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Old 2nd January 2015
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Default Wireless File Transfer Between Desktop and Mobile

In this thread a few of us were whining about the difficulty of transferring files between a "mobile device" (phone/tablet) and a "real computer," in particular the perceived need to use a USB cable, or sneakernet. I want to briefly describe in this post one way to do it wirelessly that may appeal to Unix users.

First the disclosure that I only very recently began to muck around (somewhat reluctantly) with a mobile device, so maybe this is well known and considered trivial. I also don't know how widely applicable it is. I've tested this only on an Samsung Galaxy Tab4 running Android 4.4.2.

The basic idea is very simple: use FTP over wireless, and there is no need to "root the phone". The desktop computer needs to be running an FTP server. On the Android device, it's possible to set up an "FTP server shortcut," which is basically an item that appears in a file manager's directory listing and represents connecting to an FTP server.

Concerning the FTP server, there are many choices on Unix-like OS's. It could be the base ftpd(8), or from a package like vsftpd or proftpd. It's not too hard to set up a server like this, and if it's configured right files can be moved both to and from it.

On the Android side, the shortcut is added something like this:
  • run My Files application (built-in)
  • tap the Options button (3 vertical dots)
  • choose Add FTP
  • enter a shortcut name and the server/account details
  • shortcut will appear under Folders

Done! You can now move files back and forth over a WiFi connection by Selecting them in the source directory and Moving them to the target, all within My Files. Any type of file can be moved or copied, it doesn't have to be a "picture" or "media file."

The main issue here is perhaps security (isn't it always? ). FTP is not a secure protocol, it's in the clear, so you need to use it in an acceptable environment. The main usage case I have in mind is like this:

{Internet}----[Firewall]==[LAN computers,FTP server]==[AP]....(Android)

Assumptions:
  • FTP server can only be accessed from the LAN
  • FTP server can only be accessed by trusted user(s)
  • The LAN is mostly wired "==" and considered secure
  • Wireless link "...." is encrypted by WPA2 and good passphrase

Works for me. Comments welcome, including how widely applicable this may be on the mobile side. Discussion of other wireless methods in line with the thread title are also welcome.

Last edited by IdOp; 2nd January 2015 at 12:35 PM. Reason: capitalization, elaborations, correction
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Old 2nd January 2015
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I use ES File Explorer, or whatever it's called, and its FTP server. I can give a user name and password, but I don't consider it very secure. For the things I transfer though, I am not overly concerned, and I only use it rarely, turning the FTP server off when done.

There are ssh server and client apps for Android as well--I used one for awhile.

Last edited by scottro; 2nd January 2015 at 03:48 AM.
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Old 2nd January 2015
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I use FtpCafe in sftp client mode only. I am very curios to see what you guys have to say about this or any other Android topic as I consider myself totally clueless. My feeling when use Android is that somebody else not me controls hardware, software, and data. This might be an opportunity for NetBSD guys to do something for all of us and port NetBSD on any of Android devices and allow me to remove that Android crap.
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Old 2nd January 2015
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My feeling--and I'm not even trying to be funny--is that I'm somewhat embarrassed about it. I feel that I should just have a phone that does nothing but call and possibly text, and held out for years.

The things that I transfer are usually public domain ebooks that I've downloaded, and, at work, on occasion a photo.

My most frequent use of the phone is as an ereader on the train, so even if rooting were 100 percent safe and easy, I probably wouldn't even bother. My aging eyes (and mind?) have too much trouble using it as web browser or ssh client.

I don't think I'm typical though. The vast majority of people I know, including those in my age group, make far more use of their phones as browsers, ssh clients, and so on.
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Old 2nd January 2015
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Well I don't own a cellphone, smartphone, ebook, iPad or table like device - and I still fail to see the need or use of any of those things.

But since my daughter has a smartphone I occasionally have to figure these things out (that is after trying to figure out was someone would read a pdf on 3" screen...but...).

I go with allowing ssh access to my machines that way you can use an sFTP client...I'm currently had to deal with wireless laptops but I assume as long as there is an "app" with a sFTP client access it the same thing.
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Old 2nd January 2015
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Thanks all for the comments, and sorry about the delayed reply, the car wouldn't start this morning and I've been developing plan B ever since.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oko View Post
... I consider myself totally clueless. My feeling when use Android is that somebody else not me controls hardware, software, and data.
Those same words describe exactly how I feel about it too! I don't want to open a Google or similar account for apps, so I was relieved to find something that came with the thing that does the job. I also don't want to put any significant personal data on the thing, my main use would be just as a public WiFi access device to download software (BSD, Linux) and bring it home.

Quote:
This might be an opportunity for NetBSD guys to do something for all of us and port NetBSD on any of Android devices and allow me to remove that Android crap.
Something like that would definitely be nice, I'd even be happy with a sane version of Linux. But probably this is something the makers of these devices don't value, and I guess there are issues with proprietary hardware that won't make it an easy task for anyone.
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Old 4th January 2015
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You could make your own device with a low powered developer board, U.S.B. power supply, and a small TFT screen. But, it would probably cost more and requires some personal ingenuity.

I built a laptop with one, reusing a dead Toughbook (8 hour battery life). I have enough room for a better battery and could see 14 plus hours, but its not that big of a deal to me.
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