(almost) 90 days with the Motorola Xoom

Just about three months ago I wrote a quick post about having the Motorola Xoom for approximately 12 hours.

First I’d like to address some of the points I made in my last post:

Now the TODO list:

  • I have both ubuntu and backtrack5 running on this thing in chroots. While I now have access to tools like nmap, skipfish and other command line tools, some of the interesting ones (ettercap, aircrack) do not yet function due to lack of the proper kernel modules. I’ve contributed to the Tiamat kernel thread on the XDA forums asking if adding that kind of functionality was feasible.



Everywhere I go, I get asked “is that the new ipad?” and I answer “no, its better”. People look confused. I used to get into debates about it, but now I just dont care. I’ve accepted the fact that the vast majority of people prefer a snappy UI and pretty pictures over functionality and an open attitude. I’ve recently figured out how to get my eye-fi to work with the thing, and I’ve been out a few times while taking pictures and having them zip from my leica directly over the xoom (this is a REALLY cool party trick – I intend on utilizing this somehow combined with a projector at this years ninjapenguin party.).

This platform does everything I need that doesn’t require massive horsepower including simple security tasks – like portscanning and browsing open fileshares, nmapping, and running metasploit. I can watch movies on it, get directions (chrome to phone is awesome on this thing), watch full-screened high-res episodes of southpark from southparkstudios.com and other flash sites (since it supports flash) browse full HTML5 and flash websites, and even set it up like a mini entertainment set – with the jawbone jambox speakers setup as bluetooth speakers.

It’s overclocked from 1ghz to 1.6 ghz with little to no impact on the battery. The modified kernel allows me to have external SD storage enabled and PTP and USB OTG modes so that I can plug in external devices and storage (though I have not yet tried a mouse or keyboard, usb sticks and my leica d-lux 4 work like a champ – for some reason the d3s isn’t properly recognized, so I’ve opened a ticket with google). I hope to use it in a photography sense as well (in Vegas this year, if I’m lucky) with the square reader and squareup app – which lets me accept credit cards as an individual. I can torrent from the thing, as well as use it as a backup phone by way of a skype-in number and a bluetooth headset. The list just goes on and on!

I’ve been tapped to use it as a support tool – once at drinkup a friend had a need to use a variety of basic linux tools such as traceroute, ping and telnet – I was able to hand him my xoom in an ubuntu chroot and tell him ‘go to town’. I can use it to remote control any of my computers as well, even remotely ‘hamachi style’ using a tool called neorouter.

I intend for this to be my “computer” while I’m at Defcon/Blackhat this year. I can easily offload all my photos to it, and it does everything I need while I’m on the go. Someday I hope to actually give a talk from this thing, completely without a laptop.

tl;dr: If you just want a toy, buy an ipad. If you want a tool? Buy the xoom.



  • I still want a site survey tool. Especially overclocked past %50. this thing screams.
  • Having the jambox speakers helps when I want other people to hear stuff, otherwise I want a case that has little ‘ears’ to funnel the speakers forward.
  • Having backtrack5 on this thing is badass, but some of the more impressive stuff is unavailable – I cant send arp traffic and I cant put the wifi interface into monitor mode or inject traffic. I’ve asked about it on the xda thread.
  • I really wish someone would port VLC over to android. This hardware has so much still untapped potential – I want to be able to watch a 720p mkv. Standard dvd rips work fine, highres stuff chokes – because the players don’t leverage the GPU
  • I want to find out why the hell it doesn’t work with my Nikon D3s. It sees the camera, but never sees any photos. wtf?

12 hours with the motorola xoom

I was the first person in the door to pick up the new xoom at my local verizon retail store. They mentioned they only had 15, and I jokingly laughed asking “what the hell is this? no line out the door and around the building? dont people know whats going on?”

I’ve been watching the xoom for a few months now, smiling, grimacing, laughing, complaining – as the rumors and news dribbled out.

