Episode 405 Show Notes

Welcome to mintCast

the Podcast by the Linux Mint Community for All Users of Linux

This is Episode 405!

Recorded on Sunday the 5th February 2023

Freshly Thawed im Joe; recuperating from teaching, I’m Moss

  • First up in the news, Mint 21.2 has the codename Victoria, OpenSuse updates, helloSystem says hello for the 0.8th time, new Firefox allows imports, Xfce goes Waylanding, Cosmic DE speeds up, OBS Studio fixes Linux Wayland bug, and Elementary has a new release;
  • In security and privacy, we report on after log4j, Boldmove, and Malvirt;
  • Then in our Wanderings, Joe calls Texas for Icing, and Moss is having New Phone Fever; Bill is in Colorado doing a rescue and will be back next episode.
  • In our Innards section we discuss what you can do with old Android devices;
  • And finally, the feedback and a couple of suggestions

— Play News Transition Bumper —

The News

20 minutes

  • Mint 21.2 has the codename Victoria
    • from londoner with help from Mint blog
    • Mint 21.2 has been assigned the codename Victoria. Blog post . New repositories have been set up on packages.linuxmint.com.
    • Linux Mint 21.2 “Victoria” release is planned for the end of June 2023.
    • The Xfce edition will ship with the latest Xfce 4.18.
    • 21.2 preview: Login Screen Improvements
    • 21.2 preview: Pix Rebase
    • 21.2 preview: Support for HEIF/AVIF images and AI documents
  • OpenSUSE updates Salt, Vim, nodejs
    • from OpenSuse.org
    • This week’s openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots had a steady amount of software packages in each of the daily releases.
    • While vim, Node.js and Salt updates made the headlines, AppStream, KDE Frameworks and the Linux Kernel provided several important updates.
  • HelloSystem 0.8, a MacOS inspired freeBSD variant, is out
    • from Phoronix
    • Following the demise of PC-BSD/TrueOS, the most compelling BSD-based desktop operating system with a pleasant out-of-the-box user experience is helloSystem. The helloSystem OS has been aiming to be the macOS of the BSDs and for the past few years has been building a macOS-inspired desktop atop FreeBSD. Out today is helloSystem 0.8 as their newest version built atop FreeBSD 13.1.
    • The helloSystem 0.8 release continues to focus on being a desktop OS catering to simplicity, elegance, and usability. With the v0.8 release they have re-based against FreeBSD 13.1-RELEASE, improves its launch command, pre-installs the VirtualBox Guest Additions for a better Oracle VM VirtualBox user experience, improved handling for MIDI controllers, initial support for launching some AppImage files using the launch command, and support for recent Intel graphics like Gen12/Xe Tigerlake using the DRM kernel module ported over from Linux 5.10.
    • With helloSystem 0.8 there is also various user interface improvements, “force quit application” support in the system menu, and a wide range of other desktop infrastructure and UI tooling. The helloSystem operating system is also now shipping with Trojita as its email client, GPU acceleration is enabled for WebEngine-based browsers like Falkon, there is a new “Processes” utility, and a wide range of fixes throughout the platform.
    • Downloads and more details on helloSystem 0.8 via GitHub.
  • Firefox 110 Will Finally Let You Import Data from Opera and Vivaldi
    • from 9to5 Linux
    • Mozilla is already working on the next major release of its open-source, free, and cross-platform web browser, Firefox 110, which promises to finally let you import your data from more web browsers.
    • With Firefox 109 already hitting the repos of various GNU/Linux distributions, it’s time to take a closer look at the new features coming to Firefox 110, which is currently available for public beta testing on all supported platforms, including Linux.
    • The coolest new feature in Firefox 110 appears to be the ability of the open-source web browser to detect and let you import data like bookmarks, cookies, history, and passwords, from web browsers like Opera, Opera GX, and Vivaldi.
    • Until now, Firefox on Linux only allowed users to import data from Chrome/Chromium browsers. So if you’re using Opera or Vivaldi on your GNU/Linux distribution, you’ll finally be able to easily migrate to Firefox starting with version 110.
    • On Linux, to import your data from another web browser, you’ll have to go to the main menu (it’s the last icon on your toolbar, the hamburger menu) and access the Bookmarks section. There, click on Manager Bookmarks at the end of the list (or just hit Ctrl+Shift+O and skip all that) and then click on Import and Backup > Import Data from Another Browser.
