Updating Debian to Android over-the-air with a single command.

Last week we were at ELC 19, where the audience is always hungry for exciting demos. We had a handful of things going on at our booth, however the star of the show ended up being a simple yet powerful demo we had running on our Raspberry Pi 3.

The demo: We had a Pantavisor enabled Raspberry Pi 3 B+ running a state which had only a Debian image, made up of a Buster rootfs and an arm64 BSP (kernel, modules, etc). By using pvr (https://docs.pantahub.com/install-pvr/) and Pantahub we were able to send a new firmware revision that replaced the Debian components with Android ones. As the update finished, you could see the device’s screen going from a command line Debian experience to a fully-fledged Android Pie image with the well-known Android boot animation and subsequently the launcher sliding into view.https://www.youtube.com/embed/qQbOSrKOapI\ ricmm showing our Debian to Android update experience.

You may ask: Who wants to do such an update? The answer is that this is not so much about the functionality of that particular use case, but rather the power of the tooling underneath. With a single command, we were able to fully re-purpose a running, live system, from a Debian install to an Android Pie without having to re-flash any SD card or go through painful processes. Even better, anyone with a Linux, Mac, or even Windows desktop could’ve followed the steps themselves.

Pantahub, Pantavisor and PVR enable experiences like this one. It becomes trivial to for example create a system where you have an Android container controlling the visual (digital signage, GUI, etc) aspects of the device, while you have a couple Linux containers (Alpine, Debian, you name it) providing key headless functionality from vendors that might not support a native Android experience. You can also define your own app-enabled Wifi router in a modular, container centric architecture. Take a look at our OpenWRT+Yocto demo on Banana Pi R2 for more information (https://docs.pantahub.com/elc-2019-_yocto-on-openwrt-on-bpi-r2/). The possibilities are endless.

We will shortly have complete instructions in our Tutorials and Showcases section of the documentation so you can follow the Debian to Android demo yourselves on your own hardware. And if you make some changes or improvements, make sure to share them on Pantahub for the rest of us to see!