Install Android on a Raspberry Pi with LineageOS?

Android is one of the most popular operating systems for mobile devices. Now, you can run Android on a Raspberry Pi using the open source LineageOS distribution. This provides an inexpensive way to use Android on a small, single board computer like the Raspberry Pi.

Install Android on a Raspberry Pi with LineageOS?

In this guide, you’ll learn how to install LineageOS on a Raspberry Pi to run Android. We’ll cover all the steps including downloading the LineageOS image, flashing it to a microSD card, and configuring Android after the first boot.

LineageOS is a free, community built distribution of Android. It provides stock Android experience without extra modifications and customizations added by device manufacturers.

LineageOS supports installation on many devices including most popular smartphones. The developers have also added support for the Raspberry Pi, allowing us to run Android on the inexpensive single board computer.

Some key advantages of using LineageOS on Raspberry Pi include:

  • Free and open source distribution of Android.
  • Stock Android experience without bloatware or vendor modifications.
  • Supports Raspberry Pi 3 B+, 3, and Zero 2 W.
  • Regular updates directly from LineageOS.
  • Large community support.

Overall, LineageOS offers an easy way to run complete Android system on a Raspberry Pi. You get all the standard Android features like the Google Play Store for installing apps, full Linux kernel support, Wi-Fi connectivity and Bluetooth support.

Hardware Needed

To install LineageOS on Raspberry Pi, you will need:

  • Raspberry Pi 3 B+, 3 or Zero 2 W. Earlier models like Pi 2 are not supported.
  • MicroSD Card with 8GB or higher capacity.
  • Power adapter for Raspberry Pi.
  • Display with HDMI input and HDMI cable.
  • USB keyboard/mouse for initial setup.

Optional accessories:

  • USB Hub – If you need additional USB ports for connecting peripherals.
  • USB storage – For additional storage since Android uses up SD card space.

Download LineageOS for Raspberry Pi

The first step is to download the LineageOS disk image for Raspberry Pi. You can find the latest builds on the official website.

Go to the Download page and scroll down to find the link for Raspberry Pi builds. At the time of writing, the latest build is lineage-18.1-20221018-nightly-konzo-rpi.

Click on the link to download the ZIP file. Once downloaded unzip the file to get the LineageOS disk image .img file.

This disk image is ready to be flashed to the microSD card to install LineageOS.

Flash LineageOS Image to MicroSD Card

With the LineageOS image downloaded, next we need to flash it to the microSD card to make it bootable.

On Windows

On Windows, you can use the BalenaEtcher app. Insert your microSD card into the computer. Launch Etcher, select the LineageOS .img file and flash it.

Once flashing is complete, safely eject the microSD card.

On Mac and Linux

On Mac or Linux, you can use the command line dd tool to flash the image.

Insert the microSD card into your computer using a card reader. Run the following command (replace your_disk with correct disk):

bash

sudo dd bs=1M if=lineage-18.1-*.img of=/dev/your_disk conv=fsync

This copies the LineageOS image to the SD card to make it bootable.

First Boot and Initial Setup

With LineageOS installed on the microSD card, insert it into the Raspberry Pi and connect the display, keyboard, mouse and power supply.

Turn on the Pi to boot from the LineageOS SD card for the first time. This will take 3-5 minutes for the first boot. You will see the LineageOS logo and boot animation.

After boot is complete, you will be taken through the Android setup wizard:

  • Select language preference.
  • Connect to Wi-Fi network – To download apps and updates.
  • Date and time settings.
  • Skip through Google account setup. You can optionally add account later.
  • Follow on screen instructions to complete setup.

Once setup is done, you will be at the LineageOS home screen. You now have a fully functional Android system running on the Raspberry Pi.

Initial Configuration and Connectivity

After the first boot, you should configure Android and verify connectivity.

  • Run any pending system updates – Check for and install updates from Settings.
  • Configure Bluetooth – Turn on and pair Bluetooth devices if needed.
  • Connect accessories – Like mouse, keyboard, external storage via USB.
  • Verify Wi-Fi connectivity.
  • Check cellular data if using an LTE hat – Configure APN settings.

Once connectivity is verified, you can proceed with installing apps and using your Raspberry Pi running Android.

Install Apps from Google Play Store

LineageOS comes with the Google Play Store pre-installed. You can install apps just like on any Android device.

Open the Play Store app and search for the apps you want to install. For example, you can install:

  • Social apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
  • Media apps like Netflix, Spotify, YouTube
  • Messaging apps like WhatsApp, Signal
  • Tools and utilities like web browsers, file managers, remote desktop clients.

LineageOS also has built-in support for installing APK files. So you can directly download and install APK files for F-Droid, Amazon AppStore and other third party app stores.

