December 9, 2022

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Android 13 virtualization allows the Pixel 6 to run Windows 11 and Linux distributions

Android 13 virtualization allows the Pixel 6 to run Windows 11 and Linux distributions

the first Android 13 developer preview You may have been a little discouraged, but there is a hidden gem with full virtualization capability on devices like the Google Pixel 6 smartphone.

What that means is that it is now possible to run almost any operating system including Windows 11 or Linux distributions like Ubuntu or Arch Linux Arm on a phone running Google Tensor, and do so at close to original speed.

Android and web developerkdrag0n“Tested several Linux distros compiled for Aarch64 on Pixel 6 with Ubuntu 21.10, Arch Linux Arm, Void Linux, and Alpine Linux using “KVM hypervisor on Pixel 6 + Android 13 DP1.” He further explains:

As far as I can tell, we can pretty much get the full EL2 on production hardware now. Protected KVMs are optional and can be enabled on a VM basis, but for unprotected VMs, full KVM functionality appears to be available.

EL2 indicates arm exclusion levels as shown On the Arm developer site. kdrag0n didn’t stop here and was able to run Windows 11 on the Pixel 6 as well as through the same default Android 13.

Pixel 6 Windows 11 phone
Windows 11 on Pixel 6

Windows Phone is back! More seriously, we’ll have to see if everything works as expected, but this looks promising.

But why did Google enable virtualization in Android? It’s unlikely that they just wanted to allow users to install Linux or Windows on the phone. Mishaal Rahman addressed this issue About 2 months ago:

… This is because hypervisors may or may not be present on the machine, and when they are, they are often not used for their intended purpose, which is to run an operating system in a virtual machine! Instead, they are used For things like enhancing kernel security (or at least trying) and Run various code (such as third-party code for DRM, encryption, and other closed source binaries) outside of Android OS.

This is mostly for security and binaries like DRM. Mishaal’s article also refers to Virtual unit source code and Instructs Explain how to get started with protected virtual machines.

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