Lil’ Debi: Easy Installer for Debian on Android

Have an Android phone and want an easy Debian chroot running it?

Alpha test our new app, Lil’ Debi. It builds up a whole Debian chroot on your phone entirely using debootstrap. You choose the release, mirror, and size of the disk image, and away it goes. It could take up to an hour, then its done. Then it has a simple chroot manager that mounts and unmounts things, and starts/stops sshd if you have it installed. You can also then use ‘apt-get’ to install any package that is released for ARM processors. This includes things like GPG, Tor, TraceRouteTCP and other security and crypto tools.

Project and source are here:

Have a look at our automatic build bot for the latest binary installer APK here:

Check the GitHub wiki for tips on using it. If you don’t know what you need this for, then you probably should not install it (for now).

27 comments for “Lil’ Debi: Easy Installer for Debian on Android

  1. 2011/06/18 at 12:30 pm

    Works well on my HTC Desire Z running CyanogenMod 7.

  2. 2011/06/18 at 3:32 pm

    One thing I forgot to mention is that a 256 MB image doesn’t give you much room to install things. I think the default should probably be closer to 600MB, if you want to have a full-featured environment, including things like python, sshd, etc.

  3. Mother
    2011/06/27 at 7:13 pm

    fyi: the apk link is not working (as of 2011-06-27).

    • Derek
      2011/06/27 at 7:30 pm

      Thanks for the heads up. We’ve updated the posting to point to the right location. You can grab our automated build-bot created updates at We’ll post alpha builds to GitHub once we get to a good set of stable Debian tools.

  4. 2011/06/28 at 9:42 pm

    As Derek said, the auto-builds are the best thing right now. We’re working on getting our first alpha into the Marketplace, so things are moving to fast for regular “release” builds. That said, the builds right now are pretty well tested on a couple of phones. Please test and let us know what works and what doesn’t so we can make it better!

  5. Erin
    2011/07/27 at 6:58 pm

    Ive got a Q, will I be able to run packages which are not specially build for ARM processors, like the truecrypt debian version?

    • 2011/07/27 at 9:17 pm

      You’ll need an ARM binary since the CPU on all Android devices is an ARM. If you have the source, you could compile for Debian/armeabi. As for truecrypt, another thing you’ll have to look out for is whether the kernel has the support for dm-crypt, loopback, ext2 filesystem, etc. that you might need. This is just a Debian chroot, the kernel and modules are still the Android ones.

  6. 2011/10/15 at 2:02 am

    Good Evening from Northeast USA!

    I’ve been using Lil’ Debi for a couple weeks now and I must say that I really love it and have enjoyed having a portable Debian in my pocket.

    My question is, is this still in active development? I’d love to see this released in the Android Market some day.

    Keep up the great work on all of your endeavors!

    Take Care,


    • Derek
      2011/10/15 at 2:20 am

      While not as active as some of our other projects, it’s definitely something that we’re going to keep pushing forward – hopefully to a release in the Market eventually. May we ask what hardware and OS you’re running on, just for reference?

  7. 2011/10/17 at 9:10 pm

    Thanks for the reply Derek! I’m sorry I didn’t include that in my original post.

    Phone Specs:
    Make: Motorola
    Model: Droid 1
    OS: Android 2.3.7
    ROM: Cyanogen Mod 7: (10/15/2011 Nightly)
    Kernel: ChevyNO1 1.25Ghz Medium Voltage

  8. John
    2011/10/24 at 11:58 pm
  9. ansong
    2011/11/29 at 6:07 pm

    The lildebi app I installed doesn’t show up in Droidwall’s list of apps. In order to get online with it, I would have to disable the firewall. I don’t want to have to allow everything to access the network just in order to get the debian install working.

    Is this project still maintained? The last build I saw was from mid-July, 2011.

    • n8fr8
      2011/11/29 at 6:25 pm

      It is definitely more of a research project on our end. We are more occupied with other efforts.

      We are sorry it does not work with Droidwall. There is definitely some unique aspects to how LilDebi works.

      If you would like to file a bug report, please do via the Github project, and we will get back with you once we are more focused on that project.

  10. David Baron
    2012/01/16 at 11:46 am

    Does one need a rooted phone to do this?

    • Derek
      2012/01/17 at 1:17 am

      Hi David,
      Yes, you’ll need a device that has a custom firmware on it, which does require rooting. Please see the wiki for more info!

  11. 2012/02/06 at 12:55 pm

    Just found this project. LOVE it. I’m going to try it on my rooted NookColor. If you need some testers going forward, lmk.

  12. kiran-reddy
    2012/02/24 at 1:33 am

    wow .. thnx man.. is this debain will work on my ZTE RACER ??

  13. kiran-reddy
    2012/02/24 at 1:50 am

    is that possible to hv a direct link to .img debain.. bcoz my lovely Racer phone gets Hot while downloading huge amt. of data.. 😀

    if i could hv a link then will b helpful to download from idman on pc. 🙂 img. size (as small as possible[100-200]mb)

  14. kiran-reddy
    2012/02/24 at 1:51 am

    would b nice.. 🙂 thnk you.. Derek.

  15. 2012/07/23 at 5:55 am

    There are no recent builds in the autobuild dir

    • n8fr8
      2012/07/24 at 7:32 pm

      We are working on updating how and when we distributed test builds. Stay tuned, and we should be able to make an official release soon. Otherwise, you can always builds from source!

  16. Thomas
    2012/08/18 at 10:17 am

    Not to wild about it starting as a runnig process when I boot my ZTE Cricket, but having a linux box in the palm of my hand is an awsome thing, with vast implications, thanks!

  17. 2012/09/23 at 10:16 pm

    I have been running LilDebi on my Pandigital Novel (white) 7″ tablet for about 2 days and so far have liked it well. I was having problems with the image creator (always said I should manually fsck the .img’s and never booted them) so I took an image from my Nokia N800 tablet chroot and renamed it from ‘debian-squeeze.img.ext2’ to debian.img and it has worked well enough so far. I have been able to create working wav files with the csound compiler in seconds. I will try to render with aqsis later and will let you know how it goes. By the way I am running CyanogenMod 6.x on my tablet.

    I found your program through the F-Droid repository, where it has an icon featuring the snack cake logo. Is this the official logo, and your doing? If so, is this legal?

    Thank you so much for this program!

  18. Mike
    2013/02/13 at 9:16 pm

    It’s flaky on install size for the image…doesn’t like certain numbers…I haven’t been able to go over 2000 MB…once you install tightvncserver and lxde there isn’t much space left so I prefer a larger debian.img…also it’s difficult to shutdown properly…I always have processes left running which causes me to shut it down improperly and loose data and ruin my image because it fails to boot :/

  19. Piyush
    2016/09/10 at 4:14 am

    i extract debian.img file on sdcard and install Lil’Debi (apk) .
    But it shows error like “Image not configured”
    The mount point ‘/data/debian’ does not exists!
    When i click on Configure Image ,error occured
    ./ No such file or directory

    • Bob Dobbs
      2016/10/11 at 9:06 am

      Exactly the same problem here with Cyanogenmod. Unpacked 600Mb debian-squeeze.img onto the SD card. The APK is installed, but when clicking Configure Image “mount point /debian doesn’t exist”. As root, I tried to create /debian but can’t as its a read only file system.

      Please help!

      I’ve wasted a couple of days on this already!

      All I need is to run Wireshark on this Android phone for a while.

      • User_
        2017/09/05 at 5:33 pm

        Need create folder “debian” – use Root Explorer.

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