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Run Debian On Android: Backstory

A few years ago when I was working on IoT with Magnet, I was contemplating buying a Raspberry Pi. Instead, I found a dirt cheap $10 Android phone that had all the features I needed. When it arrived, I was pleasantly surprised by everything it had to offer.

The LG Optimus Fuel 34C is a very snappy phone. It's tiny screen size and decent 1700mAh battery make a great combination. Bluetooth LE worked well — which is all I needed for Magnet. Compared to a Raspberry Pi, this turned out to be a great choice.

My Chromecast 2 finally arrived last week. Obvious next step was to set up a media center. My preferred casting app — LocalCast supports a bunch of media sources, notably DLNA and Samba share. The easiest way forward was to share folders on my laptop with Samba share and use LocalCast to cast to the TV. This was noticeably slow though. 1080p movies were chunky.

Next problem: Most of my movies and TV shows are on multiple external hd-disks.

Solution: Sort and move the best media into one 1TB external hdd. I had Huawei EchoLife HG556 router lying around from my USB-dongle internet days. The router supports attaching a USB hdd and exposes files as an FTP server. Bridges that to my primary router and voila — [N]etwork [A]ttached [S]torage. R/W speed is terrible though.

EchoLifeHG556

Did I really need my entire collection accessible at all times though? Could I make a tradeoff with active + passive storage, with only content that I wanted to immediately watch on the active storage? I usually watch stuff I that I've recently downloaded. External hdds are mainly archival. I infrequently watch random old episodes of The Office and Seinfeld, so I need them around but not immediately. I had two 32GB microSD cards that agreed with the compromise.

So instead of having LocalCast read from the (slow) network and stream to Chromecast, I instead planned to have the external HDD as passive storage on the LAN, recent downloads and watch-queue on the spare phone, and cast local files from the phone to Chromecast. 32GB was enough to cover it.

Next problem: Need Plex Media Server for extra awesomeness. Not compatible with device.

Solution: Not a necessity but a luxury...I admit. But hey, how hard could it be? Why not just install it on the shell? Apparently, it works on Raspberry Pi2. Lets make the most of that armv7.

Let's get Debian on Android! :P