Android Debug Bridge (adb) is a versatile tool lets you manage the state of an emulator instance or Android-powered device. It is a client-server program that includes three components:
- A client, which runs on your development machine. You can invoke a client from a shell by issuing an adb command. Other Android tools such as the ADT plugin and DDMS also create adb clients.
- A server, which runs as a background process on your development machine. The server manages communication between the client and the adb daemon running on an emulator or device.
- A daemon, which runs as a background process on each emulator or device instance.
When you start an adb client, the client first checks whether there is an adb server process already running. If there isn't, it starts the server process. When the server starts, it binds to local TCP port 5037 and listens for commands sent from adb clients—all adb clients use port 5037 to communicate with the adb server.
The server then sets up connections to all running emulator/device instances. It locates emulator/device instances by scanning odd-numbered ports in the range 5555 to 5585, the range used by emulators/devices. Where the server finds an adb daemon, it sets up a connection to that port. Note that each emulator/device instance acquires a pair of sequential ports — an even-numbered port for console connections and an odd-numbered port for adb connections. For example:
Emulator 1, console: 5554
Emulator 1, adb: 5555
Emulator 2, console: 5556
Emulator 2, adb: 5557 ...
As shown, the emulator instance connected to adb on port 5555 is the same as the instance whose console listens on port 5554.
Once the server has set up connections to all emulator instances, you can use adb commands to control and access those instances. Because the server manages connections to emulator/device instances and handles commands from multiple adb clients, you can control any emulator/device instance from any client (or from a script).
The sections below describe the commands that you can use to access adb capabilities and manage the state of an emulator/device. Note that if you are developing Android applications in Eclipse and have installed the ADT plugin, you do not need to access adb from the command line. The ADT plugin provides a trasparent integration of adb into the Eclipse IDE. However, you can still use adb directly as necessary, such as for debugging.