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Try Ubuntu Touch on Your Computer with Ubuntu Touch Emulator

February 20th, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

Canonical has just announced Meizu (China) and Bq (Europe) will be the first manufacturers to launch Ubuntu Touch phones at the end of 2014. But if you want to try Ubuntu Touch, and don’t own a Google Nexus 4 or 7, or simply don’t want to flash Ubuntu Touch to your devices, you can do so using Ubuntu Touch x86 Emulator in your computer running Ubuntu , or in an Ubuntu Virtual machine in Virtualbox or VMWare.

Ubuntu Touch Emulator (Click to Enlarge)

Ubuntu Touch Emulator (Click to Enlarge)

The emulator has been available since last November, but Ricardo Salveti announced an updated version, the first public preview, with the following changes:

  1. Better TLS handling (not using the Android slots, but using pthread_set/getspecifics instead)
  2. Qt packages compatible with OpenGL ES 2.0 available at https://launchpad.net/~rsalveti/+archive/qt-gles-test

It has been tried on Ubuntu Trusty (14.04), but I could run it just fine on Ubuntu Saucy (13.10), by following the instructions below in a terminal:

  1. Download and extract the emulator:
    wget http://people.canonical.com/~rsalveti/aosp/generic_x86/emulator-x86.tar.bz2
    tar -jxvf emulator-x86.tar.bz2; cd emulator-x86
  2. Download the rootfs (~350 MB) and create the sd card image with:
    ./build-emulator-sdcard.sh
  3. Start the emulator
    ./run-emulator.sh

After about a minute, I could access the emulator, and enter a small tutorial teaching how how to swipe the screen edges to access the different options / menus. My main display is 1920×1080 and it nearly takes the full height, although the emulator itself is cut, the emulator’s “screen” is still visible on my secondary display (1280×1024), but if your resolution is lower than that you may have issues. I did not have to install anything else to run it, but if something goes wrong you may want to check Ubuntu Touch emulator wiki to check for dependencies.

The few apps I’ve tried (Browser, Setting, Facebook, Dialer, Contact…) appear to work, except the gallery app (known bug), and the camera app which is not usable in an emulator anyway… More apps can be installed from the marketplace.

You can access the terminal via adb:

adb shell
root@ubuntu-phablet:/# uname -a
Linux ubuntu-phablet 3.4.0-2-goldfish #13-Ubuntu PREEMPT Thu Feb 13 20:47:44 UTC 2014 i686 athlon i686 GNU/Linux
root@ubuntu-phablet:/#

or ssh (password: phablet):

adb forward tcp:9999 tcp:22
ssh phablet@localhost -p 9999
phablet@localhost's password: 
Welcome to Ubuntu Trusty Tahr (development branch) (GNU/Linux 3.4.0-2-goldfish i686)

 * Documentation:  https://help.ubuntu.com/
Last login: Thu Feb 20 03:29:05 2014 from localhost.localdomain
phablet@ubuntu-phablet:~$

By default the memory is set to 512MB, but if you need more you can change the -memory argument in run-emulator.sh.

Watch the video below to see Ubuntu Touch running in its x86 emulator.

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  1. February 20th, 2014 at 15:57 | #1

    Meizy? or Meizu

  2. February 26th, 2014 at 16:22 | #2

    Video (in Spanish) with Meizu MX3 running Ubuntu Touch close to the Android version of MX3.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdnpP9avG6o

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