Lindroid Promises True Linux On Android

Since Android uses Linux, you’d think it would be easier to run Linux apps on your Android phone or tablet. There are some solutions out there, but the experience is usually less than stellar. A new player, Lindroid, claims to provide real Linux distributions with hardware-accelerated Wayland on phones. How capable is it? The suggested window manager is KDE’s KWIN. That software is fairly difficult to run on anything but a full-blown system with dbus, hardware accelerations, and similar features.

There are, however, a few problems. First, you need a rooted phone, which isn’t totally surprising. Second, there are no clear instructions yet about how to install the software. The bulk of the information available is on an X thread. You can go about 4 hours into the very long video below to see a slide presentation about Lindroid.

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Google Removes RISC-V Support From Android

Last year the introduction of  RISC-V support to the Android-specific, Linux-derived Android Common Kernel (ACK) made it seem that before long Android devices might be using SoCs based around the RISC-V ISA, but it would seem that these hopes are now dashed. As reported by Android Authority, with a series of recently accepted patches this RISC-V support was stripped again from the ACK. While this doesn’t mean that Android cannot be made to work on RISC-V, any company interested would have to do all of the heavy lifting themselves, which might include Qualcomm with their recently announced RISC-V-based smartwatch Snapdragon SoC.

No reason was provided by Google for this change, and the official statement from Google to Android Authority says that Google is not ready to provide a single supported Android Generic Kernel Image (GKI), but that ‘Android will continue to support RISC-V’. This change however, removes RISC-V kernel support from the ACK, and since Google only certifies Android builds which ship with a GKI featuring an ACK, this effectively means that RISC-V is not supported at this point, and likely won’t be for the foreseeable future.

As discussed on Hacker News, a potential reason might be the very fragmentary nature of the RISC-V ISA, which makes a standard RISC-V kernel very complicated if you want to support more than a (barebones) profile. This is also supported by a RISC-V mailing list thread, where ‘expensive maintenance’ is mentioned for why Google doesn’t want to support RISC-V.

Webserver Runs On Android Phone

Android, the popular mobile phone OS, is essentially just Linux with a nice user interface layer covering it all up. In theory, it should be able to do anything a normal computer running Linux could do. And, since most web servers in the world are running Linux, [PelleMannen] figured his Android phone could run a web server just as well as any other Linux machine and built this webpage that’s currently running on a smartphone, with an additional Reddit post for a little more discussion.

The phone uses Termux (which we’ve written about briefly before) to get to a Bash shell on the Android system. Before that happens, though, some setup needs to take place largely involving installing F-Droid through which Termux can be installed. From there the standard SSH and Apache servers can be installed as if the phone were running a normal Linux The rest of the installation involves tricking the phone into thinking it’s a full-fledged computer including a number of considerations to keep the phone from halting execution when the screen locks and other phone-specific issues.

With everything up and running, [PelleMannen] reports that it runs surprisingly well with the small ARM system outputting almost no heat. Since the project page is being hosted on this phone we can’t guarantee that the link above works, though, and it might get a few too many requests to stay online. We wish it were a little easier to get our pocket-sized computers to behave in similar ways to our regular laptops and PCs (even if they don’t have quite the same amount of power) but if you’re dead-set on repurposing an old phone we’ve also seen them used to great effect in place of a Raspberry Pi.

Android-Powered Rigol Scopes Go Wireless

The Rigol DHO800 and DHO900 series use Android underneath, and as you might expect, this makes them easier to hack. A case in point: [VoltLog] demonstrates that you can add WiFi to the scope using a cheap USB WiFi adapter. This might seem like a no-brainer on the surface, but because the software doesn’t know about WiFi, there are a few minor hoops to jump through.

The first issue is that you need a WiFi adapter the built-in OS already knows how to handle. The community has identified at least one RTL chipset that works and it happens to be in the TP-Link TL-WN725N. These are old 2.4 GHz only units, so they are widely available for $10 or less.

