Linux remote administration on Android and iOS

X for Android

Executing commands on startup is also useful for exporting a display, so you can start graphical applications in combination with the X Server for Android [5]. Unfortunately, android-xserver does not support the necessary extensions to launch Firefox, for example. Nevertheless, it continues to offer the most comprehensive X server implementation on Android.

Hacker's Keyboard

If you are familiar with the advantages of keyboard-based controls in a shell, you will definitely appreciate some advanced features for touchscreens, including the often missing Tab key for auto-completion. Only a few Android devices have this practical detail preinstalled (Figure 2), and Hacker's Keyboard [6] (Figure 4) makes the Unix shell with ConnectBot far more pleasant to use by retrofitting Tab, Ctrl, Esc, and arrow keys.

Figure 4: ConnectBot and Hacker's Keyboard in action together. Friends of the command line will feel more at home with this than with the standard layout.

During installation, note that new Android keyboards are not automatically active for safety reasons; instead, the user needs to activate them in the system settings. Although this seems unnecessarily complicated at first, it actually makes perfect sense: Unintentionally installed keyboards could act as keyloggers and sniff passwords, among other things.

Apple Console

On the iOS front, iSSH [7] (Figure 5) provides a powerful SSH client. Apart from the features described for ConnectBot, it even supports Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and Virtual Network Computing (VNC) out of the box, and it comes with its own X server.

Figure 5: iSSH for iOS devices provides an integrated X server (showing Xclock here) and can also start Firefox in addition to X11 applications.

You can launch Firefox without any problems, although you do have to make some compromises compared with the mobile version, which is optimized for tablets and smartphones. It's still better to use a slow Firefox tunneled over SSH than to expose intranet resources.

Thanks to its own X server, iSSH is much more convenient to use than teaming up ConnectBot and an X server because much less configuration effort is necessary.

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