Remote Desktop for the Songhay Studio


Ubuntu 10.10 Desktop

Using Remote Desktop with my virtual machines was not possible because their network adapters were set to NAT instead of Bridged. I’m sure I made this setting because some version of VMware Workstation <=7 did not properly support Bridged networking.

Ubuntu’s supposed support for Remote Desktop begins at version 10. So I spent most of the day yesterday upgrading to Ubuntu 10.04 LTS. This turns out to be great idea in general because it seems to run faster within the same memory limits as the previous LTS version of Ubuntu. As a Microsoft guy, this revelation is quite impressive!

However, there was one VMware-related bug with this upgrade. The keyboard was not recognized by Ubuntu 10.04—this is documented in “Ubuntu 10.04 doesn’t accept keyboard input when running under VMware on Windows 7.” What worked for me was logging into Ubuntu from putty and installing the VMware client tools (before I could do this I had to make sure the appropriate Linux headers were installed, sudo apt-get install cpp gcc build-essential linux-headers-$(uname -r)).

Multiple Monitors and Remote Desktop

The use of VMware and Remote Desktop among two or more computers is a quantum leap toward “extreme” flexibility for working in the Songhay Studio. I have a few situations right off the top:

  • Using Remote Desktop against VMware on the host machine is a prudent work habit that allows me to move to another machine without having to log out of my session.
  • Using Remote Desktop against the host machine from another machine with a bigger monitor simply allows me to work on another machine with a bigger monitor. Here in my studio living room, the bigger monitor is connected to my Mini-ITX “media center.” I can take advantage of the larger screen without having to install a bunch of crap on the “media center.”
  • Using Remote Desktop (or just VMware) on the host machine and using a web browser connecting to the VM web server on another machine with a bigger monitor. Because my work with jQuery or Silverlight is usually accessible from a server, I effectively have a dual monitor experience without having to connect two monitors to the host machine—which is just a notebook. This is now possible because of Bridged networking working.

Relevant Links

Moving to Windows Server 2008 Land

rasx() in Windows Server 2008 My last VMware-related post was “Ubuntu 7.10 and VMware” and I thought for sure there are Windows Server 2003 VM entries in my journal. I suppose I was too embarrassed to admit that I was still using 2003 over one year after Windows Server 2008 was released. (Actually, the 2008 entry, “In Word 2007!,” spills the beans.)

So, now I am using Windows Server 2008 Standard x86 as a VM. I tried to install the 64-bit version twice—because I assumed that my Windows 7 64-bit OS host was all VMware needs. It turns out that VMware needs to work with a special set of 64-bit chips and my Pentium Dual Core T3400 is not enough apparently.

Since my readers usually stumble upon these things through Google, I remind you that I use my Windows Server VM as a development box and an Office desktop (it’s a VSTO thing). So this journal entry is coming to you from my new VM straight out of a 174-page Word 2007 file via my Word Add-in (still under development), CleanXHTML (the Word 2003 version of CleanXHTML is still out there…).

Moved Thunderbird Mail from Windows to Ubuntu!

Buy this book at Amazon.com! The assumption here is that most Linux desktop veterans would say, “Dude, use Evolution.” But my “weird” response to this gospel truth would be, ‘There’s no Windows version.’ There actually is a Windows version from a Novell rock star programmer but it was not ready when I was looking—and it’s quite strange how it’s being offered.

The way Mozilla presented Thunderbird was not very strange, so I moved my personal email out of Outlook and into Thunderbird (lazily over a series of months) on Windows. And when the time came to move to Linux, I was seriously surprised just how easy it was! I just copied the Windows profile data to my Ubuntu virtual machine, ran thunderbird -P in GNOME and pointed a “new” profile at my old data copied from Windows. Some points of interest:

  • The habit of “surfing” the Web with news feeds and corporate junk mail is now confined to a Linux virtual machine. The new levels of safety here are through the roof! Yes, I admit that I used to do most of this risky work in Windows running as an Administrator.
  • Mozilla Thunderbird uses the mbox format. According to Jonathan de Boyne Pollard, “‘mbox’ is a family of several mutually incompatible mailbox formats.” The great news here is that this format is not some weird stuff Mozilla made up—it’s some weird stuff other people made up—Unix people. Because of this weirdness, we have the MBOX to EML converter by Ulrich Krebs. Java wins here (but I did see a Python code sample somewhere reading mbox).
  • “The Email Standards Project works with email client developers and the design community to improve web standards support and accessibility in email.”
  • Only Ubuntu Linux: “If you want to Import your mails from Evolution to Thunderbird there is very nice utility called MboxImport.”
  • How-To: Import Thunderbird Emails to Evolution

This email management move is a quantum leap for me. Now all of my most intensive, daily data management tasks are confined to super-portable virtual machines (hint: use something like my Western Digital Passport). Data management means hours and hours of little tweaks (often saved in thousands of little files)—and the psychological drag effect of ‘trapping’ all of those work hours on a single device is gone.

More Mono stuff off the TODO list…

In the second month of 2008 came “Mono Uninstalled (for the moment)” and I tried again egged on by these links:

The bottom line is this: I am unable to locate any documentation about the lower limit of GTK support for MonoDevelop. And I write ‘GTK’ with the very real possibility that I am blurring GTK into GTK#. My strong suspicion is that my current version of Ubuntu (6.0.6) has a hard Gnome GTK limit (without serious mods) (which is why I cannot run Firefox 3.x)—and that the current 1.0 version (and future versions) of MonoDevelop will simply not run on it.

This implies upgrading Ubuntu. Sounds “easy” but it should be known that, according to VMware “Supported Guest Operating Systems,” the latest version of Ubuntu is not supported by VMware Workstation 6.x—and I’m using Workstation 5.x!

Mono Uninstalled (for the moment)

In recognition that my old-ass version of VMware Workstation forces me to run an old-ass version of Ubuntu, I finally uninstalled Mono—mostly because MonoDevelop will not run on my old-ass platform (which a weak excuse for command-line pros). A new Ubuntu VM is (slowly) under development (with the latest version of VMware at the W2 gig) so Mono will be back relatively shortly.

My Linux Desktop-based development efforts are very ambitious and threaten (yet again) to make me a jack of all trades but master of none. Here is the intended coverage (in order of decreasing current activity):

  • Adobe Flex under Eclipse Europa with flex2ant.
  • PHP under Eclipse Europa (WTP).
  • Yahoo! Astra with Adobe Flex under Eclipse Europa.
  • Java with Apache tomcat under Eclipse Europa.
  • Java with Glassfish under an aging copy of NetBeans.

This is just too much for a self-described .NET developer to screw around with! So here are a few casualties of triage:

  • I dropped Google’s flexlib in favor of Yahoo! Astra. The opinion here is that Yahoo! (for the moment) has a better “developer community” culture than Google. This is just another way of me saying that I like Yahoo! documentation—and Douglas Crockford (even though he despises XML).
  • My Java Server Faces push is seriously stalled. My current employer’s sudden lack of interest in this technology (after a key evangelist of the technology quit) did not help matters.

Mono still has the promise of allowing me to move the bulk of my development chores to the Linux environment. I am confident that my server-related .NET solutions can make the transition (even while still connecting to a Microsoft SQL Server). In fact, my heavy Adobe Flex push in recent weeks is actually more dependent on a proprietary platform until I am more comfortable with playing, say, audio on Linux with a virtual machine.