[Chugalug] Chatt*lab kickoff and my new project (linux webtop on smartphone with killer dock)

Phil Sieg phil.sieg at gmail.com
Mon Oct 21 16:11:07 UTC 2013


Tim and Jason and the rest of the Chatt*labers did a hell of a job on Saturday. Not only that the space is fantastic. Just wish I could have stayed all day :-(

If you are interested in, or believe deeply in the value inherent in the "Maker" movement, PLEASE find a way to be a part of Chatt*lab. It truly takes a village with these sorts of things...


No on to some *NIX geekery.

At the Chatt*lab there was a Motorola Lapdock (netbook like dock for about 10 different motorola android phones) that was hooked up to a little ARM board (think Pi) and was doing a heroic job of running Lubuntu.

These Lapdocks sell for $40-75 on eBay and are very high quality doohickeys. I have been searching for a way to use one (so I can buy one) and after seeing it in action, I just had to have one. I googled around and found out with $20 of connectors and no soldering it can be turned into a battery powered console/KVM for headless systems (of which i have a few). I have ALWAYS wanted a super portable KVM solution for my "kit" and this is the best option I have seen yet, so I ordered one, and all the connectors.

Then I started googling the "other uses" that people had found and struck gold.

http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1281528

http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1617684

Both Ubuntu, and Gentoo running on the Motorola phone as a full desktop when it is connected to the Lapdock. These are fairly advanced hacks. A far easier solution is to use one of the  "chroot" linux installs on the Play store and launch it from the "webtop" screen. These essentially run *nix virtualized and allow you to VNC into it for desktop access. Prolly a bit slower, but a lot easier to install on the front end without the fear of bricking the phone.

The coolest thing is that last generation Motorola smart phones with very good specs are Dirt Cheap, especially if they are Verizon/CDMA units. For $50-100 you can have a dual core with 16gb and a 4.3 inch screen that is a very capable device. Buy one of these and a Dock and you have an Android laptop/tablet for less than HALF the going rate.

Further coolness: MOST of the Verizon Motorola phones (if they are 4G) have GSM (think ATT & TMobile) compatibility if you hack the cellular radio. This is a fairly easy hack and means you could have $45 a month unlimited Talk/Text/Internet (through StraightTalk) with 4g speeds for next to nothing (comparatively). Since the Lapdock is a "dumb" accessory you can turn your phone into a 4g laptop for no extra monthly charge or tethering hassle.

If anybody is interested in collaborating on this let me know. I have already ordered the "bionic" lapdock, and a Verizon "Droid Bionic" as my test bed. 

A word of warning: There are at least 3 different Lapdocks, and a dozen different phones that can "dock" but they do not all work together ;-) So a little research is required. It is probable that I will order a couple of more sets of these as presents for my nieces and nephews overseas. at $150 or less "all in" plus some hacking, they make kick ass Christmas gifts for teenagers.

Phil Sieg
President
SeniorTech LLC / snapfōn®
www.snapfon.com
phil.sieg at seniortechllc.com

Phone: 423.535.9968
Fax: 423.265.9820
Mobile: 423.331.0725

"The computer is the most remarkable tool that we've ever come up with. It's the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds."

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011






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