29 dicembre 2013

Nexus 7: a System Administrator Review

A long time ago, in a world still optimistic, there was a beautiful object called netbook.
It was cheap and, thanks to Linux, suitable for both home users and professional.
But still I see the super manager ofbig computer corporations say to each other:
" Ehy, boys, we are selling $ 200,00 computers that will last five years, would not be better to sell $ 2000,00 computers that will last 3 years?"
And so ended the netbook era and started the ultrabook one.
Ok, ultrabooks are very pretty pieces of hardware but why spend so much money if what you need for your work is a simple and portable device with on board a linux distribution?
A system administrator needs a portable device for monitor his networks from remote (and for portable I mean an object that is almost in your pocket, not an ultrabook as thin and light)
A system administrator needs a portable device that might accompany him inside a rack cabinet and be usable even upside down.
For a GNU/Linux system administrator GNU/Linux is a necessary and sufficient tool for about everything.
For years I used a Dell Mini 9 with ubuntu with whom I have done almost everything.
And I have not found a worthy substitute until this Christmas.
When I got a Google Nexus LTE 7 2013 edition.

Dell Mini 9 (left) and Nexus 7

There are many reviews of this tablet and will not repeat them on these pages.
Here, instead, we talk about the last Google tablet intended as a tool for (GNU/Linux) system administrators.
Android 4.4.2 is Linux (don't GNU/Linux, sure) then satisfies the first condition.
And 'extremely portable and easy to handle (more of the Dell Mini 9) and has a 3G internet connection, so you do not need bring  an Internet Key and connect it when necessary: is always online
I bought also a bluetooth keyboard that also functions as custody for faster text input.

Keyboards comparison, Dell Mini9 Top, Nexus7 Bottom

First I suggest you to unlock the bootloader and gain root permissions.
There are several ways but the  Nexus Root Toolkit  is a simple and effective tool (caveat: if you use Windows 8.1 use the PdaNet Drivers).

Then, here is the package of applications that suggest:

  • OpenVpn for Android (by Arne Schwabe)
  • Terminal IDE
  • SSHDroid
  • Fing
  • Ping & DNS
  • AndFTP
  • ConnectBot
  • Teamviewer
  • Microsoft RD Client
  • androidvnc
  • hacker's keyboard

Obviously, it is a minimum list and absolutley personal, but as I could see on the field, functional.
I connected to the network via vpn, I was able to connect via ssh to the servers, check the status of the my various networks, upload files via FTP and  remote control PC without too much difficulty.
I hope it is obvious that the same operations are much simpler if carried out by a powerful ultrabook connected via ADSL...
But, carried out by a tablet that costs a quarter of ad ultrabook and from a queue at the post office (I know, something incomprehensible to non-Italians, try it :P), well, it's a very nice convenience.
Compared to the Dell Mini 9, I find myself having an even more maneuverable tool and better connectivity options: Wifi, 3G and, theoretically, LAN: pity about an annoyng bug (an error in init.flo.rc file which prevents it from requesting an ip address via dhcp) that, for now, prevents from connect to a LAN via usb adapter, but I'm working on it and, as soon as possible, will put on these pages the solution step by step ...

an USB to LAN adapter (still not working)