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Just when I think I have this all "sort of" figured out...

Android 4.0 emulator crashes; Virtual Machine never finishes loaded OS on Mac

Why would this be considered "on-topic" at SO?

It's clearly a question about problems getting an emulator application running in Mac OS. I may not be as heavy a SO user as the rest of you, but I'm here every day and I don't recall seeing a question like this not get closed or migrated.


There also seems to be far more of these types of questions & answers over at SuperUser. Can a question like this be "on-topic" in both SO and SU at the same time?

Android SDK emulator freezes on a Mac running OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard

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Regarding your edit, yes I'd say that this sort of question is definitely in the overlap area between SO and SU. It's probably on-topic for either one, but I think it's most likely to get an answer on SO. –  Bill the Lizard Nov 6 '11 at 18:25
Thanks @Bill, perhaps you can make a similar comment over on the OP too. –  Sparky Nov 6 '11 at 18:30
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1 Answer

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Questions about the tools used to program are on-topic according to the FAQ:

but if your question generally covers …

  • a specific programming problem
  • a software algorithm
  • software tools commonly used by programmers
  • practical, answerable problems that are unique to the programming profession

… then you’re in the right place to ask your question!

The Android emulator is clearly a tool that only developers will use. And as far as I can understand, the question isn't about how to install it (it's installed already) but how to get it to work.

So in my opinion, it is on topic on StackOverflow. That being said, I don't know the emulator much, so I don't know if the question is answerable in its current form, might need more details about what settings exactly are used when starting it up.

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I don't understand how questions like this wouldn't always lead to discussion and answers about the computer or Operating System. Additionally, although it's about a software tool used by developers, the nature of the question seems to have nothing to do with usage of the emulator itself. –  Sparky Nov 6 '11 at 17:30
The Android emulator is a "VM manager". It emulates Android devices like you'd use VirtualBox to emulate a PC. It's the only tool you have, apart from real devices, to test Android code. The person asking the question is having his machine blow up when he starts the emulator if I understand it correctly, which is probably a problem with the settings he's using. So it is about the usage of the emulator. I don't understand the first sentence in your comment. –  Mat Nov 6 '11 at 17:34
Regarding the first sentence: In other words, in order to answer this person's question, one would likely have to delve into the computer or operating system as contributing causes. Perhaps his Mac OS version is not compatible with the emulator? Maybe he does not have enough RAM in his machine? Maybe his O/S kernel is missing a required 'kext' file? Those are things I don't expect to see on SO... that's my point... maybe I'm totally wrong for thinking about it like that. –  Sparky Nov 6 '11 at 17:41
Ok, got it. Well, I don't know what the answer is. It could very well be kernel settings. Or emulator settings. Or possibly plain not enough RAM. Or some config file that needs to be removed/added when you try to emulate device at version XYZ after having run an emulation of version ABC. You don't know the answer either from what I understand, and aren't much more experienced with it than I am from what I can tell. So just let the people who know about the emulator handle the question. –  Mat Nov 6 '11 at 17:47
Many kinds of 'unanswerable' questions can also be obviously off-topic, so I humbly disagree with the idea that just because one does not know the exact answer to a particular question, they are necessarily unqualified to make an "on/off-topic" judgement. I am a very heavy Mac OS user, and when the OP said, "The OS eventually slows, and kills the virtual machine.", that indicates to me that this seemed far more likely a Mac question than a software development question. –  Sparky Nov 6 '11 at 17:57
There also seems to be far more of this type of discussion going on over here. Can a question like this be "on-topic" in both SO and SU at the same time? –  Sparky Nov 6 '11 at 18:03
On this instance, indeed it looks like his machine dies, I already noted that. Now is it normal that a developer box should run out of RAM emulating a smartphone? Not really. So could it be a setting in the emulator that is wrong: I think so. Where is the largest population of people actively using this emulator on the SE network: stackoverflow. Is it allowed as per the FAQ: yes. –  Mat Nov 6 '11 at 18:07
Re: can a question be on topic on more than one SE site: yes. –  Mat Nov 6 '11 at 18:08
Being on-topic on multiple sites has to be a rare thing, no? The SU question I found actually seems to answer his SO question. Sorry for being so stubborn on this... I like having a clearly defined set of criteria for things and having stuff be on-topic in two places seems to break that. –  Sparky Nov 6 '11 at 18:17
No it's not all that rare. A bunch of editor questions (vim, emacs, and others) could be on topic both sides. There's some overlap with [unix] too for shell programming. There's overlap with [programmers] on some topics. There's overlap with [dba] on others. –  Mat Nov 6 '11 at 18:21
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