Does anyone here use Debian's Android SDK?

I started with Android development back in 2012. I had some technical success with Google’s SDK and Eclipse, then Android Studio and Gradle. Now there are “new” tools from Debian targeting Android 6.0. Discussion on Android development is scant on the Web, and discussion on using that toolset is almost nonexistent.

So, a few questions:

  • Does F-Droid build apps with Debian’s SDK?
  • Do people here know how to use Debian’s SDK?
  • Can I ask for help on using it?
  • Is there a thorough third-party tutorial on the ins and outs of using it?



Do we need a debian OS or compatible to use their packages?

Edit: “Debian targeting Android 6.0.”
This is a problem, some developers target version 5.0 (level 21).

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You need a Debian-compatible OS, or at least one that uses APT. That includes Debian, Ubuntu derivatives, and Trisquel. I haven’t investigated ports to other package managers, but someone somewhere is probably doing it. When it comes to F-Droid, a big question is which OS they’re running the build server on.

Debian’s toolset only targets platform 23, but you can set minApiVersion to whatever you want. Android is nice like that.

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No I’m afraid not. We could only build a small fraction of our catalog that way.

I should mention that this would align very well with our project goals, but we’re not actively perusing this for lack of contributions: Call for Help: making free software builds of the Android SDK

  • Do people here know how to use Debian’s SDK?

Some of our contributors are also on Debian’s android-tools team.
I my experience with it is rather limited.

  • Can I ask for help on using it?

Sure. Their communication channels might also be interesting for getting help:


Their mailing list is an “interesting” communication channel in that nobody is too active on there aside from spambots. You’ve got a healthy community here and I’ll see if there is any way I can help, though TBH setting up automated builds of any kind is out-of-scope for my current project. But if I do anything interesting with Debian’s Android SDK I’ll be sure to post about it.

@uniqx You said you could only build a small fraction of your catalog with Debian’s SDK – Could you point me to one of the apps on F-Droid that builds with Debian’s SDK?

#debian-mobile on OFTC is a good channel for discussing the Debian Android SDK. The only thing preventing it from working well for lots of apps is developer time, so contributions welcome.

Thanks. I’ve been in touch to a limited degree on their mailing list, and it seems the real problem is a lack of documentation, which could I suppose be due to a lack of developer time. The software does work, apparently. People just need to write better apps with fewer dependencies. I’m trying to put together a template project based on what I hear from them here:

I’ll see if I can’t glean more via IRC. It’s certainly more pleasant an experience than Discourse. :wink:

I’m actively working on it, check status at , as well as my news at .


@Beuc I am aware of your project, and it might be a good solution for F-Droid. But for myself and other app developers, I feel that simply replicating Google’s package management system is repeating the same disaster.

Sure, I was clarifying that despite f-droid not actively using it for building yet, the project keeps filling out.
Debian Android and Android Rebuilds take 2 different approaches with different limitations, which tend to be complimentary.

@Beuc I think we’re on the same page here. You’re doing what Replicant used to do, and I think collaboration between you and F-Droid would be wise.

As for the symbiosis between those packages and what Debian distributes, I wish I knew enough at this point to agree or disagree. I started a forum at where I hope to both teach and learn. I’m also in touch with someone on the Debian Android tools mailing list who is providing a lot of helpful information, some of which is going over my head. I am trying to figure this out.

I agree that ideally the whole Android SDK would be in Debian, but the perfect is the enemy of the good. Having @Beuc’s rebuilds is definitely a very good thing, and drastically less working than packaging everything for Debian. I’m a member of the Debian Android Tools Team, so I’m speaking from experience.


I’m not saying to package everything in Debian. I’m saying the impetus is on app developers to use what Debian does package.

yeah, that makes sense. we’re getting close to that level of support,
right now its still hard to do.

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Still hard to do, but for someone with enough patience and access to thorough enough docs, certainly not impossible.

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I have read about it and it is necessary Debian-compatible OS, or at least one that uses APT. So that between those packages and what Debian distributes, I wish I knew enough at this point to agree or disagree

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3 students? Nice