  • Xfce Desktop 4.20 will bring Wayland support
    • from 9to5 Linux
    • Work on Xfce 4.20 kicked off earlier this month with the release of libxfce4windowing, a new dependency for the Xfce desktop environment to provide support for the next-generation Wayland display protocol.
    • Shortly after the release of the libxfce4windowing library, Xfce’s desktop manager xfdesktop has been ported to Wayland. At the moment of writing, only preliminary Wayland support is available since libxfce4windowing partially supports Wayland.
    • Also ported to Wayland was Xfce’s panel (xfce4-panel), which also received a bunch of bug fixes and code cleanup to improve the tasklist, windowmenu, clock, and other of its components. Of course, xfce4-panel’s Wayland support also depends on the new libxfce4windowing library, though all X11/Wayland-specific dependencies are optional.
    • libxfce4windowing is a new library and it is still being developed. Still, I am hopeful that the final release of the Xfce 4.20 desktop environment, which will probably see the light of day at the end of 2024, will come with a full Wayland implementation.
    • The development of the Xfce 4.20 desktop environment takes place under the Xfce 4.19 umbrella and packages are already available for Arch Linux.
  • More on Cosmic DE to kick off in 2023
    • from System76 website
    • System76 is moving the feel and front-end functionality of Pop!_OS to a faster codebase, giving you a familiar, but snappier, experience. Alpha coming soon!
    • UI support has been added for tabs and segmented buttons using the SegmentedButton widget. Tabs keep COSMIC DE clean and organized with shorter, more focused menus, while segmented buttons allow an action to take place when selected. So while you’re customizing your desktop to use horizontal workspaces instead of vertical, for example, your selection will cause the desktop to reflect this behavior.
    • Lots more on the System76 website.
  • OBS Studio 29.0.1 is out to fix Linux crash on Wayland X11 capture issue
    • from 9to5 Linux
    • OBS Studio 29.0.1 open-source and free software for live streaming and screen recording is now available for download as a “hotfix” release that addresses several issues discovered in OBS Studio 29.0.
    • There are several Linux-specific fixes in OBS Studio 29.0.1, including a crash when using Wayland and trying to use the automatic scene switcher, an issue where screen capturing wouldn’t work correctly on X11, a bug where overriding the theme could cause OBS Studio to fail to start, as well as a software rendering issue.
    • This release also fixes the “NVIDIA AUDIO Effects SDK is outdated” message that appears on the noise reduction filter properties when the SDK isn’t installed, as well as a crash that occurred when using NVIDIA‘s audio effect filters and then uninstalling the SDK.
    • Other fixes include a crash that occurred on startup when the app was minimized, a bug in the custom FFmpeg output mode where RTMP (Real-Time Messaging Protocol) would force some encoders, and a bug where alpha wouldn’t output properly when setting the app to use the BGRA color format.
    • Furthermore, OSB Studio 29.0.1 fixes a bug where projectors are washed out when projecting SDR content on an HDR display, fixes an issue with the expander and upward compressor audio filters, and a crash that occurred when using the virtual camera as a source and then changing the canvas resolution.
    • Also fixed is a bug where the profile encoder settings failed to update properly when switching between services that require a different encoder, as well as a bug where the Stats window/panel displayed an incorrect disk space calculation when pausing recordings.
    • Last but not least, to improve audio quality, OBS Studio 29.0.1 adds a “Knee Width” option to the upward compressor audio filter. For more details, check out the release notes on the project’s GitHub page.
    • OBS Studio 29.0.1 is available as a Flatpak app on most GNU/Linux distributions, which you can install right now from Flathub. For Ubuntu users, there’s also an official PPA that you can install from the official website.
  • Elementary 7 out now
    • from Elementary OS blog
    • OS 7, codenamed Horus, is available to download now and shipping soon on several high-quality computers. With OS 7, we’ve focused in on:
      • Helping you get the apps you need
      • Empowering you with new features and settings
      • Evolving our developer platform
    • To get elementary OS 7 now, head to elementary.io for the download—or read on for an overview of what’s new. Released January 31, 2023.

