Smartphone SSH Remote Terminal

When you absolutely, positively, immediately, need a terminal to connect to your remote workstation via SSH.

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This "project" was born out of necessity: the battery failure of my 10-year-old computer, which prevented me from working without a power supply, was not an excuse to stop hacking.

Most of my work could be done remotely via a terminal. The idea then was to have the required infrastructure to continue working with whatever I had at reach.

The solution kind of fitted the spirit of the Hackaday 2022 Cyberdeck Contest. It's a very low-effort work hardware-wise, but could serve many hackers in need, so here it is...

  • 1 × Smartphone Pick any model, the more old and broken the better.
  • 1 × Keyboard Preferably Bluetooth, but wired might work as well.

  • Better hardware

    Solenoid08/15/2022 at 07:48 0 comments

    Looking into the retro-future, newer smartphones or tablets allow the use of external mice. In iOS this feature came with 13, so I'm left out with my current hardware. Having an external mouse would be perfectly suited to work remotely using a VNC application.

    My VNC app of choice is VNC Viewer, simply because my Raspberry Pi server, featuring Raspberry Pi OS, comes with it. However, not having a mouse kind of defeats the purpose of the user interface.

  • Software

    Solenoid08/15/2022 at 04:48 0 comments

    The hardware being ready it was matter of selecting the software that would bridge the gap between my phone and remote computer.

    As mentioned before, the OS limit on the iPhone 6 restricted what could be installed, however two complementary applications fitted the project perfectly and were available for iOS 12 (albeit older versions):

    • WireGuard: well integrated VPN app that automatically switches on when the local network is left, making home or remote work a seamless experience, while guaranteeing a secure connection.
    • Termius: the terminal, an excellent and well polished app, allowing to SSH to the remote workstation.

    Both of these applications were free, or had a free tier, and worked as expected.

    Having an SSH tunnel to a remote computer, whatever it is (in my case my headless Raspberry Pi) opens all the possibilities as long as there is an available network.

    Thanks to the smartphone the SSH connection could go over WiFi or 4G seamlessly and having all components with batteries allows in-field operations.

  • Hardware

    Solenoid08/15/2022 at 04:38 0 comments

    The idea was to have the required infrastructure to continue working with whatever I had at reach.

    I had an 8-year-old iPhone 6 (last one with a 3.5mm audio jack), on which I had replaced the battery and therefore would last quite a bit. However, the OS was limited to iOS 12, which would prevent many modern applications, requiring higher iOS versions, from working.

    The phone had its mute button stuck on mute, cracks in the screen from many falls (however none prevented viewing the screen), the side-power-button was failing and the volume buttons were getting stuck because of the many falls resulting in chassis dents... I really liked this phone because of its tenacity and robustness despite my handling of it. Say what you want about Apple, their products are built to last.

    I also had a Keychron K3 Bluetooth keyboard I used daily, which fitted the BOM and project aesthetic quite well. This particular keyboard had a Bluetooth device quick-switch feature, making it simple to work using multiple smartphones/tablets.

    Connecting the Bluetooth keyboard to the iPhone was straight forward and allowed to input text via the keyboard.

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Charel wrote 08/17/2022 at 12:31 point

I went a step further once and made the smartphone both the terminal and the server.

When I was working as a bike messenger I did my coding homework during the downtime periods. As I was carrying my phone with my anyway, I only needed to add a slim solar-powered bluetooth keyboard to my kit.
On my (android) smartphone I ran a jupyterlab instance using debian and termux' proot. I then accessed the Jupyterlab notebooks using the android browser.
Running the code took a bit longer, but the workflow wasn't slow at all frankly.
Most importantly the setup ran completely local, so no data or good connection required (which when you live in germany are both hard to come by).

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teraz wrote 08/18/2022 at 13:16 point

Rather, you should be thinking not about a bicycle trip for 2 hours, but about the war in Ukraine and wondering how to use a computer for a whole week because there is nowhere to plug a cell phone into the wall.

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teraz wrote 08/16/2022 at 17:50 point

if You device will work month or longer i buy it.

if less it is no necessary

  Are you sure? yes | no

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