But even with the correct hardware, the scope doesn’t have any menus to configure the WiFi interface. To solve that, you need to temporarily use a USB hub and a USB keyboard. Once you have everything plugged in, you can use the Super + N keyboard shortcut to open up the Android notification bar, which is normally hidden. Once you’ve setup the network connection, you won’t need the keyboard anymore.

Or maybe not — it turns out the keyboard does allow you to change a few other things. For example, [VoltLog] used it to increase the screen brightness more than the default maximum setting.

The only other issue appears to be that the scope shows it is disconnected even when connected to WiFi. That doesn’t seem to impact operation, though. Of course, you could use a WiFi to Ethernet bridge or even an old router, but now you have a cable, a box, and another power cord to deal with. This solution is neat and clean. You bet we’ve already ordered a TP-Link adapter!

WiFi scopes are nothing new. We suspect Rigol didn’t want to worry about interference and regulatory acceptance, but who knows? Besides, it is fun to add WiFi to wired devices.

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Android: Coming Soon To A RISC-V Processor Near You

In the roughly decade and a half since the Android mobile operating system appeared on the scene it has been primarily sold on devices with an ARM core at their heart, but along the way it has also appeared for other architectures. If you had a MIPS Android phone you may have been in the minority, but Intel phones enjoyed some popularity, and the up-and-coming new kid in the world of Android is RISC-V. For anyone interested in this last architecture it’s worth looking at the Google Open Source blog, in which they’ve published an overview of the current status of the project.

In short, it’s full steam ahead — as the development environment and emulation is in place for RISC-V Android. It’s certain we’ll start seeing RISC-V phones on the market soon, but perhaps that’s not the part which should interest readers the most. Over the last decade we have seen an explosion of inexpensive ARM single board computers, and though some of them such as the Raspberry Pi owe their heritage to set-top-box SoCs, it’s fair to say that a strong driver for this trend has been the proliferation of powerful mobile chips. A take-up of RISC-V driven by Android would mean a similar explosion of powerful SoCs with those  cores, leading we hope to much more accessible and powerful RISC-V computing. Sadly we expect them to still come with proprietary peripherals leading to plenty of closed source blobs, but we can’t have everything.

If you’d like to read more about the whole blob situation and RISC-V, we’ve got you covered.

DOOM On IPhone OS, On Android

So you want to play some games from the early days of 32-bit iPhone OS that no longer run on recent OS versions? [Hikari-no-yume] wrote a sweet high-level emulator, touchHLE, to do so on modern iOS phones. But maybe you don’t have an iPhone? [Ciciplusplus] has your back. He ported the iPhone OS emulator, written in Rust, to Android, and then ported a version of DOOM that runs on iPhone OS to go with it.

[Ciciplusplus] also made a video (embedded below) where he documented the trials and tribulations of porting Rust code to the Android platform – an intensely Java environment. It doesn’t sound like it was at all trivial. Of course, this couldn’t have been accomplished without [Hikari-no-yume]’s original work on touchHLE, which was made essentially to fulfill [Hikari-no-yume]’s long-time obsession with the game Super Monkey Ball.

So for now, touchHLE can boast the ability to run a few old 32-bit games on Android and desktop operating systems. What other games from the first years of gaming on smart phones (and iPods) do you need to see ported? Get involved in the project if you’ve got an itch you need scratched.

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An Android Phone Powers A Self Driving Car

As auto manufacturers have brought self-driving features to their products, we’re told about how impressive their technologies are and just how much computing power is on board to make it happen. Thus it surprised us (and it might also surprise you too) that some level of self-driving can be performed by an Android phone. [Mankaran Singh] has the full details.

It starts with the realization that a modern smartphone contains the necessary sensors to  perform basic self-driving, and then moves on to making a version of openpilot that can run on more than the few supported phones. It’s not the driver-less car of science fiction but one which performs what we think is SAE level 2 self driving, which is cruise control, lane centering, and collision warning. They take it out on the road in a little Suzuki on a busy Indian dual carriageway in the rain, and while we perhaps place more trust in meat-based driving, it does seem to perform fairly well

Self driving features are codified into a set of levels for an easy reference on what each is capable of doing. We’ve taken a look at it in the past, should you be interested.