Hetrogeneous Operating Environments considered normal

Was reading this interview with Wade Olson about KDE 4.0. It is pretty interesting, but the best quote was at the end:

I often rant about how in all disruptive technologies, trends are always the same. Whether with the automobile, railroads, telephony or computers. A dominant company establishes ubiquity, but eventually competition settles in. Can you believe that Fords and Chevys can drive on the same roads and use the same gas? What a miracle of modern science that an AT&T user could call a Sprint user on the phone? A TGV and ICE train can ride on the same tracks? Madness! I can plug a lamp into the wall that my power company didn’t sell me? Now that’s what I call progress.
Why would computing be any different? I can’t believe that some choose to write software for a large audience that isn’t cross platform, browser-based or interoperable – but some do. Over time, proprietary file formats will go from being a competitive advantage to disadvantage. Heterogeneous systems are the norm and expected in every industry. It’s just tough being patient in ours.

Whatever your views on OOXML or Linux or Apple or DRM or FOSS/Proprietary software, or other contentious issues in the IT industry, you’ve got to admit, these are pretty sensible aims.

Remote desktop access on SuSE: Cygwin, X, XDMCP and SSH? Nope. FreeNX!

This post is also available at my personal web site: http://milosophical.me/blog/2007/03/22/remote-desktop-acces-suse-cygwin-x-and-xdmcp.html


MJL20080827 — Update:  I Just realised that this is one of my top-visited pages and it’s a totally disorganised and incongruent pile of… What’s worse is, I’ve never updated it since the promised update back in March 2007!

Let me clear things up (and save you wading through the whole article): If you want remote access to your openSUSE desktop from a networked thin client, then forget about X11, XDMCP, VNC or tunneling X through SSH. Use the NX protocol. You’ll need to do the following:

  1. Install FreeNX on your openSUSE host. Some (slightly outdated, but usable) instructions are in Chapter 9 of the openSUSE 10.2 Reference manual. If you’re using openSUSE 11.0 or newer, get the latest FreeNX package from the openSUSE Build Service (there are one-click install buttons)
  2. Install an NX client on your remote terminal(s). Nomachine has free NX clients for Linux, Mac, Windows and Solaris (even some experimental ones for PlayStation 2 and Zaurus!). If your remote terminal is running openSUSE, you could alternatively get an open-source NX client from the build service (or ask yourself: I’m running X locally, so why don’t I just use good ole SSH and X11?)
  3. Configure your NX client to connect to the openSUSE host, then log in and enjoy!

The upshot: I’ve done this with a FreeNX server and Nomachine’s NX client for Windows XP, and it all “just works”, except maybe for some font issues with older X clients like emacs (install extra font packages from nomachine to fix that), and some transparency effect issues I noticed in kwin4, probably to do with X11 extensions missing in the NX client. Not a big deal.

Read the rest of this article for the boring background and laughable false-starts in my quest for remote desktops in X… <blush/>

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Shifting Interfaces

Once again, Microsoft have drastically changed their Office interface.

While the new interface is very nice eye-candy and probably has some new features that could help (arguably), it represents yet another need to re-train.

The old argument that OpenOffice is too different from MS-Office to be quickly useable has just vanished. OpenOffice is more like MS-Office 97 than MS-Office 2007 will be, and really, who has needed any of the features in Office XP or Office 2003? What were they, again…? Oh yeah, anoying interface changes, and removal of the stupid Paperclip.

I think I’ll be distributing my work documents in PDF, created by OOo now, except where I must absolutely use MSO documents for work. Everthing else will be OOo. Now I just need to convince my wife that it’s not worth continually purchasing MSO, or even having it on our home PC.