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A Webserver on Your Cellphone?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the what-would-you-do-with-it dept.

Hardware Hacking 61

Mad_Rain asks: "I saw over on Make Magazine an article about using your cell phone on the Internet, except instead of browsing the web from your cell, you can serve webpages from your phone. Of course, it uses Apache, Python and a Nokia S60 series cell phone. I can imagine a couple of creative applications for webservers in strange places, but what else can be done with this?"

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The best way to bankrupt your employer (4, Funny)

arivanov (12034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548477)

Just run a webserver and post in slashdot. I am sure accounts will be mildly entertained the moment they get the GPRS bill.

Re:The best way to bankrupt your employer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14549102)

Unless you have an unlimited data account. Sprint offers one for $20/month I think.

Re:The best way to bankrupt your employer (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14554486)

Lots of GPRS accounts are flat rate. In the U.S., it's really the only affordable way to use that protocol.

"What else can be done with this?" (3, Insightful)

Hosiah (849792) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548481)

Make a phone call? NMo, wait, it's a *cell* *phone*, what was I *thinking*!?!?

Re:"What else can be done with this?" (0, Troll)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 8 years ago | (#14549078)

"What else?"

Basically nothing, if you're a Verizon customer. FUCK VERIZON!

Well... (1)

trogdor8667 (817114) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548486)

This would certainly be an interesting experiment, but I would see many problems with this server going down, and speed being an issue...

Re:Well... (1)

Kiaser Zohsay (20134) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551895)

There is no way in hell I want the infamous slashdot effect directed at something in my pocket!

Old News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14548492)

The Citrix Metaframe client for windows CE, including Windows Mobile which runs on various smartphones and cellphone PDA's, actually uses a small web server to configure and launch the terminal session. Pretty Snazzy..

"What else can be done with this?" (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14548495)

It can be used to spread viruses toeven more people who think they know how to admin a webserver.

Real-time reporting (2, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548497)

At Macworld, everybody reported stuff instantly by writing it on their laptops and uploading via WiFi. However, what if WiFi weren't available?

With a phone like this, you could report on any event, anywhere (even if it meant just serving pictures and audio, since text input on phones is so bad).

Re:Real-time reporting (1)

SaDan (81097) | more than 8 years ago | (#14553187)

You know, a reporter with even a regular phone could call back to the office and give his report/story.

Or, since internet enabled phones are not exactly uncommon these days, maybe tether the phone to the laptop/PDA and upload the story that way?

I think being on the internet going 80mph down a highway (in the passenger seat, not driving!) is pretty darn cool. I'd imagine this technology could be applied sitting in a chair at Macworld.

Have GPS? (4, Interesting)

RingDev (879105) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548498)

Imagine giving your children a cell phone with a web server that hosts a web service that will respond with the GPS info. I could goto and see exactly where they are. Obviously you would need some serious security. You wouldn't want just anyone to get that GPS info. But it would be great for finding a lost/stolen phone too.


Re:Have GPS? (3, Interesting)

oliana (181649) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548634)

Or if, when the server got pinged, it rang. So when you lose your cell-phone in your house and don't have a land-line to call it to find it, you can ping it from your computer.

Re:Have GPS? (2, Interesting)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 8 years ago | (#14550017)

Er, run a packet sniffer on the world-facing interface outside your firewall and watch how often random pings from the internet pass by.

Maybe better would be a simple website with a small (5 letter) text field. Enter the right code, and it would ring.

Re:Have GPS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14550457)

Or maybe just use the text messaging feature found on every cell phone home page.

Re:Have GPS? (1)

afd8856 (700296) | more than 8 years ago | (#14550788)

What about using your girlfriend's mobile to ring yours? Too non-geeky? :-)

Re:Have GPS? (1)

Senzei (791599) | more than 8 years ago | (#14550933)

Girlfriend, what is that, where can I get one of these backup-mobile-phone systems and how much does it cost?

Re:Have GPS? (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548739)

But the web server is unnecessary for that -- GPS info would (I suspect) be tracked at a central location, not sent down to the phone then back out to whoever is requesting the page.

Re:Have GPS? (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548953)

GPS info isn't "tracked". The GPS antena on the phone picks up signals from the GPS satelites and determines it's location.


