Making Linux and Android Get Along (It's Not as Hard as It Sounds)

Box

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 "Secure 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 additional steps.

Figure 6. Box via WebDAVS

Google Drive

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

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I am not

Android Phone Online Store's picture

I am not using Linux as an OS for my laptop and even to my smartphone because not all applications are compatible with it, and I am not familiar with the Linux.

Android User

Len S's picture

I do like my android phone, especially plugging it into my computer usb port, and easy access to material saved on my phone. I really enjoyed this article, thank you.

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Using Debian 7.0 and

lyemium's picture

Using Debian 7.0 and installing mtpfs and mtp-tools from the package manager gives a nice plug and play capability when connecting Android 4.1 devices.

All that is needed is to connect the device and use the thunar file to take care of all the drag and drop functionality, no complaints so far.

Like Android

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I lke linux and android, I hope this is also suppport my gadget

Samba server app

Anonymous's picture

you can make use of Samba server app for Local connection ;)

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For KDE install kio-mtp

Anonymous's picture

At least in the Fedora repos the package kio-mtp is available for the KDE desktop.

Android device is automatically detected when plugged into usb connector. Pop-Up options include view folders in Dolphin or Krusader.

Read / write access is as fast as usb will go - tested with Nexus 7.

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Android is Linux -- why no better inter-operation

Saint DanBert's picture

Linux and the several *nix systems have wonderful, LAN and NET based tools for inter-connection and inter-operation -- especially where file sharing and related operations are involved. This dates back to UUCP when modems were $1,000, were leased from telco, and were periodically connected because leased lines were extremely expensive.

I'm astonished that these tools have not become available for connecting
Android systems with Linux systems.

~~~ 8d;-Dan

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Connecting Android device to desktop Linux via USB

philip ramsey's picture

I run openSUSE on my laptop and Android 4.0 on the HTC Amaze. I discovered a number of USB tools that allows the browsing of USB storage devices. By installing USBView and USBprog, it allows the HTC Amaze to be seen as an USB storage device. It also works with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus running Android 4.1. The transfer speeds are the same as any other USB device - transfer 1 GB in minutes. The entire Android file system is accessible from the Linux laptop.

git-annex assistant

Shock's picture

you should check out git annex assistant. open source, runs on linux and has android app. it also supports sync via box.net

direct cable connection

Daniel Barlow unregistered's picture

It may not be the most user-friendly option in a GUI sense, but I've found that the simplest way to get files onto the device over a USB cable is to use "adb push"

play with linux? i think you mean work-around linux

er0ck's picture

the vast majority of the article is about platform agnostic solutions. this is great. was just surprised. :-)
i too am dismayed at how poor MTP operates under linux. it seems to work great from macOSX.
i use sshdroid (still a bit finicky including no way when i checked to upload entire folders) and sftp (isn't this root only?) as well. linux cron jobs notice when my phone is on my network and initiates some rsync stuff for mostly pics/clips, but also my evernote stuff.

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Where is Epistle?

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I keep hearing about this great note taking app Epistle, but whenever I follow the links or search in the google play store I'm told that the page isn't there and don't find any search results.

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Epistle

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I used Epistle but it is no longer supported, but an app called Denote is a great substitute that does the same thing. I use it to sync notes to my Ubuntu desktop with a program called PS Notes.

You forgot OwnCloud

Paraplegic Racehorse's picture

Android (OwnCloud - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.owncloud.android&featu....) and [many] linux distros include native OwnCloud clients. Several online archive/backup/share service providers have switched to OwnCloud to ease their internal administration issues. You can, in theory, have your cake and eat it too.

The problem is 3rd-party app support of OwnCloud on Android. There are lots of apps that talk back and forth with DropBox and Box but very very few, if any, that talk to an OwnCloud server, so if you need this, those files should be kept at those hosting sites. On the upside, your DropBox folder can be mirrored on your OwnCloud server so you don't need to worry overmuch about losing your files should DropBox ever fail for you. :)

go-mtpfs

John M Cooper's picture

Hi,

I have found go-mtpfs https://github.com/hanwen/go-mtpfs to be a really fast and stable way to access my MTP android. You have to do a bit of leg work to get it installed but after that it works great. Lets hope somebody packages soon.

john

Missed one

Kevin Seise's picture

You missed the Android side client for SSH mounting. SSHFSAndroid allows you to create mount points for your linux hosted files and treat them like sshfs mounts. Rooting is required to insert the fuse module, but it works really well on my tablets and phone. Great article by the way!.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.chaos9k.sshfsandroid&h...

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Useful apps

Robin's picture

Two apps help greatly with the transfer of data from mobile to linux, which should also get mentioned. AirDroid permits a connection by WLAN to any computer capable of running a browser, copying files to and fro is one of the main features, though not the only one; and Bump permits the transfer of data to other mobile devices literally by bumping them against each other, and here, too, any computer running a browser and having a keyboard can be the target. You bump the space key.

Agreed on AirDroid. With my

Anonymous's picture

Agreed on AirDroid. With my Motorola Electrify M running Jelly Bean 4.1.2, plugging it into the computer results in a USB mass storage device being made available which contains the Motorola driver downloader for MS Windows. Once that driver is installed on a Windows machine the driver manages to disable the USB mass storage device and provides MTP access. This does not seem to be possible on Linux as of yet. I tried the go-mtpfs program above, but it cannot find an MTP device (it's one of several such programs I've tried.

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