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Smartphones For Text SSH Use — Revisited

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the extremely-mobile-sysadmins dept.

Cellphones 374

jfischet writes "Back in 2005 a Slashdot user asked this question and the responses were helpful — but I'd like to ask again to see what has changed in three years. I'd like to know what this community thinks is the best choice of smartphone for remotely administering Linux/UNIX boxes via SSH."

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The iPhone, of course. (3, Informative)

jjh37997 (456473) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533573)

An iPhone with shell access seems the perfect match.

Re:The iPhone, of course. (5, Funny)

brenddie (897982) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533601)

this guy has a good example http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=iphone [thebestpag...iverse.net]

Re:The iPhone, of course. (1)

mashiyach (757252) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533899)

href="http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=iphone" [thebestpag...iverse.net]
I loved that Double negation in the last row. My first thought was: "What, there is something the Iphone can do but the other can not?", but fortunately I was wrong, it was the opposite.

First fanboy alert. (4, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533643)

When I read the headline, I thought "I wonder how long it's going to take for some fanboy to recommend the iPhone, despite the fact that it doesn't have a keyboard & is inferior for text entry compared to say a blackberry, or even some of the HTC monstrosities."

And there you were - right in the first post. Thank you for reaffirming my faith in fanboi nature.

Re:First fanboy alert. (2, Informative)

XaXXon (202882) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533653)

Likely you've never used an iphone keyboard for an extended period of time. The keyboard is actually quite good. Well, I do suppose it's good for typing english. I'm not sure I'd want to program on it. It likes to tell you what you mean.

Re:First fanboy alert. (3, Insightful)

dmsuperman (1033704) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533901)

I have. I also have my Nokia N800, which allows for fullscreen touch keypad entry. Both are probably the best methods of input, as far as touchpad entry goes, but hardkeys are ALWAYS better suited for typing, especially typing in programming text, than softkeys. It's much more acurate, faster, and not only that but it doesn't require you to continue wiping your screen for (because I don't know about you, but I don't always have an opportunity to wash my hands when I need to do some quick typing.)

Re:First fanboy alert. (2, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534093)

I'm not sure I'd want to program on it. It likes to tell you what you mean.

Yes, that wouldn't be a lot of fun programming, or using a shell.

Re:First fanboy alert. (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534109)

Personally, I like the SideKick. Not sure what future models will look like, but I hope there is room inside the case for something that allows Telnet/SSH client with room to customize terminal emulation, and on the text editor, I'd like to see templates applied in a way similar to EditPad Pro where can select dictionary and context highlighting etc. These are modifiable and can be tweaked for just about anything, and are. Features like that would pry my fingers off the SideKick and get them wrapped around some other PDA/mobile device.

First Hater Alert (5, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533673)

When I read the headline, I thought "I wonder how long it's going to take for some fanboy to recommend the iPhone, despite the fact that it doesn't have a keyboard & is inferior for text entry compared to say a blackberry, or even some of the HTC monstrosities."

The iPhone is fine for typing text. And the fully dynamic interface allows for some interesting possibilities for shell control, along with more room for a wider view on the screen. Penny Aracde [penny-arcade.com] of course, put it best... "If you find such things unpleasant, then I suggest you develop a taste for forced labor because by the year twenty-twenty all that sneer is going to get you is a slot in the underclass boiling corpses."

Don't be so dismissive until you see what terminal possibilities might arrive with the SDK.

And there you were - right in the first post. Thank you for reaffirming my faith in fanboi nature.

Don't your eyes scratch a lot with that wool you keep pulling over yourself?

Re:First Hater Alert (1)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533727)

Not having used one much, let me ask how, exactly, you are supposed to deal with 'keys' that are substantially smaller than a fingertip and have no tactile feedback to boot? Everyone I know who uses one still has trouble getting it to input the letter they want.

The really annoying thing is, it would probably be great for writing with a stylus, but that does not (last I checked) work on an iPhone.

Re:First Hater Alert (2, Interesting)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533795)

I've used the iPhone keyboard and have had very little difficulty. It's surprisingly tolerant of big ol' fingers mashing on the keyboard. Tactile feedback? Not really necessary. It makes a clicking noise and you see the letter on the screen.

Re:First Hater Alert (4, Funny)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533863)

The really annoying thing is, it would probably be great for writing with a stylus, but that does not (last I checked) work on an iPhone.
The last idiot who flicked me the iFinger got it cut off and now I have the perfect stylus. I had to drive a nail through the bone to keep it straight, but once the blood dried up there is almost no smell at all.

Re:First Hater Alert (4, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533927)

Not having used one much, let me ask how, exactly, you are supposed to deal with 'keys' that are substantially smaller than a fingertip and have no tactile feedback to boot?

A few ways - one, the keyboard displays a larger version of the key you are currently pressing, and does not actually take input until you lift away - so if you hit the wrong key you can slightly adjust your finger to be on the right one. That's much quicker than it all sounds.

Secondly, truly predictive input. I'm not just talking about word completion (though it does that) but by also recognizing what you are typing by the pattern of the keys you press - so the predictor knows you are off to the side a little while typing and makes suggestions based on what you would have hit if you'd hit the right keys to start with. That works really, really well to the point where most miskeys don't actually mean you have to go back and correct a word as it simply corrects it for you.

With more specific tasks (say, for instance, a terminal) in seems to me there is further automatic aid that could be rendered while typing. If people are having trouble getting text right they aren't trusting the correction as much as they could/should be - or they need a little more practice.

The really annoying thing is, it would probably be great for writing with a stylus, but that does not (last I checked) work on an iPhone.

I really liked Grafitti, did not like Jot (think that was the name) as much, but I greatly prefer the iPhone keyboard for text input over Grafitti which I used heavily for several years before my Palm died.

