It’s always fun to put your Android or Python programming skills on display. A while back, I figured it’d be cool to try and control my laptop via my Android mobile device. Think about it: remote laptop access including being able to play and pause music, start and stop programming jobs or downloads, etc., all by sending messages from your phone. Neat, huh?
Before you keep on reading, please bear in mind that this is a pet project, still in its early stages—but the basic platform is there. By gluing together some mainstream tools, I was able to setup my Android phone to control my laptop via a Python interpreter.
The Remote Laptop Access Tool Belt: Python, Twisted, Django, and Amarok
This project involves the following technologies, some of which you may be familiar with, some of which are quite specific to the task at-hand:
- Python 2.7+
- Twisted: an excellent event-driven framework especially crafted for network hackers.
- Django: I used v1.4, so you’ll have to adjust the location of some files if you want to run a lower version.
- Amarok: a D-BUS (more on this below) manageable media player. This could be subbed out for other such media players (Clementine, VLC, or anything that supports MPRIS) if you know their messaging structures. I chose Amarok because it comes with my KDE distribution by default. Plus, it’s fast and easily configurable.
- An Android phone with Python for Android installed (more on this below). The process is pretty straightforward—even for Py3k!
- Remote Amarok and Remote Amarok Web.
At a High Level
At a high level, we consider our Android phone to be the client and our laptop, the server. I’ll go through this remote access architecture in-depth below, but the basic flow of the project is as follows:
- The user types some command into the Python interpreter.
- The command is sent to the Django instance.
- Django then passes the command along to Twisted.
- Twisted then parses the command sends a new command via D-Bus to Amarok.
- Amarok interacts with the actual laptop, controlling the playing/pausing of music.
Now, lets dig in.