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"adb" (Android Debugging Bridge) is a command line tool that comes with the Android SDK which allows you to perform various actions on your Android mobile device.

If you try to run "adb" in Ubuntu you'll get the following error (just an example):
./adb devices
List of devices attached 
???????????? no permissions

To fix this, simply run the following commands (firstly "cd" into the android-sdk-linux_x86/platform-tools folder):
./adb kill-server
sudo ./adb start-server

Now adb should work:
andrei@andrei-desktop:~/Desktop/android-sdk-linux_x86/platform-tools$ ./adb devices
List of devices attached 
HT0BJRX10210 device

Along with adb, the other tools show now work too, like "ddms" which provides port-forwarding services, screen capture on the device, thread and heap information, logcat, process, and radio state information, incoming call and SMS spoofing, location data spoofing, and more:

Android ddms

Note: you should already know this, but just in case: make sure you have enabled the debugging options on your device to use this (Settings > Applications > Development).

Update: method 2 posted by Roman in a comment below:

1. Do lsusb
2. Find out your USB idVendor and idProduct (example: 0502:3202)
3. Put the following into /etc/udev/rules.d/99-android.rules replacing the values for idVendor and idProduct:

SUBSYSTEMS=="usb", ATTRS{idVendor}=="0502", ATTRS{idProduct}=="3202"
TEST=="/var/run/ConsoleKit/database", \
RUN+="udev-acl --action=$env{ACTION} --device=$env{DEVNAME}"