— Play Security Transition Bumper —

Security and Privacy

10 minutes

  • After Log4j, Open-Source Software Is Now a National Security Issue
    • A meeting at the White House on Thursday saw executives from some of the tech sector’s biggest companies meet with administration officials to discuss the need for better security in the open-source community. The list of attendees included big names like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Oracle, and Apple, among others.
    • Unlike proprietary software, open-source software is free, publicly inspectable, and can be used or modified by anybody. Because of how useful open-source tools can be, big corporations will often utilize them for development purposes. But, unfortunately, open-source projects need oversight and funding to remain secure—and they don’t always get it. For years, open-source developers have complained that their software needs better support from Big Tech and other institutional actors—an issue that is finally gaining some mainstream attention.
    • It’s not hard to see why the White House has convened its meeting right now. Just a month or so ago, a pernicious bug was found in the popular open-source Apache logging library log4j. The troubled program, which is used by just about everybody, led to widespread panic throughout the tech industry, as companies scrambled to patch the systems and products that relied upon the library for success. (Officials from the Apache Software Foundation were also present at Thursday’s meeting.)
    • Log4j isn’t the only open-source debacle to occur lately. Just last week, the creator of two widely used software tools decided to inexplicably disable them via a number of bizarre software updates. Marak Squires, the man behind popular JavaScript libraries Faker and Colors, weirdly blitzed the programs and managed to take down thousands of other software projects that relied on them for success.
    • In short: There’s clearly room for improvement and, thankfully, attendees of the recent White House meeting seem fairly amenable to it. At the meeting, White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan apparently called open-source software a “key national security issue.” Similarly, Google’s President of Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer Kent Walker published a statement to the company blog on Thursday arguing that he wanted to see better support for the open-source community.
    • “For too long, the software community has taken comfort in the assumption that open-source software is generally secure due to its transparency and the assumption that ‘many eyes’ were watching to detect and resolve problems,” said Walker. “But in fact, while some projects do have many eyes on them, others have few or none at all.”
    • In his statement, Walker further suggests increased public and private support for open-source projects, the establishment of security and testing baselines, and the development of a rubric for identifying “critical” projects—the kind that get a lot of use (i.e., probably something like log4j).
    • What exactly the government and other members of Big Tech have in mind for better open-source security isn’t entirely clear at this point, but the fact that they’re talking about it seems like a good sign.
  • New Boldmove Linux malware used to backdoor Fortinet devices
    • Suspected Chinese hackers exploited a recently disclosed FortiOS SSL-VPN vulnerability as a zero-day in December, targeting a European government and an African MSP with a new custom ‘BOLDMOVE’ Linux and Windows malware.
    • The vulnerability is tracked as CVE-2022-42475 and was quietly fixed by Fortinet in November. Fortinet publicly disclosed the vulnerability in December, urging customers to patch their devices as threat actors were actively exploiting the flaw.
    • The flaw allows remote unauthenticated attackers to crash targeted devices remotely or gain remote code execution.
    • However, it was not until this month that Fortinet shared more details about how hackers exploited it, explaining that threat actors had targeted government entities with custom malware specifically designed to run on FortiOS devices.
    • The attackers were focused on maintaining persistence on exploited devices by using the custom malware to patch the FortiOS logging processes so that specific log entries could be removed or to disable the logging process altogether.
    • Yesterday, Mandiant published a report about a suspected Chinese espionage campaign leveraging the FortiOS flaw since October 2022 using a new ‘BOLDMOVE’ malware explicitly designed for attacks on FortiOS devices.
