Arman's stuff
Remotely Awesome

(Fri Feb 24 17:16:46 2012)

Linux continually surprises me - and that's a good thing

Ok, maybe it's not entirely good - there are enough features out there that I could really use, but that I don't know how to access. Still, I've been finding them, slowly, and they've been making my life easier.

The first it's-always-been-there thing I found was nfs, the network file system. Since I have an all-Linux network, it's awesome for filesharing. A bit of setup, and then I can set each computer on the network to automatically mount all the shared drives - media, pictures, shared scripts, and the like. It's great to be able to rip a DVD on my computer, store it on the mediacenter, and my wife can watch it on her computer.

The second thing I found is X forwarding. In terms of Linux/Unix, it's old hat. It's been there since X was first released, or thereabout. I remember seeing it before, but I'd never really looked into how it worked. In the last year or so, I installed Xming, so I can access graphical stuff on my home computer; more recently, I used it on my and my brother's computers to install some software for him. Which is where the epic part comes in. Right now, all the Windows users are scoffing, "Ha! Remote desktop, you mean? We've had that for ages!"

Ah, but that's not what this is. No, remote desktop is a way to view a computer's desktop remotely. This doesn't do that. This runs an application remotely, but displays it locally. Or to say it another way - instead of opening your whole desktop to read your email, you can just open your email viewer. And it displays, in Windows (with Xming) or Linux.

That may not sound like much, but try thinking of it this way: if my local computer has a good enough graphics processor to display nearly static images, it's good enough to run any program that I can get to run on any one of my computers. I can install software, tweak settings, and use any graphical tools I need to use - without leaving the command line. Or interrupting the other computer - Remote Desktop for Windows will take over the desktop completely. With this, I can update my wife's computer without her ever needing to pause her DVD.

It's not super-hugely-epic. It's not even all that cool, to a non-geek. It barely rates above, "Well, duh," to a skilled Linux user. But it's cool to me. And surprisingly useful - I didn't realize how often I would cancel installs and upgrades until I could find a non-graphical method, when logging in remotely. And I didn't realize how easy it was to install all the kids' games on one computer, and let them remotely access it, either. Talk about a time saver!

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This blag is tagged: Linux, All