Currently we use a containerized build for testing Python for Android recipes. Docker supports three big platforms either directly with the kernel or via using headless VirtualBox and a small distro to run itself on.

While this is not the actively supported way to build applications, if you are willing to play with the approach, you can use the Dockerfile to build the Docker image we use for CI builds and create an Android application with that in a container. This approach allows you to build Android applications on all platforms Docker engine supports. These steps assume you already have Docker preinstalled and set up.


This approach is highly space unfriendly! The more layers (commit) or even Docker images (build) you create the more space it’ll consume. Within the Docker image there is Android SDK and NDK + various dependencies. Within the custom diff made by building the distribution there is another big chunk of space eaten. The very basic stuff such as a distribution with: CPython 3, setuptools, Python for Android android module, SDL2 (+ deps), PyJNIus and Kivy takes almost 2 GB. Check your free space first!

  1. Clone the repository:

    git clone
  2. Build the image with name p4a:

    docker build --tag p4a .


    You need to be in the python-for-android for the Docker build context and you can optionally use --file flag to specify the path to the Dockerfile location.

  3. Create a container from p4a image with copied testapps folder in the image mounted to the same one in the cloned repo on the host:

    docker run \
        --interactive \
        --tty \
        --volume ".../testapps":/home/user/testapps \
        p4a sh -c
            '. venv/bin/activate \
            && cd testapps \
            && python apk \
            --sdk-dir $ANDROID_SDK_HOME \
            --ndk-dir $ANDROID_NDK_HOME'


    On Windows you might need to use quotes and forward-slash path for volume “/c/Users/…/python-for-android/testapps”:/home/user/testapps


    On Windows gradlew will attempt to use ‘bashr’ command which is a result of Windows line endings. For that you’ll need to install dos2unix package into the image.

  4. Preserve the distribution you’ve already built (optional, but recommended):

    docker commit $(docker ps –last=1 –quiet) my_p4a_dist

  5. Find the .APK file on this location:

    ls -lah testapps