SimpleSSHD is an SSH2 server based on dropbear that supports scp,
sftp, and rsync. It only supports public-key based authentication (no
password/interactive auth except for bootstrapping). It does not use
root, which means it must listen on a port over 1024 (defaults to port
- Install SimpleSSHD.
- On any computer which will connect to your Android device, set the
port to 2222. With OpenSSH, this can be done by putting these lines in
- Launch SimpleSSHD, and in Settings enable "Start on Boot", then
manually start it for the first time.
- Create authorized_keys in the home directory
(do not use ssh-copy-id).
- Optionally run restorecon -F authorized_keys (LineageOS
needs it for "SELinux context").
- Optionally make .profile.
- Visit dontkillmyapp.com to
fix vendor-specific (OnePlus, etc) hacks that break background apps like
SimpleSSHD. This website will help you out if SimpleSSHD won't run in
the background, or won't start after boot, or so on.
If SimpleSSHD does not find an authorized_keys file when a
client connects, then it generates a single-use password at that time and
displays it in the console log. So the procedure to login the first time
is to initiate the ssh connection, then look at the phone and type in the
password that is on the screen in the SimpleSSHD app. It is recommended
to use that shell session to install the authorized_keys
Once authorized_keys exists, only public key authentication
is supported. If you screw up your authorized_keys file, use
the options menu (upper right) -> Reset Keys.
The default home directory is now the app-private directory, which
will generally be something like
/data/data/org.galexander.sshd/files, but may vary depending on
your device. Use options menu -> Copy App-private Path to view the path
or copy it onto the clipboard. A nice feature of the app-private
directory is it generally supports the full range of Unix file
permissions, including execute! A disadvantage is that these files all
disappear if you uninstall SimpleSSHD.
Once you get setup, you may want BusyBox. Check out
Generally speaking, you must re-start the SimpleSSHD service for any
of these settings to take effect.
- Start on Boot
- Automatically start the SimpleSSHD service when the phone powers on.
- Start on Open
- Run the SimpleSSHD service whenever the app is launched. The "STOP"
button will be replaced with a "QUIT" button that stops the service and
exits the app. This is useful if you want to only run the service when
you really need it -- start the app to start listening for connections,
and then click "QUIT" when you are done.
- Foreground Service
- Run the SimpleSSHD service as an Android "foreground service." This
means a notification will be displayed for the service (you might be able
to block the notification by long tapping the notification).
On newer versions of Android (since Marshmallow), this may also make
SimpleSSHD more responsive if the phone has been in Doze mode. It does
not seem to increase battery consumption much.
- Port Number
- This is the port number that SimpleSSHD will listen on. It must be
greater than 1024 (because SimpleSSHD does not have root).
- Buffer hack for rsync+SuperSU
- A bug in SuperSU interacts with an infelicity in rsync to cause an
occasional deadlock. This is a real pain because I use SuperSU+rsync
for system-wide backups, which will always eventually trigger the
deadlock. To work around this, there is a "Buffer hack" option that
should be enabled if you use rsync with SuperSU. It adds a miniscule
overhead to rsync, but isn't harmful even if you aren't using
- Extra Commandline
- You can specify additional commandline options for dropbear server.
The options which are hardcoded are:
You can use \ or " to escape characters in this
-R -F -p :portno
- Environment Variables
- You can specify environment variables to define before executing the
shell. There is one variable per line, with a
A common use would be
if your device has a
build of mksh that does not execute a .profile
- SSH Path
- Path for general dropbear files, which now defaults to
the app-private directory (usually something like
Most importantly, this is where
authorized_keys is found. It is also where host keys wind up
(they are created on demand), and where temporary files go. Other than
the app-private directory, it may go under /sdcard.
- Home Directory
- The login shell's home directory, which also defaults
to the app-private directory.
This is where your ssh session starts out, and is where .profile
will be found if it is present.
- Login Shell
- Path to the command shell. The default Android shell is
/system/bin/sh, but you may prefer to use the one that comes with
busybox or whatever. If you set it to the su binary (i.e.,
/system/xbin/su, or maybe /su/bin/su),
then scp, sftp, and rsync will run as root and
should be able to access files outside of /sdcard. If the name
of the shell contains "su" in it, instead of putting
"-" before argv to indicate the login shell,
SimpleSSHD puts "-" as argv. That is, a regular
login shell would be invoked as "-sh", but su will be invoked as
SimpleSSHD registers receivers for broadcasts that you can use to
start/stop the service programmatically, using an app like Tasker, or the
commandline tool am.
category: android.intent.category.DEFAULT (optional).
Note that these intents will only work on phones with Android 8 (Oreo)
or later if Settings -> Foreground Service is enabled.
