The first portions of this documents contains instructions to cross-
compile Perl for Android 2.0 and later, using the binaries provided by
Google. The latter portion describes how to build perl native using
one of the toolchains available on the Play Store.
This document describes how to set up your host environment when
attempting to build Perl for Android.
These instructions assume an Unixish build environment on your host
system; they've been tested on Linux and OS X, and may work on Cygwin
and MSYS. While Google also provides an NDK for Windows, these steps
won't work native there, although it may be possible to cross-compile
through different means.
If your host system's architecture is 32 bits, remember to change the
"x86_64"'s below to "x86"'s. On a similar vein, the examples below use
the 4.8 toolchain; if you want to use something older or newer (for
example, the 4.4.3 toolchain included in the 8th revision of the NDK),
just change those to the relevant version.
Get the Android Native Development Kit (NDK)
You can download the NDK from
<https://developer.android.com/tools/sdk/ndk/index.html>. You'll want
the normal, non-legacy version.
Determine the architecture you'll be cross-compiling for
There's three possible options: arm-linux-androideabi for ARM, mipsel-
linux-android for MIPS, and simply x86 for x86. As of 2014, most
Android devices run on ARM, so that is generally a safe bet.
With those two in hand, you should add
$ANDROID_NDK/toolchains/$TARGETARCH-4.8/prebuilt/`uname | tr '[A-Z]'
to your PATH, where $ANDROID_NDK is the location where you unpacked the
NDK, and $TARGETARCH is your target's architecture.
Set up a standalone toolchain
This creates a working sysroot that we can feed to Configure later.
$ export ANDROID_TOOLCHAIN=/tmp/my-toolchain-$TARGETARCH
$ export SYSROOT=$ANDROID_TOOLCHAIN/sysroot
$ $ANDROID_NDK/build/tools/make-standalone-toolchain.sh \
--system=`uname | tr '[A-Z]' '[a-z]'`-x86_64 \
adb or ssh?
adb is the Android Debug Bridge. For our purposes, it's basically a
way of establishing an ssh connection to an Android device without
To use adb, download the Android SDK from
<https://developer.android.com/sdk/index.html>. The "SDK Tools Only"
version should suffice -- if you downloaded the ADT Bundle, you can
find the sdk under $ADT_BUNDLE/sdk/.
Add $ANDROID_SDK/platform-tools to your PATH, which should give you
access to adb. You'll now have to find your device's name using 'adb
devices', and later pass that to Configure through
However, before calling Configure, you need to check if using adb is a
viable choice in the first place. Because Android doesn't have a /tmp,
nor does it allow executables in the sdcard, we need to find somewhere
in the device for Configure to put some files in, as well as for the
tests to run in. If your device is rooted, then you're good. Try
$ export TARGETDIR=/mnt/asec/perl
$ adb -s $DEVICE shell "echo sh -c '\"mkdir $TARGETDIR\"' | su --"
Which will create the directory we need, and you can move on to the
next step. /mnt/asec is mounted as a tmpfs in Android, but it's only
accessible to root.
If your device is not rooted, you may still be in luck. Try running
$ export TARGETDIR=/data/local/tmp/perl
$ adb -s $DEVICE shell "mkdir $TARGETDIR"
If the command works, you can move to the next step, but beware: You'll
have to remove the directory from the device once you are done! Unlike
/mnt/asec, /data/local/tmp may not get automatically garbage collected
once you shut off the phone.
If neither of those work, then you can't use adb to cross-compile to
your device. Either try rooting it, or go for the ssh route.
To use ssh, you'll need to install and run a sshd app and set it up
properly. There are several paid and free apps that do this rather
easily, so you should be able to spot one on the store. Remember that
Perl requires a passwordless connection, so set up a public key.
Note that several apps spew crap to stderr every time you connect,
which can throw off Configure. You may need to monkeypatch the part of
Configure that creates 'run-ssh' to have it discard stderr.
Since you're using ssh, you'll have to pass some extra arguments to
Configure: -Dtargetrun=ssh -Dtargethost=$TARGETHOST
Configure and beyond
$ ./Configure -des -Dusedevel -Dusecrosscompile -Dtargetrun=ssh \
Now you're ready to run make and make test!
As a final word of warning, if you're using adb, make test may appear
to hang; this is because it doesn't output anything until it finishes
running all tests. You can check its progress by logging into the
device, moving to $TARGETDIR, and looking at the file output.stdout.
o If you are targetting x86 Android, you will have to change
$TARGETARCH-gcc to i686-linux-android-gcc.
o On some older low-end devices -- think early 2.2 era -- some tests,
particularly t/re/uniprops, may crash the phone, causing it to turn
itself off once, and then back on again.
While Google doesn't provide a native toolchain for Android, you can
still get one from the Play Store; for example, there's the CCTools app
which you can get for free. Keep in mind that you want a full
toolchain; some apps tend to default to installing only a barebones
version without some important utilities, like ar or nm.
Once you have the toolchain set up properly, the only remaining hurdle
is actually locating where in the device it was installed in. For
example, CCTools installs its toolchain in
/data/data/com.pdaxrom.cctools/root/cctools. With the path in hand,
compiling perl is little more than:
export SYSROOT=<location of the native toolchain>
sh Configure -des -Dsysroot=$SYSROOT -Alibpth="/system/lib /vendor/lib"
Brian Fraser <email@example.com>
perl v5.22.1 2018-11-19 PERLANDROID(1)
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