You also have the possibilities to support gestures in an application as well, which could be interesting for control.

Okay I'll bite (1)

ady1 (873490) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534225)

To be honest, none of the phone/smartphone available in the market are suitable for serious administration. Sure you can get ssh client for almost all the smartphone oses but typing on any of the phones is a bitch. Don't even think about doing VI or Emacs as none of the phones has the full keyboard. Well except for running some quick scripts or checking the status of a server or so, its impractical.
As some of the posters already suggested, a small PC like EEE coupled with a 3G modem might be a much better idea though you can't carry it in your pocket.

There is

Re:First Hater Alert (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534119)

Not having used one much, let me ask how, exactly, you are supposed to deal with 'keys' that are substantially smaller than a fingertip and have no tactile feedback to boot?

Rather than the button press people seem to think they want when speaking of "tactile feedback", it would be nice to be able to feel the keys so you could text by touch. Not that any phone makes this terribly easy, but some people are quite adept at finding the right keys by touch on their normal phones. The iPhone has feedback aplenty if you're looking and listening. First time I typed an email on it, I was amazed at how I could basically type along without stopping (about as fast as I can type with two thumbs), look back at what I wrote, and find no mistakes. Not always like that, but I'm pretty surprised at how it guesses what you meant and fixes the words as you go.

In comparison, I used my wife's blackberry curve with its full keyboard. I felt like I needed to type with my fingernails the keys were so small. You don't need to push in the center of the key to get it to work, nor apply exact pressure. Try one out at your Apple or AT&T store...you'll see what I mean.

Re:First Hater Alert (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534187)

The iPhone has bluetooth, doesn't it?

Why not do what I did with my Nokia E90 and buy an Apple bluetooth keyboard? It works really nicely with my Nokia.

Second Fanboi Alert! (4, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533917)

The iPhone is fine for typing text.

Yes, for short messages, typing in URLs, etc, it is fine.

What the submitter asked for is not fine general text entry, but the best choice, specifically for ssh. An iPhone (where every slash, period & ampersand is three taps away) is a poor choice for ssh text entry.

Don't be so dismissive until you see what terminal possibilities might arrive with the SDK.

Right, thanks - we're looking for a solution right now, not a possible solution that may come about one day.

Hater Redux (to tears) (0, Flamebait)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533979)

What the submitter asked for is not fine general text entry, but the best choice, specifically for ssh. An iPhone (where every slash, period & ampersand is three taps away) is a poor choice for ssh text entry.

What part of "fully dynamic interface' is your small hater brain having trouble grasping, poor thing?

Or did you not comprehend that would mean an SSH keyboard could well be like the URL keyboard is today, where "/" is on the main screen...

Shell use is not the same as general text entry and the URL keyboard is a good example of how the keyboard can be adapted better for SPECIFIC (same word you used) tasks. Such as ssh. Presumably prediction and other aspects could also be tailored to work better for ssh control of a UNIX system, which is really what the poster was asking about.

Right, thanks - we're looking for a solution right now, not a possible solution that may come about one day.

It's not some far off "one day". It's a MONTH. Possibly less than a month at this point. You honestly cannot wait even a month for some potentially better option, to evaluate fully all the possibilities? That just seems foolish to me, to discard a good possibility out of hand and buy into a one year contract on something today.

Furthermore, you don't even know what new models of an iPhone might do to address complaints you specifically raise. Though I think it unlikely, what if they did add a model with a physical keyboard? We all know new models are coming out shortly, we do not know everything that has changed on them.

Heck, even just what Blackberry is working on that's unreleased yet might be good to wait for evaluation, and that's more uncertain than the iPhone app store and new OS release at this point!

Why buy a $300-$800 device today, when so much in the world may change in just a month or two. Asking the question now is obviously poor timing if you care at all about collecting data before making a choice, unless you are dead set on hating Apple, well, 'cause.

Re:Hater Redux (to tears) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23534041)

According to you fanbois though
Apple is the only correct option, and every reason why we dont like the iPhone
is simply a minor complaint that you guys go over and tell us how stoopid we are
get this
we dont want your fucking iPhone
fuck off

Re:Hater Redux (to tears) (1)

Count Fenring (669457) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534063)

Well, actually... If he were, say, going on vacation tomorrow, and needed to have the phone before he left, then he wouldn't have the option of waiting a month.

And that assumes that the limited pool of vendors who can officially work on the iPhone produce an SSH tool, or that he's willing to crack the iPhone for homebrew software which you would again have to assume was there, in a month. Maybe one of these is true, but neither of these assumptions is anywhere near certain. You also assume that whichever of these comes to fruition will incorporate a specific technology (The custom keyboard layout) which is just one possibility out of many.

Really, since his question is "What smartphone is best for system administration over SSH," not "Which smartphone has the capability to host the best version of SSH in the near future," you're basically side-stepping his actual question and the very real points brought up against the iPhone.

The custom-keyboard for SSH is a pretty clever idea, though, and seems like it would produce a pretty good SSH interface.

Re:Hater Redux (to tears) (3, Informative)

Count Fenring (669457) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534085)

Slight correction: There is currently a jailbreak method to enable SSH for iPhone. Nothing official, though.

Fanboi redux. (4, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534149)

Presumably...could also be...Possibly....potentially better...possibility.... don't....what if they did add a model with a physical keyboard?...we do not know everything ...so much in the world may change...

Do you want to use a few more weasel words in your post? Qualify things a little more?

You'd make a great white house spokesperson.

