Easily Use Linux Terminal on Android with These Apps
Want to practice Linux commands? You don’t need to install a full distro for this. There are many websites that allow you to use the Linux terminal online.
These websites work well on desktop, but not on mobile devices.
Do not worry. Android is based on the Linux kernel, after all. There are several apps that allow you to use your Android smartphone to practice Linux commands to connect to a remote server via SSH.
Of course, you shouldn’t expect it to replace your usual Linux terminal emulators available for desktop computers. However, there are many great options available for Android.
To make things easier, I’m adding two different categories, one that covers terminal emulators and the other geared towards remote login capabilities (SSH) with a terminal interface.
You can choose one according to your needs.
Section A: Best Linux Terminal Emulation Apps
Note that you need root access on your Android phone to be able to use commands like ls to browse directories, copy/paste, and perform advanced operations.
To note: Without root access, you’ll only be limited to the basics for most apps/devices, like ping testing, updating, and installing packages wherever supported.
1. Qute: terminal emulator (not FOSS)
The Qute terminal emulator provides access to the built-in command line shell on your Android device.
You can use popular commands such as ping, trace, cd, mkdir, etc. on your smartphone. Besides some useful Linux commands, you can also install bin files and create shell scripts.
With the bash script editor and support for rooted devices, this should be a worthwhile option to try.
It also offers the option to enable a light theme, hide the keyboard, enable syntax highlighting, and a few other features.
Unfortunately, the developer mentions that according to Google’s latest privacy policies, there are known issues with Android 11 or newer. So, without a rooted device, you might not be able to do much.
2. Terminal Emulator for Android (FOSS)
Jack Palevich’s Terminal Emulator is one of the oldest Linux terminal emulators available for Android.
You can use simple commands, add multiple windows, and use launcher shortcuts to speed things up.
The best thing about it is that you get no ads, no in-app purchase options, and no distracting elements. However, it has long been unmaintained, and its GitHub page was also archived in 2020 to mark the end of its development.
Even in its current state, it seems to work for many users. So you might want to try it out before dismissing it as an option.
3. Hardware terminal (non-FOSS)
Material Terminal is a re-skin version of “Terminal Emulator for Android”.
You get access to the same features, with multiple windows, no ads, support for basic out-of-the-box commands, and the ability to install Busy Box and other command-line utilities in a rooted device.
Basically everything you would want in the previous option with a Material Design UI. Pretty good, right?
Section B: SSH Client and Linux Terminal
Do you want a terminal emulator on Android with the ability to connect via SSH? Or, maybe only suitable for SSH remote connections?
Here are some options:
Termux is quite a popular terminal emulator available for Android. It offers a comprehensive collection of packages that allow you to learn bash and zsh shells.
Assuming you have root access, you can also manage files with nnn and edit them with nano, vim, or emacs. The user interface has nothing but the terminal.
You can also access servers using SSH. Besides that, you can also develop in C with clang, make, and gbd. Of course, these are subject to your testing and whether you have a rooted device or not.
You can also explore its GitHub page to troubleshoot any issues. From now on, Play Store version updates are discontinued due to technical reasons. So you can install the latest version via F-Droid if the available Play Store version does not work.
5. Termius (non-FOSS)
Termius is an SSH and SFTP client designed to enable remote access from Android devices.
With Termius, you can manage UNIX and Linux systems. The Play Store page describes it as a nice Putty client for Android, and rightly so.
The user interface is easy to understand and does not look confusing. It also supports Mosh and Telnet protocols.
When you connect to a remote device, it detects the operating system like Raspberry Pi, Ubuntu, Fedora. You can also work using your mobile-connected keyboard with this app. To top it off, you don’t get any ads or banners, making it a perfect little remote login app.
It offers optional premium (14-day free trial) with more features like encrypted cross-sync, SSH key agent forwarding, SFTP, terminal tabs, etc. You can also learn more on its official website.
6. JuiceSSH (non-FOSS)
JuiceSSH is another popular SSH client with a bunch of free features and an optional pro upgrade.
In addition to Telenet and Mosh support, you also have access to some third-party plugins to extend functionality. You can change the look from a range of available options and easily organize your connections by group.
Not to mention, you also get IPv6 support.
If you opt for the professional upgrade, you can integrate with AWS, enable secure sync, automate backups, and more.
7. ConnectBot (FOSS)
If all you wanted was a simple SSH client, ConnectBot should serve you well.
You can manage concurrent SSH sessions, create secure tunnels, and have the ability to copy/paste between other applications.
Bonus: Access Linux Distribution and Commands Without Rooted Device
If you don’t have a rooted Android phone and you don’t plan to do so, you have a unique option that allows you to install Linux distros on your smartphone.
Andronix (partially open-source).
You get a wide range of Linux distributions and desktop environment options as well as window managers.
The best thing is that you don’t need a rooted device to use various Linux commands. You just need your favorite distro installed to do it all.
Along with its ease of use, it also offers premium options that give you access to features like offline delivery facility and the ability to sync your orders across devices.
Of course, just because you’re installing a Linux distro doesn’t mean you can do everything, but it’s still a great option. You can find it in the Play Store and learn more on GitHub.
Accessing the Linux terminal on Android isn’t as easy as choosing a terminal emulator. You will need to check command support and what it can allow you to do with a rooted/unrooted device before proceeding.
If you want to experiment, one of the options should do a great job.
What is your favourite? Did we forget to list one of your favorites? Let me know in the comments below.