Using a Raspberry Pi as your travel computer

Do you think you could travel for the entire summer and leave your laptop at home? [Gef] did just that. With the help of his Kindle he used a Raspberry Pi as his travel computer. This was an easy association to think up, since he planned to bring the Kindle along as his reading material anyway. All it was going to take was some creative hacking to get it working as a display for the single-board computer.

The Kindle is merely connecting to the Raspberry Pi through a terminal emulator. This happens via USB, and requires that you Jailbreak the kindle and install a package called USBnetwork. The problem with the technique is that you’re going to go crazy trying to use the tiny keyboard that is built into the eBook reader. [Gef] decided to take a USB keyboard along with him, but how is he going to use it to control the terminal screen on the Kindle? The answer is the ‘screen’ application. We’ve used it a lot to keep programs running on a machine after we’ve exited from an SSH session. It turns out it can also be used to host multiple users on the same terminal session. Pretty neat!

[via Make]

Comments

  1. rasz says:

    sooo you have jailbroken kindle that is perfectly fine as a ARM linux computer and you connect ‘keyword of the month’ to it just to be on hackaday?

  2. Alex Rossie says:

    I was actaully super tempted to bring my rpi on holiday with me, might have been able to try this out.

    On the other hand I’m on my laptop right now.

  3. sdevvoodoo says:

    Given the nature of the e-paper display found in the Kindle, I would question just how useful this really is. Good effort getting the software working, though!

    • damarusama says:

      Well I love the screen, I used it for a lot of shell apps, from pine to mocp, vim w3c, irssi and even nethack! it’s really smooth and workable, but indeed I ended up buying a laptop in the end, since I am still traveling around Europe and needed to start working again to finance more travel !!

  4. chuck says:

    Alomst every RasPi article I have seen has been pretty pathetic. It seems like unless Lady Ada steps up no one is going to do anything amazing with it.
    Also, like he said, I could poop in a box containing a RasPi and it will get 30000 hits.

    • Gabe says:

      Nobody sees the obvious here? First one to release a cellphone or tablet that you can run Linux just like any computer will be the next imb

      HP touchpad is almost there. But it was too expensive and had no Ports.

      • Alex Rossie says:

        These exist, just download the ubuntu core ARM rootfs and chroot to it in an android phone.

        Need X stuff? Add a vncserver and then use a vnc client on the phone or networked.

        Bish bash bosh.

      • gabriel says:

        right. see my point?

        i’m typing this on a eeepc1000 with a 1ghz celeron thing, with 1gb of ram. my pocket holds a nexus one with 1.2ghz cpu and 1/2gb of ram.

        yet I can’t run fricking X. or run a ssh server decently on it! or attach a usb keyboard and an external monitor if i need

  5. AC says:

    I brought my beagle bone with my and my superior-spec’d laptop to do on-the-go development… Can I have an article on how I used the ‘bone as a mobile computer, too? I SSH’d from my laptop, too!

    • chango says:

      My thoughts exactly. With just a USB cable to my laptop I can get networking, serial console, JTAG debugging, and provide the Bone all the power it needs. I have a RasPi as well, and between the two I’m much more likely to use the BeagleBone to interface to hardware.

  6. naturetm says:

    I had this thought yesterday! It wasn’t fully thought out or anything. I don’t think I would have known to use screen.

    I’m not sure why people are taking issue with this hack. I thought it would be fun to do just for the gee-whiz of it.

  7. pdrift says:

    i took my pi with me on vacation to
    n.c. along with a 2tb hardrive loaded
    with movies. raspbmc works very well
    on my 720p collection. 1080p sometimes
    have issues.

  8. Pedant says:

    As much as I like the hack, his USB keyboard is a lot bigger than my netbook… Kinda defeats the point surely?

  9. bothersaidpooh says:

    I still say they should market a little screen kit especially for the RPi, which can also double as a schematics viewer with a kinetic sensor to avoid touchscreen glare issues.
    Base it around Pixel QI’s screen to get around the e-ink tax, as those can be had for under £80 now.

    Not that hard methinks.

  10. m4ko says:

    This is just… stupid. There is nothing on a RasPi that you couldn’t do on a smart phone in a vacation. Especially with such a limiting screen replacement.

    If you really neeeeed linux on the go just install a SSH client on your smartphone and connect home.

    All the mundane tasks of checking email/logging in home or to work etc. would even be much easier and better to control on a smartphone.

    And if the screen is “too small” for you: Just connect your phone to a hdmi port of any tv. Still better than a 500ms response time black/white screen and such a horrible cable setup like this (usb from kindle to raspi, raspi power cable to pc/outlet, usb keyboard and ethernet cable)

    • TacticalNinja says:

      My thoughts exactly, and to think that this could be a replacement for a laptop is just stupid. I’d rather bring a 15″ laptop than a bunch of other stuffs with wires hanging and stuff.

  11. Mental2k says:

    @bothersaidpooh, basic kindle will soon be under £70.

    Not a hack to set the world alight for sure, but it’s pretty nifty, it solved a problem the creator had and did it cheap.

    This is just the kind of thing that would have drawn me into hacking circles when I was 12. If it draws a few kids in its all to the better. Getting an fpga on a bust graphics card to act as a tv out for a gameboy advance may be an order of magnitude more impressive, but it’s not something the average 12 year old could do in an afternoon.

    These hacks have their place.

  12. Bill Gander says:

    Hmm bring 5 things to make one thng work on vacation or bring one thing that works??? Guess what is going in my carry on: laptop. Perhaps looking into one of the many netbook/ultrabook options out there could flll both holes. If all else fails go enjoy the local color and maybe even venture outside of the pool area. You can do this stuff anywhere. I think my wife would have the rght (under piratical law) to flog me if she saw a terminal screen on our vacation.
    PoC gets kudos, but in realty it seems more like the iPad users I see, carrying a bag full of devices to effectively interface with the thing lol. All of the “keyboard screen covers” actually make it thicker than an ultrabook most of the time lol. A small HID you could look into is the xbox 360 chatpad. Easy to work with at this point :) Glad he popped in to brag about hs clicks :P

  13. saulverde says:

    I think this could be useful if you want a screen for the device without hooking it up to your tv. I’d be interested in doing something like this with my kindle fire but I would want it to be an actual screen and not just a shell session since I am new to linux and still use the gui in certain situations.

  14. signal7 says:

    screen to run an app after logout? am i the only person here that knows about the nohup utility? screen is overkill for this usage.

    to run an app in the background, you would enter ‘nohup 2>&1 >/dev/null &’ without the quotes, of course. nohup prevents the program from receiving the SIGHUP signal which happens when you log out. the other arguments are required to keep the program from blocking on text i/o if it tries to write to the console. the last ampersand causes the shell to fork the program into the background.

    simple, easy, installed by defualt on nearly every unix flavor in existence.

  15. On a side note, those silicone keyboards are awful. Never buy one.

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