BlackBerry Development Using Linux

Now this process isn't 100% ideal. If you are an experienced developer you probably already know you need four key components.

  1. Rapc compiler
  2. Signature tool
  3. Simulator
  4. Javaloader

The first two components works fabulously in Linux. The second (signature tool) needs a kick in the pants to work (shame shame shame!).

The third is hit or miss when using Wine. So a less painful option is to put windows in a virtual machine and run the simulator there (more on that later).

And the fourth I just can't get past. There is the barry project which has made impressive progress in the last few months and lists javaloader support as on the roadmap for milestone 4. RIM, if you have any sympathy for us non-windows users show these guys some love and send them some specs for heaven sakes!

This article presents the basics for compiling, signing, and debugging BlackBerry applications with Linux.

Rapc Compiler

First you need a copy of the JDE or the JDE components package. In my last article I covered a method of extracting the install packages distributed by RIM, but if you have access to a Windows box copying the installed JDE works just fine too.

The rapc compiler needs two external commands:

  1. Java Compiler (javac)
  2. Preverification Tool (preverify)

Install the Sun JDK to get javac:

$ sudo apt-get install sun-java5-jdk

The preverify command can be obtained by downloading the Sun WTK.

$ chmod +x sun_java_wireless_toolkit-2_5_2-linux.bin
$ ./sun_java_wireless_toolkit-2_5_2-linux.bin

For some reason this package complains it can't find Java interpreter. If this happens, the Java 5 JDK is located /usr/lib/jvm/java-1.5.0-sun/bin on Ubuntu.

Once extracted, unless you plan on doing vanilla J2ME development, you can copy the preverify tool and then delete the WTK.

$ mkdir ~/bin
$ cp ~/lib/WTK2.5.2/bin/preverify* ~/bin
$ rm -r ~/lib/WTK2.5.2

Don't forget to put the ~/bin directory in the execution path. To have this set automatically each time you login, put this line in your ~/.bash_profile file (create it if necessary).

export PATH=~/bin:$PATH

Compile "Hello, World!"

I'll be using Apache Ant for building because it's the common denominator when it comes to building Java projects (like it or not). Most IDE's have some level of support for running ant scripts.

Install ant:

$ sudo apt-get install ant

Download bb ant tools and put it where ant can find it:

$ unzip
$ mkdir -p ~/.ant/lib
$ cp bb-ant-tools.jar ~/.ant/lib

Download the hello world project and run ant in the project directory:

$ wget
$ tar -xzf hello.tar.gz
$ cd hello
$ ant

Output from the ant should look something like this:

josh@ubuntu:~/hello$ ant
Buildfile: build.xml

    [mkdir] Created dir: /home/josh/hello/build
     [rapc] Compiling 1 source files to ca_slashdev_hello.cod

Total time: 1 second


To sign your cod files, follow my guide on how to fix the signature tool. Then just run the sign target in the build script.

ant sign


Running Windows in a virtual machine may seem like a cumbersome process but it can be made relatively painless. VirtualBox is very popular and available for most if not all Linux distros. I'm using Ubuntu but you could just as easily apply most of the steps to other distros.

There is an excellent guide here with instructions on how to get it up and running. But here is the short version:

$ sudo apt-get install virtualbox-ose
$ sudo gpasswd -a `whoami` vboxusers
$ sudo modprobe vboxdrv

Launch VirtualBox from the System Tools category in the gnome menu. Hint: to make VirtualBox look a little less out of place in a gtk environment:

$ sudo apt-get install polymer qt3-qtconfig

Launch qtconfig and select Polymer from the GUI Style list:

Select Polymer GUI Style

I'll save the boring details of installing Windows in a virtual machine. Here is a list of software that you will need to install in Windows once you have it installed.

  1. Java JDK 1.5+
  2. RIM JDE 4.1+
  3. VirtualBox Guest Additions (Devices menu in VirtualBox)

Host Networking

Now this bit is most important. We need Windows to appear as just another host on the network so that we can connect to JDWP running in Windows from Eclipse running in Linux. We also want to mount a windows shared folder in Linux to quickly copy files to the simulator directory.

It's not enough to just configure the virtual machine to use Host interface, we need to setup a bridge in Linux too. There are hundreds of guides on the interweb describing how to do this. Google "virtualbox host networking" and you will get tons of great links.

My Network Settings

I am really only concerned with having two-way communication between Linux and Windows so I am using an unused network interface on my system to setup the bridge. This interface is not connected to my network and gets statically assigned a private IP. If you don't have a spare interface, or you use wireless networking, see this guide for help.