    • BOLDMOVE is a full-featured backdoor written in C that enables Chinese hackers to gain higher-level control over the device, with the Linux version specifically created to run on FortiOS devices.
    • Mandiant identified several versions of BOLDMOVE with varying capabilities, but the core set of features observed across all samples include:
      • Performing system surveying.
      • Receiving commands from the C2 (command and control) server.
      • Spawning a remote shell on the host.
      • Relaying traffic through the breached device.
    • The commands supported by BOLDMOVE allow threat actors to remotely manage files, execute commands, interactive shell creation, and backdoor control.
    • The Windows and Linux variants are largely the same but utilize different libraries, and Mandiant believes the Windows version was compiled in 2021, almost a year before the Linux variant.
    • However, the most significant difference between the Linux and Windows versions is that one of the Linux variants contains functionality that specifically targets FortiOS devices.
    • For example, a Linux BOLDMOVE version allows attackers to modify Fortinet logs on the compromised system or disable logging daemons (miglogd and syslogd) altogether, thus making it harder for the defenders to track the intrusion.
    • Moreover, this version of BOLDMOVE can send requests to internal Fortinet services, allowing attackers to send network requests to the entire internal network and spread laterally to other devices.
    • Chinese cyber-espionage group will continue to target unpatched internet-facing devices like firewalls and IPS/ISD appliances as they offer easy network access without requiring interaction.
    • Unfortunately, it’s not simple for defenders to scrutinize what processes run in these devices, and Mandiant says native security mechanisms do not work very well to protect them.
    • “There is no mechanism to detect malicious processes running on such devices, nor telemetry to proactively hunt for malicious images deployed on them following an exploitation of a vulnerability,” explains Mandiant in the report.
    • “This makes network devices a blind spot for security practitioners and allows attackers to hide in them and maintain stealth for long periods, while also using them to gain foothold in a targeted network.”
    • The appearance of a custom-made backdoor for one of those devices proves the threat actors’ deep understanding of how perimeter network devices operate and the initial access opportunity they represent.
  • Until further notice, think twice before using Google to download software
    • from ArsTechnica
    • Searching Google for downloads of popular software has always come with risks, but over the past few months, it has been downright dangerous, according to researchers and a pseudorandom collection of queries.
    • “Threat researchers are used to seeing a moderate flow of malvertising via Google Ads,” volunteers at Spamhaus wrote on Thursday. “However, over the past few days, researchers have witnessed a massive spike affecting numerous famous brands, with multiple malware being utilized. This is not ‘the norm.’”
    • One of many new threats: MalVirt
    • The surge is coming from numerous malware families, including AuroraStealer, IcedID, Meta Stealer, RedLine Stealer, Vidar, Formbook, and XLoader. In the past, these families typically relied on phishing and malicious spam that attached Microsoft Word documents with booby-trapped macros. Over the past month, Google Ads has become the go-to place for criminals to spread their malicious wares that are disguised as legitimate downloads by impersonating brands such as Adobe Reader, Gimp, Microsoft Teams, OBS, Slack, Tor, and Thunderbird.
    • On the same day that Spamhaus published its report, researchers from security firm Sentinel One documented an advanced Google malvertising campaign pushing multiple malicious loaders implemented in .NET. Sentinel One has dubbed these loaders MalVirt. At the moment, the MalVirt loaders are being used to distribute malware most commonly known as XLoader, available for both Windows and macOS. XLoader is a successor to malware also known as Formbook. Threat actors use XLoader to steal contacts’ data and other sensitive information from infected devices.
    • The MalVirt loaders use obfuscated virtualization to evade end-point protection and analysis. To disguise real C2 traffic and evade network detections, MalVirt beacons to decoy command and control servers hosted at providers including Azure, Tucows, Choopa, and Namecheap.

