Saturday, July 7, 2007

Mobile hacking with the Nokia 770 tablet

I have a bad habit of impulse-purchases when it comes to gadgets, but I'm pretty pleased with how my latest turned out - the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet. It was on Woot a few weeks ago for $135 and you can still buy them on Buy.com for around the same price. This little device is about the size of a Nintendo DS lite, and runs a stripped down version of Debian with a development platform called Maemo. It has a really nice 800x400 touch screen, Bluetooth, and WiFi. There is also a newer version, the N800, with a faster processor and a few better expansion options.

Anyway, because of the 770's Linux OS it's pretty easy for developers to port software over to it. As a result, you can load it up with all sorts of neat stuff - mine currently has an SSH server & client, VNC client, Nmap (with NmapFE working), an X-server, Kismet, Mplayer, and a stripped version of Perl and Python. You just have to add the appropriate repositories to the device's Application Manager, and then you can one-click install them (or use apt-get on the command line). This would be perfect for wireless testing and war-driving due to its size and good battery life. Also, the web browser is based on Opera and can basically render most sites exactly as they appear on desktops - it just chugs a little on JavaScript-heavy pages.

Opera on the BBC web site (RealVideo streams work!)

VNC'd into my Mac

Nmap (after sudo'ing)

Kismet - works great, but you have to reboot to restore WLAN to the tablet's other apps. Might be because it can't get the wireless card back from monitor mode.

Downsides - the device uses RS-MMC for expandable storage, which is getting rare and overpriced. Also, it is a bit unstable so you have to get used to Opera or other apps randomly crashing. I've had it reboot for no apparent reason a few times as well, but it only takes about 20 seconds.

But even with those disadvantages, it's a steal for $140 and a lot of fun to hack around with.

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