The “Other” Linux

For the past few days I have been playing with an Android tablet, the seven-inch Acer Iconia A100. Android uses a version of Linux for its operating system (kernel) and file system; however, the applications are based on Java, so the system is a bit of a hybrid. Nevertheless, there are aspects of using this Android tablet (or at least trying to) that call on some prior knowledge of Linux, hence this posting (and possibly others in the future) in a Linux blog.

One surprising thing about the A100 tablet is that, although it came bundled with many apps, there is no built-in file manager, as I found out when I tried to open a data file. Even more bizarre is that LumiRead, the bundled file reader I was using, doesn’t have a File-Open command. It’s essentially an E-book reader and evidently expects its books to be purchased, downloaded, and neatly arranged on its bookshelves.

But, no problem, there are several “best Android apps” web sites and all of them suggest one file manager or another. I chose to download and install one of the free offerings, a program named ES File Explorer. The download process from Google Play (the late “Android Market”) was interesting in that the system lists all of the things that the app might want to do, such as make changes to the SD card, and has you agree to accept these potential actions prior to the actual file download and installation.

The next trick, once I had opened the file manager, was that I couldn’t locate my external SD card where my data files were located. So, it was back to the Internet for some assistance, where I quickly learned that I needed to call up the program’s settings (using one of the buttons along the bottom of the screen) and check “Up to Root” in order to allow the navigations system access to the tablet’s root directory.

And, here’s where a little knowledge of Linux becomes a useful thing. The directory listing looked very familiar. Do you recall that Android uses a Linux-based file system? One of the folders was named mnt, and inside this folder was a sub-folder named external_sd. Voilà! Here was my external SD card and all of the data files that it contained.

I quickly made the external_sd directory into a favourite in order to simplify file navigation in the future. Now, I just have to find out what the _convert.cache and LOST.DIR folders on my SD card are for!

References:

Acer Iconia Tab A100
http://acer.us/ac/en/US/content/iconia-tab-a100

Android is Linux (and Java)
http://www.unix.com/android/145159-android-linux-java.html

ES File Explorer
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.estrongs.android.pop&hl=en

Can’t See External SD Card On Android With ES File Explorer
http://blog.kingbob.net/2011/12/07/cant-see-external-sd-card-on-android-with-es-file-explorer/

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