Tomek Kondrat · Dec 8, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Transform Your Android Device into a Powerful Linux Machine with ZShaolin

As many of you undoubtedly know, Android is built atop the Linux kernel. This means that most of the commands known from Linux can be used in terminal emulator or adb shell. It’s a limited list, however, as Linux offers a more extensive stock set of commands as well as easily addable external modules.

Unfortunately, Android doesn’t support so many commands, but this can be easily changed thanks to XDA Forum Member jaromil.rojo, who ported the ZSh to Android. ZSh is a shell designed for interactive use, although it is also a powerful scripting language. It gives an ability to use a lot of external commands on our device. As of now ZShaolin supports following projects:

  • FFMpeg to convert, decode and encode audio and video files
  • ImageMagick to convert and manipulate all image formats
  • Sox to manipulate and convert audio files
  • OggZ for the manipulation of DRM free audio/video (Ogg/Vorbis/Theora)
  • LUA scripting language
  • GNU Awk, Sed, Grep and the awesome Z-Shell

And smaller tools like:

  • Vim and Emacs advanced text editors with syntax highlight and more
  • Git distributed version control to keep track of documents
  • Rsync to reliably move large files across the network
  • SSh Secure Shell to remotely log into on-line servers
  • The Midnight Commander file manager and Lynx textual web browser
  • GnuPG to encrypt, decrypt and sign files and messages
  • Lighttpd to serve files and HTML pages off your device

As you can see, it’s a powerful tool that allows you to do things such as push your repo to Github or even decode a movie on Android. Everything can be done on an unrooted device, which makes this app even cooler. Jaromil.rojo compiled the app by using his own toolchains, but the project is open source, so everyone can build it and add his or her own code contributions. Most of the features are available in free version, which lacks binaries for ImageMagick, FFmpeg, Vim fully featured, Emacs, RSync, and more ASCII games. If you want to use ZShaolin for those services, consider supporting the developer with the premium version.

ZShaolin is a small, but yet powerful application. So if you are looking for a tool to give you access to many services on your Android device, make your way to the application thread and get the newest APK.


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Tomek Kondrat

eagleeyetom is an editor on XDA-Developers, the largest community for Android users. Tomek is the only Polish moderator on XDA Developers. He graduated from the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn with a degree in journalism and public communication in 2013. He's a big fan of football (not hand egg), post rock and cooking. A total addict of mobile technology, especially Android. Currently flashes dozens of custom ROMs on his OPO. View eagleeyetom's posts and articles here.
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