installed games are listed alongside all other Linux apps.

It's that easy to run Android apps on Linux!

Now you're ready to run Android APKs on Linux

How to run Android apps on Linux

Since Anbox is in the alpha stage, stability problems can arise. However, it's comforting to know how easy it is to set up, install, and run Android apps on Linux Ubuntu using Anbox.

To recap:

  1. Confirm that your distribution supports Snap packages.

  2. Install or update the snapd Service.

  3. Install Anbox.

  4. Start Anbox from your Linux desktop.

  5. Download and run APK files.

  6. Wait for the APK file to be installed.

  7. Click here to run Android apps on your Linux desktop.

Anbox isn't the only way to run Android apps and games on Linux, but we anticipate it will be the most popular within a few years. If you want to go the other way, check out How to Run Linux on Your Android Device.

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About the author

Christian Cawley
(1414 articles published)

Deputy Editor for Security, Linux, DIY, Programming and Technology explains. He also produces The Really Useful Podcast and has extensive desktop and software support experience.

Christian is an employee of Linux Format Magazine and a Raspberry Pi hobbyist, Lego lover and retro gaming fan.

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