Fighting with computers

Computers are not always friendly.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

SSH into my e-book reader?


Yep, it does sound odd, so a bit of an explanation may be welcome: I've bought me an electronic book reader a while ago (a Papyre 6.1 from Grammata). It is the same device as the Hanlin v3, Bebook, LBook and many other brand names given by sellers on different countries.

The reading experience has been quite good. Actually it's been better than I expected. However, every now and then, like Windows 98, the system would refuse to turn page and freeze. After a few seconds [I suspect] the built-in watchdog timer quicks in and reboots the system. Total time is less than 30 seconds but the worst part is that you've lost the book page you were in.

After checking several forums where many users complain about the same thing but no real solution was offered, I learned that an "alternative" firmware was available for a wide range of devices, including mine. Even better, there was a live version you could try before flashing it on your device. Who could ask for more?

This firmware, known as OpenInkPot, is lacking of any kind of DRM support (which I do not need). And it also lacks of USB storage device emulation. That means that when I plug the USB port into my ebook it does not pop up to my system as a storage device (something the original firmware did) so I can add new files to system. This is not a big problem as I can easily take the SD memory out of the unit and plug it into my computer to add more books to my collection.

However, out of curiosity, I learned that I can use USB network shim so I can SSH my ebook system.
#as root user
ifconfig usb0 192.168.111.2 netmask 255.255.255.0

#later you can transfer by:
scp book root@192.168.111.1:/mnt/storage/

#or if you want to send it to the SD card
scp book root@192.168.111.1:/media/sd/

is the magic needed to be able to later connect to the device using Ubuntu.

Now I can use SCP to transfer files back and forth. But I'll have to wait for a few reading sessions to tell you whether the glitches have gone with this firmware or not. The picture on the right shows the looks of the new file selection menu.

There is a long list of supported devices, so if want to give OpenInkPot a go it can be fun. (But don't blame me if you brick your system!).

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