Streaming Ubuntu on tablets and smartphones

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Small Screen Performance

Splashtop considers its product the fastest current remote desktop solution, although the actual performance depends heavily on the technical prerequisites. These include the connection speed to the Internet. On smartphones and tablets, this speed is notably higher in the wireless net than in the mobile net in that desktop computers transmit files fastest over cable to the streaming server.

Hardware also plays a role. In my test, I could work on a dusty ThinkPad X31 with a Pentium M processor with no problem, but larger files (e.g., videos, graphic-intense games, etc.) didn't provide fluid image transmission on the tablet – and the audio often dropped out. With more current hardware and a good network connection, Splashtop can conjure up even HD videos with little delay on the mobile device screen and allows for fluid gaming. The usual rule applies to such data-intensive applications: the faster the better.


Using Splashtop on a tablet is fun – you can use your favorite programs, stream videos and DVDs, and enjoy games not usually available on the mobile platform.

The easy installation and configuration are convincing enough by themselves. All the provider needs to do is put some more work into the configuration window and it would evolve into a viable – perhaps even the best – platform for the remote desktop (see also the "Alternatives to Splashtop" box).

Alternatives to Splashtop

  • Vinagre – A VNC client for the Gnome Desktop [2]
  • Remmina – A remote desktop client for VNC and SSH [3]
  • TeamViewer – One of the world's most widely used remote desktops [4]

How Splashtop Works

Splashtop streaming software sends the files from the controlled Ubuntu computer as encoded pixels to an external server, which forwards it on to the connected end device. The latter sends the control commands in the opposite direction. The user gets a streaming video on which she can act in virtual real time. An SSL protocol handles the necessary file security through 256-bit AES encryption.

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