https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss

HOWTO emulate: Use "tapping" or "Clubs" (Android app) on your PC and freely chat with 50 people

Hi all,

ever heard of PC emulators like Bluestacks (V2, V3) or NOX?
Already tried them?

Are they either crashing, not starting or freezing from time to time your started apps (requiring an emulator restart) or your complete OS system (I had not seen many BSOD Bluescreens because of Bluestacks V2/V3, but constant hd-frontend.exe crashes!)?

Then you might also want to give the normal PC emulators VMWare and Oracle VirtualBox a try, which you may already know for emulating Windows, Linux or Mac guests in a sandbox!!!
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The Android project is ported to the X86 plattform: http://www.android-x86.org

You can download "ready-to-go" (already installed from ISO) Android images for both emulators here: http://www.osboxes.org/android-x86
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This site lists as the minimum requirements that you MUST use the V12/V14 (or V10+) versions of VMWare Workstation or Player, which AFAIK only work on newer 64bit systems (supported and activated CPU virtualization technology).
Of course these VMWare versions are only available for the (64bit) OSes and not Windows XP (32bit).

Im comparision there are "Oracle VirtualBox" versions like V4.3 or V5.0 which still listed some "Windows XP" compatibility! (I might re-try because of audio and getting back "tapping" option for some "grammar skills").

Personally I installed latest "Oracle VirtualBox V5.2.2" on an older WinXP system and so far it seems to work well with the Android-X86 V4.4-RC4 32bit image and RAM 768-964MB settings, without freezes/crashes.

I was NOT successful trying to use a 64-bit Linux guest image for my 32-bit host!


What have I done / tested so far a few days:

  • I am back running my "DuoLingo Android app" (for Clubs) in a NEW emulator called "Oracle Virtual Box" (instead of VMWare), to be able to manage my three Portuguese clubs as a "club admin".

  • The emulator NOX (up-to-date version) was unfortunately not working / starting (maybe CPU Virtualization issue) / freezing at all.

  • The latest Bluestacks V3 emu upgrade V3.50.66.2547/2.50.69.9843 did N O T work anymore with my PC (big big problem with starting and bluestacks.exe application hanging, no blue progress start bar anymore) and the previous (well-tested) Bluestacks V3 version V3.7.46.1633/2.10.49.8291 was still a "little bit" buggy anyways (freezing the app or hd-frontend.exe process crashes from time to time), but worked much better incl. full audio (both for the DuoLingo and the Memrise app!) on my older system with a Realtek sound card.

  • Too bad I can't get the full "audio play" back working with my Windows host system and "Windows direct sound" on my older XP Laptop with this new VirtualBox emulator :(
    I even tried to update the Realtek drivers...
    Sound worked fine with the older V2+V3 Bluestacks...

  • I am quite sure that "Oracle VirtualBox" would perform good incl. audio on any newer Intel I5/I7 or AMD 64-bit Windows computers with more up-to-date drivers and offical support list

  • Maybe I will retry VirtualBox on a dedicated Linux V-Host server and "Remote GUI" connect from my client, if available ;)

  • Please note: VirtualBox supports multiple host / CPU / virtualization settings like:

  • IIX3 vs ICH9 chipset

  • "PS/2 mouse" vs "USB tablet" pointing device
  • "Enable I/O APIC" extended features
  • 1/2...4 CPUs (incl. execution cap)
  • "Enable PAE/NX" extended features
  • Paravirtualization interface (None, KVM for Android Linux)
  • Hardware Virtualization: "Enable VT-x/AMD-v" and "Enable nested paging"

Most of these parameters depend on the specific guest Android image system (multi-CPU settings) and also on each other.

You might need some time to find the "required flags" so you can run the Android guest Linux system successfully, so take your time!

The good thing about "Oracle VirtualBox" is, that it does NOT crash (so far), you will instantly see if the Android guest system boots up (easy power OFF / re-try) and that VirtualBox will warn you of incompatible settings between each other (e.g CPU 2, enabled virtualization).


What is the benefit of all this you may ask?

  • You can run "Clubs" on your normal PC you have a full hardware keyboard support for faster typing
  • you can scale the Android window to full size and your full monitor (big big window, which you can actually read text on)
  • if you have the compatible PC/sound card/drivers, even audio "Windows direct sound" might work in VMware/VirtualBox, like it used to work for me before with Bluestacks before
  • if you are a "club admin", you may like all of those benefits to "manage" your club(s)

If you have any (technical) questions, just ask :-)

Viele Grüße aus Deutschland / Best regards Thomas

December 8, 2017

16 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/JammyDodgie

I have BlueStacks, which is an android emulator, but is there an IOS emulator? Thanks!