Re:First Hater Alert (1)

laddiebuck (868690) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534189)

Let's put merits aside for a moment and technologies -- specifically, the Penny Arcade quote. People have been predicting the demise of UNIX ever since its birth, technology bandwagons have come and gone, vi is supposed to be an outdated concept -- C is unfashionable -- and yet as a solid UNIX/shell/C have remained as strong as ever and seen the demise of most of their touted replacements. They have grown and evolved and become more powerful, to the point of vim, GNU, zsh/ksh, C++ being amazingly strong reworkings of the concepts, but the concepts have stayed, and conceptually they are supersets, not replacements. And nobody who has stuck to them has needed to move on because the platform disappeared. As a shell user from the moment I computationally became "aware", I have often wondered at so many new hypes, seeing that they rarely provided something I didn't already have a program for (and typically something that had text input and output) or had already written a shell script for. I can imagine that emacs users feel much the same way. The iPhone is not for me, however well it may work for you, and I'm glad if it does, because it is a pretty novel and smooth way of interacting with a device. I don't need it, but I appreciate its power. (I also baulk at a price tag for a smartphone about $50, or anything but a laptop for $600... but that's a different affair.) I would be grateful if people didn't predict the relegation of me and my workflow and environment to the scrap-heap every time a new fad comes along, but I am getting used to it. Don't mod me down as an Apple-basher. I prefer GNU and free software and cheap price-tags, but I do appreciate what Apple has done and is doing for UNIX, electronics, etc. They are a real counterpoint to Windows for an average user -- a solid, dependable, yet stylish OS, and much the same can be said of many of their products.

Re:First fanboy alert. (1)

taniwha (70410) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533813)

I don't have one but I have helped my kids jailbreak their iTouches - you use ssh in the process (they even use sshfs with Amarok to load music into them) - so I'd guess if you're looking for a smart phone with ssh an iPohne would be a natural response

Re:First fanboy alert. (3, Funny)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533823)

You've really got some issues. Lighten up.

Re:First fanboy alert. (4, Interesting)

vic-traill (1038742) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533921)

When I read the headline, I thought "I wonder how long it's going to take for some fanboy to recommend the iPhone, despite the fact that it doesn't have a keyboard & is inferior for text entry compared to say a blackberry

Different Blackberry models have different keyboards. To call the iPhone keyboard inferior for text entry as compared to a Blackberry is to ignore the different performance characteristics of different Blackberry keyboards.

I'm on my third B/B (7250, 7280, 8830) and of the three the current keyboard - on the 8830 - is the best for me. But I know people at work for whom this isn't the case, the particular bevelling of the 8830's keyboard hindering them rather then helping.

I have limited typing exposure to the iPhone, but a tonne of Blackberry keyboard time under my belt, some good, some significantly worse.

Note that the B/B Pearl is an entirely different beast, and if you're comparing residential (i.e. non-commercial/business) market phones, you'd could arguably end using the Pearl as RIM's entry.

I've yet to see a truly comprehensive test of keyboard usability across smartphones. Here's an individual who seems to do pretty well on both a B/B (a 7250?) and an iPhone http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsUPYmUzYXA&feature=related [youtube.com] .

clearly, you don't own one. (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533789)

I own one, and the "keyboard" is a bitch, especially in portrait mode, which is the mode you're stuck with in almost every application save "Safari". You can't use the larger landscape keyboard in SMS, Notepad, Email, etc.

    The error rate is high because (big fuckin' surprise, just like everyone predicted) there's no tactile response. There's no caps lock or sticky shift. Only alpha characters are on the main keyboard; you have to go into sub-keyboards, and there's no way to return automatically after typing one punctuation letter. My Nokia 6820 had most of this down perfect.

  This: "/etc/init.d/http restart" would take forever (each / and . would take three taps), and because of the error rate, you'd run the risk of triggering an account lock or ssh abuse prevention IP block just trying to get into your machine. God help you if your password is actually secure (ie alpha AND numeric with some punctuation or case changes.)

Sorry. No "real" QWERTY keyboard automatically disqualifies any device.

Re:clearly, you don't own one. (2, Informative)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533867)

Just a factual correction - Double tap the shift key for caps lock.

Re:clearly, you don't own one. (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534061)

How many handheld devices really have enough physical keys to make SSH useful to any extent? I agree that the iPhone sucks at it (from firsthand experience as well, though I think you're making it out to be slightly more tedious than it really is), but most of the blackberries and such don't look tremendously better-suited to it. The half-keyboard ones would be completely useless and the full-keyboard ones seem to have buttons EVEN smaller than the virtual ones on the iPhone.

Re:clearly, you don't own one. (2, Insightful)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534209)

> How many handheld devices really have enough physical keys to make SSH useful to any extent?

Well, I'm bound to be wrong if I come up with an exact number, but at least 5 have been mentioned already : Nokia 770, N800, N810, E70, and E90. OK, the 770, N800 and N810 aren't phones and they supersede each other (though they do VoIP), but the other two seem to be worth investigating, if you ask me.

I use an E90, and the keyboard is functional, though I wouldn't want to use it in anger - for that, I use an Apple bluetooth keyboard which I take along with me when I know I'm going to be doing stuff like that.

You might want to explore some time saving tricks. (2, Informative)

Naum (166466) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534101)

...when using your iPhone keyboard.

  1. Caps Lock -- tap the shift button twice and you are in "caps mode". You can also drag your finger press from shift and enter a capital letter in that fashion -- 1 tap!. And after character is "typed", you're back with the regular alpha keyboard.
  2. Punctuation characters like "/" -- again, one tap to drag across the ".?123" button and the "/" character (as well as parenthesis, quotes, commas, digits, etc....) are all accessible. And again, after you lift your tap, your keyboard display is alpha, ready for the next alpha char.

And a jailbroken (not necessary to "unlock" to "jailbreak") iPhone can indeed perform terminal functions, including ssh. Of course one may not wish to do that their phone, but the capability does exist.