— Play Wanderings Transition Bumper —

Bi-Weekly Wanderings

30 minutes (~5-8 mins each)

  • Joe
    • Had some fun and a few days off. 20th wedding anniversary but Texas has been frozen so we did not do a whole lot. Snow and ice on the ground means we don’t like to leave the house because Texans seems to lose their mind out on the roads in those conditions. Plus I have been through 2 rounds of antibiotics for a sinus infection. Mostly felt terrible the whole damn time
    • I did give Jackie one of my Dell Latitudes because she wanted a good tablet with a good touch screen and I have switched to using the OneGX for now. But Jackie is not a Linux fan and knows windows a whole lot better. So I had to install Windows 10 on the device, I tried several different methods to get it working including WoeUSB_ng, Rufus, Etcher and the Windows USB making tool. The only thing that worked was Ventoy, which is a first for me, I have never been able to get Ventoy to work before and it worked like a charm this time. It is really too bad but the device was not doing much other than collecting dust waiting for me to find something else to do with it. I may pull one of the hard drives in it for use in another project but for now its good where it is. Jackie also knows that I want it back if she ends up not using or wanting something else. Her only complaint so far is that onscreen keyboard doesn’t always pop up. This is a common problem across all operating systems I guess.
    • Have also been doing a lot of 3D printing and a bit of design. I did 3D print a glasses case that worked well with magnetic latches but I am not a fan of the overall size. So I am looking for other prints and styles for that. Printed out some different scaled TARDIS to test out the 0.6mm nozzle. I am happy with the outcome but I will need to hold on to the prints to actually compare with the 0.4mm nozzle. I also redesigned the standard to Olympic weight adapter that I use so that it has a lip on one side so I don’t have to use a weight on one side to hold it together. Its a simple change but it works very well and has held together. Also 3D printed some push up handles so that I can work on calisthenics without undo pressure on my wrist.
    • Also designed and 3D printed some very simple discs for a weight loaded strap. Actually 2 of them because I needed a couple and the price online was at least 14 dollars each. I mean I designed 2 of them, one of them that used 550 cord. Basically a disc with 2 holes in it. And I designed one that used some nylon strapping that I was able to get at 5 and Below on clearance for $1.50, basically a disc with 2 slits in it that was slightly thicker. I calculated it out and each disc was about 60 cents worth of plastic. The 550 cord that I used was maybe 20 cents worth so rounded up it comes to 3 dollars. So I saved 25 bucks, but a 3Dd printer is a bit of a cost to entry.
    • I have started designing and prototyping the laptop stand attachment that I am planning on making for the OneGX, it will allow me to move the USB hubs to the bottom instead of the side and hopefully make it so that I am not covering the exhaust ports. Right now I have made the right angle connectors that will go into the slots for the controllers on the side and it goes all the way across the bottom. I modified it so that the mini HDMI and the Micro SD are accessible. I am looking at U-shaped USB-C solutions but I think I may have to make some of my own or modify some that are close. I am also debating things like angle and how much I want to put below the laptop and how tall it will be and how much weight will it add. Granted it will be removable so not that big of a deal. I could try out a whole bunch of configurations if I want. Maybe a battery bank? We shall see. 5V fan? Also made a little insert to hold the screen open and at the correct angle when I have my phone mounted to the top as a second screen but I am concerned that I will forget it is there or someone else will try to close my little laptop and break something on the laptop. But it does work that way that I hoped.
    • Started having trouble with my back again so I am going back to the VA for physical therapy. A new closer location has opened up and I no longer need to drive to downtown Dallas, except for the MRI.
    • I tried to repair my second Galaxy S3 watch. It has been on the broken list for a while because one of the buttons quick working. It is actually a fairly common problem and the ribbon cable replacements are easy to get. I ordered one and it arrived and I was looking forward to putting it on as it is a neat bit of micro-soldering on the end of a ribbon cable so takes a bit of work. Problems came up when I took the device apart and saw a lot of rust in the bottom. This is a device I have taken apart before and I did clean the rust off of it then but this time I went to do the same and the center piece on the bottom popped out. So I switched to looking at the electronics side and I see more rust on the board. I take it apart to look at the ribbon cable and it seems to be in perfect condition. I turn it on and the one button is still not working. But because of the other issues with the water damage on the board I decided to set it aside. I mean I did not have to push very hard for the bottom to come off so I assume this has had some pretty bad moisture exposure and these components are SMALL. I figure though, it has a really good screen and upper case so it it should be easy enough to find another with a broken screen at a good price and make another working one. Well not so much right now I guess. There just aren’t that many on eBay right now for whatever reason. I will keep my eyes open until I see one.
  • Moss
    • I got my new router. It’s a Netgear C6300 (AC1750) dual router and modem, a major upgrade from my old C1000-100NAS. The installation instructions didn’t work, all having to do with dealing with Comcast, and several calls to Comcast did nothing other than schedule a technician appointment. One of the Comcast phone techs suggested calling Netgear, which I thought was passing the buck, but it did the trick – the DNS was set wrong and needed to be changed. Netgear suggested Google’s DNS. After a brief chat with Bill I tried using Cloudflare, but after setting that up, everything is very slow so I switched back to Google and it seems a bit faster. I have not noticed a speed increase on the WiFi bands.
    • We ordered new phones. This has been (not) fun. We had phones ordered, and then discovered it was not the latest model; the ad did not state model year. We found the latest model was only about $50 more for many improvements, so we canceled the first order and placed a new one. Then they changed the ad copy on Amazon, to state that it was not usable on the carrier we use, which was not included on the list of carriers when we ordered. Amazon told us we could not cancel, the order was too far along even though they had not yet shipped. We called our carrier, and they couldn’t tell us anything without the IMEI. When the phones arrived, I called them with the IMEI and they said the phones would work, so we kept them. I had a Pixel 6 waiting in my Amazon basket if I needed it, but removed it.
    • Which then brings us to moving our stuff to the new phones. Since we were using CalyxOS on the Pixel 3a XLs we were using, we could not sync the data to Google or anywhere else that the new phones would access, so we mostly had to do things manually. We did get our pictures backed up to Google Photos. This has not been fun, and I am now opposed to using custom ROMs for this reason. I might hate Google but I hate difficult phone transitions more. I have mine working pretty well, although some things are still part of the learning curve, and I have heard fewer complaints from Suzanne.