December 9, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/-Anna.Sofia-

Very useful, thanks!

December 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss
December 19, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/kHz.Marco

Sorry, this is confusing.

I really appreciate the time that you spent testing each machine, but everything is confusing (you tell that worked, then that it didn't).

Please, ='( (because this information is precious as gold) please erase all the unnecessary and write the resumed part.

Thank you.

April 3, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss

Hi Marco,

sorry, I know, this "Windows emulator project" got confusing the deeper I stepped into it when I tried to move away from Bluestacks (V2 + V3) for my DuoLingo clubs :(
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If you want to have an "Android emulator" on Linux or Mac (which I can not test with my equipment right now), you need to follow the above Linux link and try for yourself.
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The most accurate "simplest summary" would be, depending on your needs, you need to test a few Android emulators (Bluestacks, NOX, Memu, KOPlayer, etc.) and versions for your more modern PC with "64bit OS/64bit CPUs with latest hardware virtualization technology" (e.g latest compatible full-compliant OpenGL drivers for your graphic card) on your own :-)

However, you can not use a vanilla "Oracle VirtualBox".

See my other posted comment with summary.

April 3, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/ppelk

Thanks, I didn't know of this port. It might be a fun project to install Android on an old mini-laptop. Not necessarily to play Duolingo, but just to try it out how the features work.. ..or whether it works at all..

December 9, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss

Hello all,

bad news.

The "Oracle VirtualBox" project is "offically dead" for full usage for my three Portuguese clubs and trying to emulate the Android DuoLingo app!

Since (and before) the thread creation both VirtualBox and Android4.4-x86 guest image run rocking stable, even on my old PC system, in comparing to NOX and Bluestacks (as already described above)!

But:

  • The VBox "shared clipboard" setting (bi-directional) is only working when installing the "VBox Guest Additions ISO" :(

  • The same is true for "Mouse pointer integration", "Shared folders", "Drag and drop", "Hardware 3D acceleration".

  • Unfortunately I have read on the VBox forums https://forums.virtualbox.org that those additions (drives) are N O T ready for the Android x86 Linux images :(

You can probably inject them directly to native Windows or Linux guests....but not to the downloaded Android-x86 images from osboxes.org.

When I was trying to test it myself with V5.2.2, there was no mount link to the CDROM ISO file locally available on the Android guest system :(
No reaction...


This means:

  • I will have to find another Android emulator solution, where I can copy and pasting between my host Windows system and the Android (Linux) guest image and hopefully get also back the "Mouse pointer integration" solution (like Bluestacks).

  • If you are a "Club Admin" C&P features (shared clipboard - like Bluestacks, which nicely supported this) of local .txt files for longer texts....or creating backups....surely would be elementary.
    I can not live without this very imporant feature!


Thanks to HOFplaceholder for the "Memu Android emulator" tip here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/25521229

On the forums I also read today about the professional (costly) version of "Genymotion" https://www.genymotion.com, which seems to include some support for "guest additions".


Looks like I was a little bit too fast and "overhyped" the VBox emulator, which did not crash / freeze as often as Bluestacks (on my older CPU system) ;)

This is a fact:
I run the emulator + Android V4.4 image the whole night and in the morning the DuoLingo was just there and I could poll the newest Club leaderboard statistics.
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I will let you know if I made any steps forward...

Any further emulator tips from other IT / EDV specialists or DuoLingo app / club users?

December 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss

Memu Android emulator:

I couldn't get Memu running on my (older ) PC system :(

  • Memu V3.6.8 fails to start on WinXP 32bit SP3.
  • Frozen at 59% + additional Win7 upgrade message.

  • Memu V3.3.0.2 started successfully on WinXP (history/changelog shows fix for XP startup) with progress bar until 100%, but I got a black screen afterwards when it finished in the emu (bad OpenGL drivers and GPU rendering!)

  • I am almost sure that Memu V2.7.2 and V2.6.6 were working before at a time with WinXP (fixes for XP in history), but they probably purely depends on OpenGL 2.0, and do not support DirectX additionally.

  • V3.3 should have been the first version with DirectX (BETA) GPU rendering support, but I can NOT select it from the setting menu, even it is announced; only OpenGL
    My other (new, will post later about it) emulator works just great with DirectX, but also fails with OpenGL 2.0 GPU drivers (and I am already using the latest drivers for XP) with a black screen.


If anybody is using an older Laptop with e.g "Intel Express 965" (that is the series before Intel HD), has OpenGL 2.0 supported drivers (the tool "GPU Caps Viewer" will tell you!!), finds not any newer drivers but who gets a black screen in the emulator:

My recommendation is: Try switching to DirectX, if your emu supports it in the settings!!