As far as typing on the keyboard, I've had no problem, though I will admit that I'm not as fast as I used to be with Grafitti on the old Handspring PDA, but I don't believe that's because my tapping isn't nimble enough, just that it seems to second for the characters to pop up on the display. Haven't gotten fast enough to see if my outracing the buffer drops too many characters.

The error rate is high because (big fuckin' surprise, just like everyone predicted) there's no tactile response. There's no caps lock or sticky shift. Only alpha characters are on the main keyboard; you have to go into sub-keyboards, and there's no way to return automatically after typing one punctuation letter. My Nokia 6820 had most of this down perfect.

This: "/etc/init.d/http restart" would take forever (each / and . would take three taps), and because of the error rate, you'd run the risk of triggering an account lock or ssh abuse prevention IP block just trying to get into your machine. God help you if your password is actually secure (ie alpha AND numeric with some punctuation or case changes.)

Virtual keyboard is NEVER perfect (4, Informative)

okoskimi (878708) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533959)

No matter how much you like your shiny iPhone, the poster cited SSH as his primary use case. It means his primary use case is typing shell commands. Which means a phone with a real keyboard will work best for him. Yes, you CAN type text relatively OK with the iPhone. No, that does NOT make it the best phone to type text on. Get a clue!

If the guy had asked for a smooth web browsing experience, recommending a (3G!) iPhone would have been understandable. But for SSH? Pure fanboy, or pure ignorance. Take your pick.

Oh, as for what phone to use - E70 is better if you want the regular phone form factor and have good eyes. But personally I would prefer E61i (with Blackberry form factor), as it has much larger screen (although slightly smaller resolution) which means text is easier to read. And it has more RAM, which means you can run more applications simultaneously. E.g. with E70 running a Java MIDlet and the browser simultaneously is going to be iffy because both are RAM-hungry applications. E61i is newer too, so it has a more recent version of the web browser.

Re:Virtual keyboard is NEVER perfect (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534091)

Nobody who's used SSH on their iPhone would claim it to be a good experience. It's nice to be able to get at it for that one bizarre thing that prompted the need for roadside SSH access in the first place, but there's a reason that I don't attempt it every day.

I don't know, maybe the truest of fanboys who just blindly promote Apple products might claim it to be a good idea, but nobody who has actually tried it (such as myself) would say it's something other than a "I'm glad I was able to do it that one time because I really needed to but I hope to never find myself in that situation again" experience.

Re:The iPhone, of course. (4, Interesting)

Firehed (942385) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534043)

No, not really. I have one of the terminal apps installed on my iPhone and have used it for quickly SSHing in to my home machine. While it works, it becomes incredibly tedious on the virtual keyboard (much more so than normal typing, since autocorrect isn't present and wouldn't pick up on weird bash command names anyways). Yes, I even tried using vi remotely. Again, possible, but not the slightest bit recommended.

I love the benefits of the virtual keyboard for most uses. SSH is most definitely not one of them. The VNC app is much more useful given that touchscreens are much better suited to visual interfaces (and it's surprisingly useful even over EDGE with decent signal strength, enough so that I was able to start a SuperDuper! backup of my system while at a red light on my way to the Leopard launch - no need for the fanboy comments, please - I'm clearly not one of the senseless evangelist types).

Palm OS + pssh (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23533585)

If you have a Palm OS device (i.e. a Treo), then pssh [sealiesoftware.com] is still the way to go. Alas no, this solution hasn't changed since 2005...

Re:Palm OS + pssh (1)

Ice Station Zebra (18124) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533649)

I'll second this, my 755p and pssh are vantastic.

Re:Palm OS + pssh (1)

Southpaw018 (793465) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533663)

Do you use an open source Palm OS 5 VPN client, or do you have SSH open at the firewall?

Re:Palm OS + pssh (1)

Straterra (1045994) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533773)

I..third (?) this. My Treo 700p + pssh + screen + irrsi has let me further fuel my IRC addiction.. Admittedly, I don't have VPN software installed, but I use an internet facing server anyway..soo..

Re:Palm OS + pssh (1)

eck011219 (851729) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533729)

Hey -- I'm a web designer (and therefore not as up on security issues as others) but occasionally need to SSH in for something or other. I use pssh on my Treo 755p, too, but get all the warnings about how insecure pssh may be. Have you found it to be secure enough and, if not, what do you do to augment it? All I typically ever have to do is a bit of quick content editing in vim or something before I can get back to my office, but if there's something I could be doing to further keep the connection to myself, I'd love to hear it.

My solution is not a smart phone (2, Insightful)

Naurgrim (516378) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533589)

Hmphf - frist posit?

Anyway, my solution is not a smartphone. I use an LG CU500, bluetooth tethered to a 12" G4 iBook. I get a real keyboard and AT&T (originally Cingular) gets me 3G in most places I go. Even on "edge" service, SSH is tolerable, 200ms-ish of latency.

bb at least I dont have to crack it. (1)

fitsnips (187974) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533597)

I still think the black berry was better for this as you did not have to hack it. I love my iphone but lets see what apps go up on the store. Also, can I please get copy and paste for the love of all that is good...

Re:bb at least I dont have to crack it. (1)

CrazedWalrus (901897) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533929)

I have the Blackberry 8830 [blackberry.com] and use MidpSSH [xk72.com] . With the full keyboard on the blackberry and wide screen (relatively speaking) it works great for terminal access.