Required tools:

$ sudo apt-get install bridge-utils uml-utilities

Script to bring up the bridged interface:



# create new bridge
sudo brctl addbr br0

# bright down the ethernet interface and add it to the bridge
sudo ifconfig eth0
sudo brctl addif br0 eth0

# set bridge to static private address
sudo ifconfig br0 netmask

# create tap interface
sudo tunctl -b -t tap0 -u $MYUSER
sudo ifconfig tap0 up
sudo brctl addif br0 tap0

Now simply run the script once prior to starting Windows. In this case the interface on the host (Linux) is not connection to the network and has a static IP so I must also set a static IP in the guest (Windows).

IP Settings in Windows

In Windows Explorer, locate the directory where you have installed the JDE, right click the simulator directory and click "Sharing and Security". I think this dialog is different depending on the edition and service pack of windows but for me (XP Pro, SP2) I just had to check "Share this folder on the network" and "Allow network users to change my files".

Shared Simulator Folder

Running the Debugger

Start JDWP in Windows. Back in Linux, mount the Windows shared directory:

$ sudo mkdir /mnt/simulator
$ sudo mount -t cifs // /mnt/simulator

Use the load-simulator target from the build script in the hello world project to copy the required files over to the mounted simulator directory.

$ ant load-simulator

Run the debugger! For some reason an exception occurs when using jdb at some point, but simply type resume<enter> to get past it. When using Eclipse, I don't have this problem.

$ jdb -connect com.sun.jdi.SocketAttach:hostname=,port=8000

Seamless Mode

And finally there is one last trick to make using the simulator in a Windows virtual machine a bit more enjoyable: Seamless Mode. Provided you installed the guest additions in Windows you can activate this by selection "Seamless Mode" from the "Machine" menu in the VirtualBox window. This hides the Windows desktop and makes it look like the applications running in Windows are actually running in your Linux desktop.

Simulator running in seamless mode

Comments 22

  1. atleta wrote:


    I made small patch to the ant task so that you can define the 'exepath' parameter that is used by rapc to locate the preverify tool. This way you don't have to put preverify on the path. Actually quite surprisingly rapc first looks for an executable called "preverify" and only if it can't find it will check for "preverify.exe". Having just hacked all those backslashes out of the BB tools it's a bit surprising :).

    The patch adds a new property to the rapc task called exepath. It should point to the directory containing the preverifier. (I know exepath is a stupid name but preverifierpath would have been too long. I guess that's why the RIM guys chose it :) )

    You can get the patch from here:

    Let me know if you integrated it. My e-mail address is atleta and the domain name is Join the two with an @...

    Posted 23 Jul 2008 at 09:15 AM
  2. jiGGaK wrote:

    Thanks atleta,

    This patch will be applied to the trunk.

    It really is amazing how solid the rapc tool is considering how flimsy the other tools are. I guess for that we should be thankful.

    Posted 23 Jul 2008 at 11:19 AM
  3. Derek Konigsberg wrote:

    Actually, I recently discovered that RAPC does have a slash-vs-backslash problem like the other tools. You just don't encounter it until you try building resource files into your project. However, it can be fixed with the same techniques outlined elsewhere on this site.

    Posted 06 Aug 2008 at 04:59 PM
  4. jiGGaK wrote:


    That's funny, I've yet to run into that problem. By resources, are you refering to .rrc and .rrh files?

    Posted 06 Aug 2008 at 05:53 PM
  5. Patrick Waugh wrote:

    Awesome, but once I set to host mode, my virtual host will not boot :(

    Posted 18 Sep 2008 at 04:56 AM
  6. jiGGaK wrote:


    Can you expand on that? Does virtualbox fail to start the guest, or does the guest OS fail during boot?

    Posted 18 Sep 2008 at 09:35 AM
  7. Patrick Waugh wrote:


    The guest OS failed to start the guest. I get this:

    Failed to open /dev/net/tun for read/write access. Please check the permissions of that node. Either run chmod 0666 /dev/net/tun or change the group of that node and make yourself a member of that group. Make sure that these changes are permanent, especially if you are using udev. VBox status code: -3100 (VERRHOSTIFINIT_FAILED).

    and this:

    patrick@berrysoft:~$ ls -l /dev/net/tun*
    crw-rw---- 1 root root 10, 200 2008-07-02 05:16 /dev/net/tun

    so I did this:

    patrick@berrysoft:~$ sudo chown :vboxusers /dev/net/tun
    patrick@berrysoft:~$ ls -l /dev/net/tun*
    crw-rw---- 1 root vboxusers 10, 200 2008-07-02 05:16 /dev/net/tun

    and now it boots. Thanks for offering to help.

