How to Create Android Update Zip Package

There are several ways to install applications or  library files to an Android Phone. You can use Market application to find and install or adb command line tool to install or push the files to Android file system. These are all easy to implement for  single  file but if you have several applications or library files to install at once, it might be better to use update zip file. The update zip file is Android advanced system to install applications or lib files to Android file system using recovery tool. This method is commonly used by rom or theme developers to distribute their package.

Creating an update zip file is quite easy, all you have to do is put the files in corresponding directory in Android file system and an update-script file to copy the files. For example, to install Calculator.apk into system/app and copy file into system/lib :

  • Create an empty folder (eg. C:\myupdate)
  • Create C:\myupdate\system\app folder for Calculator.apk and  C:\myupdate\system\lib folder for
  • Create C:\myupdate\META-INF\com\google\android folder for update-script file.
  • Create the update-script file with the following syntax:
  • show_progress 0.1 0
    copy_dir PACKAGE:system SYSTEM:
    show_progress 0.1 10

    Line 1&5 : show progress bar
    Line 3: copy system folder from update package to Android’s /system

    Note: you should add one extra  line at the end of the file (Line 6)

  • Compress the entire contents of C:\myupdate folder to zip (not the myupdate folder itself)
  • Sign the file
  • java -jar signapk.jar certificate.pem key.pk8

    Note: you can find tutorial on how to sign the file here

  • Copy the file to sdcard and apply it from recovery console

update-script syntax reference (definitions from recovery.c android source code):

  • copy_dir
  • Syntax: copy_dir <src-dir> <dst-dir> [<timestamp>]
    Copy the contents of <src-dir> to  <dst-dir>. The original contents of <dst-dir> are preserved unless something in <src-dir> overwrote them.
    Ex: copy_dir PACKAGE:system SYSTEM:

  • format
  • Syntax: format <root>
    Format a partiti0n
    Ex: format SYSTEM:, will format entire /system . Note: formatting erases data irreversibly.

  • delete
  • Syntax: delete <file1> [... <fileN>]
    Delete  file.
    EX: delete SYSTEM:app/Calculator.apk, will delete Calculator.apk from system/app directory.

  • delete_recursive
  • Syntax: delete_recursive <file-or-dir1> [... <file-or-dirN>]
    Delete a file or directory with all of it’s contents recursively
    Ex: delete_recursive DATA:dalvik-cache, will delete /data/dalvik-cache directory with all of it’s contents

  • run_program
  • Syntax: run_program <program-file> [<args> ...]
    Run an external program included in the update package.
    Ex: run_program, will run script (shell command) included in the update package.

  • set_perm
  • Syntax: set_perm <uid> <gid> <mode> <path> [... <pathN>]
    Set ownership and permission of single file or entire directory trees, like ‘chmod’, ‘chown’, and ‘chgrp’ all in one
    Ex: set_perm 0 2000 0550 SYSTEM:etc/

  • set_perm_recursive
  • Syntax: set_perm_recursive <uid> <gid> <dir-mode> <file-moe> <path> [... <pathN>]
    Set ownership and permission of a directory with all of it’s contents recursively

    Ex: set_perm_recursive 0 0 0755 0644 SYSTEM:app

  • show_progress
  • Syntax: show_progress <fraction> <duration>
    Use of the on-screen progress meter for the next operation, automatically advancing the meter over <duration> seconds (or more rapidly if the actual rate of progress can be determined).
    Ex: show_progress 0.1 0

  • symlink
  • Syntax: symlink <link-target> <link-path>

    Create a symlink (like ‘ln-s’). The <link-path> is in root:path format, but <link-target> is
    for the target filesystem (and may be relative)

Definition of roots and partitions (from root.c android source code)

 ROOT:     (Linux block device) /mountpoint/ fs, size

  BOOT:     (/dev/mtdblock[?]) / (RAM)  Raw
    Kernel, ramdisk and  boot config.
  DATA:     (/dev/mtdblock5)   /data/   yaffs2, 91904kb
    User, system config,  app config, and apps (without  a2sd)
  CACHE:    (/dev/mtdblock4)   /cache/  yaffs2, 30720kb
    OTA cache,  Recovery/update config and temp
  MISC:     (/dev/mtdblock[?]) N/A     Raw
    [TODO: Get info on MISC:]
  PACKAGE:  (Relative to package file) N/A
    Pseudo-filesystem for update  package.
  RECOVERY: (/dev/mtdblock[?]) / (RAM) Raw,     [?]kb
    The recovery  and update environment's kernel and ramdisk.
    Similar to BOOT:.
  SDCARD:   (/dev/mmcblk0(p1)) /sdcard/ fat32,  32MB-32GB
    The microSD card. Update zip is usually here.
  SYSTEM:   (/dev/mtdblock3)   /system/ yaffs2, 92160kb
    The OS partition,    static and read-only.
  TMP:                         /tmp/    in RAM
    Standard Linux temporary directory.
    Cleared on poweroff/reboot.
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  1. says

    Hey man, thanks for the instructions. For what it’s worth, this worked perfectly for me in modifying an official update from Google; the only catch was, I deleted Google’s certificates in the zip file before trying to sign my own.

  2. pedrinho says

    first of all – thanks for the post – is great

    my problem, with recovery 3e it does not accept these signed the only message is “installation aborted”.
    seems to open and read the if i enter “show_progress 0.1 50000″ it tooks more time to display the message.

    any hints ? thankyou, greez from BR

    hw: hero h6 china phone

  3. Adi Martha says

    sama…disini juga kena Instalation Aborted setelah nambah key. kenapa ya?
    apa karena ga cocok sama versi ClockWorkMod nya? :)

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  6. Harish says

    Hi there! I followed your tutorial and created an updater script to paste a font file. The problem is that when I run the, the installation gets aborted. Any idea why?

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