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How To Start a Server on Android

Have you ever needed to whip up a test server but your laptop was too far away? Perhaps you’re at a hackathon and you can’t connect to a local web server on your laptop from your phone because of the network’s configuration?

Well, here’s some good news, you can run a server on your phone! The following is a solution that works on Android phones.

Install Termux

First, you’ll need a terminal on your phone. Termux is an Android app available on the Google Play Store and F-Droid that puts a terminal on your phone.

What exactly is Termux? Here’s a description from Termux:

Termux is an Android terminal emulator and Linux environment app that works directly with no rooting or setup required. A minimal base system is installed automatically - additional packages are available using the APT package manager.

Yup, you read that last line correctly, you can install packages! On your phone!

Whip up the server

Before we make the server, let’s make an index.html file so we can check if our server is working. Run echo "Hey, it worked!" >> index.html. This will create a file called index.html with “Hey, it worked!” as its contents.

For this tutorial, we’re going to use Nodejs and the http-server module to whip up the web server.

  1. Install Nodejs by running pkg install nodejs. Note that pkg is the package manager that comes with Termux.
  2. Install the http-server npm module by running npm install -g http-server. We got the npm package manager when we installed Nodejs in the previous step.
  3. Run http-server . and now you’re web server is up!
  4. Leave Termux (don’t worry, it can run in the background), open your phone’s browser, and go to localhost:8080. You should see our “Hey, it worked!” message from earlier.

Here’s the full list of commands we ran:

$ echo "Hey, it worked!" >> index.html
$ pkg install nodejs
$ npm install -g http-server
$ http-server .

Pretty quick, right?

What else can I do with Termux?

A lot. You can use Git, OpenSSH, Python, Ruby, and more. Checkout the Wiki to learn more about Termux: https://wiki.termux.com/wiki/Main_Page

Thanks for reading!

Written by Omkar Konaraddi. Published on November 23, 2017.

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