— Play Innards Transition Bumper —

Linux Innards

30 minutes (~5-8 minutes each)

What To Do With Your Old Android Device


  • First I want to go over some of the things that I have done with an old Android device and then I want to talk some about what a bunch of our Discord users said they are doing, There is a lot of overlap and I look forward to implementing some of the ideas. I also want to mention that a lot of these are impractical and were done just to see if I could or because the device was just collecting dust anyway. But also should be mentioned that you can mix and match a lot of these projects together. You might not be able to run a lot of them at once on an older phone but you surely can run them as needed.
  • Something that does need a mention first is that I have always been interested in keeping phones running as long as possible whether that was by putting on custom ROMs on the HTC HD2 or passing an old phone off to the kids or repurposing in various ways. I sometimes have to do a purge of old phones that randomly show up in my collection and I sometimes end up bringing a bunch home from family visits when people want to get rid of old ones. It can be a bit of a hassle depending on the device but for most of them if they are no longer getting updates you can put a custom ROM on them from XDA developers and keep them running for longer.
  • One of the first things that I did with an old android phone was use it as a IP cam with a little program called ipcam in conjunction with webcamxp – yes I was a windows user at the time. I and my wife used it as an add on baby monitor to watch the kids. It worked reasonably well for that. I had my concerns since a lot of the buzz online was that it would kill the cameras since they were not made to do that all the time but it never really ended up being an issue and the devices were just going to collect dust anyway.
  • I have used a tablet as a viewer for those IP cams and I currently use an older Lenovo tablet in conjunction with some actual IP cams to monitor my son while he is virtual school so that I can make sure he actually does his work and nit just play HTML 5 games all the time.
  • I have also used old android tablets as digital photo frames that I could easily send new photos to using resilio sync or something similar
  • I have also used many Android devices as sync nodes for resilio sync in order to make downloads faster across the whole system. Usually devices that were doing other things as well with this running in the background.
  • I also attempted to use a similar IP camera setup or a permanent Skype application to create an interactive doorbell similar to a ring but that never worked out the way that I wanted. Phone would not stay in a one click mode to be able to make calls or would not auto answer, I would have been good if you had been able to ring my doorbell and then I could call the Skype contact on the phone and have it automatically answer. Somehow it never worked out right and theft was always a concern. I would have had to make a see through weather proof box too and we were renting.
  • I also use my phone as a webcam on occasion with DroidCam. I know a couple of listeners mentioned it as well but it is great for when I left my webcam in the other room or when I need a second camera to show the soldering that I am working on. It can take a bit of work to get the higher resolutions but it is well worth it as most phone cameras are pretty good. At least the rear ones. Also as an alternative to DroidCam there are some situations that I have found where it is better to use scrcpy in conjunction with OBS studio. This method gives you much more control of the zoom and focus and even allows you to control both from the computer. And with wireless ADB you can do it without a cable if you need to. This is really helpful when trying to zoom in on some tiny soldering.
  • I also had a couple of phones that had dedicated IR blasters that did get turned into universal remotes although that always seemed like overkill for an old phone so it would usually get replaced by a couple of $5 remotes from Walmart. But it was still pretty cool being able to control everything from the note 3. I know that there were also builds using the 3.5mm jack and an led from a remote control but that seemed a bit cumbersome to me.
