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Exploring Android device

To view the contents of your Android device's storage via MTP and have integration with file manager, please refer to MTP#Installation.

If you're interested in just connecting to phone via adb or fastboot, skip to #Connecting to a real device - Android Debug Bridge (ADB).

Android development

There are 3 steps that need to be performed before you can develop Android applications on your Arch Linux box:

  1. Install the Android SDK core component,
  2. Install one or several Android SDK Platform packages,
  3. Install one of the IDEs compatible with the Android SDK.

Android SDK core components

Note: First, if you are running a 64-bit system, make sure the multilib repository is enabled in pacman.conf.

Before developing Android applications, you need to install the Android SDK, which is made of 3 distinct packages, all installable from AUR:

  1. android-sdkAUR
  2. android-sdk-platform-toolsAUR
  3. android-sdk-build-toolsAUR

Android-sdk will be installed on /opt/android-sdk. This folder has root permissions, so keep in mind to run sdk manager as root, otherwise you won't be able to install/update/modify anything on /opt/android-sdk. However, if you intend to use it as a regular user, please follow the instructions below.

Create an Android sdk users group (use any name you want):

# groupadd sdkusers

Add your user into this group:

# gpasswd -a <user> sdkusers

Change folder's owner and group.

# chown -R <user>:sdkusers /opt/android-sdk/

Change permissions of the folder so you will be able to read/write/execute in it:

# chmod -R 0774 /opt/android-sdk/
Note: As an alternative to a global install with the AUR packages, the SDK can be installed to a user's home directory via the upstream instructions.

Android SDK platform API

Install the desired Android SDK Platform package from the AUR:

Development environment

Android Studio is a new (and still experimental!) Android development environment based on IntelliJ IDEA. The more traditional IDE is Eclipse with the ADT plugin and related packages. Alternatively you can use Netbeans for development after installing the plugin as described below.

Android Studio

Android Studio is a new (and still experimental!) Android development environment based on IntelliJ IDEA. Similar to Eclipse with the ADT Plugin, Android Studio provides integrated Android developer tools for development and debugging.

You can download and install it with the android-studioAUR package from the AUR. If you get an error about a missing SDK, refer to the section Getting Android SDK platform API above.

If you are using a tiling window manager, you will need to apply one of the fixes mentioned in this issue page.


Most stuff required for Android development in Eclipse is already packaged in AUR:

Official plugin by Google – Eclipse ADT:

  1. eclipse-androidAUR


  1. eclipse-emfAUR
  2. eclipse-gefAUR
  3. eclipse-wtpAUR
  • if you get a message about unresolvable dependencies, install Java manually and try again.
  • as an alternative, you can install the ADT via eclipse's built in "add new software" command (see instructions on ADT site).
  • if you are in real trouble, it is also possible to download Android SDK and use the bundled Eclipse. This usually works without problems.
  • if you need to install extra SDK plugins not found in the AUR, you must change the file ownership of /opt/android-sdk first. You can do this with # chgrp -R users /opt/android-sdk ; chmod -R 0775 /opt/android-sdk (see File Permissions for more details).

Enter the path to the Android SDK Location in

Windows -> Preferences -> Android

If the plugins don't show up in Eclipse after the AUR package has been upgraded, then eclipse probably has out-of-date caches. Running sudo eclipse -clean once should clear them. If the problem persists, uninstall eclipse and all the plugins, delete /usr/share/eclipse, and reinstall everything.


If you prefer using Netbeans as your IDE and want to develop Android applications, download the nbandroid by going to:

Tools -> Plugins -> Settings

Add the following URL:

Then go to Available Plugins and install the Android and JUnit plugins. Once you have installed go to:

Tools -> Options -> Miscellaneous -> Android

and select the path where the SDK is installed (/opt/android-sdk by default). That is it, now you can create a new Android project and start developing using Netbeans.

Connecting to a real device - Android Debug Bridge (ADB)

Tip: For some devices, you may have to enable MTP on the device, before ADB will work.