I even successfully run RC flight (Heli) simulator software like Reflex XTR, Multiplex MultiFlight on my older system!
Therefore this can NOT only be a GPU and driver problem!

December 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/JammyDodgie

I have BlueStacks!

December 15, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss

The last (Window/Mac) Android emulator I have successfully tried is KOPlayer V1.4.1055.

It is based on "Oracle VirtualBox V4.3.34" and brings all those guest additions with, which were not provided or working with my described (Windows) Android emulator native VirtualBox V5.2.2 solution, e.g:

  • Shared clipboard (Copy and paste)
  • working sound / audio (like Bluestacks): Sometimes maybe a bit choppy, especially the Memrise app
  • mouse integration
  • shared folder support
  • GPU DirectX support (OpenGL 2.0 fails for me because of drivers)

However, for 2-3 tested DuoLingo Android app versions I have now double typed input characters (entered with Laptop keyboard) for "listening exercises" and some translations, where text writing in "Clubs" and most "translation exercises" works, oh no!

I will try to find out why KOPlayer has those problems or if it is just DuoLingo App related.

December 19, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss

Quote Marco: Sorry, this is confusing. I really appreciate the time that you spent testing each machine, but everything is confusing (you tell that worked, then that it didn't). Please, (because this information is precious as gold) please erase all the unnecessary and write the resumed part.

From my latest comment I wrote about Windows KOPlayer V1.4.1055, which is currently the only Windows Android emulator, which is going to work / more stable like the vanilla "Oracle VirtualBox" (without freezing) on my older PC system because you can switch it from OpenGL to DirectX rendering mode (problem with by GPU + drivers because others emulators besides Bluestacks fail with a black startup / application screen).

The Windows emulator KOPlayer, as written, is based on an older (headless) version of Oracle VirtualBox (VBox 4.3), older than I had installed manually with my above first vanilla/native VBox test.
Newer VBox versions require a more up-to-date 64-bit Windows system!

And KOPlayer adds additional missing guest additions which are - unlike a paying Genymotion emu (which I did not try) - missing in vanilla native VBox, e.g mouse integration, sound, copy and paste, etc.
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Issues found with KOPlayer on my system:

  • sometimes (seldom!) I can not startup KOPlayer as I can not click on any app and have to restart it (but once it started up and launched the DuoLingo or Memrise apps, I would name it kinda "stable") which also triggers a restart of the VBoxHeadless.exe.

  • I can not copy and paste (has VirtualBox addon support for C) many lines - as Club admin - between the Android guest host and Windows like I did before with Bluestacks (when it did not freeze or crash which it often did on my system!).

  • for a few DuoLingo Android app exercises (not all of them) keyboard letter input is doubled and I have no clue if this is a problem of KOPlayer or a buggy DuoLingo Android app version (tried more than three app versions).
    However, this is not the case for writing free text in the Clubs text input field. It works good!

  • I can not use KOPlayer in OpenGL mode (just like Memu, NOX emulators, etc.) because on startup the screen will be black (this is probably a GPU driver not-fully compliance OpenGL2.1 non-compatible issue; I really have a very old Laptop system with built-in Intel express graphics card).

  • not sure about in my above comment highlighted "choppy sound" / stuttered audio play problems which I probably sometimes got when I tried DuoLingo or Memrise: I did NOT deeply re-test my Android apps with KOPlayer anymore) as I am 99,99% using the web browser on my PC.

  • at least KOPlayer with it's provided "guest additions" (incl. "shared folders") DOES support - like Bluestacks - my (old chip) sound card and sound driver for Android emulation, which I believe to remember vanilla VBox did not (I would have to re-read my own whole thread ;)).

  • I would have to get in touch with the KOPlayer developers to trace and sort any possible issues (which may only be related to this older computer) I found for re-tests: This has not yet happend and I have not reported any found issues, especially the very annoying "copy and paste" problem with many text lines.

I know for sure that I can not go back to Bluestacks V2, older V3 or newer V3 versions, especially NOT on my older PC (it never worked 100% freeze-free when I wanted to have it running for a few hours!

As other users have written in reviews about Bluestacks newer (V3) versions they get less and less stable...dunno why.
Maybe it would work on a more up-to-date Intel Core I5/7 much better...who knows).

With my computer one of the more recent Bluestacks V3 versions did not even start anymore :(

Summary:

  • If you do not want to test the KOPlayer software on Windows but Bluestacks V3: Give it a go and see how it works on your modern PC system.