Transfer Files and Data to External Storage

The internal storage on Raspberry Pi is limited. For storing your photos, videos, downloads and other files, it is recommended to use a USB drive or external HDD.

Connect an external USB drive to Raspberry Pi and it will be detected automatically. Go to Settings > Storage and it will be listed under Portable storage.

You can directly copy and transfer your files and data to this external storage. For automatically storing pictures, downloads and other content here, go to Settings > Storage and select your device under Preferred storage location.

This will ensure that your internal storage does not fill up quickly.

Using Desktop Mode with HDMI Monitor

LineageOS on Raspberry Pi has an optional desktop mode that can be enabled for a PC-like experience when using an HDMI monitor and mouse/keyboard.

To enable desktop mode:

  1. Go to Settings > System > Advanced > Developer options.
  2. Enable Force desktop mode.
  3. Select Restart when prompted.

After rebooting, LineageOS will start in desktop mode with a taskbar at the bottom. You can launch and use multiple apps in overlapping windows like on a desktop OS.

Right click anywhere to access the app menu. You can launch apps, view recent apps, and access system settings from here. Desktop mode works well for productivity use cases where you need a bigger screen and PC-like multitasking.

Tips and Tricks

Here are some useful tips for using LineageOS on your Raspberry Pi:

  • Use a heatsink for better thermals, especially on the Pi 3.
  • Overclocking to 1.4 GHz provides good performance boost.
  • For better video playback performance, use RetroPie overclock settings.
  • Use the LineageOS updater to keep your system updated.
  • Backup your data periodically to external storage or cloud.
  • Use the twrp user account to access files on internal storage via USB from PC.
  • Connect a webcam using USB for video calls and photography.
  • Use a USB-Ethernet adapter if Wi-Fi connectivity is unstable.
  • Use LineageOS developer options for USB tethering and running local ADB.

Conclusion

Installing LineageOS on a Raspberry Pi provides you with an inexpensive way to run Android on a single board computer. It transforms the Pi into a fully featured Android device capable of running all your favorite apps.

With Google Play Store access and support for external storage and peripherals, you can use your Raspberry Pi with LineageOS as a media center, mobile workstation, smart display and more. Overall, it opens up many interesting Android use cases for the Pi.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Which Raspberry Pi models are supported?
A: LineageOS supports Raspberry Pi 3 B+, 3 and Zero 2 W officially. Earlier models are not supported currently.

Q: Is Google Play Store available on LineageOS?
A: Yes, LineageOS comes pre-installed with Google Play Store and Google apps support. You can install apps just like on any Android device.

Q: Can I use a Raspberry Pi case?
A: Yes, you can use most Raspberry Pi cases as long as they provide access to ports and don’t interfere with components. Some cases with integrated cooling fans are ideal.

Q: How do I transfer files from my PC?
A: You can access the internal storage from a PC over USB using the twrp user account. Or use a microSD card reader. External storage like USB drives can also be attached.

Q: Is Bluetooth supported?
A: Yes, Bluetooth is supported for audio devices and peripherals like keyboards/mice. You can pair Bluetooth devices through Settings.

Q: Can I use a webcam with the Raspberry Pi?
A: Yes, you can attach an external USB webcam and it will work right away for video calls and photography.

Q: How do I setup Wi-Fi?
A: During initial setup wizard, you can select your Wi-Fi network and enter the password to connect. Or connect using Ethernet first.

Q: Can I use VNC to remotely access the device?
A: Yes, you can install a VNC server app from Play Store and remotely access the Pi over VNC.

Q: How do I backup my device?
A: You can use the built-in backup option in Settings. Or manually backup data to external storage or cloud storage services.

Q: What can I use the Raspberry Pi with LineageOS for?
A: Media center, retro gaming, smart home hub, car computer, robotics controller, IoT gateway, home server, and much more.

Q: Is Android auto update supported?
A: Yes, LineageOS supports seamless over-the-air updates to latest builds. Enable auto updates in Settings.

Q: Can I dual boot with other operating systems?
A: Not directly. You will need to reflash the SD card each time to switch OS. A multi-boot tool like BerryBoot can be used.

Q: How do I troubleshoot boot or installation issues?
A: The LineageOS wiki and forum have detailed troubleshooting guides. You can also try reflashing the SD card or using a different power supply.

Q: What are the desktop mode requirements?
A: Desktop mode requires HDMI monitor and mouse/keyboard. It is optional and not enabled by default in LineageOS.

Q: Can I use the Pi camera module?
A: Yes, connect the Pi camera module and it will work. You may need to enable camera support in Developer options.

Q: Is overclocking supported?
A: Yes, overclocking is supported. Use tools like the CPU settings app to safely overclock for performance boost.

Q: Can I use a 4G/LTE hat for cellular connectivity?
A: Yes, 4G/LTE hats and USB dongles are compatible. You will need to configure APN settings for your carrier.

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