Beagleboard:Android

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There is a pre-built image by Andrew Henderson that allows you to boot Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean on your BeagleBone Black. This is just an extra option for users and is not officially supported by Circuitco or BeagleBoard.org.

Android On The BeagleBone Black

This section shows you how to boot Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean on your BeagleBoard Black using a windows computer. The process is very similar to booting Angstrom or any other OS from a micro SD card.
Note: You will need at least a 4GB micro SD. Some 4 GB cards may not have enough actual space as well, you may need to upgrade to an 8 GB card.

Things you will need:

  • BeagleBone Black
  • HDMI capable display (or compatible VGA/DVI)
  • HDMI-to-microHDMI cable (or compatible VGA/DVI converters)
  • Ethernet cable (with working network connection)
  • USB Mouse (keyboard is an optional extra)
  • 5V External Power supply
  • 4GB micro SD. Some 4 GB may not have enough actual space, you may need to upgrade to an 8 GB card.
  • Windows computer with internet connection (Windows 7 preferred)


This is the download link for the image file for installing Android 4.2.2 on a micro SD card to boot from, courtesy of Andrew Henderson.
After you have downloaded the .img.bz2 file, use a program such as 7zip to extract the image file

  • Once 7zip is installed, right click on "BBB_JB_Android_3_8_13.img.bz2" and click 7zip > Extract Here, to extract the .img file

Insert the micro SD card into your computer

  • Using a microSD-to-SD or microSD-to-USB adapter is fine

Use Win32 Disk Imager to write the image onto your micro SD

After Win32 Disk Imager has finished, remove the micro SD card from your computer and insert the micro SD card into your powered-off BeagleBone Black.

  • Also make sure you have your mouse (and keyboard if you are using one), display, and Ethernet connected (if you want internet access)

While holding down the 'boot' button, apply the 5V external power to the board. Continue to hold the 'boot' button until the USER LEDs begin to flash

  • If you have been holding the 'boot' button for longer than 10 seconds, remove the power and try again

This should put the word "android" on your screen and after ~2 minutes you will be brought to the Android home screen.
It will act as though is is your first time booting up and take you through the start up guide.

Linux SD Card Writing

This section is for users who wish to use Linux to load the Android 4.2.2 image onto a micro SD card


This is the download link for the image file for installing Android 4.2.2 on a micro SD card to boot from, courtesy of Andrew Henderson. Navigate to the location of your BBB_JB_Android_3_8_13.img.bz2 file
When there, unzip the file

 # sudo bunzip2 BBB_JB_Android_3_8_13.img.bz2
  • You may also use any other unzipping program your are familiar with

Now determine which /dev location your micro SD card is by entering the following command

 # sudo fdisk -l

This will show you sdX locations on your system. Look for the sdX location which may look like the following

Disk /dev/sdb: 8270 MB, 8270118912 bytes
...
..

In this case /dev/sdb is the location of the micro SD card to be written to. The best way to identify the correct location is by the size of the disk in that location.

  • WARNING: Be sure to identify the correct micro SD card location. If you identify the wrong location you may accidentally overwrite your hard drive in a following step. This would be bad.

After you have determined the sdX location of your disk you can write the image to your micro SD; this will take a while

# sudo dd if=BBB_JB_Android_3_8_13.img of=/dev/sdX
  • Remember to replace the 'X' with the disk letter you determined in the last step. For the example shown about the disk letter is 'b' -- /dev/sdb

After the image has finished writing remove the micro SD card from your computer and insert the micro SD card into your powered-off BeagleBoard Black.

  • Also make sure you have a keyboard, mouse, display, and Ethernet connected (if you want internet access)

While holding down the 'boot' button, apply power to the board. Continue to hold the 'boot' button until the USER LEDs begin to flash
This should put the word "android" on your screen and after ~2 minutes you will be brought to the Android home screen.

Changing the Screen Resolution

If you are not happy with the default resolution that comes with the Android 4.2.2 image you are able to change it.
To do this you need to:

  1. Have the image flashed to the micro SD card
  2. Know the resolutions and refresh rates of the display you are trying to connect to
  3. Have a computer to connect the micro SD card

Insert the SD card into your computer of choice and open up the 'boot' partition.

  • This should be the only partition that pops up in Windows

Open the uEnv.txt with a text editor.
The line corresponding to the screen resolution reads:

"...init=/init ip=off video=720x480-16@60 qemu=1"

The part where it says video=720x480-16@60 is what you will want to change to adjust your resolution.
An example of a different resolution is:

video=1280x720-16@60

You can repeatedly edit this line and reboot from the micro SD card to figure out what resolution you want.
The highest resolution setting that may potentially be supported by the BeagleBoard Black is:

video=1920x1080-16@24

Installing Applications

Not all applications will be supported (including the Google Play Store) with this image on the BeagleBone Black. There are two main options for getting apps onto the board

  1. Download from the internet while in Android on the board
  2. Copy .apk files on to the micro SD before booting

Downloading while in Android is very straight forward. Just find the .apk file you want online and download it to the board.
You can then use 'OI File Manager" to find your .apk file. Clicking on the file should prompt you for permission to install the app.

The other option is not possible from a windows computer because it does not recognize all of the partitions when plugging in your micro SD card.
Download any .apk files you want to try on your BeagleBone Black and then plug your micro SD card into the Linux machine.
In the terminal, navigate (using cd) to the location you have your .apk files stored.

  • If you are unfamiliar with using Linux terminal there are many good resources to learn from throughout the internet.

Copy the files to the rootfs partition on the micro SD card

# sudo cp app-filename.apk /media/rootfs

Repeat this command replacing "app-filename" with the name of the .apk you want to copy to the micro SD
You can then boot Android from the SD card and the apps may have installed themselves or you may have to install them manually.
To install them manually, use 'OI File Manager' to find the desired .apk file.
Clicking on the file should prompt you for permission to install the app.