Installing packages on a running phone

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This article explains how to install packages that were built with pmbootstrap on your phone via Wi-Fi or USB network.

Easiest way: use pmbootstrap sideload

Connect your phone using USB Network (or Wi-Fi) and make sure you can login into it with SSH. Then excecute the following:

pc:~$ pmbootstrap sideload --host --user user --arch <arch> package-name

replace arch with actual architecture (for example, aarch64).

Add --install-key argument if you see the error about untrusted signature.

Add --port NUM if your device's SSH server is running on a non-standard port (not 22). This may be needed for example, for an image that is running using pmbootstrap qemu (see QEMU).

For Wi-Fi use your device's Wi-Fi IP address.

Harder way: host repository locally using a web server

Start the webserver

Go to the pmbootstrap packages dir and start a web server:

pc:~$ cd ~/.local/var/pmbootstrap/packages/stable && python3 -m http.server

Add the repository

Install your favorite editor and open /etc/apk/repositories on your phone via SSH:

phone:~$ sudo apk add neovim
phone:~$ sudo nvim /etc/apk/repositories

Add your own repository on top:

Copy the package signing keys

If you did not generate the postmarketOS installation from the same PC, which is now running pmbootstrap to build the packages you want to install, then you need to copy the package signing keys. Otherwise, apk will refuse to install the packages ("UNTRUSTED signature").

On your PC (replace with the IP of your phone, user with your ssh username, mind the : at the end of the scp command):

pc:~$ scp ~/.local/var/pmbootstrap/config_apk_keys/pmos-* user@
pc:~$ ssh user@

Run on your phone via SSH:

phone:~$ sudo mv pmos-* /etc/apk/keys/

Use your repository

Now apk should recognize your repository, and you should be able to install or upgrade packages built on your PC:

phone:~$ sudo apk update
postmarketOS []
2020-09-01 17:02:31.099145 []                                                                   
v3.12.0-283-g612cd12ab6 []                                                                         
v3.12.0-276-gbdd3966958 []                                                                    
OK: 12967 distinct packages available
phone:~$ sudo apk upgrade hello-world


Android devices currently need to run pmos-update-kernel after a kernel upgrade, to actually write the new kernel to the partition expected by LK (see boot process).

Run it manually

Install postmarketos-update-kernel, figure out the kernel flavor (in the example below: postmarketos-qcom-msm8974) and update the kernel:

phone:~$ sudo apk add postmarketos-update-kernel
phone:~$ ls /boot/boot.img-*
phone:~$ sudo pmos-update-kernel postmarketos-qcom-msm8974

Automate with a script

If you're experimenting with mainline kernel and adding new features you might end up wanting to update your kernel and restart your phone very often. On the kernel building end you can use + pmbootstrap build --envkernel MAINLINE_LINUX_PACKAGE_NAME. That will produce a fresh new kernel package with the changes you made. Then you need to install that package to the phone.

Use this script to automate the steps above (adjust postmarketos-qcom-msm8974!):

#!/bin/sh -ex
# Upgrade all packages (should have your kernel upgrade)
sudo apk update
sudo apk add postmarketos-update-kernel
sudo apk upgrade

# Write kernel to location expected by LK
sudo pmos-update-kernel postmarketos-qcom-msm8974

# Prompt for restart
set +x
echo -n 'reboot [yN]? '
read ans
test "$ans" = 'y' && sudo reboot