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MobileTechMinutes — Android 1.6 on a Samsung UMPC

[wpvideo 4v621L3N w=560]

I’ve been admiring the ARCHOS Internet Tablet with Android from afar lately. A current Android device is appealing, but I’m on the fence between adding a CDMA Android phone that I can swap with my Pre or simply getting a standalone Android unit. That’s when it hit me — why not repurpose my Samsung Q1UP to run Android to get a feel for such a device? I did just that over the weekend, thanks to the community at Android-x86. I found a port of Android 1.6 that’s really geared for netbooks like the original Eee PC 701 and got it working on my UMPC. You can run the port from a Live CD or USB drive, so you don’t have to remove your current operating system.

My first impressions — Android is blazing on a 1.33GHz Intel Core Solo, just like you’d expect. It seems like the battery lasts longer on a charge as well, but I haven’t had time to really test that theory. Of course, this ported implementation isn’t perfect on my device. In fact, there’s enough that’s not working for me to say: only do this for fun right now. I can work on the web over Wi-Fi and the built-in keyboard and mouse work great. No touchscreen yet though, nor any sound or Bluetooth either. The biggest killer that I’m focused on solving? No buttons map to the Menu screen in Android. I’m talking to developers on that because it’s completely limiting my usage. Oh and so is the lack of persistent data storage among other glitches. Have I scared you away yet?

Even with the problems, this has me leaning towards a non-phone Android device. I already have two phones and there are times I’d like to use the browser on a bigger screen on the couch or in a coffee shop. I don’t need the pocketable web because I already have that in my phones. Hmmm….. decisions, decisions.

20 Responses to “MobileTechMinutes — Android 1.6 on a Samsung UMPC”

  1. I’m a “boot from USB” noob, but I’m having a heck of time making this work. If there’s a better place to discuss this, please redirect me…

    I downloaded the USB image from here:
    I extracted the content and used Win32DiskImager to image it to a 4GB Kingston Data Traveler
    I set my boot order to boot from Hard Drive last
    My Q1 completely ignores the flash stick and just boots Windows.
    Did I miss something?

  2. Bryan Hundven


    I have had my Samsung Q1U-CMXP for a while and hate using windows or linux (ubuntu, debian, fedora, etc…) on it because they lack the user interface to support tablet and such.

    I started to look into android-x86 a month or so ago, and have been documenting my experience and changes to the android-x86 code to get more support for my device. Here is the forum post:

    I would like to find more people with Q1U models/variants so I can support more of them with my changes and/or their help.

    Btw, here is a list of working and non-working with my changes:

    * Native accelerated 1024×600 resolution using the i915 (with kms).
    * Wireless & wired networking
    * Touch screen (you may need your own pointercal generated by ts_calibrate from tslib. Support will be added soon to generate a pointercal from within android-x86 using ts_calibrate.)

    * 3G on CMXP model
    * Audio (soon, working on this next)
    * HW keyboard still needs some love
    * Front and Back camera still don’t work. Uses the gspca_vc032x driver.

    If you have a Samsung Q1U, Please read the thread, and let me know what works and doesn’t work for you. Also provide the output of lspci, lsusb, and lshal, and a pointercal if necessary and I will get your device supported!


    Bryan Hundven

  3. johnkzin

    As with the Entourage eDGe, the main thin I’d find lacking here is: the Android web browser. I have a Samsung Q1Ultra, with Ubuntu 9.04 on it. It’s my “couch tablet” (like the crunchpad). One of the things I love about it is: full versions of things like Google Apps (instead of mobile versions, like the Android web browser gives you).

    Give me a real/full web browser (Full Google Apps, Flash, etc.), and a better VNC viewer client, and I’d be pretty happy to test replacing the OS with Android. But, without those things, it wont have what I want/need/use on it now.

    By the way, you wondered about the resolution: if it’s doing full native resolution, it should be 1024×600, not 800×600.

    It would be nice to see the virtual buttons at the top right of the screen (UDF, Vol+, Vol-, and Menu) mapped into Android. UDF for screen rotation maybe, and “Menu” for … MENU!!! … just what we need, right? :-)

    Or, really, the right mouse button could be for Android’s menu, then the virtual button named “menu” could be for the Android “Home” button functionality.

    I hope you manage to work out the persistent storage, touch screen, and maybe even the cameras. That would be pretty outstanding. Screen rotation would be pretty nice too. Which app store do you have access to? The real/main android app market? Or something else?

    If you do a follow up, please let us know if you’ve got full Gmail or not, and full Google Reader or not. If it’s like the G1, then the browser will do a fancy version of “mobile Gmail” and “mobile Reader” (sort of like the iPhone versions of those) … but it wont let you do things like “send as” in gmail, nor edit article tags in Google Reader.

    • Yup, I know what the full native res of the device is — I’ve been using the Samsung Q1 series since day 1. ;) I think Android is running at 800 x 600, but I might be able to finagle a higher res out of it. The hardware buttons for volume actually are mapped properly — hitting them shows an on screen display for the “ringer volume,” but there’s still no sound. If I could re-map keys, I’d be in good shape. The app store isn’t the Android Market, but perhaps that access could be built into the image.

    • I hear there’s a mobile-devices version of Firefox coming out with plug-in support – would that be the sort of thing that could persuade you to try Android? (I have no particular stake in Android or its devices; I’m just curious.)

      • johnkzin

        I’m not sure why you think I haven’t tried Android. I have a G1, and Android is one of my two preferred mobile OSes right now (the other being Maemo).

        My concern isn’t out of “lack of trying it”, my concern is out of a year of full time use of it. The built-in Android browser just isn’t up to being my netbook (or larger) browser.

        And, I’m not sure fennec (the Firefox mobile browser) is actually going to be different. I don’t know whether or not it does/will-do mobile versions of Google Apps, etc. Or if it will do the desktop versions of those types of web sites/web apps. Plus, it’s a natively compiled app, last I checked, so I hadn’t expected it to come to Android. If it is, and it will do the full versions of web sites (instead of mobile versions), then that would handle my browser concerns. Android browser for mobile and finger/touch-screen optimized sites, fennec for conventional sites.

        If you mean “trying it specifically on the Samsung Q1 Ultra” … that will require the VNC client part, as well. I use VNC on my Q1U right now to remote control my desktop, for various reasons. That allows me to keep an eye on things (for work, for certain applications, etc.). I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving that up. So, the browse alone wouldn’t cause me to say that I’m ready for Android on the Q1U.

    • Camera’s not working yet, but there’s a patch that might help. I haven’t applied it yet, so I can’t say for sure at the moment. You could always grab the image and run it from a Live CD or USB with your Q1UP to try this. It’s not necessary to install it to your hard drive like I did.

  4. I have a Samsung Q1U, the one with the 800MHz processor, and I’ll give this a try and see how fast it runs. I would have totally considered installing this as a replacement OS if it had touch screen support. I hope they work that out soon!

  5. That’s awesome! Any chance you could send some video our way?

    I actually still use my Sammy when I want to travel ultra-light thanks to this site and your how-tos on RAM upgrades. He keeps me from buying an eReader ;)

    Now that I’m using an Android phone and handset processors are quickly approaching (and surpassing) what Sammy has under the hood, I’ve been thinking about what would best replace him. But if he can run Android, maybe he becomes an extension of my phone…?

  6. Thanks for posting kevin. I tell ya, that would be a pretty sweet machine if they could get all of the hardware features going on it. Hell, android is a touch based OS at heart, so hopefully they will work with ya on that. The Q1P seems like a pretty good form factor to work with android, epecially if they get touch and bluetooth working.