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Run Android OS on your netbook, laptop or personal computer with Android-x86

With all of the talk nowadays about moving from personal computers to smartphones and tablets, I was wondering if I could have the best of both worlds. I wanted to know is if I could run a version of the Android OS on my netbook. Having setup both multi-boot computers and virtual machines, I thought that it might be possible. And with the Android-x86 Project, it is.

Android-x86 opening screen running inside of a Oracle VirtualBox
Android-x86 opening screen running inside of a Oracle VirtualBox

The Android-x86 Project is an Apache open source project working to port the Android operating system to the x86 hardware architecture. It's the same hardware architecture that is in almost all netbooks / laptops and personal computers. They have several different builds for different types of systems (ASUS, HP, Lenovo, etc.), mainly netbooks, laptops and tablets.

Android-x86 main screen running inside of a Oracle VirtualBox
Android-x86 main screen running inside of a Oracle VirtualBox

Android-x86 can be run from a cd, installed into a virtual machine like Oracle's VirtualBox, a USB drive or your computer's hard drive as the primary operating system. You can even set it up to multi-boot with Windows. Here's a quote from the Android-x86 website:

This is a project to port Android open source project to x86 platform, formerly known as "patch hosting for android x86 support". The original plan is to host different patches for android x86 support from open source community. A few months after we created the project, we found out that we could do much more than just hosting patches. So we decide to create our code base to provide support on different x86 platforms, and set up a git server to host it.

For more information on the Android-x86 Project, just follow the links below:

Android-x86 Project - Run Android on Your PC
Installation - Android-x86 - Porting Android to x86

Quickly adjust the settings on your Windows 7 laptop / netbook with Windows Mobility Center

Have you ever needed to change a setting on your Windows 7 laptop / netbook quickly? Maybe change the screen brightness or turn on/off your wi-fi? You can do just that and more with Windows Mobility Center inside of Windows 7.

Windows Mobility Center in Windows 7
Windows Mobility Center inside of Windows 7

Windows Mobility Center displays the most commonly used laptop / netbook settings, such as brightness, volume, battery status, and wireless network status. Different tiles are displayed depending on your system, and some tiles are added by your laptop / netbook manufacturer.

Here are some of the settings you might find in the Windows Mobility Center. Remember, not all settings are available on all laptops.

  • Brightness. Move the slider to temporarily adjust the brightness of your display. To adjust the display brightness settings for your power plan, click the icon to open Power Options.
  • Volume. Move the slider to adjust the speaker volume of your laptop, or select the Mute check box.
  • Battery Status. View how much charge remains on your battery or select a power plan from the list.
  • Wireless Network. View the status of your wireless network connection or turn your wireless network adapter on or off.
  • Screen Rotation. Change the orientation of your Tablet PC screen from portrait to landscape, or vice versa.
  • External Display. Connect an additional monitor to your laptop, or customize the display settings.
  • Sync Center. View the status of an in-progress file sync, start a new sync, set up a sync partnership, or change your settings in Sync Center.

How to access Windows Mobility Manager on a Windows 7 based laptop or netbook

  • Click on the Start button, then All Programs, then Accessories, then Windows Mobility Manager.
  • Or
  • Click Start, and then type mobility center in the Start Search box.

Geek Tips:

    Windows Mobility Center on the Taskbar in Windows 7
  • Pin the Windows Mobility Manager to the Taskbar for even quickier access to it.
  • Click an icon to quickly open options for that setting. For example, click the Battery Status icon to open Power Options, and from there select a power plan.

Notes:

If the Turn wireless on button is unavailable, you might need to use the hardware switch on your computer to turn on the wireless network adapter. For more information about turning the adapter on and off, check the documentation that came with your computer.

If a setting doesn't appear, it might be because the required hardware (such as a wireless network adapter) or drivers are missing. For example, if the Turn wireless on button is unavailable, you might need to use the hardware switch on your computer to turn on the wireless adapter.

