I'm looking to install Debian over my Android installation so as to be able to use openssh-server, as it's so much better than Dropbear. Is there an easy way to do this, or just to simply install openssh-server on my phone? I'm running Android 2.3.X on a Google Nexus One.

  • You mean to run Debian programs on the Android kernel? I'm not sure it's possible, the Android kernel is compiled without some features that are normally enabled on Linux installations. Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 23:01
  • The main goal would be to run openssh-server if possible, or a minimal Debian if possible, in that order. Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 23:02
  • @TKKocheran: Can you be more specific? Usually openssh in itself isn't an end goal, it's a means to an end. Are you aware that switching OS's is going to get you into an entirely different beast with different problems? And that you're going to loose some functionality of the device because Debian software doesn't support it?
    – Caleb
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 12:35
  • I don't really want to replace Android if possible, I'd like at least to have OpenSSH as opposed to Dropbear (can't stand Dropbear), and if possible a Debian installation installed alongside my Android install to make it easier to install Linux software. Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 17:31
  • @TKKocheran: It doesn't sound like you know what you are asking for. Changing OS's to get a different ssh server is like moving to a new house to get a new faucet. You realize everything is going to be different right? They don't run side by side. I think you can hack a dual-boot system where you can boot up one or the other at a given time, but they are not inter-operable. You won't be able to use the Debian OS to interact with your Android environment.
    – Caleb
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 20:32

3 Answers 3


If you want to run an ssh server on a rooted phone, you can install SSHDroid.

You can build a Debian image via deboostrap. Debian runs on ARM so you wont have problems building an image for that arquitechture. There is an interesting howto writen for SG1, you could try it out.

  • I think it's probably on-topic here, but you can bring it up on meta if you want; I don't think we've ever discussed installing Linux on handhelds Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 3:19
  • @Torian: The Nexus-One is rooted out of the box.
    – Caleb
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 8:13
  • @Caleb didnt know that :). Then it should be fairly simple to do.
    – Torian
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 11:59

It is possible to run a more traditional Linux distro such as a stripped down Debian on the Nexus-One and many other handsets that were made for Android. Since Android is based off of a modified Linux kernel, it's not very hard to port the rest of an OS to go along with it. The Nexus-One is a particularly open device that's not hard to boot something else up one. A full version of Debian with X and WiFi can be shoe-horned in. See an example video here.

However you must realize that you are going to give up some functions. Software is not available for Debian to run the SIM card and make calls or send texts.

Here is one example tutorial of how to do it. The basic process involves setting up a partition, mounting it from your computer and using a bootstrap install process to shove all the Debian stuff in, making a few key changes like using an Android kernel is configured for that phone's hardware, then hacking on the boot routine a bit to startup to that environment.


There are many experiences of installing, say, Debian in a chroot inside Android.

There is even an app for doing this automatically: https://unix.stackexchange.com/a/20124/4319 .

(I agree, I had a similar wish: just get an environment I'm used to instead of figuring out how to do something with Android apps. It could save a lot of efforts and time when using such a device.)

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