Pre hackery brings some fancy VNC action | webOS Nation

Pre hackery brings some fancy VNC action 25

by Jason Robitaille Thu, 18 Jun 2009 10:35 am EDT

They certainly weren't kidding when people declared the Pre has a very hackable OS. Nebula from the #webos-internals IRC channel has done it again.  Not too long ago he made history by porting running a native linux Nintendo emulator on the Pre, full controls and all. Well, he's back and this time he's gotten a native linux VNC application running on the Pre. (That's Virtual Network Computing, if you're unfamiliar, which basically means the Pre is can view and control your desktop.)

This is merely a proof of concept, like running the NES emulator, though this one has much less functionality (due to the lack of a mouse, etc.).  Nebula has written up a handy guide if you have a rooted Pre and would like to try it yourself. If you have any questions about setup, feel free to pop on by #webos-internals on freenode IRC. One thing that should also be noted is that the VNC app (like the NES application) is run from your SSH connection and is not in any form integrated into the WebOS interface, though that could change in the future.

Still, it's a very impressive feat and really helps to show the strength and versatility the WebOS and Pre can come to represent.

Thanks to John for the tip



Can someone give an example of how this can provide a useful use?

I doubt the usb port on the PRE is powered. So it will probably not work with HID and USBstorage devices. Now, you might be able to do it with a powered hub... but I doubt the drivers are loaded to use HID in WebOS (Palm Linux).

Of course, that could change with third-party hacks... but I don't see how carrying around a mouse and a powered USB hub, the AC brick for that, and all the cables, is very practical :)

Certainly the most useful USB device would be a keyboard- and for that, a small kb with wireless, bluetooth connection type would make most sense.

Curious...but could you use something like this:

USB Type A Female to Micro B Male Adapter

and then plug a mouse into it?

In addition, could you plug a flash drive into it and mount it as a drive?

Replied to wrong thread- see above

Running VNC without a mouse is not really useful, since the whole point of VNC is to take remote control over another machine's GUI.

If you just wanted a command line, then you could ssh into your Linux desktop from the Pre with the ssh client.

I suppose the problem is that the touch screen is still being supervised by the OS for panning and other controls, but it should be possible to use the screen as a mouse, they do it with PalmVNC...

Anyway, I hope this type of stuff (ssh, sshd, vnclient, vncviewer) comes out main-stream without having to hack/root the Pre. A rooted Pre will just be unrooted every time they update WebOS (Palm Linux).

I'm running PalmVNC under "Classic" and it works great.. faster than it did on my Centro for sure.. accesses my home desktops via Wi-Fi or EVDO. Touch screen works as mouse on the desktop.. the 5 way doesn't work for the VNC menu options but it never did on the Centro either, you have to use the touch screen to hit the drop down menu options after touching the menu "button" on Classic.
I'm VERY glad I don't have to live without VNC on the Pre.

This is good to know. I use PalmVNC on my Treo and it's functional, yet slow. I would hope that someone writes a WebOSVNC app that doesn't require using Classic.

what a nerd. hope it's nice down there in his mothers basement

Making fun of someone on the internet is so original. Go away, troll.

i think i'll stay but thanks for validating my comment with a reply :)

Couldn't you just use the optic thingy on the bottom as a sort of virtual mouse?

Not to nitpick, but Nebula "mad history"?

Do you guys proof your blogs before posting??

Was an honest oversight. Corrected now :)

Apparently, not proofing is en vogue these days. Have you seen the blogs on Either the editors are useless, or someone thought they were not necessary.

BTW: "is ran from" should be "is run from"


The Grammar Police ;-)

Grammar Police....every forum's got 'em. At least PreCentral has the polite ones :D

also: "people declared the Pre a very hackable OS."
the Pre is not an OS, WebOS is an OS.

Jason, none of this represents the versatility of WebOS.

WebOS is Luna which is a layer on top of Linux.

All of these things are simply native linux applications running on the framebuffer.

They cannot be run in parallel with Luna/WebOS.

The only way native applications can be written (right now) for WebOS is as browser plugins (like you're used to with flash, media player...)

However, there's no evidence that these native apps (aka browser plugins) have any way to access things like the GPU for accelerated graphics.

I am well aware of all of that actually. I just meant it in context of the situation of the re only being a few weeks out and already people have managed to pick apart a lot and run foreign linux apps (in the sense they were never originally meant for the webOS). And as I've stated in the article, its all mainly proof-of-concept stuff at the moment, but the sheer range and diversity of the kinds of things going on at the Pre dev wiki is certainly a good sign for the webOS :)


we've shown 2 things

1) Palm made a good device with a good Linux base.

2) WebOS is very modifiable at its javascript layer.

I want the device to succeed, but very little of what has been done couldn't be done in an Android device, or heck a Kindle if it had wifi.

until we figure out how to write native apps on the device (and more so, if native apps will actually be able to really take advantage of the GPU) the device will be neutered.

>until we figure out how to write native apps on the device (and more
>so, if native apps will actually be able to really take advantage of
>the GPU) the device will be neutered

I fully agree with ya there. There is soooooo much more potential if the device's hardware can be harnessed well.

Is there a way, when remoted into a desktop, to perform a left mouse click action (like when you do this with the Calendar key on the Treo755P)? I need to use the left click to work on computers remotely all the time. Also, how do you bring up the menu?(haven't looked that closely at the Pre keyboard yet). Is there some kind of gizmo you can use as a stylus to make maneuvering and double clicking on the remote desktop easier? I'm still blown away by the work I get done on the PC's and servers on our work networks from anywhere through Palm VNC and my Treo 755P. If I could still be able to do this with the Pre, then I'm ready to switch up to it. I tried using Logmein on a Pre at the Sprint store but had no luck.
Marty, Seattle

If you're asking about PalmVNC on Pre Classic, when you tap on the screen once, the cursor moves to that position and left clicks once, if you tap the same location a second time quickly you get a double click and the action occurs (open folder, etc). but it seems you can't place the cursor without a left click. You can drag a select box in Windows by touching, holding and dragging too. The problem is right click.. there's a drop down menu item for a "right click" to be sent but it doesn't do anything. Though sending a windows key or a ctrl/alt/del key does work.. all in all it's usable, but a nice Pre native VNC would be awesome, with pinch/zoom and what not.

Bringing up the menu is a touch button on the Classic app on the right side between Home and the (non-functional) messaging buttons (on screen)

I wonder:

If all this can be done without an hack ie.: Palm and Spring allow you to this and others things (like tethering) without problems, the Pre would be a much much more techno-freak phone and many many more hacker (or nerd...) would buy this instead of the I-something.

So please Spring and Palm, rethink your positions and set the Pre FREE! ^_^

With a lot(?) of work the left and right mouse keys can be emulated with the Pre keyboard.
With more work the touch screen can become a mouse as seen in an Amiga Emulator for the Treo 650: you tap and the mouse run to that position.

Jason, it concerns me greatly when I read things like "the Pre has a very hackable OS". I think all of us who understand what is being done is a good thing and will make the phone and OS more valuable, do you think that is the same impression everyone gets when they read the that the Pre's OS is "very hackable"?

It would seem to me lots of companies who might like to use the Pre like so many use the BlackBerry might see this and run away from the Pre as fast as they can.

Just curious...

Funny; I wonder the same thing. I'm a software defeloper, but not a hacker. So every time I read "very hackable" I cringe - reflex I guess (though I know it's not always a bad thing).

So yeah, I wonder what business think when they see that.