    I just had to do a little more man page reading. =)

    Posted 28 Sep 2008 at 02:27 AM
  8. Cody A.W. Somerville wrote:


    I read that barry has indeed successfully implemented the javaloader in trunk. :) I haven't tested it yet but I just bought a blackberry and am very eager to do some blackberrry developer on Linux.

    Have you tried the new eclipse plugin? Do you know it that works on Linux?

    I'd love to chat more about BB development on Linux! Feel free to send me an e-mail.



    Posted 11 Feb 2009 at 08:27 PM
  9. David A. Desrosiers wrote:

    I can't get your hello world to build at all, regardless of where I put the JDE (4.2.1 or 4.7.0). It fails as follows:

    /tmp/test/hello/build.xml:12: jde home missing "lib" directory

    Of course, the JDE doesn't HAVE a 'lib' directory at all inside it, nor should it.

    How did you build this, if not against the RIM JDE 4.2.1 or 4.7.0?

    Posted 12 Aug 2009 at 01:52 PM
  10. jiGGaK wrote:


    What does your JDE directory structure look like? Every version of the JDE I have come across has a "lib" directory.

    Here is what my 4.2.1 JDE structure looks like:

    Posted 12 Aug 2009 at 02:13 PM
  11. David A. Desrosiers wrote:

    Well, after installing both JDEs on Windows, and copying over, it replicated the correct structure. I have no idea what happened before, but now I can build the hello sample.

    Now off to figure out how to fix the broken SDK, so I can build the Funambol Blackberry client using this same process.

    Posted 13 Aug 2009 at 07:13 PM
  12. David A. Desrosiers wrote:

    Oh, and thanks for setting me on the right path :)

    Posted 13 Aug 2009 at 07:14 PM
  13. kiran wrote:

    sir/ madam

    please let me know briefly the application of linux in the industries. is linux an imporatnt language to be learnt.

    Posted 02 Sep 2009 at 11:17 PM
  14. kiran wrote:

    i am in eager to learn it. learning them is essential is of any industrial importance.

    application possible with linux??

    Posted 02 Sep 2009 at 11:20 PM
  15. jeffry james.p wrote:

    i want to know how linux developed &development uing linux

    Posted 02 Sep 2009 at 11:25 PM
  16. David Aurelio wrote:

    Thank you for the helpful post. Really saved my day.

    Posted 08 Apr 2010 at 11:54 AM
  17. Pam wrote:

    I'm missing something, I installed everything, I could even run the simulator from your other post, but I don't know where to put the /lib dir from the JDE and when I run ant inside hello i get:

    ~/hello/build.xml:12: jde home must be a directory

    Any help would be appreciated. Thanks

    Posted 06 May 2010 at 05:47 AM
  18. Gwan wrote:

    Great post, really! It worked for me, but I still have an issue with rrc/rrh files. If I look at the .crb corresponding files generated in the jar, they differ at the and of the name with those generated on windows. I.e. the file names in linux are ca.slashdev.FooApplication?.crb, as they are ca.slashdev.FooApplication-ú.crb in windows. It must have something to do with caracter encoding, but I can't figure out how to fix it. If anybody has managed to use localization of resources under linux, please post the fix. Thx

    Posted 19 May 2010 at 02:17 PM
  19. Gwan wrote:

    Figured it out:

    export LANG="en_US.ISO-8859-1"

    Posted 20 May 2010 at 09:01 AM
  20. Alexey Potapkin wrote:

    I have a problem with a project with a lot of .java files (over 1000). At first I had "Create process error=87" problem at java start. It was solved by adding "generatesourcelist="true"" flag to ant task. And now i stuck at the similar problem that appears at javac start. It looks like

    [rapc] I/O Error: Cannot run program "javac": CreateProcess error=87, The parameter is incorrect. Anyone can help me?

    Posted 30 Aug 2010 at 06:09 AM
  21. jiGGaK wrote:


    Try searching the bb-ant-tools mailing list. I know something similar to this topic has been covered there before.

    Posted 30 Aug 2010 at 06:32 AM
  22. PJ wrote:

    Very useful post. For extremely basic results (in answer to some of the queries above) I started in a basic directory of hello. Then mkdir bin and mkdir lib.

    I copied preverify, preverify1.0, preverify1.1, rapc.exe and rapc.jar into bin. Copied netrimapi.jar in lib and set jde.home=. (working directory) in the file.

    Then ant builds a jar and jad (and cod). I then bluetoothed jad and jar to Blackberry, and explored Documents Folder via media. Click on the jad and it will install.

    This is all just on principle of Good Enough to see if it works and wouldn't be suitable for large projects or production. (ubuntu 11.10, Blackberry Curve 9300)

    Posted 28 Sep 2011 at 11:20 AM

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