How many Android containers can you put on your VM? 2021 tips

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Nowadays, there are many options available to run Android app development environments. Even Microsoft has promised that its next Windows 11 will eventually be able to run apps on the desktop, and has long been compatible with the mobile operating system through its Your Phone app, even smothering your sick Windows Phone with an adorable Android pillow.

For Canonical, however, Anbox is still a cloud product, according to Simon Fels, chief engineering officer, and so it’s unlikely to appear on a desktop version of the company’s Ubuntu distro anytime soon. Although with the September announcement, it will now move from cloud heights to a single VM via the device version.

“The running software is pretty much the same,” says Fels, of the version differences of the Anbox Cloud device. Instead, the goal is to make it easier for developers to get started: “We wanted to allow people to jump right in and do something with Android containers without having to spend time setting up infrastructure, deploying elements, etc. “

The result is something relatively agnostic. While there was a lot of talk about the AWS Marketplace at launch, Fels tells us there wasn’t much to stop an Ubuntu Advantage subscriber from launching Anbox Cloud pretty much anywhere: “ We already have a lot of people doing this.

As for Anbox itself, Fels launched a GitHub repository a few years ago in order to run Android in containers. “Canonical,” he says, “was investing a lot in Ubuntu Touch as a smartphone operating system, where we were trying to address the app availability issue to get more apps. [it] that Anbox was a home. “

Canonical has moved away from Ubuntu Touch, but, as Fels puts it, they “saw customer interest” in the idea of ​​running Android apps in the cloud (“primarily for games in the cloud” , Fels noted) and Anbox Cloud continued.

Fels would like to point out that the internal Anbox Cloud was a different beast from the open source project. “Anbox Cloud is a separate code base, it does not share code with the open source Anbox project on GitHub, and it is not available under an open source license,” he says.

“It has a lot more features… it has more graphics support and is highly optimized specifically for high density.” In this case, group together as many Android instances as possible on a single machine.

“They both have the same origin in the original prototype I created years ago, so they share similar names and ideas, but the Anbox Cloud code is much more developed and has a use case different target (desktop vs cloud). “

As for Android itself, it has hardly changed, although Fels points out that not all instances pass compliance tests. “Among those that we don’t approve of,” he says, “there are some that just don’t apply to cloud-based instances like CTS. [Compatibility Test Suite] It was designed with physical and other devices in mind that our containerization prevents.

“So there are still a small number in which we have pending errors to correct. “Usually,” he adds, “we are compatible with standard Android. As long as there are no Google Play dependencies, of course.

Regarding the use of resources, the authorities could, from a technical point of view, consume what is available. However, “we have resource allocations for each of the containers to ensure that a single one cannot exceed the entire machine.” The containers are also isolated from each other.

Going forward, with the vast majority of Android apps running on Arm hardware, “Physical Arm is absolutely a topic for us,” Fels says. Sure, Android will run pretty well on x86 silicon, but Arm tends to be where it is. “The problem we are trying to solve,” he adds, “is not just a software problem, it is also a hardware problem.

“Since Android is primarily an Arm platform, it is absolutely necessary to have someone who provides competitive Arm service.

“We work closely with Ampere Computing,” he continues, “and we support their Altra family of chips by default. We typically run on any Arm platform certified for Ubuntu, including AWS Graviton, where the Anbox cloud appliance is available on the AWS Marketplace. “

When it comes to using the service, Fels says developers will adopt it as their first entry point “that they have an idea and they want to see if it’s a good idea.”

Then there are those who wonder how they could use Android in the cloud and, let’s assume, remove and move apps from devices.

The team is also considering a long-term service option. Not in the Ubuntu sense of the term, five to ten years old, “more in the sense that we would like to have a longer release period for an individual version, because we release a new minor version every three months.”

Fels adds that the containers themselves don’t need to be updated. However, they are short-lived and require the state to be preserved.

What about the Android updates themselves? “We are not a partner of Google, so we do not receive these fixes in advance. So we usually release a patch update for Anbox Cloud in the middle of each month. “

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