Common Linux tools on Android without root by installing BusyBox

[Adam Outler] shows us how to expand the Linux tools available on Android without rooting the device. He does this by installing BusyBox. The binary is copied to the device using the Android Developer Bridge. He then opens an ADB shell, adds execution permissions to the binary, and runs it. BusyBox calls itself the Swiss Army Knife of Embedded Linux. It provides a set of very common tools which you’ll find useful in your tinkering. The one that [Adam] shows off in his video is the vi editor, but the basics that make a shell work are all there like: ls, mkdir, grep, dmesg, mount… you get the point.

So what are you going to do with your unrooted device now that you have these commands at your disposal? That’s really for you to figure out. [Adam] continues his demonstration by installing a package that does require root access. It’s BotBrew Basil, which adds apt-get and a few more complex packages. He then uses vi to write a C++ Hello World program, then compiles it and runs it. So if you’re looking to do some development on your phone this is one way.

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Using an Android as a webserver

In the latest episode of XDA TV [Adam Outler] turned his Android phone into a webserver. At first this might sound comical, but the ever-increasing power of our handhelds makes it a pretty legitimate option. It’s hard to come up with concrete uses off the top of our head, but we’re sure there’s value in being able to pull the phone out of your pocket and serve some content.

The app BotBrew Basil makes the installation process nearly automatic. It gives you point-and-click access to install the lighttpd webserver package and set the daemon to run automatically at boot time. That’s it! Of course you need to supply your own HTML to be served. [Adam] used an HTML5 website template for this.

Next you also need a way to resolve the address of the phone. In this case it’s assigned a static IP from the router, and a dynamic DNS service provides a link that maps to the router’s location. But since these phones are running Linux (at least on the lowest level) it should be pretty easy to add a cron job which will send IP address updates to the service if you want to take the ‘webserver’ out in the world with you. You can watch the entire video after the break.

Ironically this is a big hardware upgrade for [Adam’s] webserver. The previous version was running from an Evalbot.

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