Installing Android on Windows Tablet: A World of Frustration

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I have an old HP Stream 7 tablet that had Windows 10 on it. It was pretty much useless to me (Windows is kind of lousy for a mobile environment). I suppose I could have made use of apps from the Windows Store, but I was curious about converting the tablet to run Android instead.

The biggest reason for converting it to Android was that at my job, we have a number of HP Stream 7 devices we use for the drivers of our product delivery. I wrote the Windows WPF application that the drivers use, but we’re finding replacement tablets difficult to find, so rewriting the application for Android became necessary. My thought was that if I could convert these tablets to run Android, then they will continue to be useful once the Android application is ready and in use, instead of having to support two different versions of the application.

I searched the web through Google and found two possible solutions. One was Phoenix OS, the other RemixOS. The drawback I found with RemixOS is that it is no longer supported, classifying it as abandonware. I therefore decided to resort to RemixOS only as a last resort.

I actually have a second tablet that I was really hoping to convert–a Vulcan model that only had 16 GB disk space. This one was worse than the HP Stream 7 for functionality, so I hoped to make it useful by converting it to Android. My first run at it eliminated Phoenix OS as a possibility, as Phoenix OS required 6 GB of free space on the hard driver, and the silly piece of crap only had 5 GB of free space, and this was after I did all sorts of clean up to make room. I set this aside to consider options later.

I downloaded Phoenix OS Windows Installer from here, and copied the installer onto a SD chip, which I placed in the SD memory port of the Stream 7. Running the installer gave me the options to Install, Make U-Disk (which I assume means that it installs Phoenix OS on a bootable USB drive). It also gives four size options: 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB, with the default being the maximum size plus two gigabytes that fit in the free space of the C:\ drive. From what I could gather, you want to select the biggest possible.

The first run only had enough space for 8GB, which mean that I had between 10GB and 18GB free on my hard drive. It failed to install with some kind of error that had no meaning.

I switched to RemixOS on a whim, and it also failed, but this time told me to turn of Secure Boot. This was much more useful information. I shut down my HP Stream 7, then started it up holding volume down and the power button together, which brought up the BIOS menu. There, I found the Secure Boot setting and disabled it.

Saving my settings and rebooting, I decided to try Phoenix OS again. This time, 16 GB was selectable, so I apparently must of freed up a total of 18 GB of space on my hard drive. A message said it would take between 2 and 5 minutes, but that’s a lie. It seemed to get stuck for awhile at the 95% mark. Unfortunately, it failed again with an error, specifically, “Sorry, an error occurred in the installation process!” A rather useless message.

I checked for logs or something to tell me what went wrong. No log files near the installer, and nothing in Event Viewer. A Google search was unproductive. I did stumble onto Prime OS as a third option, so decided to give it a try, abandoning the uselessness of Phoenix OS.

The Stream 7 was manufactured in 2014, so that meant that the “Mainline” version was available to me. I downloaded the installer, which meant I was setting up to dual booth this with Windows. I would have preferred Android taking over the whole thing, but I don’t want to waste time with the manual efforts required–I’ve already put too much time into this.

Unfortunately, the main link for download pointed to one on dialup connection and was set to take up to 5 hours to download the 1.1 GB file. I switched to one of the alternate links, which was still slow, but seemed to be a bit faster, although the speed fluctuated so much I didn’t know if it would take 10 minutes or 3 hours to download.

Prime OS did finally download and I copied it onto my SD drive, running the installer on the HP Stream 7.

It started by extracting itself, which took about a couple of minutes or so. When it finally rendered onscreen, I discovered that the installer doesn’t work well in portrait mode. Be sure you are in landscape mode when you run this. I had to exit it and start it again in landscape mode.

But, this proved to be a wasted trip. When selecting install options, I needed to specify a desired size and a drive. Unfortunately, the drive dropdown was empty, and although I could type in a drive letter, it did not like the C:\ drive. Therefore, I was stuck (WTF? What the hell is wrong with developers to come up with this?). I tried the older “Standard” version, but that produced the same result. On to RemixOS.

This time, RemixOS didn’t give me trouble, now that Secure Boot was turned off. The install process went pretty smooth. Wish I had started with this one. When it finished, it prompted me to reboot and manually select RemixOS upon startup.

Except that it booted to Windows automatically.

A new restart did bring up the manual boot menu, but touchscreen didn’t work, and it booted to Windows again before I had a chance to respond. Rebooting only skipped the menu again.

Shutting down and starting up did bring the boot menu back up. Volume control buttons moved through three options, but the second option (RemixOS with standard options) wasn’t selectable because the cursor moved too quickly. I solved this by plugging in a keyboard.

Unfortunately, the boot to RemixOS failed because it looked like there were files missing. I suppose I could find the files and get them installed, but at what point do I cut my losses? My entire morning has been wasted, and there was no success.

I did return to Prime OS when a Google search revealed that I needed to create a disk partition for it. Okay, seems simple enough, except that in Disk Management, Shrink partition on the C:\ drive only gave me some 200 MB. Unless I can figure out a way to move all the files to the opposite end of the disk, this is also a non-starter.

So, I Googled and came up with Partition Wizard, a free disk management tool that let me take all free space of my C:\ drive and create a new partition. Unfortunately, it claimed my C:\ drive needed repaired before I could resize my partition to create a new partition. I did run a disk scan and repair, but Partition Wizard still said my disk was damaged. Might be true, but it doesn’t change the fact that now I’ve exhausted all options and still don’t have an Android tablet from a Windows tablet.

In summary, the problem with RemixOS is that it is no longer supported. It at least it gave an error message when I made an install attempt that was clear. When I fixed the issue, it still wouldn’t work because of missing files.

From what I understand, Phoenix OS is pretty good, but the install process could do better with the error messages. Telling me that an “Error Occurred!” is useless if you can’t tell me why the error occurred, or what I should do about it (such as send log data to support for help). I can understand that to the layman giving a meaningful error message might not be all that helpful, but not giving enough information as to what to do about a particular error is just creating trash. A code or something that a Google search can provide an answer for is a bare minimum. Providing information as to how to overcome the error is providing good support. Every application I create will at minimum log the error so that I can obtain useful information for troubleshooting the problem.

Prime OS seemed like it may be the best supported, but with no way to create a partition for the OS, I’m rather stuck.

In any event, the experience turned into a major dud. Since converting a Windows machine to Linux is generally successful, my next post will discuss my experience converting this tablet to Linux, and install Android on top of Linux. Is success somehow possible?

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