For example, to start sshd service under shell, you could run:
am broadcast -a org.galexander.sshd.START org.galexander.sshd
You may need to specify --user 0 depending on the context:
am broadcast --user 0 -a org.galexander.sshd.START org.galexander.sshd
And if Android is ignoring your broadcasts because the app was never started yet (or was force stopped), you may try (it's all arbitrary to me!):
am broadcast --user 0 -a org.galexander.sshd.START org.galexander.sshd/.StartReceiver
If you are getting an error from am like:
cmd: Failure calling service activity: Failed transaction (2147483646)
it can probably be solved by disassociating am from the ssh
terminal (I don't know why). This can be accomplished by redirecting
stdin, stdout, and stderr. For example, I can actually stop sshd from
within an ssh session using this command:
am broadcast --user 0 -a org.galexander.sshd.STOP org.galexander.sshd < /dev/null > /dev/null 2> /dev/null
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common complaints:
- Writing to an SD card is not generally possible -- your mileage may
vary. Modern Android (since about Kit Kat) only allows write access to
an SD card through the Android Java API, but shell commands usually use
Unix APIs (POSIX, C). I don't know a work-around. Most phones let you
write to /sdcard, but it's often in the phone's internal memory.
- If you installed an authorized_keys file, but SimpleSSHD
acts like it doesn't exist, try running "restorecon -F
authorized_keys". Some Android configurations, such as LineageOS,
run apps in an "SELinux Context" (don't ask me) where that kind of thing
- rsync will do too much work for an update, because there is
usually no way to update the ctime, mtime, or atime on files in
/sdcard. Use rynsc --size-only, and it will compare
the file sizes instead of the modification time.
- For the same reason, rsync -a will generally fail. Use
rsync -r instead.
- "Not backgrounding" is just the string that dropbear
outputs when it isn't asked to fork() when it starts up -- it's
- If you really must specify which IP to listen on, consider setting
Port Number to 22 (which will fail and be ignored), and then add
-p 192.168.1.123:2222 to Extra Commandline.
- Do not use ssh-copy-id, it will try to put the
authorized_keys file in the wrong place.
- 2021/01/17 Version 27: New approach to accessing /sdcard. Automatically re-start on package upgrade if Start on Boot enabled. Fix "Non-matching signing type" error with older ssh clients.
- 2020/12/29 Version 26: Fix ed25519 host key creation.
- 2020/12/29 Version 25: Fix compatibility with WinSCP. Update to upstream Dropbear 2020.81 -- adding ed25519 support!
- 2020/01/01 Version 24: Fix crash with "Start on Open" on Android 9. New TV icon. Improve performance.
- 2019/09/21 Version 23: Support Android TV.
- 2019/09/01 Version 22: Add broadcast intents for start and stop.
- 2019/08/11 Version 21: Fix restarting after a crash. Fix SIGSEGV on some Android 9 devices.
- 2019/06/16 Version 20: Update SDK. Support x86_64, arm64.
Fix finding support libraries. Fix colors again. Fix start-on-boot on
new Android. Update to dropbear 2019.78.
- 2018/05/19 Version 19: Use the app-private directory by
default on new installs for the SSH/home dir. Organize settings. Fix
black-on-black text on some devices.
- 2018/05/16 Version 18: Use correct idiom for su as a
login shell (so busybox su can work). Add environment variables
- 2018/03/24 Version 17: Add native x86 support.
- 2017/10/28 Version 16: Fix rsync on Android 8.0 (Oreo).
- 2016/10/17 Version 15: Fix crash on pre-Nougat versions of Android.
- 2016/10/16 Version 14: Support single-use passwords for
- 2016/10/16 Version 13: Support foreground service (fewer
stalls with newer Android). Add "Start on Open" mode.
- 2016/08/08 Version 1.11: Fix stall initializing random number generator.
- 2016/07/22 Version 1.10: Enable TCP port forwarding.
- 2016/07/04 Version 1.9: Restart sshd if the system kills it.
- 2016/06/21 Version 1.8: sftp, rsync, and scp now work on
files bigger than 2GB.
- 2016/06/19 Version 1.7: Don't clear environment variables (so
you can use am or pm more easily). Add "Authorized
Keys" menu option to help maintain the authorized_keys file.
- 2016/06/12 Version 1.6: Fix typo that broke scp/sftp/rsync in
- 2016/06/11 Version 1.5: SuperSU+rsync hack now limits the
buffer size to 1MB.
- 2015/11/23 Version 1.4: Don't abort if IP address lookup fails, and make proper "About" menu.
- 2015/06/21 Version 1.3: Hack to make rsync work with SuperSU.
- 2015/01/18 Version 1.2: Displays the IP address it's listening on.
- 2014/12/29 Version 1.1: Works with Lollipop now.
- 2014/12/22 Version 1.0: Initial public release.
SimpleSSHD is built using parts from open source projects:
openssh (for scp and sftp-server),
and rsync. Those projects in turn
are built on other projects. A lot of people's work is represented here,
and very little of my own.
But if you find bugs/infelicities, it's probably my fault, so email
To get the source:
git clone http://galexander.org/git/simplesshd.git
Direct APK download: