Controlling Your Linux System with a Smartphone

Using simple Web technologies, you can turn your smartphone into a multipurpose device to control your computers.
Other Possibilities

The most-used application I have built is a television remote control. We use the fantastic tvtime program to watch all our TV. The tvtime package includes the tvtime-command command that allows you to control every conceivable function of the running tvtime instance. For example, tvtime-command chan-up changes the channel up one increment. Full documentation can be found in the tvtime man page.

I used all the same techniques described earlier and built a full functioning remote shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4. Remote Control Application Shown on a Palm Pre

Now friends and family can control the TV from the comfort of their very own smartphones. There are no more complaints about using our giant Bluetooth keyboard as a remote either. The kids simply can grab the closest iPod Touch, Palm Pre or whatever.


Smartphone technology is advancing extremely rapidly. Without modifying the phone, you can access almost any possible function on a remote computer through the built-in browser. Linux users are especially lucky. It doesn't take much effort to turn a Linux computer into a back end for a phone. Hopefully, this article inspires you to come up with your own unique and interesting uses.

Jamie Popkin lives in Lantzville, British Columbia, with his wife and four kids. He is a consultant specializing in geographic data portrayal on the Web. Recently, he has started developing for smartphones, utilizing modern Web/HTML5 technology. He can be reached via Twitter (@jamiepopkin) or e-mail (



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Create .Xauthority file

Parimal Naigaonkar's picture

I really liked your article, I was trying it but there is no .Xauthority file in my home folder.
Can you guide me how to create it under ubuntu 10.10.
Thank You

Or, you could install webmin.

Anonymous's picture

Or, you could install webmin.