LJ Archive


Mobile Computing: When Size Matters

Shawn Powers

Issue #215, March 2012

Technology is funny. Not too many years ago, the goal was to make a cell phone as tiny as technologically possible. Now, phones like the Galaxy Note are striving for aircraft-carrier size. This month, whether you want to embed a phone into your sneaker or play hopscotch in order to dial your buddy, we've got you covered. Mobile devices can do almost anything traditional computer systems can do, and oftentimes, they can do it better.

Reuven M. Lerner starts the issue off with logging. No, he doesn't show how to cut down trees with your Razr, but rather he talks about the importance of making applications that keep a log. Logs are really pointless, until you need them. Then, they're invaluable. If you need more convincing, listen to Reuven; you can trust him to lead you in the right direction. Dave Taylor, on the other hand, I don't recommend trusting—at least not in a game of Scrabble. Dave continues his series on how to be a lying, cheating, filthy, jerk—for educational purposes only, of course! In all seriousness, Dave explores some really cool scripting using a very practical, if nefarious, object lesson.

Our king of nefarious, Kyle Rankin, finishes his series on password cracking in this issue. By this time, you've all learned how to do brute-force attacks with a GPU, so Kyle spends this month explaining how to tweak things so you can get the most hack for your buck. I follow Kyle's “educational” article with the second installment of my new column, The Open-Source Classroom. This month, I start a series on LTSP. Thin clients have evolved a lot since I started using them back in 2001 or so. I'll walk you through setting up a lab, and in the next few issues, I'll teach you how to tweak the system. Kyle probably will follow up with a tutorial on using the distributed CPU power of thin clients to break in to the local 7-11, but you'll have to wait and see.

Mark O'Connor shows how to use Linux on an iPad. No, probably not how you think, but rather, he explains how to use Linode on an iPad in order to do your work in the cloud. If you want the convenience of an iPad with the power and flexibility of Linux, Mark's solution is worth a look. Bill Childers does a similar feat with his article on IRC proxying to mobile devices. I've been using Irssi in a Screen session for all my instant messaging for a few months now, but I'll admit it's rough when I'm out and about. Logging in to Irssi on a software-keyboard over SSH isn't terribly fun on a phone. Bill describes how to get the best of both worlds, and at the same time!

Rebecca “Ruji” Chapnik also delves into the command line, but instead of bridging IRC to a mobile device, she shows how to play music from the console. Many Linux users think Ncurses is as GUI as an application ever needs to get (ahem, Kyle Rankin), and Rebecca shows how to use the command line to its fullest extent. Stuart Jarvis heads in the opposite direction and talks about Plasma Active. Tablet computing is still quite young, and the interfaces we use on touchscreen devices are far from perfect. Stuart describes what KDE is doing to address tablets and touchscreen devices. As someone who constantly thinks tablet computers would be great if they had hinges and keyboards, I'm interested in alternative interfaces!

Don't worry if you prefer your Linux more “desktoppy” than mobile. This is Linux Journal, and we always have a variety of articles that will tickle every geek's interest. Whether you want to continue the series on EFI with Roderick W. Smith, or explore the world of cryptocurrency with me, this issue has lots to offer. As always, we hope you enjoy this issue, we sure did.

Shawn Powers is the Associate Editor for Linux Journal. He's also the Gadget Guy for LinuxJournal.com, and he has an interesting collection of vintage Garfield coffee mugs. Don't let his silly hairdo fool you, he's a pretty ordinary guy and can be reached via e-mail at info@linuxjournal.com. Or, swing by the #linuxjournal IRC channel on Freenode.net.

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