Compiling an Android Emulator Kernel for Loadable Kernel Modules

So you want to rootkit the emulator? These are rough notes I took while attempt to get this working on my own machine (OSX 10.8.5) – results may vary. According to random posts I’ve seen, OSX is a bit finicky and no one really gets it to work right – Ubuntu everything is apparently just peachy. You’ve been warned though, YMMV.
If on OSX, you must install libelf – this was the only dependency I was missing. If you don’t have this the build will randomly fail and not be exceptionally helpful about why.

Building the Kernel
Clone emulator kernel directory then get the branch of the kernel we want

git clone https://android.googlesource.com/kernel/goldfish

cd goldfish
git checkout -t origin/android-goldfish-2.6.29 -b goldfish

Before we build the kernel we must configure it, though we don’t want the default configuration (this doesn’t actually let the emulator boot) and we want to ensure LKM support is present. Note that the feature to load is seperate from the unload feature, you must enable both. Let’s first copy the configuration for goldfish_armv7_defconfig. Then manually change the LKM state (goldfish_armv7_defconfig will default to having modules enabled and loadable, but not unloadable) to any features we need.

make ARCH=arm goldfish_armv7_defconfig

make ARCH=arm menuconfig

If you are compiling on OSX, you will want to manually edit the .config file to not include CONFIG_NETFILTER, simply comment this line out before proceeding. You will be prompted to confirm this change prior to compiling as well. If you do not make this change you’ll see an issue similar to this appear;

make[2]: *** No rule to make target net/netfilter/xt_CONNMARK.o', needed by net/netfilter/built-in.o’. Stop.
make[1]: *** [net/netfilter] Error 2
make: *** [net] Error 2

Compile the kernel, modify the CROSS_COMPILE switch as necessary for your builders setup;

make ARCH=arm SUB_ARCH=arm CROSS_COMPILE=$ANDROID_NDK_ROOT/toolchains/arm-linux-androideabi-4.4.3/prebuilt/darwin-x86/bin/arm-linux-androideabi-

If you are unsure where to point CROSS_COMPILE, you can try below to help narrow it down, assuming you have

find $ANDROID_NDK_ROOT | grep ‘\-gcc$’

Making the Emulator use the Newly Compiled Kernel
The easiest way to use the kernel immediately is to just point an already existing AVD image at it via the emulator command;

emulator -kernel arch/arm/boot/zImage -avd -verbose

You don’t need -verbose, obviously, though it would be helpful the first time to watch for the potential segfault or if the kernel image was bad. If the “android” doesn’t appear in the emulator box and nothing is streaming to the console, you likely borked one of the above steps. You should try to enable the “Use Host GPU” setting for the avd as well, since this appears to drastically improve performance of the emulator for most MacBook Pros.
Another potential way to use the kernel is to copy the kernel from arch/arm/boot/zImage into one of your platforms, this will cause all AVDs using that platform to use the customer kernel. The path for that is something like $ANDROID_SDK_ROOT/system-images/android-17/armeabi-v7a/kernel-qem.

If you run into something like below (verbose output from emulator command, happen almost immediately);

emulator: Kernel parameters: qemu.gles=0 qemu=1 console=ttyS0 android.qemud=ttyS1 android.checkjni=1 ndns=3
emulator: Trace file name is not set

emulator: autoconfig: -scale 0.821094
Segmentation fault: 11

This is likely from some weirdness in the avd from not shutting down properly (or just using it, the emulator is horrid). The easiest way to recover is just kill it (rm -rf ~/.android/avd/*) and recreate the avd.

Making a LKM
Shortly I’ll post an example to github, but for now here is a very simple LKM that should compile fine.
Makefile, should be fully complete, you may need to change the path of both KERNEL_DIR and CCPATH;

The helloworld code for android_module;

Dump both of these into any directory and run make after making the appropriate changes. You should then have an android_module.ko file.

From here just push it to the emulator via adb, then use insmod/lsmod/rmmod as needed and enjoy. Depending on the time I have for the rest of the week, I’ll try to dump some kernel modules I’ve written and used for malware analysis on my github.

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