Sidekick Terminal App (3, Informative)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533613)

I've found the Sidekick 3's terminal app is pretty good because you get a pretty easy to type on keyboard. The font is readable and the terminal emulation is good. You also get a decently wide screen, not full 80 columns though. They also have good help for how to type in Ctrl-C, and other control sequences, etc,

Re:Sidekick Terminal App (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533743)

Yeah, if you like super lagged conditions and continual disconnects it's fucking awesome for remote administration! Using the hiptop for any sort of SSH connection over a few commands long would be miserable. You would have to use screen or else the continual connection drops would fuck you over too much.

Danger's devices have a terrible build quality, especially with heavy use. While the Sidekick3 is the first Danger device that has lasted more than 6 months without a handset replacement, you know it's bad when T-mobile disallows free handset replacements without additional warranty packages for Sidekick users.

There are better options out there, I promise.

Sony-Ericsson M600i and Nokia N800 (4, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533637)

Putty [coredump.fi] on a Sony-Ericsson M600i works ok for me, but most of the time, I'd keep the M600i in my pocket and use my Nokia N800 through Bluetooth.

Re:Sony-Ericsson M600i and Nokia N800 (1)

holloway (46404) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533725)

...or maybe the Nokia N810 with the keyboard.

Re:Sony-Ericsson M600i and Nokia N800 (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533911)

...or maybe the Nokia N810 with the keyboard.

The 810s are nice, but as long as I have a flat surface, I'm comfortable enough with the on-screen keyboard, for short sessions anyway.

I have to strike an uneasy truce between my inherent unwillingness to spend, and my geeky attraction to shiny toys. Upgrading the N800 would be crossing the line...

Re:Sony-Ericsson M600i and Nokia N800 (1)

grammar fascist (239789) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534261)

I'm writing this on my N800 right now, using the on-screen fat-finger keyboard (I can go about 40 WPM on it) posting using a Mozilla-based browser. (It renders Slashdot perfectly, too.) Runs an apt-based Linux, has SSH client and server, 800x480 screen, and is currently $220 at Amazon. It does remote X (with some hacks using xvkbd), rdesktop and VNC. Its only disqualifying attribute is that it's not a phone.

Re:Sony-Ericsson M600i and Nokia N800 (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23534199)

I've been using my Sony P1i for precisely that purpose for about a year now. What makes the P1i a little bit more suitable is the fact that it supports wireless.

Instead of having to lug around a laptop when I'm on call I've been able to rely on the P1i with a combination of VPN client and Putty as my sole means of accessing everything from servers to routers, switches and firewalls.

Re:Sony-Ericsson P1i (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23534235)

Putty on Sony-Ericsson P1i works fine for me.

The phone comes with wifi and qwerty keypad and is a good multitasker.

PuTTY (4, Informative)

Russianspi (1129469) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533655)

I use Pocket PuTTY [pocketputty.net] . I don't know if it is the perfect answer, but it works for what I do.

Re:PuTTY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23534241)

More specifically, Pocket PuTTY works well on the AT&T Tilt/Sprint Mogul (same HTC phone). I'd recommend them as solutions above anything else out today, at least in their sub-$100 price range (with two-year contracts).

This interests me. (2, Interesting)

JoshJ (1009085) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533667)

I'd like a relatively cheap smartphone or mini-laptop (think EEE PC)- under $200 would be great- that can connect to secure wifi or a cell network (with a reasonable plan) that I can use for SSH purposes / internet when not on my computer. Any suggestions on the hardware side? (I'm not the OP.)

BlackBerry and MidpSSH (2, Informative)

Jaegar (518423) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533685)

I've had good results with the BlackBerry and MidpSSH. The terminal software is average, but having the ability to open a connection via your BlackBerry Enterprise Server is very useful. It's nice to not have to open up any Internet facing SSH ports while still being able to connect to any of your servers.

A bit early to ask, it seems to me (1, Redundant)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533693)

An interesting question, but honestly doesn't it seem like a good idea to wait a month or two longer and see what terminal kinds of apps come out of the iPhone SDK & app store? That's one area I was thinking we'd see several options arrive from, and while the iPhone may not have a "real" keyboard there is much that could be done with completion and a nice wide display.

mtoken ppc (1)

GigaHurtsMyRobot (1143329) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533711)

mToken on any windows mobile device is great. also, windows mobile devices are great because they're so easy to hack and customize... ppckitchen.org for example.

Nokia E70 (4, Informative)

thesupraman (179040) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533713)


I've been running one for close to 2 years for just this purpose.

Runs symbian putty perfectly, does 802.11 for when you can get to it, has an ok real web browser, and does real email (imap/pop/smtp).

And on the plus side, actually fits in a pocket, and can support real typing.

Pity nokia seem to consider it a dead-end product, and go out of their way to ignore it.

Re:Nokia E70 (1)

oo7tushar (311912) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534025)

I second the E70. One of the first apps I installed was Putty. It's been good for connecting remotely as well as editing a few vi scripts just to get things running and tested.

Re:Nokia E70/E90 (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534129)

...and I third it, though I actually use putty it on an E90, which has a more conventional keyboard (iinm) - albeit at a price. I also use a bluetooth keyboard (the Al Apple one, as it happens) when I want to use it more extensively - I'm told it works with all S60 phones that have bt (and I don't see why it wouldn't).

I've used it for logging into my various Linux systems (Ubuntu, Ubuntu server, Fedora Core) as well as OS X.

Works nicely enough on the E90 with the high resolution display (800 x 352 pixels) using small fonts. I'm not sure how well it works one smaller or lower resolution screens like on the E70 (or the iPhone, for that matter).

Just make sure it's standards-compliant (0)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533719)

If it doesn't support RFCs RFC2549 [rfc-editor.org] and RFC1149 then you probably don't want it. [rfc-editor.org]

If you are having problems finding a standards-compliant device, these guys [linux.no] might be able to recommend one.

