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KEYWORDS= Davrom Consulting Newsletter - Issue # 51 - Dated: 12 Jun 2012

From the desk of David Clark

In this newsletter I have focussed on an end-user desktop approach in the
articles just to help show that Linux is a wonderful desktop alternative
to the other paid for versions out there - we won't mention names.

Support for me here has been quite varied these past few months since the
last newsletter and ranges from working with SnapGears (there are still
SnapGears available if you need them), Cyberoam firewall routers, keeping
old SCO servers going, network performance diagnosing, e-mail shenanigans
- you name it.

I would like to thank the reader for their time in reading this


UNIX Quote

In honour of my son's t-shirt: There's no place like


This is more a personal use of Linux article rather than a business one
but demonstrates yet again the practical end-user use of Linux as a
desktop. I have used Linux as my personal desktop since 2000 and before
that ran a UNIX graphical desktop on SCO Unixware 7 "Gemini".... (and
before that a text desktop).

In the past two years I have begun recording my family tree and finding
myself now the amateur genealogist for the greater part of my family. The
decision came on what to use to record all of the family members and
preferably with a feature rich product that didn't cost an arm and a leg.
This is when I found Gramps.

Gramps is a free open source genealogy recording database that runs on
Linux (also has Mac and Windows versions) and as I have started to use
this product over time I have begun to truly appreciate the rich features
of this light weight database.

Gramps allows you to incorporate photos, documents, maps and other
sources into its setup and the most powerful feature for me was its Web
Report facility. The Web Report allows you to generate a complete website
of the family tree to a local directory on your PC and naturally being
into I.T web technology, I am running a complete "family access only"
website which is updated from a simple script I wrote (essentially using
rsync) for each time I change something in Gramps.

It also has all of the export setup with features like GEDCOM
compatibility and conforms to the latest genealogy standards. I
particularly love the ability to generate individual ancestor reports in
PDF format for family members as well.

At the time of writing this article Gramps version 3.4.0 is the current
version and with a large fan base the on-going development is something
well worth being part of.

For more information on Gramps:


Desktop usage

In light of the article on Gramps, here is a quick list of desktop
products that I have used (some for a very long time) to demonstrate
alternatives to the Microsoft products (Mac users will overlap with some
of these no doubt):

Browsers: Firefox, Google-Chrome, Konqueror
E-mail Client: Thunderbird, Kmail
Office product: Libre Office (Open Office), KOffice
PDF document creation: Libre Office
Graphics: Scribus, KPaint
Instant Messaging: Pidgin, Skype
Music Players: Clementine, Jajuk, Amarok, Songbird
Sound recording: Audacity
Virtual hosts: VirtaulBox, VMware
CD/DVD Media burner: K3b, xRoast
Remote Desktop: rdesktop, vncviewer, xrdp (server)
Text editing: vim, kate, gedit
Text to speech: festival

These are the major products I have used and still use and there are a
host of Linux alternatives to these as well and all run on Linux across
the board regardless of your choice of Linux flavour (Fedora, Ubuntu,
Mandriva, Mint, Debian).

From the Trenches
Some comic or not so comic relief from the support days gone by.

I recall having a front seat window view of a flurry of activity from our
office in 1991 with a large lot next to our building filled with cars that
were behind a large bricked enclosure. None of us thought much of it seeing
cars being driven in as there were a large number of car dealerships in the
area. We all assumed it was just a holding area. Some very fancy cars
were in being brought in at that.

The buzz came one morning when the police were everywhere retrieving these
stolen cars. Talk about hiding something in plain sight.

We only had limited access to the UUNet (that which came before the
Internet) but I sometimes wonder if we would have wised up earlier to
what the yard full of cars really was. A quick Google or browsing to a
regular news/police information web site and we may have been the ones to
help the police get all the stolen cars back to their owners.

Tech Tip

Accessing other desktops from Linux such as Linux and Windows can be done
using common and often default installed products, rdesktop and vncviewer.

The access a remote desktop running the RDP protocol (common to Microsoft

rdesktop -g 80%

or if it is a port forward through the Internet:

rdesktop -g 80% mail.somedomain.com:3391

The above examples show using the -g option which gives you an eighty
percent usage of your existing screen display. Note that to access an
alternative port rather than the default 3389, you simply add the port
number to the remote hostname/IP address separated with the colon (being
:3391 in the example shown).

For servers/PCs running VNC access protocols, using vncviewer from the
command line:



vncviewer mail.davrom.com:5902

again note the use of the remote port number if it is not the VNC
defaults. There are geometry settings but for VNC I normally find the
default screen offers a fairly large screen work area.

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