Back to openSUSE

Well, my stint in *buntu is over, and it ends with an award to openSUSE: this is the first Linux distro I've returned to.

Kubuntu is nice, and I'm happy that I've tried it out, but it's not for me. It's nice enough if you want a simple desktop system, and APT rocks (especially with the aptitude front-end). But it's just not as good as openSUSE, sorry.

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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.

No OOXML

Just sent the following letter to the Australian Standards rep for the proposal DIS29500 (Microsoft Office Open XML standard) which is being Fast Tracked through ISO, even with blatant interoperability, portability and cultural technical issues.  This is based on the instructions posted at Groklaw. Also, instead of just cut-and-pasting the comments from the No OOXML web site, I've reviewed them and altered for Australian concerns, so that they really are my own comments.

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Essentials to make Windows almost bareable

Okay, so I hate working in Windows, but on my employer's equipment at least, I must live with it. After having had this machine replaced twice (faulty Dell hardware) and rebuilt more times than I can remember (Windows BSODs), for a total of at least 3 system migrations this past year, I thought I'd better keep a list of what free software to install on top of Windows, and what adjustments to make, so that at least I don't feel like I'm wearing a straight jacket. Here goes:

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Kubuntu kaboose

Yes, I've joined the ubuntu train, and I'm travelling in the Kubuntu car (the caboose?). This will be, what, my fifth (or sixth if you count Knoppix, but I never put that on my hard drive) Linux distro since trying out RedHat 5.2 back in 1999. Previous to this I was using openSUSE 10.2 which is not a bad distro either and I always had my eye on SuSE. So, why yet another distro change?

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Microsoft Vista keyboard?

I spotted a "Vista compatable" keyboard in K-Mart the other day, which set me thinking... what would a Vista keyboard actually do that a "non-Vista" keyboard can't?

Then I Googled for "Microsoft Keyboard Vista" and found this ad from Microsoft (Google Cache).

What the? "Designed to make it easier than ever to control PC media from your desk, your lap–or even from the comfort of your couch". So… if I use this keyboard's Play button to try and play media that Vista's DRM system thinks I shouldn't be playing, does it administer an electric shock? What if I have the keyboard in my lap :-D  Ouch! No so comfortable now…

Thanks, Microsoft, but … ahem, no thanks!

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

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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