Thursday, December 17, 2009

Remote Connection: Free NX vs. VNC

Apparently, there's some debate in the Linux world about remote connections. I've been using VNC for 8 years or so now. It's reliable, but definitely slow.

I've found that NoMachine's NX Server (free edition) suits my needs best. It works even better than Windows' Remote Desktop, and of course much better than VNC (which really stinks).

In my case, it opens a new session, when I connect to the server, but I think it can be configured to connect to an existing session as well.

You might want to give it a try: http://www.nomachine.com/products.php
I'll give it a try and get back to you all...

UPDATE: I've installed the server on both my laptop and my desktop Ubuntu machines following the instructions found at https://help.ubuntu.com/community/FreeNX. The results are astounding! While not identical in terms of functionality to VNC, I personally prefer the results. It's actually closer to an RDP session. I haven't tested the client to the fullest extent, but my initial impressions were that it's a WHOLE lot faster (near real-time on a LAN setup), and it doesn't interrupt any work being done on the machine by someone else (BIG bonus over VNC). That said, it wouldn't work as a training utility because if someone else were watching they wouldn't notice that someone else had connected.

All in all, I love it. Will use it going forward. The ubuntu.com post above has all the right install info needed to get going and I recommend the nomachine client over the open source ones (for now). The QTNX client in particular was pretty buggy for me...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Top Things to Do After Installing Ubuntu 9.10

I've been using Ubuntu for about 9 months now (wow, hard to believe - the time has flown by) and people often ask me what my favorite apps are or what I changed once I install it. Aside from some custom scripts I install for my own organizational sanity, there are a few recommendations I always give. However, I just stumbled upon what may be the most complete list I've ever seen. When I say "stumbled", I mean that. I just used StumbleUpon and this came up. Really great list for anyone looking to add or customize their Ubuntu 9.10 desktop.

Happy customizing!

UPDATE:
I've also found a few additional add-ons that might be worth investigating. Here's a few:
Guvnr's Picks

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Useful Compiz Configs

Some of my favorite Compiz settings aren't enabled by default. They actually help me be more productive (rather than just making my computer act like a cracked-out Mac). In no particular order, here are my favorites:

Desktop Cube (with or without the rotating cube)

I set my desktop to have four columns and one row because I use the rotating cube. To be honest though, the standard 2x2 configuration would work just fine as well. Don't forget to configure your hotkeys for moving between desktops and moving windows across desktops. Adding 3 more areas to organize your windows is a good thing. You might forget where one or two apps were so I recommend thinking of them in terms of general categories (entertainment, programming, etc.).

Shift Switcher

I like being able to preview windows I'm tabbing between. This option is helpful when there are a lot of windows open in the current desktop. Similar to Apple's flipping in Finder.

Grid

Lets me use hotkeys to resize windows and toss them to designated areas of the screen. I missed MaxTo after I switched to Ubuntu. This is actually a slightly more useful window manager. Especially when combined with Shelf.

Shelf

Visually scales a window down rather than requiring the user to resize the dialog/window. It also doesn't force to you lose any dialog information when resizing your window. In fact, I'm using to write this blog post in a really tiny version of Firefox.

Others

There are probably a bunch of other configurations I'm using that I haven't mentioned here. These are just a few of my favorite productivity features I've found. What are your favorites?

Getting Help Working in Qt Designer

After install Qt Designer, if you want to use the help system, you're stuck unless you install one more package through Synaptic: Qt Assistant. However, there is no stand-alone for this program. It is bundled in the dev tools. Making it stand-alone is a valid request to the dev team for the Qt suite of packages.

At the very least, if Qt Assistant is not made standalone then it should be a dependent of Qt Designer. Otherwise, if Qt Assistant isn't pulled from the qt4-dev-tools package, then Qt Designer should *REQUIRE* qt4-dev-tools as a dependant. Otherwise, users will install Qt Designer and not have any way of figuring out why they don't have help menu options available once installed.

As a workaround, users who have installed Qt Designer must then install (through Synaptic Package Manager) "qt4-dev-tools". That also adds a bunch of stuff they don't need, but at least they can then use the help system for Qt Designer.

Here's a link to this bug.