Re:Have GPS? (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 8 years ago | (#14549471)

Ah; valid (and incredibly obvious) point. Brain musta been turned off earlier; thanks.

Re:Have GPS? (2, Informative)

BuR4N (512430) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548846)

There is many services like this, using GSM basestation/cell triangulation. No need for an GPS if your interested in finding out where the cell phone with a resolution that is pretty decent.

Re:Have GPS? (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14554502)

That's true, but the service is still usually called "GPS", even though it doesn't use the satellite system. That probably what he was referring to.

Already done in amateur radio (1)

woolio (927141) | more than 8 years ago | (#14555183)

This has been done by HAMS (amateur radio operators) for at least ~10 years. Its called APRS, and uses small inexpensive handheld radios, a packet modem, and a GPS.. (and some handhelds even have the packet modem built-in). Weather stations can also interface to this.

There is a nation/world-wide network of stations that use the internet (and/or HF radio) as a backbone. There is even a webpage that will display a user's location on a map (can't remember the URL offhand). There are even specific frequencies reserved just for this purpose.

And this is all completely free... (except the equipment).

Two words (5, Interesting)

EngrBohn (5364) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548536)

Portable webcam

Re:Two words (2, Insightful)

ichigo 2.0 (900288) | more than 8 years ago | (#14549037)

99% of the time it would show pictures of pocket lint. Unless people start walking around with phones hanging around their neck. :)

Re:Two words (1)

triso (67491) | more than 8 years ago | (#14553715)

99% of the time it would show pictures of pocket lint. Unless people start walking around with phones hanging around their neck.
Me and muh' homeys drive around with six clocks around our necks so I guess one lil' phone won't hurt.

Re:Two words (1)

Etnie (11105) | more than 8 years ago | (#14575688)

How very Korean! I see tons of them with cellphones around their necks.

Re:Two words (1)

HTL2001 (836298) | more than 8 years ago | (#14549133)

on a side note, I never got why digital cameras, when plugged in over USB, wouldn't function as webcams (I figured someone would have done this- maybe they have?)

Re:Two words (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14549814)

Many do. Some don't. Even my shitty kodak will work fine. Pathetically enough webcams are all WDM now and you can't use a video camera on 1394 as a webcam without additional software. gotta love windows. (Obviously this comment is Windows-specific.)

Re:Two words (1)

ncc74656 (45571) | more than 8 years ago | (#14553305)

I never got why digital cameras, when plugged in over USB, wouldn't function as webcams

Some (cheap...really cheap) digital cameras can do this. Unfortunately, they tend to be about as good at capturing video as they are at capturing still images--IOW, not good at all. The cameras I've tried out in this mode were plagued with low framerates and smeared motion.

Bad writing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14548540)

Is it just me or did that article look like an high school kids essay?

Just because you can... (2, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548547)

...doesn't mean you should. There are a lot of ways the things around you can be used and abused. Sometimes the use is a good one (e.g. potatos are great for getting broken lightbulbs out of their sockets), but I just can't think of any way that a phone webserver would be useful. More likely, it'll run up the guy's wireless bill and open him to various attacks.

Re:Just because you can... (1)

OneSeventeen (867010) | more than 8 years ago | (#14550530)

I think it just gives the user more freedom to do what he wants with it. Instead of having a company tell him he must use a special tool to remove broken lightbulbs, he can just go get a potato because nothing is standing in his way. The same goes for having a webserver on a cell phone, even if it isn't neccessary, at least its an option.

Personally, I can't see a reason to host information on a phone, but I'm sure there's some fun uses, primarily tying it into VOIP, possibly using your home PC to make wireless calls when your cell phone is in another room/building/state/etc.

But no, there is very little you could do with a webserver that you couldn't do without one.

Oh great! (1)

Dtyst (790737) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548567)

Instead of calling a user, Ping him! I don't know how comfortable I would be having people surfing on my cell-phone. Could cause lots of issues like security, Battery-life, slashdotting (It's not so nice when the phone catches fire in your pocket ;).

