It's really handy to have all my SSH authentication be passwordless, but in a secure way. In openSUSE, the ssh-agent is started for you automatically, but you still need to add your identities manually (and enter passphrases when you do this). That's a bit of a pain to do every time you login.

Here are some simple scripts and steps I use to set up my KDE session so that it will automatically load my SSH identities when I login.

# Rotate screen KDE shortcut

We have a few spare monitors laying about at work, and I just grabbed one with a rotating stand, so I can switch it between Landscape and Portrait. This is nice, because it's got more pixels than my laptop's built-in screen, and it's also larger.

It's also very handy when viewing pages that are narrow and tall.

All I need now is a way to quickly switch the screen's orientation without digging through a GUI. This looks like a job for xrandr and KDE's Global Keyboard Shortcuts

# Awesome KDE, Java composite hacks

I've been experimenting with the awesome tiling window manager as a replacement to KDE's kwin, and I've managed to hack together a recipe for getting them up an running. It's surprisingly simple, although the learing curve was a little steep.

This post documents what I've done to get things working nicely with the basic awesome config. No customisations here, see the awesome wiki for some ideas.

# KDE Konsole's title bar and prompt

I spent the past hour fiddling with Konsole, trying to get it to honor my Bash prompt in the title bar (using the usual ESC char tricks you can find anywhere). Finally found it: In the Profile settings, under Tabs, change the tab tiles to %w (or pick "Window title set by Shell" from the drop-down Insert list to the right).

# 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.

# 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?

# 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?)