Posts about how-to (old posts, page 1)

MS-Windows focus-follows-mouse Registry hacks

I like the "focus follows mouse" window-focussing model from X11, because

  • I don't have to click on the window, just move the mouse and the window it's over is focussed
  • I can focus a window without bringing it to the front, which is sometimes handy. If I want it in front, I can click it.

However MS-Windows follows the old-fashioned, Macintosh/Smalltalk style of having users click on a window to focus it for the keyboard. How do you make MS-Windows behave more like X11?

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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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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 Some (slightly outdated, but usable) instructions are in Chapter 9 of the openSUSE 10.2 Reference manual.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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Cygwin users and groups

When you first install cygwin and run bash, it'll usually display this error message:

Your group is currently "mkpasswd".  This indicates that
the /etc/passwd (and possibly /etc/group) files should be rebuilt.
See the man pages for mkpasswd and mkgroup then, for example, run
mkpasswd -l [-d] > /etc/passwd
mkgroup  -l [-d] > /etc/group
Note that the -d switch is necessary for domain users.

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Xine performance

This post was originally published at on 31 October 2005

Now playing with Gentoo as my latest Linux of choice (I got fed up with RPM dependancy problems, and Gentoo being source-based solves my other issue with binary-based distributions, where I felt like a 2nd-class citizen when using or accessing source code).

So, I've got Xine working, but can only use shared memory for the video decoding. This is great if I want to capture screen shots, but not for high-speed movies such as The Matrix, or even just reading the credits on The Lord of the Ring. So need to "fix" the performance.

I used to have Mandrake running v4l + xv, but I can't have installed it right in Gentoo because, although xv is loaded, the performance is glacial if I try to use it.

I found this old How-to with some advice to try... but I might also want to look at the FAQ.... probably I haven't built something into the kernel.

Also while reading around, I discovered Mplayer. This looks like it's worth a download...