Just a hunch... (1)

wellingj (1030460) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533723)

This is just a hunch but if you are the kind to remotely administer your systems, you would also be the kind to want an open phone platform. I'm guessing openmoko [openmoko.com] is right up your alley.

Re:Just a hunch... (1)

maj1k (33968) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533891)

actually, they're asking about phones you can actually *use*

MidpSSH (1)

Cokeisbomb (1001675) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533731)

MidpSSH is great. The obvious mobile device/screen limitations not withstanding, I've never been able to not do something I needed to.

Being able to SSH into a server, and then access mysql from the terminal is great. It's even more great when a customer wants to know how many orders you have outstanding for a certain product and you can type the necessary sql into the terminal and get the results.

I believe you can even use Telnet and FTP from MidpSSH on the blackberry. I think a major part of this debate is finding a device with a keyboard you are comfortable with. Being able to type quickly with minimal mistakes will make any software seem much better

pssh on Palm Treo (unfortunately) (4, Informative)

BrianCarlstrom (717058) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533733)

pssh on the Palm Treo is the only thing that seems to work for me. Keep in mind I want to use Emacs via my smart phone, so I need Control and Meta (aka Alt) to work well. pssh uses the center key for these, with one click for Control and a second for Meta. It also has a very small font which allows me a 80 column wide view.

I have considered switching to a HTC phone such as the AT&T Tilt with Pocket PuTTY. Unfortunately, it seemed to hard to use for two reasons. One, I couldn't easily find a way to have a really small (but usable) fond. Two, I couldn't find a way to easily enter Control and Meta. I tried this mostly at the store, so if there are solutions to this, please let me know!

I have tried the iPhone with server side ssh script on a friends iPhone. Again the font and keyboard issues made it seem not too feasible. It seems like the font issue would be easy to fix, but the keyboard Control/Meta issue seems even harder to address on the iPhone. Again, please correct me if I'm wrong, I'm thinking of getting an iPhone 2.x in July... web surfing has become more important than my ssh access.

Treo650 (1)

CoolGopher (142933) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533753)

Well, I don't know if it's the best, since I haven't got much to compare it against, but my Treo650 with pssh works quite well. It is by no means a replacement for a laptop with a vpn client, but it nicely handles the "service X has died for some reason and needs to be manually restarted" and "minor configuration tweak Y required" type scenarios.

The screen size is pretty good for a phone (640x640 resolution too), and while the font in terminal emulation is small, it's mostly readable. There are a few key-combos that allow relatively painless acccess to things like ctrl-c.

Overall I would say that it's Good, but not Excellent. Definitely haven't regretted the purchase though (and SSH support was a big deciding factor).

Re:Treo650 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23533993)

320x320, you mean.

Nokia E61i with putty (1)

beeblebrox (16781) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533771)

I mostly use it for the occasional Debian apt-get update/upgrade and sometimes to run backups. In general, tasks that don't require lots of input are fine. The E61i's QWERTY keyboard is pretty good, it's mostly the limited screen that makes longer tasks trickier.

Re:Nokia E61i with putty (4, Informative)

raju1kabir (251972) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533913)

I use the E61i with midpssh, which has worked better for me than Putty, though I have long forgotten why.

The E61i's keyboard works great, I can type at a decent clip, and it has a proper control key. Some unix nerd characters (vertical bar, etc.) require 3 or 4 keypresses to get to but it's not that bad. Between wifi, GPRS, and 3G/UMTS I can pretty much always get online.

For example, even in countries where there seems to be no working data service over prepaid GSM SIM cards (e.g., Syria), I've just turned on the wifi sniffer and followed it to a fancy hotel, and then loitered in their lobby to fix a weeping server. The hotel people think I'm just sending text messages.

Downsides: It's a big phone physically, it could use more memory (get the web browser plus a few ssh windows going and you've hit the ceiling), and when the wifi isn't making a connection to a given access point it's very difficult to diagnose why. For example, I've never managed to get it to connect via my MacBook's internet connection sharing, which would be nice so I could sync up the email when I was at an internet cafe and save money on subsequent syncs over the cell network during the day.

zaTelnet Pro / Pocket Putty (1)

z3usy (240291) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533775)

I've found nothing better then http://www.zatelnet.com/ yet... though http://www.pocketputty.net/ as mentioned earlier is close.

"A professional Telnet/SSH/Serial (Blue Tooth) client, designed for network system administrators, end users and web designers, working with Unix/Linux/BSD systems. This new, operating system independent version comes with extended functionalities, including smart phone support, ability to save, restore and edit sessions, virtual scrolling screen with adjustable size, floating keyboard, different font sizes, support of all possible display sizes and orientation, http-proxy with basic web authentication and many more."

Symbian good, Maemo bad (1)

Aerosiecki (147637) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533779)

Any of the Nokia communicator series that has a qwerty board will do you well, from the 9300 all the way to the uber-expensive E90. Since they can run PuTTY, you're set, provided you don't mind the lag of the WWAN connection (if you ever sysadmined during the days of dial-up, this will be like second nature).

That said, the N770, N800, and N810, while good in theory, are botched by a horrible OS and though they can be tethered to any phone with bluetooth, you'll pull your hair out on the lack or low quality of keyboard.

][

Hrm.. I have a Linksys WIP-320... (1)

thrill12 (711899) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533787)

I would like to call it "WHIP-320" now, however ;) It has an ARM9-core at 200 MHz, 32MB RAM and 32MB flash, 802.11b/g and runs a 2.6 kernel.
I did not have to do everything to get it running a terminal (with SSH) though, most of the work was done by some french dudes at http://www.freephonie.org/doku/white:dev [arisme.free.fr] (yes, that's two URL's, they are related).
It's an awfully small screen, and you probably need (magnifying) glasses to get work done, but... it *is* an SSH terminal and can help out a lot if you encounter (simple) trouble - see it as a fallback machine.

