Making Linux and Android Get Along (It's Not as Hard as It Sounds)
Box, like Dropbox, offers users free on-line storage space accessible via a Web interface. Box also has an app in the market (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.box.android&hl=en, Figure 4). One advantage of the Box app over Dropbox is that it automatically notifies you of updates to files. The Box service itself also has some nice features, some of which are available only with a premium subscription, including version management and integration with other Web apps, such as LinkedIn, SalesForce, NetSuite and Basecamp. However, it suffers from one of the same weaknesses as the official Dropbox app: when the app is on-line, it updates only information on the files in your Box account, rather than caching a version of the files. Although it does have an option to mark files to "Make Available Offline" (Figure 5).
Figure 4. Box Android App
Figure 5. Box "Make Available Offline" Menu
On the Linux side, although Box doesn't have a native client program
available, it does permit access to your files via WebDAVS. This means
you can set up a shortcut in Nautilus (by connecting via the "Connect to
Server" option to dav://www.box.net/dav, making sure to select
WebDAV" per these instructions:
http://benjaminkerensa.com/2011/10/27/how-to-mount-box-net-securely-on-ubuntu-11-10) or Dolphin (for some reason I could not
get the "Add Network Folder" dialog to connect, but simply typing
webdavs://www.box.net/dav into Dolphin's address bar prompted my
credentials and worked like a charm, as I proudly display in
Figure 6). In some ways, I prefer this to being forced into using a
proprietary client program; on the other hand, the Dropbox client for
Linux does automatically update local copies of files, while Box's
WebDAV access feature will require that you're on-line unless you take
Figure 6. Box via WebDAVS
Some heralded the re-branding of Google Docs to Google Drive as the beginning of the end for Dropbox and its brethren (perhaps some still believe this to be the case). With the built-in editing capabilities of Google Docs behind it, Google Drive is certainly a killer tool for collaboration and productivity. I've used shared text documents and spreadsheets with clients and colleagues, and having an on-line place both to stash this important information as well as work on it in real time has been a huge time saver on more than one occasion.
But placing all your data in Google Drive isn't without its drawbacks. Google uses its own internal formats for the text documents, spreadsheets, presentations and drawings in Google Drive. While it's very non-evil about allowing you to download your files in Linux-friendly formats (even ODF for text and spreadsheets, huzzah!), it still involves conversion, which carries with it the risk of misconversion.
The recently updated Google Drive app at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.docs (yeah, I included a link, but if you've got an Android device, you've got it already, no?) is much improved from the initial versions, in which the document editor operated through Web-based text areas. Unfortunately, the spreadsheet editor still requires you to click an Edit link at the beginning of the row to edit the values in that row (Web-based text fields), shown in Figure 7. As for file management, like Box, Google Drive will save files locally for you to edit if you're off-line, but only if you select the Available Offline option for each file to which you'll need access. In addition, Google Drive also is supported by individual apps (like DropBox above). In addition to its own app, Google Drive is an acceptable storage place for Polaris Office (pre-installed on my Prime, shown in Figure 8) and Documents to Go.
Figure 7. Google Drive Android Spreadsheet Editor
Figure 8. Polaris Office Displaying Google Drive contents
- Give new life to old phones and tablets with these tips!
- Memory Ordering in Modern Microprocessors, Part I
- Readers' Choice Awards--Nominate Your Apps & Gadgets Now!
- Linux Systems Administrator
- RSS Feeds
- Senior Perl Developer
- Technical Support Rep
- Tech Tip: Really Simple HTTP Server with Python
- Raspberry Pi: the Perfect Home Server