Dec 062015
 December 6, 2015  Posted by at 10:36 pm android, backup, documentation, security Tagged with: , , ,  3 Responses »

For those unfamiliar: SMSSecure (now called Silence) is a text messaging application that supports encryption. It has exceptional integration on your phone and will handle your non-encrypted friends acquaintances texts as well.
I recommend using fdroid to install it. F-droid is a Free Software repository for Android.

UPDATE: You can now export an encrypted copy of Silence. This export includes your encryption keys. From your old phones Silence “app”lication, under the three horizontal “…” -> “Import / Export” -> “Export encrypted backup”. This exports to the phones /sdcard/SilenceExport or from mtp “mtp://[usb:xxx,xxx]/Internal storage/SilenceExport”. Copy this directory to the new phone, to the equivalent path (/sdcard/). Install Silence on the new phone. In my experience the first-run import prompt didn’t work so I had to do it manually. Click the three horizontal “…” -> “Import / Export” -> “Restore encrypted backup”. Your done!

I wanted to do this transfer using mtp but neither thunar or nautilus could “see” the SilenceExport directory. I had to do the following:
plug in old phone and copy the export to my laptop:
adb pull /sdcard/SilenceExport/
plug in the new phone:
adb push SilenceExport/
Remember you have to authorize your laptop from the phone.


When moving to a new phone you can export a plain text copy of all your sms texts for import on the new phone. This is fine but has many drawbacks. The export feature of smssecure does not export a users encryption keys. Here are instructions on doing this yourself. Its really not as bad as it might seem and is worth doing to avoid re-keying with every friend you text with. You can also avoid exporting sensitive txt’s to plain-text.

Install SMSSecure on the new phone.
You will need adb access to both phones.

Enable developer options by going into Settings -> About phone -> then press “Build number” 7 times.

Enable adb access under Settings -> Developer options -> Android debugging.

Allow adb root access from “developer options -> Root access” “Apps and ADB”. Otherwise you will get a permission error like so:

shell@ville:/ $ su -
Permission denied

Also, be sure your computer can see the phone:
[jason@local ~] $ adb devices
List of devices attached
393520931D5B00EC device

    If usb is broken you can use ADB over the network. Enable it under Developer options -> Android debugging -> ADB over network. Connect to your local wireless first and take out your sim card before enabling. Otherwise your phone will be fully reachable over the cell network/public internet.

    Now connect to the phone over the network:
    [jason@local ~] $ adb connect

    You can continue as if it was plugged in directly…
    To disconnect from the phone use this:
    [jason@local ~] $ adb disconnect

I wasn’t able to directly copy the smssecure directory to my computer. It errors with zero files transferred:

[jason@local ~] $ adb pull /data/data/org.smssecure.smssecure/ org.smssecure.smssecure-balz
pull: building file list...
0 files pulled. 0 files skipped.

First I copy it to the sdcard of the old phone:

[jason@local ~] $ adb shell
shell@crespo:/ $ su -
root@crespo:/ # cp -rv /data/data/org.smssecure.smssecure/ /sdcard/

Copy the smssecure data from your old phone /sdcard/ to your local computer:

[jason@local ~] $ adb pull /sdcard/org.smssecure.smssecure/ org.smssecure.smssecure

Now plugin the new phone

Next, we will copy the org.smssecure.smssecure directory to the new phone:
Note: I attempted to copy directly to the new phone at /data/data but there was a permission denied:

[jason@local ~] $ adb push org.smssecure.smssecure/ /data/data/
push: org.smssecure.smssecure/databases/messages.db-journal -> /data/data/databases/messages.db-journal
failed to copy 'org.smssecure.smssecure/databases/messages.db-journal' to '/data/data/databases/messages.db-journal': Permission denied

Instead copy it to the /sdcard/ of the new phone, first:

[jason@local ~] $ adb push org.smssecure.smssecure/ /sdcard/org.smssecure.smssecure

Before we proceed lets check what permissions the org.smssecure.smssecure directory is currently set to (from the phones shell). In this case its chown u0_a63.u0_a63 and chmod 755:

root@crespo:/ # ls -ld /data/data/org.smssecure.smssecure/
drwxr-xr-x u0_a63   u0_a63            2015-12-06 21:35

Keep note of this for later.

Using the new phone’s root shell you will delete the existing (un-used) directory and copy your smssecure directory (with all your text’s) from sdcard to /data/data:

[jason@local ~] $ adb shell
shell@crespo:/ $ su -
root@crespo:/ # 
root@crespo:/ # rm -fr /data/data/org.smssecure.smssecure/
root@crespo:/ # cp -rv /sdcard/org.smssecure.smssecure  /data/data/

Note: If you try using move (mv) instead of copy (cp) and your sdcard is on a separate partition you will get this error:
root@maguro:/ # mv /sdcard/org.smssecure.smssecure/ /data/data/
failed on '/sdcard/org.smssecure.smssecure/' - Cross-device link

Back to permissions:
After the data is copied to the new phone the directory and file permissions will be wrong (owned by root):

root@crespo:/ # ls -l /data/data/org.smssecure.smssecure/       
drwxrwx--- root     root              2015-12-06 21:35 app_parts
drwxrwx--- root     root              2015-12-06 21:35 databases
drwxrwx--- root     root              2015-12-06 21:35 files
lrwxrwxrwx install  install           2015-12-06 15:07 lib -> /data/app-lib/org.smssecure.smssecure-1
drwxrwx--- root     root              2015-12-06 21:35 shared_prefs

We need to change ownership to user and group. In my case I need to change it to u0_a63. Android’s chown doesn’t work as expected:

root@crespo:/ # chown -R u0_a63.u0_a63 /data/data/org.smssecure.smssecure/
No such user '-R'

Unfortunately, android sucks and chown is broken so we must get creative. Like any puzzle, its simple once you know the answer :-)

root@crespo:/ # find /data/data/org.smssecure.smssecure/ -exec chown u0_a63.u0_a63 {} \;

Luckily, chmod works ok:

chmod -R 755 /data/data/org.smssecure.smssecure/

Be sure to reboot your phone.
Note: My SMSSecure disappeared and I needed to re-install. Everything was there after I re-installed and it survived subsequent reboots.


Dec 062011
 December 6, 2011  Posted by at 1:40 pm backup Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  No Responses »

Here is a bash script that I use to do simple and transparent backups of all sorts of data.
I use it primarily to backup to multiple external hard drives, plugged in via USB. It uses regular mount or gnome volume manager. It also sends logs via email using “mail” and a local MTA like postfix. Please modify to fit your needs. Leave a comment if you want. Its also here

Here is my batch script I use for MS Windows boxen. Batch scripting is nasty but surprisingly this script has come in handy many a time. Here is a direct link