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Android Observatory

This repository contains the source code for the Android Observatory.

This code is not supported by the authors. It is offered as is without much in the way of documentation.

Produced in 2012. See "Understanding and Improving App Installation Security Mechanisms through Empirical Analysis of Android" (PDF) for more information.


  1. Install the Android SDK. Note the location you install the SDK
  2. Ensure the SDK location is on the system $PATH
  3. Set up a virtualenv for the observatory code/dependencies. If you don't have virtualenv, but already have pip setup, run 'pip install virtualenv'
  4. From the directory you cloned the observatory code run:
$  virtualenv ./
$ source bin/activate      # Activate the venv
$ python install  # Install the Observatory dependencies
# Configure site-specific settings
$ cp observatory/ ./
$ python  # Test the installation with the debug server
  1. Then open a browser on localhost and connect to http://localhost:5000

If you're planning on running a publicly accessible instance of the Observatory you will want to investigate a WSGI deployment. To aid in this process an example WSGI file is provided in 'observatory.wsgi.sample'. You will need to change '/var/www/observatory'/ to the directory you installed the observatory code to. Further details on WSGI (i.e. Apache integration) can be found here:

APK Upload Support

Presently in order to allow user uploads you will have to manually configure a few files. This sucks. I know it sucks.

  1. Edit the example script
  2. Change UPLOAD_DIR to the directory you set in for uploads to be placed
  3. Change DIR to the directory you've installed the observatory source code
  4. Optionally: add a Pushover API key and one or more device keys and uncomment the sendmessage line for pushover upload notifications
  5. Make sure that runs on machine start
  6. If you're using a Ubuntu based system there is an example upstart script in observatory_watch.conf
  7. You'll have to set UPLOAD_DIR, OBS_USER, and WATCH_SCRIPT before installing to /etc/init