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Sylvain Bellone
Sylvain Bellone

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How to install Anbox on Debian

While waiting to see how it works on the PinePhone, I've recently tried to install Anbox on a Debian (Bullseye), and found out that the official documentation or other online articles don't have proper Debian instructions. Most of those articles are based on Snap, while nowadays everything is present to install it the Debian way.

After digging around, it turns out that most of what I will describe here is properly documented in the dedicated Debian README (/usr/share/doc/anbox/README.Debian), but I have to admit that it took me time to find it and I personally often prefer a simple and visual tutorial.

So, here is what I had to do to run Anbox and the F-Droid apk on Debian!

Core installation

The first thing to do is of course to install Anbox itself:

$ sudo apt install anbox
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Then, as stated in the official doc, check that the necessary kernel modules are enabled:

$ ls -1 /dev/{ashmem,binder}
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If not:

$ sudo modprobe ashmem_linux
$ sudo modprobe binder_linux
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If like me, /sbin is not in your $PATH (modprobe: command not found), add it or use the full path:

$ sudo /sbin/modprobe ashmem_linux
$ sudo /sbin/modprobe binder_linux
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At that point, if you try to run it (anbox session-manager), you will probably get the following error:

Failed to connect to socket /run/anbox-container.socket: No such file or directory
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Android image

Anbox indeed expect to find an Android image at /var/lib/anbox/android.img.
Download the latest image available at https://build.anbox.io/android-images/ and move it there:

$ sudo mv ~/Downloads/android_amd64.img /var/lib/anbox/android.img

Restart the service:

$ sudo service anbox-container-manager restart
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You should now be able to run Anbox, either from your Desktop environment launcher, or with the following command:

anbox launch --package=org.anbox.appmgr --component=org.anbox.appmgr.AppViewActivity
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Anbox in XFCE Whisker Menu

Installing and running APKs

This last part is well explained in the doc. Start by installing adb:

$ sudo apt install android-tools-adb
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You now have everything needed to install new applications:

  • Open the Anbox Application Manager
  • Download F-Droid: $ wget https://f-droid.org/F-Droid.apk
  • Install the apk: $ adb install F-Droid.apk

You should now see F-Droid in Anbox Application Manager!
Anbox Application Manager


Refs:
https://superuser.com/a/1464899
https://lists.debian.org/debian-user/2021/01/msg00894.html
https://github.com/anbox/anbox/issues/123

Discussion (7)

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csjoy profile image
Prosenjit Majumder Joy

Thank you for this post. Please write another showing how to install google play store on anbox using debian. The third party script that available to install google playstore assume snap install. So it does not work.

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Sylvain Bellone Author • Edited on

I haven't tried @iamlegendz solution, but I'd personally go for a great alternative: the Aurora Store, which mirrors the Play Store nicely and can be installed from F-Droid: f-droid.org/en/packages/com.aurora...

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iamlegendz profile image
Mohamed Benkouider

It works well, you must run this command before: sudo mkdir /etc/systemd/system/anbox-container-manager.service.d/ and then install google play store with the script.

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csjoy profile image
Prosenjit Majumder Joy

Thanks. This was added in the latest commit. Now the script works out of the box.

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KitchM

I greatly appreciated the simple and well thought-out steps to get this working. However, even though everything worked at each step as directed, the outcome was the same as installing it thru Synaptic; I get a full screen window with the text "Starting..." and then nothing happens until a timeout and the windows goes away.

Debian 11 with Xfce 4.16.

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Ferdinand Rau

Hi,
check the output of the command sudo service anbox-container-manager status to find out what's going wrong under the hood. Might be missing permissions, or a wrong filename for your Android image, or missing kernel modules while starting the Android image.
if that does not help, digging in the output of sudo journalctl -x -b -l | grep anbox probably will.

I'm on Debian GNU/Linux 11 with Xfce4 4.16 as well and it works. In a clean install, if you don't have sudo available, run the above commands as root without the sudo part.

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Sergio • Edited on

Anbox seems to be heavily broken on Debian 11 instead, with no signs of verbose error. debian anbox[25324]: Session manager failed to become ready is the only error you can find, everything else is normally loading components. github.com/anbox/anbox/issues/978 Might be a return of this issue