Xamarin, Android and Virtualbox
Programming

Deploying to Xamarin Android Player from VirtualBox

Everyone who has ever developed an Android application is aware that the Android Emulator available in the Android SDK is currently awfully slow. You can boot up an emulator when you arrive at work, and later that month you will be lucky if the emulator has started (obviously exaggerated, but you get the point).

To accomdate for the performance issue just mentioned, other tools such as Genymotion (paid) or the newly introduced Xamarin Android Player (free) can be utilised, where this guide will focus on the ladder. The problem is meanwhile, that none of the two will work if you use a virtual environment for development purposes, as they are virtual images themselves, running in VirtualBox by Oracle.

So, for that reason, this guide will explain how you can deploy your application, developed in any given IDE running on your Guest OS, to Xamarin Android Player running on a Host.

Prerequisites

Before walking you through the configuration, it is important that you have the following items installed:

  • VirtualBox – or any other virtual environment (this guide was written using Windows as a Guest OS)
  • The Android SDK (on both your Host and Guest OS)
  • Xamarin Android Player (on your Host OS)

Step 1) Configuring Xamarin Android Player

To start with, several different actions are required to be performed on your Host OS which are explained in detail in the following sections.

Step 1.1) Adding Environment Variables

OS X

  1. Open a terminal, and write “touch ~/.bash_profile; open ~/.bash_profile”
    1. This opens a text editor with your .bash_profile page
  2. In this file, add your android installation path
    1. export ANDROID_HOME=/Users/<user>/Library/Developer/Xamarin/android-sdk-macosx/android-sdk-macosx
    2. export PATH=${PATH}:$ANDROID_HOME/tools:$ANDROID_HOME/platform-tools
  3. Save and close the file
  4. To execute the changes immediately, type “source ~/.bash_profile”
  5. Lastly, in the terminal, type “adb”
    1. If this works, then the environment variables are set up correctly

Windows

  1. Right-click on “Computer” and click ”Properties”
  2. Next, click on “Advanced system settings” on the left hand side of the window
  3. Now click “Environment Variables” in the window that pops up
  4. Add a new “System variable” called “ADB_HOME”, with the value as the path to the platform-tools folder for your android sdk normally located at:
    1. C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Local\Android\android-sdk\platform-tools
  5. Now, find the “Path” variable in “System variables” and add “%ADB_HOME%” to the end of the string
  6. Open a terminal and write “adb”
    1. If you see the list of available actions, the path is now set up correctly

Step 1.2) Retrieve the IP

Having set up the environment variables, but before connecting to the Android Emulator from your Guest OS, it is required to obtain the IP adress of the Emulated Device. To do so, simply follow the steps below:

  1. Launch an Android Emulator in Xamarin Android Player
  2. Open a terminal window and write “adb devices”
  3. Note down the IP address of the Emulated Android Device

 Step 2) Configuring the Guest OS

Having retrieved the IP from the Emulated Android Device, you can now move on to actually establish a connection between your Guest and Host OS to deploy applications to Xamarin Android Player.

Step 2.1) Configure your network settings

First, it is required to configure the network settings in VirtualBox, as the emulator otherwise not will be reachable:

  1. In the menu of VirtualBox, navigate to “Devices” → “Networks” → “Network Settings”
    1. In this window, under the “Network” settings, choose the “Adapter 1” tab
    2. In the  “Attached to” dropdown list, choose “NAT” (Network Access Tunnel)
    3. Click “OK

Note that, before procedding to the next section, you should wait untill your connection has been established anew, as the tunnel is essential for the next step.

Step 2.2) Test the connection

Since you have reached this section, your progress indicates that your internet connection has been re-established, and so has the connection to your the Host OS from the Guest.

This means, that you by now should have the possibility to deploy applications written in your Guest OS to your Android Emulator running on your Host OS.

To test whether or not that is actually the case, simply follow the steps below:

  1. Open a terminal
  2. Type “adb connect <ip>”
    1. “<ip>” is the ip and the port of the Emulated Android Device from Xamarin Android Player
    2. Now, if everything is set up correctly, the terminal will state “connected to <ip>:5555”

Now, independently of which IDE you utilse, you should be able to choose the Emulated Android Device from Xamarin Android Player running on your Host OS as your Target Device in the IDE of your Guest OS.

// David

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4 thoughts on “Deploying to Xamarin Android Player from VirtualBox

  1. nakul says:

    hey!, i installed xamarin android player but its showing “DOWNLOADABLE DEVICES (0)” ,what should i do? help!.

    • Hey Nakul,

      I hope you have already found a solution to your issue.

      My first question would be: do you have a Xamarin.Android license? As of late, Xamarin has begun to require either a trial or a paid subscription:

      https://xamarin.com/android-player

      If that’s not the issue you seem to be experiencing, I’d recommend you to post a question in the Xamarin.Android forums. If you have got a paid subscription, you can always ask your support representative from Xamarin.

      I have personally not experienced the issue you mention before, and thus unfortunately cannot provide much assistance.

      I wish you well in your future endeavours!

      Please do let me know if you manage to fix the issue.

      All the best,

      // David

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