Skip to content
Switch branches/tags
Go to file
Latest commit b808c15 Jul 11, 2019 History
Signed-off-by: Joel Fernandes <>
4 contributors

Users who have contributed to this file

@joelagnel @ErickReyesR @qais-yousef @LiucIntel


adeb (also known as androdeb) provides a powerful Linux shell environment where one can run popular and mainstream Linux tracing, compiling, editing and other development tools on an existing Android device. All the commands typically available on a modern Linux system are supported in adeb.


  1. Powerful development environment with all tools ready to go (editors, compilers, tracers, perl/python etc) for your on-device development.

  2. No more cross-compiler needed: Because it comes with gcc and clang, one can build target packages natively without needing to do any cross compilation. We even ship git, and have support to run apt-get to get any missing development packages from the web.

  3. Using these one can run popular tools such as BCC that are difficult to run in an Android environment due to lack of packages, dependencies and cross-compilation needed for their operation. Check BCC on Android using adeb for more information on that.

  4. No more crippled tools: Its often a theme to build a static binary with features disabled, because you couldn't cross-compile the feature's dependencies. One classic example is perf. However, thanks to adeb, we can build perf natively on device without having to cripple it.

Requirements for running

Target: An ARM64 android N or later device which has "adb root" supported. Typically this is a build in a userdebug configuration. Device should have atleast 2 GB free space in the data partition. If you would like to use other architectures, see the Other Architectures section.

You can also use ssh to run on non-android systems. The system must still be rooted and has 2 GB of free space.

Host: A machine running recent Ubuntu or Debian, with 4GB of memory and 4GB free space. Host needs debootstrap and qemu-debootstrap packages. To install it, run sudo apt-get install qemu-user-static debootstrap. Other distributions may work but they are not tested.

Quick Start Instructions

  • First clone this repository into adb and cd into it.
cd adeb

# Add some short cuts:
sudo ln -s $(pwd)/adeb /usr/bin/adeb

# Cached image downloads result in a huge speed-up. These are automatic if you
# cloned the repository using git. However, if you downloaded the repository
# as a zip file (or you want to host images elsewere), you could set the
# ADEB_REPO_URL environment variable in your bashrc file.
# Disclaimer: Google is not liable for the below URL and this
#             is just an example.
export ADEB_REPO_URL=""
  • Installing adeb onto your device: First make sure device is connected to system Then run, for the base image:
adeb prepare

The previous command only downloads and installs the base image. Instead if you want to download and install the full image, do:

adeb prepare --full
  • Now run adeb shell to enter your new environment!:
adeb shell
  • Once done, hit CTRL + D and you will exit out of the shell. To remove adeb from the device, run:
adeb remove

If you have multiple devices connected, please add -s <serialnumber>. Serial numbers of all devices connected can be obtained by adb devices.

  • To update an existing adeb clone on your host, run:
adeb git-pull
  • To use ssh instead of adb to communicate with the target
adeb --ssh <uri> --sshpass <pass> <cmd>

If you use keys to authenticate then you can omit --sshpass option. If you don't use keys you can still omit --sshpass option but you'd need to keep an eye to enter the password at the right moments when prompted or it'll timeout.

The first time you connect to the target make sure to ssh outside of adeb first to add it to your known_hosts.

More advanced usage instructions

Build and prepare device with a custom rootfs locally:

The adeb fs will be prepared locally by downloading packages as needed:

adeb prepare --build

This is unlike the default behavior, where the adeb rootfs is itself pulled from the web.

If you wish to do a full build (that is locally prepare a rootfs with all packages, including bcc, then do):

adeb prepare --full --build

Build/install a base image with BCC:

adeb prepare --bcc --build

Note: BCC is built from source.

Extract the FS from the device, after its prepared:

adeb prepare --full --buildtar /path/

After device is prepared, it will extract the root fs from it and store it as a tar archive at /path/adeb-fs.tgz. This can be used later.

Use a previously prepared adeb rootfs tar from local:

adeb prepare --archive /path/adeb-fs.tgz

Build a standalone raw EXT4 image out of the FS:

adeb prepare --build-image /path/to/image.img

This can then be passed to Qemu as -hda. Note: This option doesn't need a device connected.

How to use adeb for other Architectures (other than ARM64)

By default adeb assumes the target Android device is based on ARM64 processor architecture. For other architectures, use the --arch and --build option. For example for x86_64 architecture, run:

adeb prepare --build --arch amd64

Note: For arch other than ARM 64-bit, you have to pass the --build option to adeb. Without this, adeb tries to download an ARM image and will not work. TODO: We should auto detect this issue and provide an informative error. This is because we only provide pre-built filesystems for ARM 64-bit at the moment.

Common Trouble shooting

  1. Installing g++ with apt-get install g++ fails.

Solution: Run adeb shell apt-get update after the adeb prepare stage.

  1. It's too slow to use debootstrap to create debian fs

Solution: Use a local mirror, for example in China you could use instead of debian official website