Sunday, September 30, 2012

Transferring files from Ubuntu to Nexus 7

When I first got my Nexus 7 tablet, I had difficulty transferring files to and from Ubuntu.  Earlier Android gizmos would allow the SD card space to be mounted as a standard USB device (and that's what I found with my Nexus S on Jelly Bean), but this tablet offers me two choices: MTP or PTP.  MTP is a standard around media devices (e.g. MP3 players) and PTP is a standard for cameras.

The SD card method is convenient, but it has the disadvantage that the two separate devices cannot share the SD card space at the same time.  This means that not only does the Android gizmo have to take the storage space offline to allow the connected computer to access it, but also that it has to be a separate storage device or be formatted into a separate partition from the rest of the Android device OS.  MTP and PTP do not have this limitation, but Ubuntu does not just pick them up and show them as a file device automatically.  (Windows and Mac handle this much better, though.)

When I first attached the device several months ago, I went through a whole rigamarole to mount the device into the filesystem on Ubuntu involving udev and mount commands.  It was very trying.  Since then, however, I have discovered gMTP.  This simple Gnome application lets you transfer files onto and off of the Nexus 7 (or any other MTP device), and can also handle stuff like building playlists or managing album art.  Problem solved.

And lesson learned...when something you do commonly is complicated in Linux, wait a few months and Google it again...chances are that someone has found a simpler solution.  (And when you find a simpler solution to something, don't forget to tell everyone about it so it is easier for me to find!)

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