To get ADB to connect to a real device or phone under Arch, you must:

  • Install android-tools.
  • Enable USB Debugging on your phone or device:
    • Jelly Bean (4.2) and newer: Go to Settings --> About Phone tap “Build Number” until you get a popup that you have become a developer (about 10 times). Then go to Settings --> Developer --> USB debugging and enable it.
    • Older versions: This is usually done from Settings --> Applications --> Development --> USB debugging. Reboot the phone after checking this option to make sure USB debugging is enabled.
  • install android-udev to connect the device to the proper /dev/ entries.
  • Add yourself to the adbusers group. (gpasswd -a username adbusers)

If ADB recognizes your device (it is visible and accessible in IDE), you are done. Otherwise see instructions below.

Figure out device IDs

Each Android device has a USB vendor/product ID. An example for HTC Evo is:

vendor id: 0bb4
product id: 0c8d

Plug in your device and execute:

$ lsusb

It should come up something like this:

Bus 002 Device 006: ID 0bb4:0c8d High Tech Computer Corp.

Adding udev Rules

Use the rules from Android developer or you can use the following template for your udev rules, just replace [VENDOR ID] and [PRODUCT ID] with yours. Copy these rules into /etc/udev/rules.d/51-android.rules:

SUBSYSTEM=="usb", ATTR{idVendor}=="[VENDOR ID]", MODE="0666"
SUBSYSTEM=="usb",ATTR{idVendor}=="[VENDOR ID]",ATTR{idProduct}=="[PRODUCT ID]",SYMLINK+="android_adb"
SUBSYSTEM=="usb",ATTR{idVendor}=="[VENDOR ID]",ATTR{idProduct}=="[PRODUCT ID]",SYMLINK+="android_fastboot"

Then, to reload your new udev rules, execute:

# udevadm control --reload-rules

Configuring adb

Instead of using udev rules you may create/edit ~/.android/adb_usb.ini which contains list of vendor ids.

 $ cat ~/.android/adb_usb.ini 

Does it work?

After you have setup the udev rules, unplug your device and replug it.

After running:

$ adb devices

you should see something like:

List of devices attached 
HT07VHL00676    device

If you do not have the adb program (usually available in /opt/android-sdk/platform-tools/), it means you have not installed the platform tools.

If you are getting an empty list (your device is not there), it may be because you have not enabled USB debugging on your device. You can do that by going to Settings => Applications => Development and enabling USB debugging. On Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) the Development menu is hidden; to enable it go to Settings => About phone and tap Build number 7 times.

If there are still problems such as adb displaying ???????? no permissions under devices, try restarting the adb server as root.

# adb kill-server
# adb start-server

NVIDIA Tegra platform

If you target your application at NVIDIA Tegra platform, you might also want to install tools, samples and documentation provided by NVIDIA. In NVIDIA Developer Zone for Mobile there are two tools:

  1. The Tegra Android Development Pack provides tools (NVIDIA Debug Manager) related to Eclipse ADT and their documentation.
  2. The Tegra Toolkit provides tools (mostly CPU and GPU optimization related), samples and documentation.

Both are currently not available in the AUR anymore, because NVIDIA requires a registration/login for the download.

Building android

Please note that these instructions are based on the official AOSP build instructions. Other Android-derived systems such as CyanogenMod will often require extra steps.

OS bitness

Android 2.2.x (Froyo) and below are the only versions of Android that will build on a 32-bit system. For 2.3.x (Gingerbread) and above, you will need a 64-bit installation.

Required packages

To build any version of Android, you need to install these packages:

Java Development Kit

Tango-inaccurate.pngThe factual accuracy of this article or section is disputed.Tango-inaccurate.png

Reason: upstream by contrast specifically recommends openjdk for all versions, not just >=lollipop (Discuss in Talk:Android#)

Before Android 5, it requires a working Sun/Oracle JDK installed on your build system. It will not work with OpenJDK.

For 2.3.x and higher, you can use jdk6AUR, if you do not develop on the JVM, or jdk6-compatAUR, if you do have a preferred JVM for other tasks. For 2.2.x and below, a version 5 JDK is required; jre5-optAUR is currently the only one left on the AUR.