Using a second monitor on a Netbook

In this article, I show a couple of uses for a second monitor connected to a netbook.

A few of my favorite and useful USB devices

Connecting a second monitor to a Netbook a quite easy. Getting the right aspect ratio, well, it depends on what type of monitor you use. Believe it or not, but I found using a 42" plasma TV the best.

Enjoy,
Scott

Using Remote Desktop Connection on a Netbook

In this article, I would like to show you how to use Remote Desktop Connection. With Remote Desktop Connection, you can have access to a Windows session that is running on your computer when you are at another computer. This means, for example, that you can connect to your work computer from home and have access to all of your programs, files, and network resources as though you were sitting at your computer at work. You can leave programs running at work and when you get home, you can see your work desktop displayed on your home computer, with the same programs running.

When you connect to your computer at work, Remote Desktop automatically locks that computer so that no one else can access your programs and files while you are gone. When you come back to work, you can unlock your computer by pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL.

You can keep your programs running and preserve the state of your Windows session while another user is logged on. When that user logs off, you can reconnect to your session in progress.

And you can even connect two computers running different operating systems. In the following video, I use a Netbook running Windows XP Professional to connect to a workstation running Windows 7.

Note: This video was captured at 1366x768 (using a netbook)

With Fast User Switching, you can easily switch from one user to another on the same computer. For example, suppose you are working at home and have logged on to the computer at your office to update an expense report. While you are working, a family member needs to use your home computer to check for an important e-mail message. You can disconnect Remote Desktop, allow the other user to log on and check e-mail, and then reconnect to the computer at your office, where you will see the expense report exactly as you left it. Fast User Switching works on standalone computers and computers that are members of workgroups.

Remote Desktop can be used in many situations, including:

  • Working at home. Access work in progress on your office computer from home, and have full access to all local and remote devices.
  • Collaborating. Access your desktop from a colleague's office to work together on projects such as updating a slide presentation or proofreading a document.
  • Sharing a console. Allow multiple users to maintain separate program and configuration sessions on a single computer, such as at a teller station or a sales desk.

To use Remote Desktop Connection

  • A computer ("host" computer) running Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2, Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 2, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 or Windows 7 ("remote" computer) with a connection to a local area network (LAN) or the Internet.
  • A second computer ("client" computer) with access to the LAN via a network connection, modem, or virtual private network (VPN) connection. This computer must have Remote Desktop Connection installed.
  • Appropriate user accounts and permissions.

Note:
If you have Windows XP Service Pack 3 installed, the CredSSP protocol is turned off by default. You will need to enable it to use Network Level Authentication (NLA), which is recommended. The following article describes the procedure to enable it.

Credential Security Service Provider (CredSSP) in Windows XP Service Pack 3

Till then,
Scott

How to perform a clean installation of the operating system on a netbook

In my last blog, I reported on the new Acer Aspire One Netbook (Model AO571h) I had just purchased. It came pre-loaded with Windows XP Home. Since I need to connect to a domain, I needed Windows XP Professional on the netbook.

Normally, I check the hardware manufacturers web site(s) for the latest drivers and download them. Then I just wipe the hard drive clean and boot to the installation media. Once it finished installation I immediately install the specific drivers for the hardware installed, starting with the chipset first.

But the netbook's hardware architecture is new and a standard OEM version of Windows XP does not recognize the hardware correctly. I contacted Acer and was told that they do not support the installation of any operating system other than what was shipped with the computer. But their web site had the drivers for all 32-bit versions of Windows XP and Windows Vista.

It became obvious that I had to add the chipset drivers to the Windows XP Pro cd. I extracted the chipset drivers and found the instructions for adding the drivers into the installation media. I then created an image file from the installation media and opened it up for editing. I added in the chipset drivers that I had downloaded and saved the file. I then burned it to a cd.

The netbook booted right up on the modified installation media and the setup went flawlessly. I installed the rest of the drivers I had downloaded and it's running beautifully on Windows XP Professional.

Till then,
Scott

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