Pincho: A USB Mass storage Android implementation without ROOT v0.1

Source code
Download the AAR file

Somedays ago I released a very simple app to transfer files between your phone and a USB Flash drive. Kind of a proof of concept but the most interesting is not the app itself, it is the library that powers it. I had very positive experiences releasing another library that handle USB to Serial chipsets without needing a rooted phone so I am excited to release this new open-source(MIT License) USB mass storage library for Android as Pincho (silly spanish name we use to name the USB sticks).

Pincho’s main objective is not only to handle the upper layer of the USB Mass storage stack (FAT32 at this moment). Also exposes the SCSI commands layer and even the Bulk-Only transport protocol.
USB connected devices must implement, besides the obvious Mass Storage class, the 0x06 subclass (SCSI protocol) and the 0x50 protocol (Bulk-Only).
Currently Pincho only supports FAT32 filesystem and a maximum of 4 partitions (Extended partitions still not supported).

Add Pincho to your Android project
The easiest way to use it right now is copying the .aar file to the libs folder and adding these lines in your build.gradle file.

dependencies {
// Other dependencies...
compile project(':usbmassstorageforandroid-release')

Virtual FileSystem methods
Although Pincho currently only implements FAT32, there is a defined class to abstract it. Adding new filesystems wouldn’t have to affect drastically previous written code. Here are the basic methods

UsbDevice mDevice;
UsbDeviceConnection mConnection;

// choose the device and initialize mConnection through UsbManager.openDevice(UsbDevice mDevice);

* Constants
public static final int CACHE_NONE = 0; // No cache
public static final int CACHE_LOW = 1; // Cache for a 100 Mbytes allocation
public static final int CACHE_MEDIUM = 2; // Cache half of the FAT
public static final int CACHE_HIGH = 3; // Cache the whole FAT

* Constructor definition
public VirtualFileSystem(UsbDevice mDevice, UsbDeviceConnection mConnection);

* Mount operation, return true if device was successfully mounted. BLOCKING OPERATION
public boolean mount(int index);

* Mount operation, return true if device was successfully mounted. BLOCKING OPERATION*
* cacheMode: 0 no cache, 1 low cache, 2 medium cache, 3 high cache.
public boolean mount(int index, int cacheMode)

* List only file names, return a List of Strings. NON BLOCKING OPERATION
public List<String> list();

* List complete information of files, return a List of VFSFile objects. NON BLOCKING OPERATION
public List<VFSFile> listFiles();

* Get current path, return a string linux-like formatted with the current path. NON BLOCKING OPERATION
public String getPath();

* Change dir specified by a name, folder must be inside the current folder, return true if operation was * ok. BLOCKING OPERATION.
public boolean changeDir(String dirName);

* Change dir specified by a VFSFile, folder must be inside the current folder, return true if operation was ok. BLOCKING OPERATION.
public boolean changeDir(VFSFile file);

* Change dir back, return true if operation was ok. BLOCKING OPERATION
public boolean changeDirBack();

* Write file, return true if file was written correctly. BLOCKING OPERATION
public boolean writeFile(File file); // 

* Read file specified by a string, return an array of bytes. BLOCKING OPERATION
public byte[] readFile(String fileName);

* Read file specified by a VFSFile, return an array of bytes. BLOCKING OPERATION
public byte[] readFile(VFSFile file);

* Delete file specified by a string, return true if file was deleted. BLOCKING OPERATION
public boolean deleteFile(String fileName);

* UnMount the USB mass storage device, return true if was unmounted correctly. BLOCKING OPERATION
public boolean unMount();

File data is encapsulated in VFSFile class

public class VFSFile
    private String fileName;
    private boolean isReadOnly;
    private boolean isHidden;
    private boolean isSystem;
    private boolean isVolume;
    private boolean isDirectory;
    private boolean isArchive;
    private Date creationDate;
    private Date lastAccessedDate;
    private Date lastModifiedDate;
    private long size;

SCSI Interface
Pincho also allows you to call directly a number of SCSI calls which gives a lot of raw power. SCSI calls are used through a class SCSICommunicator that implements a buffer to queue every call so they are non-blocking. Current implemented calls are:

– Inquiry
– ReadCapacity10
– Read10
– RequestSense
– TestUnitReady
– Write10
– ModeSense10
– ModeSelect10
– FormatUnit
– PreventAllowRemoval

In order to receive any notification about a current SCSI operation a callback must be defined

private SCSIInterface scsiInterface = new SCSIInterface()
    public void onSCSIOperationCompleted(int status, int dataResidue)
      // status 0: completed successfully
      // status 1: Some error occurred

    public void onSCSIDataReceived(SCSIResponse response)
       // Data received in the data-phase.
       // Possible responses: SCSIInquiryResponse, SCSIModeSense10Response, SCSIRead10Response,
       //     SCSIReadCapacity10, SCSIReportLuns, SCSIRequestSense

    public void onSCSIOperationStarted(boolean status)
      // SCSI operation started

Create the SCSICommunicator object

SCSICommunicator comm;
comm = new SCSICommunicator(mDevice, mConnection);

And call whatever SCSI call you need. SCSI calls are particularly tricky as they have a lot of parameters and some of them are kind of obscure. Although I have in mind writing about them eventually Here is a good source of information about SCSI calls.

public void read10(int rdProtect, boolean dpo, boolean fua,
                   boolean fuaNv, int logicalBlockAddress,
                   int groupNumber, int transferLength)

public void requestSense(boolean desc, int allocationLength)

public void testUnitReady()

public void write10(int wrProtect, boolean dpo, boolean fua,
                    boolean fuaNv, int logicalBlockAddress, int groupNumber,
                    int transferLength, byte[] data)

public void modeSense10(boolean llbaa, boolean dbd, int pc,
                        int pageCode, int subPageCode, int allocationLength)

public void modeSelect10(boolean pageFormat, boolean savePages, int parameterListLength)

public void formatUnit(boolean fmtpinfo, boolean rtoReq, boolean longList,
                       boolean fmtData, boolean cmplst, int defectListFormat)

public void preventAllowRemoval(int lun, boolean prevent)

There is a lot of room for improvements. I am totally open to hear your thoughts about this. Some of the pending enhancements are:

– Implement a Caching system. Reading is not particularly slow as Pincho knows what LBA has to read to find the next cluster node in the FAT but writing is slower than it should be.
– Not every SCSI call is implemented.
– Support extended partitions.
– More asynchronous interface in VirtualFileSystem to do not have to worry about blocking operations. Defining a callback to receive notifications and data.
– Other Filesystems could be eventually added.

Update 08-19-15: A primitive cache added

There are probably more important things that I am missing so if you find them please let me know.

Happy coding 🙂

How to connect a USB Flash drive to your Android phone without root and transfer files? Here’s the app

Download the app!

Since I released DroidTerm and the library which powers it I have been working in another project using the Android USB api. I am happy to announce the first part of that project.

USB Flash Drive File Transfer is an Android app that allows you to hook up a USB Flash drive and transfer files between them without the need to have a rooted Android phone.


The UI is simple, the upper grid shows the files in your SD and the lower the files in your USB. Just drag and drop files to transfer them. USB Flash drives must be formatted as FAT32 but it is the more common filesystem in USB Flash drives


The app is pretty simple but if you are technically savvy the library working behind the scenes is far more interesting. It handles the USB mass storage stack (FileSystem, SCSI and Bulk-Only protocol) from the user-space, and I will release it in some days as open-source. So if you are interested stay tune! 🙂

It is still an early version. Some operations are still slower that they should be but I am working on improvements. If you find other errors and/or suggestions I would love to hear about them 🙂