Linux Sysadmin Blog

What Phone Does a Sys Admin Need?

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Recently we were discussing our favorite phones and gadgets. By now we use our phones as mobile terminals so when the question of upgrading came up we looked at the requirements we have from that perspective. The first requirement is an SSH client of course. Most smart phones do have an SSH client of sorts but whether it’s a stable app or it’s an unstable afterthought is pretty important. By Googling around a bit I found that the SSH clients on the Windows Mobile platform receive less than favorable reviews so I’ll be staying away from those. Problems trying to connect and general instability seem to be the most common problems. Three manufacturers who appear to have decent SSH clients are Apple, Google and RIM. The Blackberries have been around in that arena for the longest time and have a very good track record.

Multi tasking is next on my list. I don’t want to have to close any apps (like the SSH client) to be able to do some browsing. Granted, we’re looking at phones and not laptops but when there is an emergency that requires the use of an SSH client on my phone communication with other people (chat, e-mail) is right up there in urgency. So far from our three contenders both the RIM Blackberries and the Google Android phones meet that criterium. The Apple iPhone however does not.

Battery life is third on the list. Although it is very important because these devices have pretty big screens and tons of energy absorbing features they mostly charge from USB ports which can be connected pretty much anywhere these days. I don’t know the battery life of the current generation of BlackBerries but again, they have a pretty decent reputation. The dishonorable mention here is for the Google Android phone. The battery life for this device is pretty bad from what I’ve heard.

Resolution actually determines how useful a device is as a terminal in my opinion. Although this is important it is also useless to increase the resolution to 1024x768 on devices of this size. The letters would just be unreadable. In general all three contenders seem to have a similar resolution but the way the screen space is used is very differently because of the keyboard.

With the keyboard we come to final and most personal requirement. Granted, none of us will be typing in any essays with the keyboards on these babies but the keyboard should not be an obstacle. From trying it I like a real keyboard like the Google G1 best but I’m sure that with practice the other keyboards will be pretty usable as well. Apple is known as a user interface design company so I doubt if they would release a device that is unusable in that sense. In fact the sales tell the story there.