Android 13 virtualization lets Pixel 6 run Windows 11 and Linux distributions

The first Android 13 developer preview may have seemed a bit disappointing, but there is a hidden gem with full virtualization possible on hardware like the Google Pixel 6 smartphone.

This means that it is now possible to run virtually any operating system, including Windows 11, Linux distributions such as Ubuntu or Arch Linux Arm on the Google Tensor-powered phone, at lightning speed. almost native.

Android & Web Developerkdrag0ntested several Linux distributions compiled for Aarch64 on Pixel 6 with Ubuntu 21.10, Arch Linux Arm, Void Linux and Alpine Linux using “KVM hypervisor on Pixel 6 + Android 13 DP1”. He/she further explains:

As far as I can tell, we can pretty much get full EL2 on production devices now. Shielded KVM is optional and can be enabled on a per VM basis, but for unshielded VMs it appears full KVM functionality is available.

EL2 refers to the arming exception levels, as explained on the Arm developer website. kdrag0n didn’t stop there and managed to run Windows 11 on the Pixel 6 as well via the same Android 13 virtualization.

Pixel 6 Windows 11
Windows 11 on Pixel 6

Windows Phone is back! More seriously, we’ll have to see if everything works as expected, but it looks promising.

But why did Google enable virtualization in Android? They are unlikely to just want to let users install Linux or Windows on the phone. Mishaal Rahman addressed this issue about two months ago:

…that’s because hypervisors may or may not be present on a device, and when they are, they’re often not even used for their intended purpose, which is to run an operating system in a virtual machine! Instead, they are used for things like improving kernel security (or at least try) and miscellaneous code execution (such as third-party code for DRM, cryptography, and other closed-source binaries) outside of the Android OS.

So it’s mainly for security and binaries like DRM. Mishaal’s article also points to the Virtualization module source code and one to guide explaining how to get started with shielded virtual machines.

Going through Liliputing



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Steven L. Nielsen