I've decided to finally upgrade to an Android phone from my perfectly good N900 because Twitter open sourced the encrypted SMS messaging application TextSecure by Whisper Systems.

I'll want vanilla linux software though, probably busybox/bash, sshd, rsync, perl, python, latex, duplicity, git, git-annex, gnupg, encfs (fuse), and tahoe-lafs.

Is there any good resource for comparing issues with rooting different Android devices? Or perhaps resources to suggest issues I should google before selecting a carrier?

Are there any HowTos or other docs I should skim before buying an Android device? Is there a debian derivative who's package list I should explore?

Basically, what's the due diligence for a Linux head buying their first Android device?

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    I can't answer the question, but I've personally been disappointed with Android as a Linux system. It's a good mobile OS, but running most native Linux programs on it is an exercise in pain. First, you have to compile (cross-compile actually) most programs yourself. If you manage to do that, and they actually run at all, you'll be tormented by sub-par terminal emulators (and touch screens make the experience even worse), and you can forget about X.
    – imgx64
    Commented Dec 26, 2011 at 7:24
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    I suppose one answer I already knew about is guardianproject.info, which gives an idea about how the cryptography stuff like GnuPG gets integrated. Commented Dec 26, 2011 at 16:32

2 Answers 2


Android != GNU/Linux. That is a common misunderstanding.

You will never have the same Linux experience like you had with your N900 running debian. Sure, you can install busybox, sshd, maybe rsync and fuse should also be possible. Latex for example, with it's various dependencies will be hard to get running. Mostly because there is no package manager for Android and the toolchain (i.e. libc) is not the same. It's all technically possible, no major blockers. There are even ways to get debian/ubuntu running on Android, even side-by-side. But this doesn't seem a practical solution, more a proof-of-concept for now.

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    not true. you can run linux easily on devices using chroot. This will allow you to run linux while running android at the same time. However, this of course means that linux will run slowly
    – Gautham C.
    Commented Dec 28, 2011 at 18:57
  • @GauthamC. Ahh, I didn't know that this can be done by now. Can you provide any further links or references?
    – Flow
    Commented Dec 28, 2011 at 19:22
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    Theres this too many to count haha so I am just linking u a general search query. This should get you started: google.com/… The main concept is to run a headless/hidden ubuntu distro using chroot via terminal and then use vnc to connect to your own phone lol. Its laggy but it works.
    – Gautham C.
    Commented Dec 28, 2011 at 19:28

As Flow already mentioned, Android although based off of linux will not give you the same experience. This also means that the linux utilities will have to be cross compiled. Sorry.

If you want a development device with vanilla software and fast updates, then the Nexus line of smartphones is the best way to go.

  1. Galaxy Nexus - GSM version (This is if you want to go for the most updated phone with the most support in terms of drivers, and OS)
  2. Nexus S - This is if you dont need a top of the line phone but still want something supported by Android Open Source Project or AOSP for short
  3. Nexus One - Google has recently dropped support for AOSP of this device so it will need some tinkering but this is by far the cheapest out of the 3 on ebay with enough power to still run the latest version of Android.

The one stop shop for all Android development needs: http://forum.xda-developers.com

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