The Lightweight Unix Toolset - Busybox

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  • DevynCJohnson
    DevynCJohnson
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    Busybox is a useful piece of software for embedded POSIX systems. This means Busybox can run on Linux (including Android) and BSD systems. It is also a great alternative to the GNU shellutils, fileutils, etc. In general, Busybox is a light-weight form of the GNU utilities and works the same way as the various GNU and Unix commands. Busybox is a single executable file that contains multiple commands. (http://www.busybox.net/)
    Busybox is free and open-source under the GPL license. The source code can be obtained from Github at http://git.busybox.net/busybox/ . Developers can remove commands at compile time to make their own smaller executable. The default executable may be around two megabytes.

    collier@Nacho-Linux:~$ file `which busybox`
    /bin/busybox: ELF 64-bit LSB executable, x86-64, version 1 (GNU/Linux), statically linked, for GNU/Linux 2.6.24, BuildID[sha1]=a840320c89f3534a47f7cd2afa50c5a42214decd, stripped
    collier@Nacho-Linux:~$ ll `which busybox`
    -rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 1931720 Aug 8 2014 /bin/busybox*

    Busybox is not just used on embedded systems. It may also be used on mobile or small distros including firewalls. Busybox may also be used on high-performance systems since Busybox appears to be faster in most cases. The official website lists many Linux distros that uses Busybox (http://busybox.net/products.html).
    Busybox commands can be initiated in one of two ways. Users can type "/bin/busybox ls" in a command-line. Alternately, a softlink named "ls" can link to Busybox. Busybox will see that the softlink is named "ls" and run as if "/bin/busybox ls" were executed.
    Busybox supports the commands list below. Keep in mind that some specialized parameters may be missing.

    • [
    • [[
    • acpid
    • addgroup
    • adduser
    • adjtimex
    • ar
    • arp
    • arping
    • ash
    • awk
    • basename
    • beep
    • blkid
    • brctl
    • bunzip2
    • bzcat
    • bzip2
    • cal
    • cat
    • catv
    • chat
    • chattr
    • chgrp
    • chmod
    • chown
    • chpasswd
    • chpst
    • chroot
    • chrt
    • chvt
    • cksum
    • clear
    • cmp
    • comm
    • cp
    • cpio
    • crond
    • crontab
    • cryptpw
    • cut
    • date
    • dc
    • dd
    • deallocvt
    • delgroup
    • deluser
    • depmod
    • devmem
    • df
    • dhcprelay
    • diff
    • dirname
    • dmesg
    • dnsd
    • dnsdomainname
    • dos2unix
    • dpkg
    • du
    • dumpkmap
    • dumpleases
    • echo
    • ed
    • egrep
    • eject
    • env
    • envdir
    • envuidgid
    • expand
    • expr
    • fakeidentd
    • false
    • fbset
    • fbsplash
    • fdflush
    • fdformat
    • fdisk
    • fgrep
    • find
    • findfs
    • flash_lock
    • flash_unlock
    • fold
    • free
    • freeramdisk
    • fsck
    • fsck.minix
    • fsync
    • ftpd
    • ftpget
    • ftpput
    • fuser
    • getopt
    • getty
    • grep
    • gunzip
    • gzip
    • hd
    • hdparm
    • head
    • hexdump
    • hostid
    • hostname
    • httpd
    • hush
    • hwclock
    • id
    • ifconfig
    • ifdown
    • ifenslave
    • ifplugd
    • ifup
    • inetd
    • init
    • inotifyd
    • insmod
    • install
    • ionice
    • ip
    • ipaddr
    • ipcalc
    • ipcrm
    • ipcs
    • iplink
    • iproute
    • iprule
    • iptunnel
    • kbd_mode
    • kill
    • killall
    • killall5
    • klogd
    • last
    • length
    • less
    • linux32
    • linux64
    • linuxrc
    • ln
    • loadfont
    • loadkmap
    • logger
    • login
    • logname
    • logread
    • losetup
    • lpd
    • lpq
    • lpr
    • ls
    • lsattr
    • lsmod
    • lzmacat
    • lzop
    • lzopcat
    • makemime
    • man
    • md5sum
    • mdev
    • mesg
    • microcom
    • mkdir
    • mkdosfs
    • mkfifo
    • mkfs.minix
    • mkfs.vfat
    • mknod
    • mkpasswd
    • mkswap
    • mktemp
    • modprobe
    • more
    • mount
    • mountpoint
    • mt
    • mv
    • nameif
    • nc
    • netstat
    • nice
    • nmeter
    • nohup
    • nslookup
    • od
    • openvt
    • passwd
    • patch
    • pgrep
    • pidof
    • ping
    • ping6
    • pipe_progress
    • pivot_root
    • pkill
    • popmaildir
    • printenv
    • printf
    • ps
    • pscan
    • pwd
    • raidautorun
    • rdate
    • rdev
    • readlink
    • readprofile
    • realpath
    • reformime
    • renice
    • reset
    • resize
    • rm
    • rmdir
    • rmmod
    • route
    • rpm
    • rpm2cpio
    • rtcwake
    • run-parts
    • runlevel
    • runsv
    • runsvdir
    • rx
    • script
    • scriptreplay
    • sed
    • sendmail
    • seq
    • setarch
    • setconsole
    • setfont
    • setkeycodes
    • setlogcons
    • setsid
    • setuidgid
    • sh
    • sha1sum
    • sha256sum
    • sha512sum
    • showkey
    • slattach
    • sleep
    • softlimit
    • sort
    • split
    • start-stop-daemon
    • stat
    • strings
    • stty
    • su
    • sulogin
    • sum
    • sv
    • svlogd
    • swapoff
    • swapon
    • switch_root
    • sync
    • sysctl
    • syslogd
    • tac
    • tail
    • tar
    • taskset
    • tcpsvd
    • tee
    • telnet
    • telnetd
    • test
    • tftp
    • tftpd
    • time
    • timeout
    • top
    • touch
    • tr
    • traceroute
    • true
    • tty
    • ttysize
    • udhcpc
    • udhcpd
    • udpsvd
    • umount
    • uname
    • uncompress
    • unexpand
    • uniq
    • unix2dos
    • unlzma
    • unlzop
    • unzip
    • uptime
    • usleep
    • uudecode
    • uuencode
    • vconfig
    • vi
    • vlock
    • volname
    • watch
    • watchdog
    • wc
    • wget
    • which
    • who
    • whoami
    • xargs
    • yes
    • zcat
    • zcip

    Busybox can be installed on Android systems via the PlayStore as seen at the links listed below. However, these are not the only installers for Android.

    Busybox has full support for shell scripts such as "sh" and "ash". Some embedded Linux developers may wish to use MicroPerl (http://www.foo.be/docs/tpj/issues/vol5_3/tpj0503-0003.html) with Busybox as opposed to Perl.
    NOTE: MicroPerl comes with the source code of the regular Perl interpreter.
    Toybox (http://www.landley.net/toybox/) is a BSD-licensed alternative that may not be one-hundred percent compatible with the GNU utility alternatives.
    Toolbox is an Android-specific alternative to Busybox. However, Toolbox does not come with as many commands and may not be entirely compatible or equivalent with the GNU utilities. Toolbox installs under /system/bin/. Like Busybox, Toolbox is also a single executable file (/system/bin/toolbox). The source code for Toolbox can be found at https://android.googlesource.com/platform/system/core/+/master/toolbox/ .

    Further Reading

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