  • If Bluestacks does not work for you, test other Windows emulators like NOX or Memu with OpenGL (or DirectX rendering mode if you can get it running when you have a black startup screen or the start progress bar does not fully load anymore).

  • If both does not work for Windows: Move to Linux on a more modern 64-bit bit CPU and try other Linux emulators.
    No, AFAIK you can not use double emulations, like emulate Linux in a VM on your Windows and then use a 2nd Android emulator in Linux because this would race your 64bit CPUs virtualizations.

  • If everything fails pay for Genymotion and give it a try if this works any better (with all included / supported guest additions).

  • My "DuoLingo clubs" became so far a bit "un-manageable" for me - as a club admin - because of the found "copy and paste" issue in KOPLayer between the guest and host OS:
    Unfortunately, I can not announce and run anymore "inactive hot-chair XP games" on Mondays-Wednesdays for inactive club members who did not pass the streaks or last minimum weekly goals.
    I did that occasionally before e.g on the older running Bluestacks V3 version (which sometimes freeze on my PC) where "copy and pasting" from the host Windows OS into Android guest - even with very MANY text lines - was 100% working.

  • I would probably need to focus for "DuoLingo clubs" on text BACKUPS and copy and pasting within the Android guest as a workaround (native Android support, no KOPlayer involved) by using KOPLayer's "Shared folder" guest additions (works!!) and additional Android text apps.

April 3, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss

Sorry, I know, this "Windows Android emulator project" got confusing the deeper I stepped into it when I tried to move away from Bluestacks (V2 + V3) for my DuoLingo clubs :(

The most accurate "simplest summary" would be, depending on your needs, you need to test a few Android emulators (Bluestacks, NOX, Memu, KOPlayer, etc.) and different versions for your more modern PC with "64bit OS/64bit CPUs with latest hardware virtualization technology" (e.g latest compatible full-compliant OpenGL drivers for your graphic card) on your own :-)

However, you can NOT use a vanilla "Oracle VirtualBox" because of missing guest additions!

April 3, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/kHz.Marco

April 3, 2018 Results


IT WORKS: Bluestacks V3 - Everything runs fine - Win7x64 Corei3 4GB ram machine - Nothing has to be configured



IT DOESN'T WORK: ARC Welder runtime for google chrome - It doesn't even download from webstore, and the CRX file (from mirrors) cannot be added manually to chrome due to G.Chrome policies.

ARChon runtime for google chrome (tested v2.1 and 1.2) - Has to be installed in developer mode - Duolingo APK V3.75.1 Opens but only shows a black screen with an "Incompatible device" error.

PD:I will try to do the same as Mr. Thomas, and try to look for an emulator that runs smoothly on old machines (I have an Intel AtomN270 netbook and a toshiba single core laptop from the year 2009 to make tests). If something can run on older systems, then can it run everywhere.

April 3, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss

Hi,

sounds like it could work as long as the CPUs are 64bit and the Win7 is already 64-bit.

Using a 32-bit OS like WinXP is really much pain....

My only advise would be to use a system which already supports "hardware virtualization", that is the CPUs need at least to be 64-bit compatible.


With my above silly hardware and OS requirement most modern Android emulators will NOT run on!

BTW: My 2nd older AMD computer with a dedicated graphic card (and better Nvidia drivers) which I use still well for RC heli simulation is AFAIK not 64-bit nor virtualization ready, so it might not work at all or the performance is even worth than on my older 2006 Core2Duo system :-)

April 3, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss

ARC Welder runtime for google chrome - It doesn't even download from webstore, and the CRX file (from mirrors) cannot be added manually to chrome due to G.Chrome policies.

Why Chrome?
Have you tried with Firefox?

What is ARD Welder or CRX?

Even on KOPlayer (I believe it is based on Android V4.4) the latest Firefox app installs from "Google Play store" and runs just fine.

ARChon runtime for google chrome (tested v2.1 and 1.2) - Has to be installed in developer mode

Some emus use "root mode" or something like this.
But isn't Android "developer mode" something different?

KOPlayer "Software settings" defaults to "advanced/root" YES.

Duolingo APK V3.75.1 Opens but only shows a black screen with an "Incompatible device" error.

I am so sorry to hear about this.

Maybe a GPU or sound issue.
Try DirectX render mode vs OpenGL if there is any setting.

April 3, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/kHz.Marco

No, no =9. "ARC" stuff was a runtime (it was discontinued like a month ago) to make Android Apps compatible (for testing purposes) with "G Chrome for windows".

Of course fancy 3D stuff like games would not run on it, but less complex apps like duolingo did (in fact, here on the forums there are some evidence that a few months ago this worked. So "no-emulation" was required.)

April 3, 2018
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