  • I tried several times to setup something permanent in the way of using my phone as the speaker and mic for a computer as odd as that sounds. And there were several setups that I used in order to make my phone work as the speakers for my computer. Mostly to see if could but also so that I did not have to pair my headphones to more than one device. It also allowed me to use Bluetooth from the phone to the headphones which has always worked pretty good and wifi from the phone to the computer since BT audio and Linux have not always been the best of friends. It would also allow me to do things like play music on my computer and walk around the house with my phone.
  • Also have worked for multiple companies that had a policy stating that you could bring personal tablets into work but not personal laptops. So I do have a couple of builds that I did to make tablets and phones more useful.
    • I have turned tablets into wifi phones using google voice
      • Also turned one tablet into an actual phone, I think it was the surfboard which had a sim slot and was easily convertible with a ROM. Only problem was the phone companies really did not like you using a tablet that way because they were afraid that you would over consume your allotted internet.
    • Remote desktops to access home computers
    • Have run Linux VMs although that is always hit or miss and mostly miss from android. Still it is fun to see what works and what doesn’t
    • Dedicated media player
    • Mirror the screen of my phone on a larger device
  • Dedicated MP3 players. There are not a lot of companies making MP3 players any more that are worth a darn. Mostly because everything can be done from your phone but that means that it is using up your phones battery and memory and cant be played while on a phone call. Using an old phone for this purpose means your phones battery lasts much longer which is not as much of a problem today as it was a few years ago but it was still a good reason to load up some different applications on your old phone and turn off all the services that you don’t need. Great to hand off to a young kid or when you are in a situation where you are worried about your main driver getting broken.
    • You can also do this with some really old android phones as long as you are keeping it simple. My son would still be using an S3 as an MP3 player if there were not so many issues with the application I was using to sync his audio and the fact that he kept installing ‘games’ on the device
  • Emulation station. I have loaded individual emulators on phones and I have also loaded Retroarch on to phones from the play store. The on screen controls are usually ok and you can pair a Bluetooth controller to the phone or use one of the many dedicated controllers on the market now. Another good thing to do with the MP3 player that got handed to a kid. This was also mentioned by several people on the discord.
    • Same with a wifi phone setup. Can all be bundled into one.
    • Retro gaming on a phone is awesome. NES, Genesis and many others work very well. Even ps1 games. Notable exception as always being the N64 which is hit or miss.
  • A recent thing that I have come across and started using old phones for is as replacements for Raspberry Pis. A Raspberry Pi and an old phone should cost about the same or more for the old phone depending. But the power consumption is probably less on the phone when the screen is off and the phone has a built in battery. Of course it is less useful when you think about things like GPIO but there are still some cool things that you can do.
    • I run octoprint from my backup phone. This is incredible for controlling my 3D printer and I use the camera on the phone to watch everything in real time. I can push out new gcode from my computer and start the print remotely as needed. Much easier than pulling out the SD card and walking it back and forth every time. I will say that I did have some trouble loading the application on some really old phones but it worked just fine on an S7 and on the Oneplus Nord N200. I also have not loaded a lot of the add-ons that are supposed to make octoprint more useful but I am loving it for what it does as is.
    • I have also recently found out that you can run Pihole from a phone. It looks like it will even run from older phones but you do need root. Considering how difficult it is to get a hold of Pis right now if you have any old phones lying around and none of the other projects appeals to you, then this one is probably perfect. Pihole if you don’t know is a DNS sinkhole or an adblocker for your network. It can also run your local DNS and DHCP if you want.
  • One thing that I would like to try to set up is using a phone as ssh gateway for a network. Would love to see if could get that working along with something like fail2ban. Would add an extra layer of security.
