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Encyclopedia > Busybox
Screenshot of BusyBox
Author: Bruce Perens
Developer: Erik Andersen, Rob Landley, Denis Vlasenko
Latest release: 1.6.1 / 2007-06-30
OS: Linux
Genre: Independent SUSp XCU implementation
License: GNU General Public License
Website: www.busybox.net

BusyBox is a software application which provides many standard Unix tools, much like the larger (but more capable) GNU Core Utilities. BusyBox is designed to be a small executable for use with Linux, which makes it ideal for special purpose Linux distributions and embedded devices. It has been called "The Swiss Army Knife of Embedded Linux". Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Software design is the process that starts from a problem for which there is currently no acceptable (software) solution, and ends when such a solution has been created. ... Bruce Perens is a prominent figure in the open source movement and to some extent in the free software movement. ... Software development is the translation of a user need or marketing goal into a software product. ... A software release is the distribution, whether public or private, of an initial or new and upgraded version of a computer software product. ... Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era. ... is the 181st day of the year (182nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... It has been suggested that Maintenance OS be merged into this article or section. ... Linux (IPA pronunciation: ) is a Unix-like computer operating system. ... Computer software can be organized into categories based on common function, type, or field of use. ... A software license is a legal agreement which may take the form of a proprietary or gratuitous license as well as a memorandum of contract between a producer and a user of computer software. ... The GNU logo The GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or simply GPL) is a widely-used free software license, originally written by Richard Stallman for the GNU project. ... A website (alternatively, Web site or web site) is a collection of Web pages, images, videos and other digital assets that is hosted on one or several Web server(s), usually accessible via the Internet, cell phone or a LAN. A Web page is a document, typically written in HTML... Application software is a subclass of computer software that employs the capabilities of a computer directly to a task that the user wishes to perform. ... The GNU Core Utilities or coreutils is a package of GNU software containing many of the basic tools such as cat, ls, and rm needed for Unix-like operating systems. ... Linux (IPA pronunciation: ) is a Unix-like computer operating system. ... A Linux distribution, often simply distribution or distro, is a member of the Linux family of Unix-like operating systems comprising the Linux kernel, the non-kernel parts of the GNU operating system, and assorted other software. ... An embedded system is a special-purpose computer system, which is completely encapsulated by the device it controls. ... A Swiss army knife with its implements in various stages of extension A Swiss Army knife (SAK), (German: , French: ) is a multi-function pocket knife or multitool. ...

Released under the GNU General Public License, BusyBox is free software. The GNU logo The GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or simply GPL) is a widely-used free software license, originally written by Richard Stallman for the GNU project. ... Clockwise from top: The logo of the GNU Project (the GNU head), the Linux kernel mascot Tux the Penguin, and the FreeBSD daemon Free software is a term coined by Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation[1] to refer to software that can be used, studied, and modified without...



Originally written by Bruce Perens in 1996, the intent of BusyBox was to put a complete bootable system on a single floppy that would be both a rescue disk and an installer for the Debian distribution. It has since then become the de facto standard for embedded Linux devices and Linux distribution installers. Since each Linux executable requires several kilobytes of overhead, having the BusyBox program combine over two hundred programs together can save considerable space. Bruce Perens is a prominent figure in the open source movement and to some extent in the free software movement. ... In computing, booting (booting up) is a bootstrapping process that starts operating systems when the user turns on a computer system. ... A floppy disk is a data storage device that is composed of a disk of thin, flexible (floppy) magnetic storage medium encased in a square or rectangular plastic shell. ... An installation program or installer is a computer program that installs files, such as applications, drivers, or other software, onto a computer. ... Debian is a project based around the development of a free, complete operating system through the collaboration of volunteers from around the world. ...

BusyBox was maintained by Enrique Zanardi and focused on the needs of the Debian boot-floppies installer system until early 1998, when it was taken over by Dave Cinege for The Linux Router Project (LRP). Cinege made several additions, created a modularized build environment, and shifted BusyBox's focus into general high level embedded systems. As LRP development slowed down in 1999, Erik Andersen, then of Lineo, Inc., took over the project and was the official maintainer between December 1999 and March 2006. During this time the Linux embedded market place exploded in growth, and BusyBox matured greatly, expanding both its user base and functionality. This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... The Linux Router Project began as a linux-on-a-floppy distribution. ... A router, an example of an embedded system. ... The former thin client and embedded systems division of Caldera Systems. ...

Denis Vlasenko is the current maintainer of BusyBox.


BusyBox can be customized to provide a subset of over two hundred utilities. It can provide most of the utilities specified in the Single Unix Specification plus many others that a user would expect to see on a Linux system. The Single UNIX Specification (SUS) is the collective name of a family of standards for computer operating systems to qualify for the name Unix. The SUS is developed and maintained by the Austin Group, based on earlier work by the IEEE and The Open Group. ...

