Using an Android as a SBC/Pi alternative
I have old Android phones lying around and wanted to host a Minecraft server for friends. I initially thought of buying an SBC such as Pi or ODROID, instead I though to try and use an old phone instead.
My setup works by configuring an SSH server, a chroot with a Linux distro that supports aarch64, and configuring init scripts so that Android’s system UI gets stopped and doesn’t take up resources.
I expect that you have an Android device and an unlocked bootloader.
Flash LineageOS (recommended)
Install “SSH for Magisk” (from Magisk Manager app)
Enable USB debugging and get a root shell
adb shell su
- Add your SSH keys
- SSH into the device
ssh [email protected]<device ip>
- Set up Alpine rootfs
For this step, I use Alpine but you can use any distro’s rootfs as long as it’s compiled for aarch64.
mkdir -p alpine && cd alpine curl -LO http://dl-cdn.alpinelinux.org/alpine/v3.12/releases/aarch64/alpine-minirootfs-3.12.0-aarch64.tar.gz tar -xzf alpine-minirootfs-3.12.0-aarch64.tar.gz rm -f alpine-minirootfs-3.12.0-aarch64.tar.gz cat << ! > etc/resolv.conf nameserver 126.96.36.199 nameserver 188.8.131.52 ! cd ..
- Create chrot scripts
The chroot scripts are what allow you to use the rootfs as if it were natively installed by mounting important filesystems.
nano chroot.sh chmod +x chroot.sh
#!/bin/sh for i in dev dev/pts sys proc; do mount | grep alpine/$i > /dev/null || mount -o bind /$i alpine/$i; done chroot alpine /bin/login -f root
- Create boot scripts (optional)
These scripts will stop the SystemUI and other stuff Android normally has running, therefore freeing up RAM.
nano boot.sh chmod +x boot.sh
#!/bin/sh stop sysctl -w vm.drop_caches=3
We also have to remount the system partition so we can write to it, allowing us to modify /init.rc to have our script run at startup.
mount -o remount,rw / nano /init.rc
Find the line that has
sys.boot_completed=1 on it and add this under it.
exec u:r:magisk:s0 root root -- /system/bin/sh /data/ssh/root/boot.sh
Once this is set up, reboot the device.
- Auto-chroot on SSH login (optional)
This can be done with SSH forced commands. In your
prefix your public key with the chroot script, like this.
command="./chroot.sh" ssh-ed25519 redacted [email protected]