  • I have also used my phone as a mouse and keyboard for my PC using KDE connect which is awesome. Very little configuration is required just install on both devices and link them up from the same network. KDE is not required for that but having it does provide some extra functionality.
  • I also mentioned before that I have used android devices as second screens for laptops and even for tablets on occasion. Deskreen works very well for this but you can also use the same dummy screen method that Deskreen uses along with carefully configured VNC to get the same effect. There may be some latency but on my network I don’t see any. I even watched a couple of television episodes of shows to test audio latency and everything worked out fine. This works either through VNC viewer or from a website with Deskreen which does not have a lot of overhead so if you have an older tablet with a good screen then this would be perfect for it. Sad to say it would even extend the life of old iPads which have awesome screens
  • From our listeners we had some really good suggestions:
    • Nate mentioned using a tablet as a home assistant hub or rotating picture that could be made to turn on when motion is detected
      • I really need to look more into home assistant as it sounds like it is a very powerful and useful tool.
    • TrogBlotter mentioned putting a ROM onto a phone for his mother as well as using an old tablet as display screen in his van for google maps and a couple of trusted applications
      • I do want to mention that I have always wanted to do something similar and turn an old tablet into a head unit for a car. A tablet a couple of wires and an amp and a way to mount it all is all you really need. But being in Texas I always have concerns about the tablet melting. Actual android head units are lower cost now but it would still be fun to do it on my own.
    • Ziggy said
      • 1.)Using my old phone as a webcam with DroidCam.
      • 2.) You can use it as a GPS device
      • 3.) 2 of my old phones are unlocked and rooted so they can be upgraded and downgraded for testing apps.
      • 4. ) Use it as a streaming device to cast stuff. if the device has a good processor, you can connect a controller and stream/ play Android games on to TV.
      • 5.) Use something like Razer Kishi or Backbone and it becomes a decent handheld gaming device.
      • 6.) Use it as an expensive flashlight 😂
      • 7.) If it has decent speakers/sound, can be used as a music device.
      • 8.) On rooted phones, I believe there is project to run Pihole
      • Several of these were mentioned but the Pihole idea did come from Ziggy
    • Soc mentioned: make it a system monitor just hanging around by your setup
      • Which to me sounds like a great idea but I need to do some more research because I am not sure how you would set that up
    • User-Name-Undefined
      • I use an old phone (with headphone jack ) as a media device. First it was an old Samsung Galaxy 5 and now it’s a Moto G7 I got cheap on Amazon. It has no sim card. I loaded my music collection on it installed a music player and podcast manager. It is set to pair with my vehicles and only connects to my home wifi for podcast updates.
      • I don’t have to worry about my phone battery being run out because the media device is carrying that load. I can leave it mounted in the vehicle throughout the day without having to worry that my phone is there when I am here as I get in and out of the vehicle all day.
        • Mostly the same reasons that I have for doing that
    • RobH
      • uses his old phone as a camera with DroidCam
    • Lune Lovehearn
      • I just try to refurbish it with Lineage OS and use it for basic tasks. Depends of how powerful it is. Or at least use it just for calls and as a music player
    • Leo
      • I use an old phone to record video for Linux User Space. The quality is higher than pretty much any sub $200 camera I could buy to do the same job, and it’ll still Nextcloud sync, etc. instead of fiddling with SD Cards.
      • And like @Rob H, I used DroidCam before I bought a decent web cam. Getting it set up was a slight pain compared to a plug n play webcam.
    • Moss
      • I did load CalyxOS onto 3 Google Pixel 3a XL phones (one of them got a broken screen). While I have just stopped using mine as a phone, it still has better speakers than my new phone and I intend to keep using it as a podcast or music player. I now have two Pixels for sale, one with a slightly broken screen, if anyone is interested.

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Vibrations from the Ether

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