First Impressions from the first 12 hours:


  • its FAST. I mean FAST.
  • Angry birds goes very very fast. I presume I’ll be spending a lot of my bored-time screwing with it.
  • I’m now in something like a dozen concurrent games of words with friends.
  • The first thing I noticed was that it supports full-disk encryption. I turned that on right away.
  • The calendar app is awesome, very fluid and easy to use.
  • I can very nearly type two handed on the keyboard as if it were a regular computer keyboard. I’m certain this will improve with time, I’m making a ton of typos.
  • I can video-call my fiance in england from ANYWHERE using google voice chat. Its glorious and awesome. I propped the thing up between the shifter and the dash in my car to test it, and sitting in traffic it was high res and clear, high frame rate. We’re finally in the future – I can internationally video call from the car for free.
  • I love that in video-chat you can switch back and forth between the forward facing and the rear cameras. That right there will be EPIC for any instance where you need someone to show you something, and they want to see where the camera is pointing. Normally (like on laptops) this means having to point the screen away from you, so you’re filming but you can’t see what you’re filming.
  • There was a root howto up less than 6 hours after I bought it.
  • Using it as navigation in the car is BEAUTIFUL. That alone makes me want to build a mount for it so its held properly.
  • Using it as a giant touchpad for my windows/gaming box which is plugged into my 50″ tv is GLORIOUS. It works as a giant touchpad (link). I will be using this A LOT.
  • It supports multiple google accounts, allowing one to use personal and multiple ‘other’ accounts at once. This is particularly useful for me as I’m a contractor/consultant and I often have to manage multiple accounts.
  • Its been said this thing will support usb host mode, meaning I should be able to plug
  • One chief complaint I’ve read was that apps that were ‘made for phones’ look ‘stretched and bad’. Well, the ones I use actually look BETTER. Like wifi analyzer, tweetdeck and antennas. GPS test plus looks RAD!
  • Another complaint people had were that the speakers faced back – I just hold it cupping the speakers and it channels the sound towards me. I’m half tempted to make a couple little ‘ears’ for the thing out of hard plastic that channel the sound forward, and double as an angular stand. Maybe one whole thing that does that plus has a kickstand (HINT HINT PEOPLE WHO HAVE MANUFACTURING CONTRACTS)
  • I feel a lot less constrained – I imagine my phone now will not need to be checking twitter/email/gtalk/etc and I’ll be doing that on the xoom, so my phones battery should last longer.


  • It cant see my jawbone jambox for some reason. It can see my laptop and my phone, but not the bluetooth speakers (!?!?! no idea. I’ll wait until I get my ubertooth zero to find out wtf.) No Idea what I did differently this time, I got it working. *shrug* – sounds badass too :D
  • I can’t control my parrot ar.drone with it (yet) because I need to find a hack allowing the xoom to associate to ad-hoc networks – though theres another way around this by making the ar.drone associate to an infrastructure AP
  • Skype doesnt support video calls (yet)
  • I really like the HTC clock on my incredible. I want it on the tablet!
  • Now that its rooted, I want to stream movies from my drobo – I can do that on my phone by using cifsmanager, which drops a kernel module in enabling cifs client support – so apps simply think theyre pulling from local storage. After installing it, the xoom said ‘this application isn’t installed’ when I tried to run it. Weird.
  • I cant shake the feeling that I absolutely need to find a way to block the in-app ads. Even on a tablet, they take up a lot of real estate.


  • Try to get nmap running
  • Try to install debdroid, see what happens
  • Look into seeing what it would take to get pyrit or the aircrack suite running on this thing
  • I want to setup ettercap + sslstrip + daemonlogger on this platform
  • I want to see a REAL site survey tool for this platform, like visiwave. That would be EPIC. I’d buy that in a heartbeat.
  • A good ‘dual pane’ (like email) google reader app
  • Need to see if I can turn it into a remote display for my mac or another computer.

More to come as I learn!