A totally open phone w/ a bluetooth keyboard (1)

wurp (51446) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533805)

Buy a Neo FreeRunner phone [openmoko.com] and use a folding bluetooth keyboard [amazon.com] . I'm using the developer's pre-release version of the FreeRunner (Neo GTA01) and I use my bt kbd with it all the time. The iGo folding keyboard fits in my front pocket.

You can run QTopia, the Openmoko software stack, or even a couple of (nearly) all python software stacks for the phone (Zad/Underground or zhone). All are based on Linux, of course.

The hardware list for the FreeRunner is:
* GSM phone
* only GPRS mobile internet :-(
* WiFi
* GPS
* Full bluetooth (host & client)
* Full USB (host & client)
* micro SD slot
* 2 accelerometers
* 400 MHz cpu
* 128 MB sdram
* 256 MB flash (but of course you mostly use the 8GB microsd you put in it)
* 640x480 touchscreen (great resolution, but a little small at 2.8")

mod d0wn (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23533831)

sidekick 3 (2, Interesting)

markybob (802458) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533835)

i use the sidekick 3, which has a ssh application. it's been great and i'd recommend it to everyone who needs remote access to a box

Motorola e6 Rokr (1)

kevmille (702009) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533859)

Try the Motorola e6 Rokr. You can get a terminal hack from MotorolaFans.com. I also use the Nokia N800 as well.

A better question would be when can smart phones (1)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533861)

When will we have a means to use the egde/3g connection to send text messages at internet bandwidth rates? Something like twitter and a twitter listener (for notifications) could replace text messages on the cheap...

Re:A better question would be when can smart phone (1)

DigitAl56K (805623) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533951)

I think that is off-topic, but since you're interested I thought I'd let you know that many people (including me) already use IM software for BlackBerry over edge instead of SMS. Try JiveTalk, it costs about $20 but it's one of the most useful and cost-effective one-time purchases for your BB you'll make.

Re:A better question would be when can smart phone (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534313)

...and S60 phones have had such software for a few years. There are several such applications, but I've recently started using software called Nimbuzz [nimbuzz.com] and does Skype, Googl Talk, AOL Instant Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! Instant Messenger, Japper, MySpace, and Facebook. Those are the ones listed on their web site, but the app's preferences also lists, "Hyves", and ICQ.

It does VoIP too - I tried this using MSN and Skype (over wifi on my E90), and it worked well enough.

..and the price is right.

Nokia E70 or N95 (4, Insightful)

glomph (2644) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533865)

Being my two phones of the past 3 years.

The E70 has a -real- keyboard, and runs Putty perfectly.
over the GPRS/3G network, or over WiFi, your choice.

The N95 has a regular phone pad, but I use a folding external bluetooth keyboard if I'm doing a lot of text.
and -every- feature of the N95 rocks. Putty runs perfectly, as always.

Re:Nokia E70 or N95 (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534269)

> The N95 has a regular phone pad, but I use a folding external bluetooth keyboard if I'm doing a lot of text.

I guess you're referring to the Nokia keyboard, but the Apple bluetooth keyboard works fine with the N95 too, I'm told (I use it on an E90), and I think there's even one or two other options in that respect.

It's nice to have the option of taking a keyboard along when you know you might need it, and yet not have to when you think you won't (but be able to use the phone's instead if you're wrong). I tend not to need it much, actually, since the E90's keyboard it quite servicable.

Moto Q (0)

OneFix (18661) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533925)

I had to make the same decision about a year ago and I hate saying it, but Windows Mobile is the best smartphone OS right now. The iPhone and BlackBerry both suffer from lack of good, affordable applications. PalmOS is defiantly dated, and any other OS out there seems to be an ill is, but that has helped it as the technology has advanced. There are plenty of Java emulators out there and ZATelnet http://www.zatelnet.com/ [zatelnet.com] is a great Telnet/SSH app.

The Q has a full qwerty keyboard which makes it extremely useful for text entry. Add to that applications like Opera, SkyFire, Flash video support, multiple VNC clients, all of the console emulators (SmartGear, MameCE, etc), even games like Call of Duty 2 and Duke Nukem 3D, and alternative applications for almost every function and it makes the Q a no brainer for Linux/Unix administration.

DS Lite, bitches (3, Interesting)

BillX (307153) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533941)

DS Lite, bitches [gbadev.org] . When you tire of SSH (and DSLinux + Boa as wearable web server), just VNC into your box through the coffeeshop's wireless. (I think it can play games too.)

Re:DS Lite, bitches (1)

Leto-II (1509) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534001)

Wow, I had not seen DSVNC or Win2DS before. Pretty sweet.

Open Pandora (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23534111)

If you want a solution like this, perhaps you should just use a Pandora when it comes out this summer. http://www.openpandora.org/ [openpandora.org] But it still isn't a phone, I am sad to say.

personally (3, Insightful)

atarione (601740) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533991)

I would much rather just have a small non smrt phone and a EeePC or similarly diminutive laptop with a actual albeit smallish keyboard.

For Cheap: Palm Centro (also mini-Opera) (1)

seawall (549985) | more than 6 years ago | (#23533995)

This may be of use to someone, if not the poster. The Palm Centro (typically $100) is a fullblown Treo (Thankyou Apple for forcing Palm to cut price of a Treo by 75%) but more compact. It works well for me, is usable as a fairly decent speed modem with my laptop, can do ssh, a bluetooth keyboard is available (although I would just use my laptop) and has taken several hits with just minor scratches. Please also note that if you don't like your phones browser, many phones can accept the free mini-Opera browser, although PalmOS needs a (freebie) Java download to take full advantage of it.

