Busybox replacement

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The leading contender for a multi-function program that could be used instead of busybox is toybox.

The Toybox material previously on this page has been moved to http://landley.net/toybox/roadmap.html

Sony CE Linux (internal distribution) 1.13.4 build

This is from a version of busybox used in lots of Sony products: Currently defined functions:

        [, [[, ash, basename, bunzip2, bzcat, cat, chgrp, chmod, chown,
        chroot, cmp, cp, cpio, cut, date, dd, dirname, dmesg, echo, egrep,
        env, expr, false, fgrep, freeramdisk, ftpget, ftpput, getty, grep,
        gunzip, gzip, halt, ifconfig, insmod, kill, killall, klogd, ln,
        logger, login, ls, lsmod, md5sum, mkdir, mkfifo, mknod, mktemp,
        modprobe, mount, mv, pidof, ping, ping6, pivot_root, poweroff,
        pwd, readlink, reboot, rm, rmdir, rmmod, route, sed, sfdisk, sh,
        sha1sum, sleep, sort, stty, swapoff, swapon, switch_root, sync,
        syslogd, tail, tar, taskset, telnet, telnetd, test, touch, true,
        umount, uname, uniq, usleep, vconfig, wc, xargs, zcat


The following is Tim's prioritization of the above list, based on his own experience with embedded systems. I will divide the above list into 3 groups: must-have, nice-to-have, not-that-important.


cat chgrp chmod chown cp date df
echo env expr false find grep head id kill ln
ls mkdir more mv nice ps pwd rm rmdir sh sleep
sort tail test touch true uname uniq wc xargs

(must have, not in the above list: chroot, dmesg, sync)


basename cut dd diff dirname du mkfifo printf sed tee time vi who zcat


at awk bc cal cksum cmp comm csplit expand file
fold fuser getconf link logger logname man newgrp nl
nohup od paste patch pathchk renice split stty tabs
tput tr tty unexpand unlink uudecode uuencode

Must-have unimplemented: The following list has Tim's must-have commands, which are currently (as of Jan, 2012) not implemented in toybox:

chgrp chmod chown date dd
expr find grep head id kill ln
ls mkdir more mv nice ps rm
tail test touch uniq xargs

prioritized, must-have, unimplemented list

Prioritized top 13:

1. ls
2. mkdir
3. rm
4. ln
5. mv
6. ps
7. kill
8. chmod
9. chown
10. date
11. grep
12. find
13. xargs

Second prioritized group:

chgrp id nice expr head tail test touch uniq dd more

IMHO - ls needs to support -ladR at first

toolbox complement

If we omit toolbox supported commands from the must-have, unimplemented list, we get:

chgrp expr false find grep head more
nice tail test touch true uname xargs

I would add tab completion and globbing for toysh to the list.

This would be for a toolbox complement.

Other multi-tool programs

Beastiebox currently implements

Here’s a link to the Beastiebox project: http://beastiebox.sourceforge.net/ which has been proven to be capable to replace busybox, in general. It mostly consists of BSD sources and contains, according to the homepage:

 [ cat chmod cp date df disklabel dmesg ex fdisk fsck fsck_ffs
 getty halt hostname ifconfig init kill less ln login ls mksh more
 mount mount_ffs mv pfctl ping poweroff ps reboot rm route sed sh
 stty sysctl tar test traceroute umount vi wiconfig

Of course, every command is optional; for example, pfctl is currently BSD specific, and fsck_ffs/mount_ffs do not make much sense on Linux either, so these would be disabled in a Linux build of Beastiebox.

On the TODO side, the Linux specific commands would need to be implemented or taken from one of the others (Toybox, Android Toolbox, etc).

It does contain a complete shell (mksh, MirBSD Korn Shell) under a BSD-ish licence, which can be used as /bin/sh (e.g. on Debian) and is the default /system/bin/sh on Android ICS and later, even. This is not much bigger than the sh included with Busybox, Beastiebox (can be disabled in favour of mksh) and others, but has functions such as command line editing, UTF-8 support, Tab completion, Korn Shell scripting features ([[, arrays, etc). and is actively developed on its own.

Random Notes

Can implement incrementally

Rob wrote:

One nice thing about busybox/toolbox is you can install multiple implementations side by side, and have what symlinks you create (or what comes first in the $PATH) determine who is implementing what.

This allows gradual transitions. Each release, we replace a couple more commands from the old one, until the old one finally isn't being used for anything anymore and we can uninstall it...