Re:Oh great! (4, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548586)

It's not so nice when the phone catches fire in your pocket

Speak for yourself.

remote web cam server (1)

i621148 (728860) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548588)

how about some application to post snapshots with your phone using webcamrc into your web folder everytime there is motion. you could buy a phone and set it in a secret location and then just log into the web page to observe the goings ons... (bushism?)

In other news... (3, Informative)

famebait (450028) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548593)

Conversely, with the right software you can use your webserver to make phone calls.
If you really really want to it is also possible to beat screws into wood with a hammer, or alternatively with a banana frozen in liquid nitrogen.

Re:In other news... (1)

Eivind (15695) | more than 8 years ago | (#14555902)

The banana doesn't work. It crushes like glass when you deal the first blow.

So... (3, Funny)

famebait (450028) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548610)

instead of browsing the web from your cell, you can serve webpages from your phone.

Was this by any chance in Soviet Russia?

Re:So... (1)

aurb (674003) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548669)

No. Only in the United States of Soviet America. (USSA)

Re:So... (1)

jolshefsky (560014) | more than 8 years ago | (#14549065)

I gotta find this "Soviet Russia" place. If I interpret this correctly:

"In Soviet Russia, cell phone serves YOU!"

Just saying it gives me tingles!

Dreamcast comes to mind (0, Offtopic)

TouchOfRed (785130) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548611)

This is about as handy as running linux + X + apache on your dreamcast.. on its 56k modem. Unfortunatly after starting the kernel, x and apache, there was about 3MB of free ram on the dreamcast for useful stuff to server(unless you included it on your iso image). While this is useless, the latest psphttpd is somewhat useful if you are near a hotspot and need to transfer stuff off your psp(real nerds carry around usb cables though) via 802.11b. I better get working on my nes webserver quickly before even your cat has a webserver in it

I see it now... (1)

njchick (611256) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548619)

Why didn't you call me to tell you'll be late?

Honey, I tried many times, by my cellphone was slashdotted.

Serve yourself! (2, Funny)

drstock (621360) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548636)

It could be interesting to use this to serve pages to the phone's own browser, to allow off-line browsing for phones who have no such function.

Send live Pr0n of girlfriend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14548644)

.... tooken by mobile phone to webserver and enjoy thousends of people downloading it via slow link

This story reminds me... (1)

wbren (682133) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548648)

...of the time I loaded Apache on one of those pens with a digital clock on it.

Seriously, come on... who really needs a web server on their phone? Great! New holes for cell phone virus writers to exploit!

Re:This story reminds me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14549361)

I bet you never got mod_rewrite to work, though.

Is it just me... (1)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548662)

Is it just me or would the best uses for this all be illegal?

Old news ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14548693)

Or perhaps I should say "obvious news". If you can easily run Apache, SSHd and others on your PDA running Linux [] how hard can it be to do the same on a mobile phone ?

Hello, sorry I can't take your call right now... (1)

Hosiah (849792) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548711)

but my cell phone is getting Slashdotted. Please leave a message...

A few possibilities... (2, Interesting)

Roy-Svork (941051) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548729)

There seems to be quite a number of largely trivial uses.

You could have some kind of massive spiderry bittorrent network that utilised the various communication methods available to the phone as well as IP to share files, ultimately resulting in a higher number of peers and or seeds. You could use a mobile phone\webserver combo for some kind of distributed CTI application.

I guess the major limiting factor would be the features of the phone itself; A gps enabled phone could use it's webserver as a HTTP based tracking device, or a camera phone could work as a webcam server to relay images back in semi-real time. Not sure what the advantages are of doing any of these with a phone\webserver though as opposed to the other available methods.

The only really usefull thing I can think of while timewasting at work is that it might be usefull though for remote computation of data. A field worker could be out collecting data. The phone could make available the raw data for processing via it's webserver. A client running on a pc could then be configured to periodically query the webphoneserver, retrieve the data, process and then make the results available for the phone.

This does also bring in issues about phones though, and when they stop being phones and become PDAs or even pocket computers!

