Allwinner H3 boards such as Orange Pi PC and NanoPi NEO are mostly interesting due to their ability to run Linux and control I/Os, and while they also support Android, most people wanting to run Android are better served with TV boxes instead, as they come with enclosure, power supply, HDMI cable, and an IR remote control. That does not mean there’s no use case for Android on development boards, and that’s why probably KotCzarny, and other developers, have decided to work on H3Droid project to provide better Android images for Allwinner H3 boards and devices than the firmware released by manufacturers.
Some of the improvements include “sane DRAM/CPU settings”, support for Custom recovery system, Google Play Store and more USB network adapters, as well as the removal of apps and feature unusable for people outside out China. You’ll also be able to access the board via SSH if you add your public key to the image. You’ll need a Linux computer (or board) to install the image, as it relies on an installer and there are a few steps to complete the installation on the SD card:
- Download image from one of the mirrors
- Extract the tar file (tar -xf filename.tar) in a folder with enough space to hold the contents (~450MB)
- Update 00_conf file to set OUTDEV variable. It should contain either device or plain file path (ex: OUTDEV=/dev/mmcblkX or OUTDEV=/dev/sdX or OUTDEV=/some/path/to/somefile.img)
- Copy your PUBLIC SSH key(s) to the install folder (Optional, but required to have root access via SSH) (ex: cp /root/.ssh/my_key.pub ./)
- Execute 10_init_new_card.sh to write image to your SDCard or somefile.img (in case of a file, you can use it later with dd/etcher/winimager to write to real device)
- Note: run only 10.. script, other files are meant to be called from it in order. (for example 20.. prepares partitions.dat used in 30..)
[Update: A Windows installer called H3ii is now available]
The FAQ indicates that the image has been tested on Orange Pi PC, Orange Pi Plus 2E, Orange Pi PC Plus, and Orange Pi Lite, but it should also work on other Allwinner H3 boards as long as you change the FEX file (script.bin). Also note that the first boot may take a while, and H3droid is still considered beta with for example Bluetooth, and power off not working yet, and a few other bugs still lingering. If you try the image on your board, you can provided feedback on #H3droid IRC channel on Freenode, or via the website. There’s also a forum thread on Orange Pi forums.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.