The freedom of shelling out on Android

Jb Doyon - https://jiby.tech/

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What is it

Termux — Terminal emulator for Android


In a nutshell

For newbies

Termux is an easy way into the linux world

Experiment with the command line without installing Linux!

For power users

Termux unlocks the power of the terminal on your Android

Script your phone/tablet!

Break Automate things!


  • Capable shell
  • Full dev environment
  • Interop with Android




What can it do?

bash (busybox)










server & client

  • Wifi
  • USB
  • Bluetooth

Separate apps

Run script(s) when your device boots
Start scripts from the home screen
Run Termux in a floating window
Customize color & fonts
Call Termux executables from Tasker

Package manager

apt based, Debian repos

"This APT has Super Cow Powers"

$ apt moo
          / |    ||
         *  /\---/\
            ~~   ~~
..."Have you mooed today?"...
$ pkg list-all | wc -l
$ pkg list-installed
# heavily redacted for relevance (skipped libs + termux internals)
apt bash binutils busybox bzip2 ca-certificates clang coreutils curl
dash diffutils dnsutils dos2unix dpkg ed emacs ffmpeg file findutils
fontconfig freetype gawk gdbm git glib gnupg gnutls gpgv grep
gzip harfbuzz htop hugo inetutils jq krb5 ldc ldns lesslinux-man-pages
man ncurses ncurses-ui-libs ndk-sysroot net-tools netcat nmap oathtool
openssh openssl pass pass-otp patch pcre pcre2 perl pinentry procps
psmisc python readline resolv-conf rsync science-repo sed
silversearcher-ag stow strace tar texinfo tmux tree unzip util-linux
vim vim-runtime xmlsec xz-utils zlib

Dev environment

Write code on the go



$ pkg search editor
vi 1.4.0-1
ed 1.15 [installed,automatic]
emacs 26.3-1 [installed]
hexcurse 1.60.0-2
ired 0.6
joe 4.6-1
jupp 3.1jupp38-1
kakoune 2019.07.01-1
mg 20180927-1
micro 1.4.1-3
nano 4.4
ne 3.1.2-1
radare2 3.9.0-1
sed 4.7-1 [installed,automatic]
vim 8.1.2050 [upgradable from: 8.1.2000]
vis 0.5-4
zile 2.4.14-2

Programming languages

$ apt search programming  # redacted for compactness
clang 8.0.1 [installed,automatic]
dart 2.4.1
ecj 1:4.6.2
erlang 21.3.8-1
gawk 5.0.1-4 [installed,automatic]
gdb 8.3-3
golang 2:1.13
kona 20190226
ldc 1.17.0 [installed]
lua 5.3.5-3
nim 0.20.2
perl 5.30.0-1 [installed,automatic]
protobuf 3.9.1 aarch64
python2 2.7.16-3
python 3.7.4-1 [installed]
ruby 2.6.4
rust 1.36.0
tcl 8.6.9-5

More packages

Language-specific package managers are there too!

pip install youtube-dl


curl 7.66.0 [installed]
db 18.1.32-2
fossil 2.9
geoip2-database 20190908
git 2.23.0 [installed]
git-crypt 0.6.0-1
git-lfs 2.8.0-1
gitea 1.9.3
global 6.6.3
hub 2.12.4
jq 1.6-1 [installed]
libsqlite 3.29.0-1 [installed,automatic]
postgresql 11.5
redis 5.0.5
ripgrep 11.0.2
screen 4.6.2-1
silversearcher-ag 2.2.0-1 [installed]
texlive-full 20190410
tig 2.4.1-3
tmux 2.9a-2 [installed]


Got root?

$ su
No su program found on this device. Termux
does not supply tools for rooting, see e.g.
http://www.androidcentral.com/root for
information about rooting Android.

Android interop

  • Termux → Android
  • Android → Termux

Termux → Android

$ termux-open -h
Usage: termux-open [options] path-or-url
Open a file or URL in an external app.
  --send               if the file should be shared for sending
  --view               if the file should be shared for viewing (default)
  --chooser            if an app chooser should always be shown
  --content-type type  specify the content type to use
termux-open my_cool_file.pdf
termux-open https://www/gnu.org/
termux-open --send --chooser myfile.c
# see also termux-share for files

Storage access



Requires Storage permission

Termux API

Need pkg + Termux:API app

pkg install termux-api
termux-audio-info            termux-open-url              termux-battery-status
termux-reload-settings       termux-brightness            termux-sensor
termux-call-log              termux-setup-storage         termux-camera-info
termux-share                 termux-camera-photo          termux-sms-inbox
termux-clipboard-get         termux-sms-list              termux-clipboard-set
termux-sms-send              termux-contact-list          termux-speech-to-text
termux-dialog                termux-storage-get           termux-download
termux-telephony-call        termux-file-editor           termux-telephony-cellinfo
termux-fingerprint           termux-telephony-deviceinfo  termux-fix-shebang
termux-toast                 termux-info                  termux-torch
termux-infrared-frequencies  termux-tts-engines           termux-infrared-transmit
termux-tts-speak             termux-job-scheduler         termux-upgrade-repo
termux-keystore              termux-url-opener            termux-location
termux-vibrate               termux-media-player          termux-volume
termux-media-scan            termux-wake-lock             termux-microphone-record
termux-wake-unlock           termux-notification          termux-wallpaper
termux-notification-list     termux-wifi-connectioninfo   termux-notification-remove
termux-wifi-enable           termux-open                  termux-wifi-scaninfo
termux-dialog -l   # widget arguments redacted
Supported widgets:

confirm - Show confirmation dialog
checkbox - Select multiple values using checkboxes
counter - Pick a number in specified range
date - Pick a date
radio - Pick a single value from radio buttons
sheet - Pick a value from sliding bottom sheet
spinner - Pick a single value from a dropdown spinner
speech - Obtain speech using device microphone
text - Input text (default if no widget specified)
time - Pick a time value

Start Android activity

Have not made it work personally (need root?)

am start --user 0 -n com.package.name/com.package.name.ActivityName
am start --user 0 -n com.android.chrome/com.google.android.apps.chrome.Main
am start --user 0 -n com.termux/com.termux.app.TermuxActivity

Case study

How much can we do?

Wifi-based phone backup

SSHFS over Wifi to backup phone data

Password manager UI

Using pass (passwordstore.org, GPG-based) listing passwords via Android UI!

  • termux-dialog to select
  • Password manager invoked
  • Clipboard magic (45s)

Hugo serve


Reveal.js presentations


Dotfiles sync

Bluetooth file exchange to sync git repos work↔phone↔home

  • Git bundle to file
  • Bluetooth send
  • unpack as git remote

Recap: Termux

  • Capable shell
  • Full dev environment
  • Interop with Android


Backup slides

For the advanced users with difficult questions


Termux is not Linux:

  • Not FHS (no /usr/)
  • Root FS is normal data
  • single user (Android app limitation)

X11 apps

Via vnc + x11-packages


rooted packages

Via root-packages (separate repo to apt install)