What about for contact management? (1)

Dembonez (869655) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548805)

It sure would be handy if I could get at the list of contacts on my phone, when I'm not near my phone... since the webserver runs on the phone, it shouldn't be too difficult to have it spit back the data that's in there. As for on-the-go uses for your own webserver, well for starters, you could host your own start page, (ala or right on the phone. In Canada, the initial home page for most of our cell providers suck ass. This could also keep your bandwidth costs down; not needing to download the contents of your provider's crappy cell phone portal page. Of course, once a webserver is running, the door is then open to various scripting languages. Have you seen all of what's available in the world of Python?

Re:What about for contact management? (2, Informative)

Bastardchyld (889185) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548923)

As far as "spitting" the data back. I am not so sure I want my "phone/webserver" spitting my contacts all over the internet. Besides isn't that what Paris Hilton was trying to prevent with all the lawsuits after her cell phone was hacked?

Re:What about for contact management? (2, Informative)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 8 years ago | (#14549986)

Check out SyncML. It's meant for exactly this. It also does appointments and to-do as well.

You can pretty much do whatever you want with these phones. Nokia has released a free dev kit based on gcc. The API docs are freely available. There is even a (semi limited) emulator for testing apps on your desktop. You can remotely install your apps via bluetooth to test them, and supposedly you can remote debug via gdb (I never got that to work). The only real limitations are the semi slow CPU and Nokia's semi crazy macros for memory allocation (necessary to eliminate the need for an MMU) and their somewhat hard to use API (built to minimize resource usage so the devices have a reasonable battery life).

Out pacing the average citizen's ability (2, Interesting)

catahoula10 (944094) | more than 8 years ago | (#14548919)

A product like this one brings some questions to mind about security and the ability to admin a server by the people this would be marketed to.

If you store alot of business phone numbers along with their personal info like e-mail, home numbers, etc, could this be hacked off the phone through the server? The abuse issues could be endless via users that have not one single clue about admining a web server.

Our technology seems to be out pacing the average citizen's ability to control it. Which is a paradox because everyone wants a better life through technology.

Actually, python is ALL you need (1)

Clueless Moron (548336) | more than 8 years ago | (#14549965)

The following python code will run a simple web server that lets you browse your filesystem. Just open localhost:8000 in your browser, assuming you started the program on the same machine that your web browser is on:
import SimpleHTTPServer
It's not hard to extend it to do more elaborate things, of course.

Works fine on my Zaurus.

Cheap Security (1)

ReidMaynard (161608) | more than 8 years ago | (#14550257)

A web page with a 'take picture' button, then the picture displayed below. Leave it on a shelf when you go away on vacation, pluged in. Of course you could do with with a PC/web cam too, but the cell is portable. You could put a junker stake out car with one or two of these pluged into cigarette lighters and watch the crack house...

I have spotted phising sites using this (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14551020)

I have done a traceroute on several phish sites that have resolved to something on a wireless network. A prepaid phone provides the connection with no way to trace it back to an individual.

Fun, but with severe limitations (1)

MrWorf (216691) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551897)

I don't know about other networks, but the ones in sweden (and Telia in particular, but probably others aswell) give out LAN addresses to their GPRS users, which puts them behind a NAT. Which, inturn, makes any kind of webserving useless (unless it's to other users of the same network, provided that there isn't several NAT's with their own copy of the networkspace).

I found out about this the hard way when investigating in a similar subject. The only way to solve it would be to have your own APN (Access Point Name) which gives out real addresses, and then you'd have to pay the ISP for all traffic on the APN. Not really what you want to do.

It's a shame really, but until we have IPv6 (so everyone and their pet can have a unique IP address) and more secure phones, which is especially important for those which run a "real" os (symbian, pocketpc, etc) I think it will be for the best. The last thing we need now is viruses which run up your GPRS data traffic (since most carriers charge for sent AND received data), it's enough with the SMS viruses IMHO.

Mind you, I wouldn't mind being able to run servers on my phone :) so if it can be worked out, I'd be all for it.

I'm NATed (1)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 8 years ago | (#14552580)

The article mentions this problem, then solves it by running a custom gateway. No doubt that gateway would have made a better webserver, making this project as pointless as running a C64 BBS with a more powerful PC acting as a bridge.

Given the current state of things, there's not much point getting any more complicated than uploading phonecam photos to Flickr while you're out and about. (As it is, that costs a damn fortune.)

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