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Introducing Phoenix OS, an Alternative to Remix OS and Android-x86 Made in China

We believed that at this point you already know what Remix OS is, but if not, we will kindly inform you now that it is an Android operating system made to run on any 32-bit or 64-bit PC, powered by GNU/Linux technologies and based on the famous Android-x86 project.

Just like Remix OS, the new Phoenix OS comes in two flavors, one for Android devices and the other one for x86 PCs. Today, we had the opportunity to take Phoenix OS for a spin on our hardware and we would like to share with you our impressions of the entire project.

But first, a little background on the Phoenix OS project. It is an Android-based operating system that runs on devices with Intel and other x86-based processors, includes key productivity features from Microsoft Windows, such as a Start Menu, multi-window support, and a Taskbar.

Phoenix OS is designed to be user-friendly, flexible and powerful while being as lightweight as possible on your computer. It’s designed for large screens, offers support for mouse and keyboard devices, and it’s made in China by a group of programmers with years of experience on Windows.

First impressions, first time setup

Just like Remix OS, it’s a little hard to get Phoenix OS on a stick and boot it from the BIOS of your computer, as it comes as a binary archive in the ZIP format, which you’ll have to write on a USB flash drive of 8GB or higher capacity (4GB stick didn’t work) using the project’s in-house built USB Maker tool.

Unfortunately, the tool is not translated in English and it runs only on Windows, but here’s what you have to do. If you have access to a Windows PC, download the USB Maker tool, open it, and press the button on the first field to browser for the Phoenix OS zip archive, and select the drive letter of your USB stick in the second field.

Finally, press the button on the right of the third field of the USB Maker tool to start the writing process. A pop-up window will alert you that your USB stick will be erased, so click “Yes” to start. Wait for the green progress bar on the third field to reach 100%, and close the tool when it finishes.

Do not remove the USB stick and reboot your computer. Be quick to activate your computer’s boot menu and select the USB drive in BIOS or UEFI mode (recommended). You’ll see a regular GRUB bootloader, then Phoenix OS starts to decompress the kernel and load the live system in RAM.

It might take a while for it to start because of the first time Android setup that installs a lot of tools, so be patient. After a few minutes, you’ll finally see some progress on the screen, and then the first time setup wizard (see the gallery below for screenshots). On the first screen, choose English (United States) from the drop-down box.

What’s inside and final impressions

Once you’ve selected English, the first time wizard will refresh after a few seconds, and everything will be easy from here on. You’ll have to select your Wi-Fi network and input a username before arriving at the desktop. You know what they say about first impressions, right? Well, we can tell you that Phoenix OS does not disappoint.

The Phoenix OS is beautiful, carefully crafted, and everything that we’ve tested worked flawlessly. Inside, you’ll find a web browser, an email client, Android’s music player, a text editor, the WPS Office suite, and all the standard tools (calendar, clock, calculator, notes, gallery, camera, and voice recorder).

Phoenix OS is definitely not bloated. As you can see from the screenshot below, the Start Menu can be resized to look even cooler, there’s a powerful file manager, a notification center in the style of Windows 10 one or the Budgie/Deepin desktop environments, a control center, and even a built-in screenshot tool.

At the moment of writing this article, Phoenix OS is currently in Beta, but it already works great. Our tech-savvy readers, will be pleased to know that Phoenix OS is based on Android 5.1.1, a 64-bit Linux 4.0.9 kernel, and the Mesa 11.0.7 3D Graphics Library with OpenGL ES 3.0 support.

The Beta build we’ve tested included an Android patch level as of December 1, 2015. All in all, we were very impressed by Phoenix OS, and we will recommend it, just like Remix OS, to anyone who wants to run Android on their computers.

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