Slashniggers, pumped by Ballmer egg cock (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23534011)

You're all niggers, fuck you.

Duh, Android! (3, Insightful)

straponego (521991) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534015)

...Oh, you want something that actually exists? Well, I shall follow the responses with great interest.

Seriously, I'd have caved in and bought an iPhone by now were it not for my need for SSH with a decent keyboard. Oh, and that I want a less restricted development environment. Some of the Android phones should fit the bill, if you can hold out a few months.

Re:Duh, Android! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23534081)

Just as long as you plan on using T-Mobile, and it'll be more than a few months - more like the end of this year [businessweek.com] .

No other carriers plan on offering any Android-capable phones. And that includes Sprint, the only other carrier besides T-Mobile that's even signed on for Android.

SSH never worked right for me on cell phones (1)

imrtt (1287370) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534017)

I've tried to use SSH a few times on several phones over the last couple of years, and it never worked right. The big problem is latency. You hit a key on a keyboard and have to wait a second or two before it's echoed. This may be ok if all you want to do is restart a server, but for any serious work cell phones just don't cut it.

---- My GPS tracking site: http://instamapper.com/ [instamapper.com]

Mobile Internet Devices MIDs (1)

kylehase (982334) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534033)

I know this doesn't quite fit the request but MIDs [engadget.com] are probably a good solution. Packing full Windows or Linux you can run Putty or SSH as you would from your desktop. Most MIDs are not phones Willcom in Japan has a MID phone so it won't be so long until the US has something similar. Then again, if you have a MID with good wireless coverage why would you need a phone?

I've used a sidekick3 and a Nokia 9300 (1)

LukeCrawford (918758) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534197)

the sidekick has an awesome keyboard, and T-mobile has nice pricing ($30/month for unlimited data, no requirement to have a voice plan) but the networking on it kindof sucks. Most places, the networking is mostly unusable for shell tasks (though it's fine for txt messaging- I mostly use it as a pager. web browsing is also acceptable)

the nokia communicator 9300 (my provider was att) was pretty awesome, network-wise. the keyboard was acceptable. But the plans provided by att all kinda sucked, but it was the better phone for remote administration

If I had unlimited monies, I'd get a nokia e90 - it's sopposed to have a much nicer kb than the 9300.

not a phone - nokia n810 (1)

ehovland (2915) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534219)

I know it isn't a phone. But the N810 is a good choice for what you say you want to do.

blackberry 8820 + commercial ssh client (1)

rdl (4744) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534233)

I use a blackberry 8820 with BES, and the rove mobile/idokorro ssh. With tmobile, for $65/mo, you can have unlimited GLOBAL roaming. Plus, use an 8820 and have 802.11g and gps. I use the BES (device to my-network AES crypto) to do IP-acling, and use ssh keys on the phone for access control, plus passphrases.

The blackberry now supports a smartcard bluetooth reader so you could fairly easily rig it to deauthenticate when removed from a short radius of your body. 88xx screen and keyboard are decent -- not perfect.

I'm looking forward to android phones with external bluetooth keyboards, and either a numberpad with context-sensitive predictive input, or a qwerty keypad. The rollup bluetooth keyboards seem pretty reasonable as input devices. Not sure how many more generations before going straight to a wearable -- 5 tops, maybe 1-2 for early adopters, I think.

nokia n810, hands down (2, Informative)

Victor Tramp (5336) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534237)

so of all the handhelds on the market, the one that most definitely comes close to a reasonable portable ssh, imho has got to be the nokia n810. people pooh pooh maemo, but the thing will run debian and probably something like ubuntu mobile or something..

nevertheless.. the best -class- of device is still something like it or the iphone/ipod touch/ type devices, an openmoko, palms, blackberrys; something that is already halfway a computer. If it is itself a standard platform and a keyboard will at least pair with if it doesn't have its own, it's a reasonable tool to ssh with.. a lot different than 3 years ago.. was UMPC even coined back then?

Anyway, the n810 stands out among them only because of it's hardware keyboard, it's not perfect, but you can use it for much much longer than would be comfortable with a screen keyboard. As treo and blackberry users can probably tell you, there's nothing wrong with having a hardware keyboard when that's all you can have at the moment. hell there -is- a software keyboard (like on the 800s, and 770s), but I could never imagine using it. The n810's more of a computer all by itself than most anything that doesn't approach an ipod touch or something, and arguably still better for general computing because it ISN'T a PDA, it isn't a phone at all really, it's just a damn small UMPC with a choice of distros (at least for the brave,) and tons of apps.. Frankly I think maemo is pretty darn good considering it's limited audience, there's a LOT more ports, and even repos, than I had expected to find before I got one.

Yes, it's One More Device(tm) besides a phone, but some of us don't really care. And who cares if it's made for the general population or not, either; the question was about SSHing with a smartphone.. or handheld it seems is a better tool (term?), and what better for SSHing but a standard client? Yea, the iphone is a phone AND a shell prompt.. but people are fooling themselves about that soft keyboard thing, i mean really...

I wonder if there's even a comparable WME device.. I mean.. i wonder if it would be more ideal even if there was, simply because ssh would still be such a foreign program on that platform..

oh well, that's my $0.02
-m

Openmoko Neo 1973 and Freerunner (1)

rakshat (950888) | more than 6 years ago | (#23534265)

The Neo 1973 (www.openmoko.com) does this ok and when the Freerunner comes out it should be the perfect phone for this purpose.

Blackberry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23534267)

I've been using a blackberry curve.. it's alright.. TMO's data network sucks, but for fixing a webserver in a pinch instead of driving home from a restaurant, it works.. alas, not good enough for the beach yet..
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