Do I have to root my android device to install command line utilities? I would really like to run Vim, among other programs on my phone. I have no reason not to root my phone, I just want to know if this is possible.

The Android Scripting seems to possibly have done this. Do I have to write my own Terminal app to be able to do this?

2 Answers 2


You don't need root. You also don't need a terminal, for an app to use its own private utilities. But if you want vim, Terminal IDE provides that, a number of other utilities (git, ssh, tmux), the ability to use bash or Java as a 'scripting language' at the terminal, and the ability to create and install Android apps on-device. I use Terminal IDE and vim quite a bit, (but with Better Terminal Emulator Pro's terminal, actually.)

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    What's the correct way to run Terminal IDE's bash from "adb shell"? Running it manually "su; /data/data/com.spartacusrex.spartacuside/files/system/bin/bash" leaves a slightly broken env.
    – stsquad
    Commented Apr 30, 2012 at 16:53

Rooting your phone gives you root access (duh!), but that doesn't mean accessing a shell requires you to root your phone. You can use ADB to connect to your device and gain shell access.

You can also use ConnectBot to access your device's shell on the device itself.

This will give you normal access to your device and you will not be able to run su to gain root access. You can, however, modify and play with files to which you have access.

vim is available without root access, so, so far you still have no reason to root your phone.

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