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Emulator tapped for Android-to-N8xx port

Mar 20, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

A “NITdroid” hacker has released code that enables desktop computers to emulate Nokia Internet Tablets running Android. Philippe Coval has posted a video showing his “NITdroid-emulator” working alongside a new version of Qemu, running the open-source NITdroid Android-to-N8xx port on a Linux desktop.

(Click for larger view of NITdroid-emulator and Qemu running Android on a desktop)

The community-based NITdroid project is in the process of porting Android to Nokia Internet Tablets (NITs) such as the Nokia N810 Internet Tablet (pictured below). NITdroid has developed WiFi drivers and other components in an effort to provide a working alternative to Maemo for Internet Tablets. The NITdroid project now offers the latest Linux 2.6 stable kernel, and support for the N8xx touchscreen, keyboard (N810 only), WiFi, battery charging, and other features. Audio and Bluetooth support are said to be under development, with GPS and DSP support not yet begun.

Nokia N810
(Click for details)

Qemu's new OMAP2 support paves the way

The NITdroid-emulator enables developers to work with Android on a desktop PC instead of needing to work directly on a Nokia Internet Tablet, explains Coval in his blog post on NewLC. “While working on the maemo version of our logging engine, using scratchbox wasn't very suitable,” he writes. “So I was looking for a machine emulator to run the original OS, like qemu.”

The port was made by possible by a new version 0.1.10 of the popular open-source Qemu machine emulator, created by Fabrice Bellard. When Coval discovered that the new version offered Nokia N-series tablet emulation as part of simulating the device's Texas Instruments OMAP2 processor, he went quickly to work on applying Qemu to NITdroid. Qemu, as he explains, is used by a variety of projects including Scratchbox, KVM, the Android SDK, and the Openmoko emulator.

As demonstrated in the video (see image at top), Coval was able to use his NITdroid-emulator code with Qemu, to boot and run Maemo and then run the latest release of NITdroid. Coval admits to some glitches, which he promises to review soon. Coval also hopes to soon release a version of NITdroid for the Asus Eee PC.

The earliest attempt to hack Android onto the N-Series tablets came in July when PenguinBait, B-man, and QWERTY-12 hacked a pre-release version of Android onto the N810. The first to achieve a port to the final Android 1.0 release appears to be China-based Linux consulting firm, and now media player vendor, NthCode, which reported on their port in a LinuxDevices white paper in December.

Another alternative to Maemo 4.0 on existing Nokia Internet Tablets is the Mer project, which is attempting to retrofit most of the cool new features from the alpha-stage Maemo 5 distribution back to the earlier devices. Nokia decided not to expend the effort of making its new OMAP3-based Maemo 5.0 backward compatible to the earlier OMAP2 models, but the company appears to be assisting the community-based Mer project in its efforts.


Phillipe Coval's NewLC blog with the NITdroid-emulator download, instructions, and video, may be found here. More information on the NITdroid project may be found here.

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