Develop Native Android Apps on Your Chromebook


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If you were fortunate enough to receive a Chromebook Pixel at last year’s Google I/O (or picked one up on the after-market), your glee was likely replaced by frustration as you tried to use it as a dev machine. Enter Crouton, a solution that allows you to run Ubuntu Linux within your Google Chrome environment, no reboot necessary.

chrome development

When I wrote a blog post about sending email within a native Android application, I decided to give Crouton a spin and find out if it was possible to do Android native development on a Chromebook Pixel. I came across a few stumbling blocks during that process, but I was ultimately successful. My goal with this post is to get you developing native Android applications on your Chromebook within one pomodoro.

I’ve only tested this tutorial on a Chromebook Pixel, so if you can get it working on another flavored Chromebook, please share in the comments.

Install Crouton with Ubuntu

To get started, I used the Lifehacker tutorial on how to install Linux on a Chromebook. Under step two, bullet four, I used the following command:

sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -t chrome, touch, unity -r saucy

I did try the Xfce environment out first, but I did not enjoy the experience, ymmv. If you decide to go the Unity route, run the following command to start up your new environment:

sudo startunity

Next, fix the screen resolution by adding this line to the end of the /etc/X11/xinit/xserverrc file:

-dpi 239

Install the Eclipse/Android Development Tools and Java

Next, let us get your Android development environment running. This tutorial is what I used for that achievement, following are a few gotcha’s that were not in the tutorial:

  1. I had to make eclipse executable
  2. Before being able to install Java, I ran:
    sudo apt-get install software-properties-common
  3. To properly use ADB, I installed these libraries

Execute!

Now, it’s time to test out your shiny new Android dev environment. Run the following commands, then check out this tutorial and you will be on your way!

  1. Get Git installed on your system:
    apt-get install git
  2. Grab the source files for the tutorial:
    git clone https://github.com/thinkingserious/sendgrid-android-example.git

You should now have something similar to the image at the top of the post. Success!

Resources

Be sure to share the Android app you create with us, we would love to see what you build! If you get this environment working on another type of Chromebook, please share with us in the comments!

Happy Hacking!


Elmer Thomas is SendGrid's Hacker in Residence. His mission is to help SendGrid live up to its slogan: "Email Delivery. Simplified" by improving the lives of developers, both internally and externally. Via all sorts of hackery, of course. Follow his exploits on Twitter and GitHub.

Elmer Thomas on Twitter

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