For Android 5 Lollipop jdk7-openjdk is required. It will explicitly check during the build step and refuse the Oracle JDK.

Note that, if you choose to install jdk6-compatAUR (Android before 5), you will need to set the JAVA_HOME environment variable to the location of the JDK6:

$ export JAVA_HOME=/opt/java6

Otherwise, PATH will be reset to the location of the JDK7 by the build scripts, and all your AOSP builds will abort, complaining about the wrong version of javac (the Java Compiler.)

To set JAVA_HOME on the system level, see the files in /etc/profile.d named, jdk.csh, jre.csh, and

For Android 5 set JAVA_HOME to /usr/lib/jvm/java-7-openjdk/ and ensure that /usr/lib/jvm/java-7-openjdk/bin is the first on the path.

Setting up the build environment

Download the repo utility.

$ mkdir ~/bin
$ export PATH=~/bin:$PATH
$ curl > ~/bin/repo
$ chmod a+x ~/bin/repo

Create a directory to build.

$ mkdir ~/android
$ cd ~/android

You will need to change the default Python from version 3 to version 2:

$ virtualenv2 venv # Creates a directory, venv/, containing the Virtualenv
Note: During build you may receive error pertaining to missing python modules. A quick and dirty fix is to symlink /usr/lib/python2.7/* to ~/android/venv/python2.7/ (Change ~/android to reflect your build directory if different than above).


$ ln -s /usr/lib/python2.7/* /Data/Android_Build/venv/python2.7/

Activate the Virtualenv, which will update $PATH to point at Python 2.

Note: this activation is only active for the current terminal session.
$ source venv/bin/activate

Downloading the source code

This will clone the repositories. You only need to do this the first time you build Android, or if you want to switch branches.

  • The repo has a -j switch that operates similarly to the one used with make. Since it controls the number of simultaneous downloads, you should adjust the value depending on downstream network bandwidth.
  • You will need to specify a branch (release of Android) to check out with the -b switch. If you leave the switch out, you will get the so-called master branch.
$ repo init -u -b master
$ repo sync -j4

Wait a long time. Just the uncompiled source code, along with the .repo and .git directories that are used to keep track of it, are well over 10 GB.

Note: If you want to update your local copy of the Android source, at a later time, simply enter the build directory, load the Virtualenv, and re-sync:
$ repo sync

Building the code

This should do what you need for AOSP:

$ source build/
$ lunch full-eng
$ make -j4

If you run lunch without arguments, it will ask what build you want to create. Use -j with a number between one and two times number of cores/threads.

The build takes a very long time.

Note: Make sure you have enough RAM.

Android will use the /tmp directory heavily. By default the size of the partition the /tmp folder is mounted on is half the size of your RAM. If it fills up, the build will fail. 4GB of RAM or more is recommended.

  • Alternatively, you can get rid of the tmpfs from fstab all together.

Testing the build

When finished, run/test the final image(s).

$ emulator

Creating a Flashable Image

To create an image that can be flashed it's necessary to:

make -j8 updatepackage

This will create a zip image under out/target/product/hammerhead (hammerhead being the device name) that can be flashed.

Tips & Tricks

During Debugging "Source not found"

Most probably the debugger wants to step into the Java code. As the source code of Android does not come with the Android SDK, this leads to an error. The best solution is to use step filters to not jump into the Java source code. Step filters are not activated by default. To activate them:

Window -> Preferences -> Java -> Debug -> Step Filtering

Consider to select them all. If appropriate you can add the android.* package. See the forum post for more information:

Linux distribution on the sdcard

You can install Debian like in this thread. Excellent guide to installing Arch in chroot (in parallel with Android) can be found on forum.

Android SDK on Arch 64

When using the Android SDK and the Eclipse plugin on a 64 bit system, and the 'emulator' always crashes with a segfault, do the following: Provide a localtime file in /usr/share/zoneinfo/localtime e.g.:

 # cp /usr/share/zoneinfo/Europe/Berlin /usr/share/zoneinfo/localtime