Generic System Images (GSIs)

A Generic System Image (GSI) is a pure Android implementation with unmodified Android Open Source Project (AOSP) code, runnable on a variety of Android devices.

App developers can install and run the latest Android GSIs to perform app testing on a variety of existing Android devices and using GSIs from different Android OS release stages, including Developer Preview and Beta builds. Adding GSIs to your verification and testing processes can provide you with some extra benefits:

  • Broader test coverage on a greater set of real devices
  • More time to fix app compatibility issues
  • More opportunities to fix compatibility issues in Android that are reported by app developers

The GSI project is open source and helps improve the Android ecosystem by providing more ways to improve app and OS quality before each release of Android.

GSI support across devices
Figure 1: GSIs can be installed across a broad range of devices, and sometimes even for versions of Android that a device manufacturer doesn't provide their own system image for.

GSIs include the same core system functionalities for all devices that they're installed on. In other words, a GSI does not include device manufacturer's customizations. Because of this, you might encounter behavioral differences in the following situations:

  • Interactions that involve the UI
  • Workflows that request newer hardware features

Check device compliance

GSIs can only function on devices with the following characteristics:

  • Bootloader is unlocked.
  • Fully Treble-compliant.
  • Launched with Android 9 (API level 28) or higher. Devices upgraded to Android 9 from an earlier version might or might not support GSIs.

To determine whether your device can use a GSI and which GSI OS version you should install, do the following:

  1. Check for Treble support by running the following command:

    adb shell getprop ro.treble.enabled

    If the response is false, the device isn't compatible with GSIs and you shouldn't continue. If the response is true, continue to the next step.

  2. Check for cross-version support by running the following command:

    adb shell cat /system/etc/ld.config.version_identifier.txt \
    | grep -A 20 "\[vendor\]"

    In the output, look in the [vendor] section for namespace.default.isolated.

    If the value for that attribute is true, then the device fully supports Vendor Native Development Kit (VNDK) and can use any GSI operating system (OS) version that is newer than the on-device OS version. Whenever possible, use the latest GSI OS version that is available.

    If the value for the attribute is false, then the device isn't fully VNDK-compliant, and the device can use only a GSI for the same on-device OS version. For example, an Android 10 (API version 29) device that isn't VNDK-compliant can load only an Android 10 GSI image.

  3. The GSI CPU architecture type must match the device's CPU architecture. To find the right CPU architecture for the GSI image, run the following command:

    adb shell getprop ro.product.cpu.abi

    Use the output to determine which GSI image to use when flashing your device. For example, on a Pixel 5, the output would indicate that the CPU architecture is arm64-v8a, so you would use the arm64 type of GSI.

Download GSIs

There are a few ways to get GSIs, depending on your development needs:

Install a GSI

Installing a GSI is device-dependent. Refer to your device's manufacturer for the exact tools and procedures. For Google Pixel devices such as the Pixel 3 and newer, there are several ways to install:

Give feedback

GSIs are inteded to help you validate your apps on Android. We appreciate your feedback on the images, the tools, and the process for using GSIs on your devices.

To notify us of bugs or feature requests, use the dedicated issue tracker component for GSIs.

Additional resources