Featured Linux Commands

To save space on low memory and portable devices such as the Zaurus, C.H.I.P, and PocketCHIP, the BusyBox versions of many basic commands are used instead of more fully-featured versions, and many other standard Linux commands are totally eliminated. That would be fine if none of us wrote our own scripts, and if the Zaurus was a perfect GUI device, with no quirks or bugs, but the Zaurus is definitely not a bug-free, user-friendly PDA, and enhanced versions of some commands will often be more versatile for use on NTC C.H.I.P. computers as well.

If you want to quickly skip the rest of this guided introduction to how-to's and tutorials for some of these commands, and just see the list, you can skip to the Featured Commands menu below.

This page links to articles I have been inspired to write, when I want to share information about a specific Linux command for Linux ARM devices. It is obviously not a complete list of commands from Busybox that could provide a better CLI experience if the fully featured versions were installed.. So, for excellent how-to's and tutorials about how to use many more standard kernel commands, check out the resources I have listed on my Newbie Resources page.

The ps command

You may not be a power user, but if you need help debugging problems, or want to try to figure them out yourself, then upgrading to a fully-featured version of ps is an absolute must if you don't have the full-featured version that Sharp was smart enough to include in it's ROMs. If you are a Zaurus user, to figure out what version of ps you have, to find out how to upgrade to a better version or, if you write your own scripts, to see how much more efficiency a full-featured version can add to your code, click here.

The lsof command

To help with debugging application problems and tracking down what files are accessed by active processes, then you may want to look at a listing of the open files on your system, so then just install the lsof command.

The grep command

If you don't remember which file on your Zaurus contains a keyword string, need a list of files on a certain topic, or want a list of all the files in a specified directory that contain a string, read my page about the grep command.

Busybox's grep does not allow recursive searching of directories.DIf you want to learn how to install and how to use So, if you want to learn how to install and to use the rgrep command to search your entire file system for a string, or search for it in all subdirectories in a specified directory then see my page about the rgrep command.

The awk command

Why use a spreadsheet to do simple math when awk can do it on your raw data file? Why struggle with complex sed code for switching columns when awk can switch columns quickly and easily? Is that just because it wasn't included with your ROM? Well, that's not a good enough reason, because it is easily available and also easy to use, a whole lot easier than working with spreadsheets or switching columns by hand in a text editor. To find learn more about awk, and where to download it, click here.

The qcop command

The qcop command is built in to Qtopia systems, but on the early ROMs, such as 2.38, qcop needs to be upgraded if you want to issue Qtopia commands to applications, or run my Networking scripts. For more information about upgrading qcop, and links to Trolltech's qcop documentation, click here.


In some cases, you may find you actually prefer the BusyBox versions of commands to the more fully featured ones. You can run them both for comparison purposes if you have them both on your system, but prefacing the name of the command with the word "busybox" as follows:

bash# busybox COMMAND

There also are differences between various versions of BusyBox, so if the version that is built in to your system does not suit your needs and you do not want to install a lot more packages, you can also install another version of busybox. If you give the executable file a different name (such as busybox-v3), then you can choose which version of BusyBox is used for a specific command. I did that often on the Zaurus.

Note that this page is still under construction. Information about other busybox commands, detailed installation instructions, and comments comparing Sharp's to BusyBox's versions of various other kernel commands, will follow as I am inspired to take the time to write them up.

Featured Commands

awk: manipulate strings or columns of data
grep: search for file containing string
ldd: check dependencies
less: view file with ability to search and scroll
lsof: list of open files
ps: information about current processes
qcop: send commands to Qtopia
rgrep: recursively search for file containing string


Revised 5 November 2018