I would like to run emacs on my android phone. Has anyone done this? If so, how can I?

I've looked, and I haven't been able to find either an executable or instructions to compile emacs for android.

I know cyanogenmod has some unix commands, but I haven't found a list or whether it includes emacs. I don't want to flash my phone without knowing.

I've seen many pages on running emacs on "android" via installing Ubuntu. I don't mean running emacs on "android" hardware, I mean running emacs on the android operating system.

I'm also aware I can use an app to SSH to a unix box, and that there are online emacs emulators. Again, not what I'm looking for.

I'm looking for the standard command-line GNU emacs, and I'm aware I'll need to use a terminal emulator app to run it, as well as a bluetooth keyboard to do anything useful. I'm not looking for a GUI app, though that would be better than nothing.

I'll accept either a link to a binary, or instructions to compile it.

  • 1
    I don't think anyone has made a native port for Android. Feb 16, 2012 at 14:54
  • Do you need emacs, or would an editor with emacs-style key bindings suffice? Don't know of either, but you may have better luck with the latter.
    – Chance
    Feb 16, 2012 at 15:21
  • @Chance Need is a strong word. I would very much like emacs. My goal is to be able to develop on an Android device. Emacs is much more desirable for such than a simple editor with bindings (though again, that would be better than nothing I suppose).
    – rob05c
    Feb 16, 2012 at 15:44

6 Answers 6


I have ported Emacs to Android. (Google Play, Github)

It doesn't draw UI like Linux X11 version, but uses modified Android Terminal Emulator.

  • I'm so glad to see this! (On my Asus tablet it seg-faults on start. I saw your note about changing the font size being a work-around, but that didn't help me. Looking forward to an update!) Sep 23, 2012 at 18:45
  • I get 'emacs.zielm.com forbidden -- press enter to continue'.
    – Adobe
    Feb 26, 2013 at 8:43

From what I understand, it is not possible (at the time of writing this), since almost all the dependencies that are required for emacs to run do not exist on the android system. then, even if you got all the dependencies to compile for ARM and android kernel, it would take longer to start up emacs then it would to ssh in to another machine that has emacs available.

If you want to try, you can look at this site that explains what you need to do to compile linux binaries for the Android devices. And here is how you build emacs.

  • 2
    "it would take longer to start up emacs then it would to ssh" - I will probably ssh to a box when I can, regardless. But I would like to be able to develop without internet. I am often without a connection while travelling.
    – rob05c
    Feb 16, 2012 at 15:47

If you have Lollipop or above, Termux is an terminal emulator and linux environment where you can install Emacs via apt update; apt install emacs. Or checkout this nice post on how to do get it running.

I have Emacs running in my CyanogenMod tablet using this method.


Following the instructions of the Android App Ubuntu Installer Free results in an ARM Ubuntu image which is easily mountable via a terminal emulator. Mounting that image results in all the standard Ubuntu command line applications being accessible, including Emacs.

Ubuntu Installer Free requires root (which I'm ok with).

This is not my ideal solution, but it does result in being able to run Emacs on Android.

It also provides the side benefit of other UNIX tools, such as all the BASH tools and GCC.

In theory, one could accomplish my ideal solution by tracing the dependencies of Emacs, and pulling the Emacs executable and all dependencies out of the image and dropping them into a bin folder directly on the Android filesystem.

  • I think the really important part of this answer is that it should give you a sense of if the result (with bluetooth keyboard and all) would be something you would find usable enough to make an android-native (ie, bionic-libc) porting effort a worthwhile project. Jun 27, 2012 at 4:15

Not emacs, but Terminal IDE has vim, and quite a few unix commands.

  • 7
    Did you just suggest vi to an Emacs user?! Feb 17, 2012 at 15:55
  • I know... I did not want to start a holy war... but it is better than nothing.
    – Dylan Yaga
    Feb 17, 2012 at 16:00
  • While misguided, that actually may be useful for compiling emacs, as vim and emacs have some of the same dependencies (specifically, ncurses).
    – rob05c
    Feb 17, 2012 at 19:35
  • @rob05c: don't know why you insists on using Emacs on an Anroid though; most Android keyboards doesn't have the Ctrl, Super, and Alt keys that are necessary for a sane functioning of Emacs. Whoever ported Emacs would need to write a custom keyboard as well to make it usable. Vim's keybinding is much more suited for Android since it does not rely on those special keys as much. Also, both editors are suited for touch-typists, but you can't touch type on a touchscreen (pun not intended).
    – Lie Ryan
    Feb 18, 2012 at 3:43
  • @Lie Ryan I would use a bluetooth keyboard. The Transformer Prime dock has ctrl and alt, as well. I've used both, I prefer emacs. No holy wars, please. My end goal is to replace my laptop with an android tablet, which means a development environment, which means emacs.
    – rob05c
    Feb 20, 2012 at 2:29

As of August 7th 2012, there is now a port of Emacs for the Android in the Google Play market. It is simply called "Emacs". It was just released Aug 7th (5 days ago from this answer) and is sort of buggy still. But it is indeed a full featured port of the favorite of many "Emacs". It will sure please, any user that has a love for Emacs.

Hopefully the dev will release the source code and many can help to contribute.

I think its wonderful.

The link to the Android Market for emacs can be found here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.zielm.emacs&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwyLDEsImNvbS56aWVsbS5lbWFjcyJd

Hopefully you haven't given up your interest by now. ;)

Not sure if I should make this a "Community Wiki" post or not, as I have never used this feature before. But if a user believes that is the right action, please feel free to do so. Despite this posts age, I have ran into it before on my search for emacs port on android, so this information may be useful to others in their search as well. So I felt the proper action was to show that Emacs has indeed been ported recently.

  • 1
    The developer posted this already along with a GitHub link.
    – R R
    Aug 12, 2012 at 8:53
  • 1
    @RichardBorcsik yeah I realized, I pressed delete but idk what happened.
    – insomnia
    Aug 13, 2012 at 7:36

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