A full list of the utilities implemented can be found on the BusyBox site.[1]

Single binary

Typical computer programs have a separate binary (executable) file for each application. BusyBox is a single binary, which is a conglomerate of many applications, each of which can be accessed by calling the single BusyBox binary with various names (supported by having a symbolic link for each different name[1]) in a specific manner with appropriate arguments. A Hexdump of a JPEG image. ... In computing, a symbolic link (often shortened to symlink and also known as a soft link) consists of a special type of file that serves as a reference to another file. ...

BusyBox benefits from the single binary approach as it reduces the overheads introduced by the executable file format (typically ELF), and it allows code to be shared between multiple applications without requiring a library. In computing, the Executable and Linkable Format (ELF, formerly called Extensible Linking Format) is a common standard file format for executables, object code, shared libraries, and core dumps. ... Illustration of an application which may use libvorbisfile. ...

Sharing of this common code, along with routines written with size-optimization in mind, enables a BusyBox system to be much smaller than a system built with the corresponding full versions of the utilities replaced by BusyBox.


Programs included in BusyBox can be run simply by adding their name as an argument to the BusyBox executable:

/bin/busybox ls

More commonly, the desired command names are linked (using hard or symbolic links) to the BusyBox executable; BusyBox notices the name it is called as, and runs the appropriate command, for example just In computing, a hard link is a reference, or pointer, to physical data on a storage volume. ...


after /bin/ls is linked to /bin/busybox.


It is very common to find BusyBox used in Linux-based appliances, examples of which include:

  • Actiontec GT701 DSL Modem/Router (GT701-WG Wireless DSL Modem/Router) bundled mostly with Qwest DSL
  • Some D-Link products (e.g. the G604T)
  • Sharp Zaurus
  • Nokia 770
  • Motorola A780
  • Linksys network attached storage NSLU2
  • Linksys wireless broadband router, WRT54G
  • Netgear routers (eg. DG834G)
  • ASUS wireless broadband router, Asus WL-500g
  • Gamepark Holdings GP2X open-source Linux game player
  • Picotux, advertised as the smallest computer running Linux in the world
  • OvisLink WL-5460AP - WiFi AccessPoint
  • Dream Multimedia Dreambox, a hobbyist DVB receiver based on Linux
  • HP Media Vault
  • Mvix MX-760HD Media Player
  • IBM Hardware Management Console (HMC)
  • QNAP NAS like TS-101, TS-201,...

Such devices can have embedded Linux transferred onto them, in which they use BusyBox, such as: The Actiontec MI424WR wireless router. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... D-Link Corporation is a Taiwanese company that manufactures wireless and Ethernet computer networking products for both consumer and SOHO users. ... This does not cite any references or sources. ... Sharp Zaurus SL-5500 running OpenZaurus and OPIE, with docking cradle and stylus The Sharp Zaurus is the name of a series of Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) made by Sharp Corporation. ... Press photo of the Nokia 770. ... The Motorola A780 is mobile phone and PDA running the Linux operating system sold in Europe and Asia. ... The NSLU2 The NSLU2 is a device made by Linksys for making USB Flash memory or hard disk devices accessible over a network (NAS). ... This article may contain original research or unverified claims. ... NETGEAR, founded in 1996, is a manufacturer of computer networking equipment and other computer hardware. ... The DG834G and DG834GT are popular Wi-Fi router products from Netgear. ... The GP2X is an open-source, Linux-based handheld video game console and media player created and sold by GamePark Holdings of South Korea. ... A Picotux computer chip. ... For other uses, see Dreambox (disambiguation). ... HP Media Vault // The Media Vault is manufactured by HP and comes in two flavors. ... Hardware Management Console is a technology invented by IBM for the purpose of providing a standard interface to configuring and operating partitioned (also known as an LPAR or virtualized system) and SMP systems. ... The TS-101 is a NAS server with built in functionality from QNAP Systems Inc. ...

A more complete list can be found on the official website. The Zipit Wireless Messenger is a small clamshell device that enables Instant Messaging (AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft) while on 802. ...


  1. ^ http://www.busybox.net/downloads/BusyBox.html

External links

Free software Portal
Wikibooks Learning the vi editor has a page on the topic of
BusyBox vi
  • Project home page
  • Building Tiny Linux Systems with BusyBox

  Results from FactBites:
BusyBox simplifies embedded Linux systems (2259 words)
BusyBox is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL).
BusyBox shrinks the size of a variety of necessary tools and utilities by pulling them together into a single executable and allowing them to share the common aspects of their code.
BusyBox is a useful tool for your embedded toolbox and, therefore, worth your time to explore.
Debian -- Details of package busybox in sid (243 words)
BusyBox combines tiny versions of many common UNIX utilities into a single small executable.
The utilities in BusyBox generally have fewer options than their full-featured GNU cousins; however, the options that are included provide the expected functionality and behave very much like their GNU counterparts.
This package installs the BusyBox binary but does not install symlinks for any of the supported utilities.
  More results at FactBites »



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